UNESCO World Higher Education Conference 2022

Barcelona, 18-20 May 2022

UNESCO World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) aims at reshaping ideas and practices in higher education to ensure sustainable development for the planet and humanity.

In the view of the global health crisis, UNESCO World Higher Education Conference, initially planned to be held in 2021, will take place from 18 to 20 May 2022. The goals and strategic scope of the conference remain, and the new time frame represents an opportunity to deepen and expand our common efforts of knowledge production, policy dialogue, exchange, and networking. UNESCO considers the process of collective construction as the greatest richness of this conference, which aims to become a global conversation nurtured by diverse narratives on higher education.

UNESCO thanks all organisations and individuals that have already expressed interest and are working to collaborate with and substantively contribute to the WHEC and even beyond. We encourage those who have not yet consider engagement to do so and coordinate via the WHEC Secretariat: whec2022@unesco.org)

The WHEC will maintain a hybrid format to provide opportunities for broad participation.

Conference programme


The 3rd World Higher Education Conference (WHEC2022) will bring together relevant stakeholders to define and prepare a roadmap for a new era of higher education. This roadmap will respond to the challenges faced by humanity and the planet, with special attention to the global disruption created by the COVID-19. It will look at both the higher education systems (norms, policies, structures, stakeholders) and institutions (universities, specialized entities, networks).

UNESCO is organizing the WHEC2022 to offer new knowledge, innovative ideas creative alliances, and produce an enlarged and reinvigorated coalition of the global higher education community in favour of the 2030 Agenda for Development and beyond.

The WHEC2022 is organised by UNESCO with the generous support of the Government of Spain, the regional Government of Catalonia, the City Hall and the Regional Authority of Barcelona and in partnership with GUNi/ACUP.

When and where?

The UNESCO World Higher Education Conference will take place from 18 to 20 May 2022 in Barcelona, Spain. 


In-person participation for the Conference is by invitation only. All UNESCO Member States have been invited to nominate a delegation of up to four in-person participants to attend the Conference, including individuals from diverse backgrounds.

All participants travelling to attend the Conference should consult the official Spanish government regulations before travelling. These regulations are subject to change and should be reviewed ahead of any departures to the Kingdom of Spain. All participants are responsible for ensuring they meet the regulations to enter and depart from Spain. Read official information about travel requirements for Spain, including vaccine and/or test requirements.

The WHEC2022 Conference venues will follow the official regulations and guidelines in place in the region of Catalonia. These are subject to change.

Virtual participation is available to a select number of registered attendees who will be able to follow the discussions live on the Conference Platform. UNESCO National Commissions have been allocated a set number of online registrations to be disseminated amongst diverse participants in their country. Furthermore, a limited number of spots for virtual attendance are available for the general public. Register for virtual attendance.

We thank you in advance for not over-crowding the online registration to help us ensure virtual attendance from a diverse range of participants, organizations and countries. Furthermore, if you manage to register for virtual attendance, we encourage you to arrange ‘watch parties’ so that several individuals can benefit from the online connection and follow the Conference live.

All session recordings will be accessible for the general public and will become available on demand following the Conference.


Organisations and alliances are invited to produce and share knowledge, research, practices or impactful ideas to enhance higher education institutions and systems, locally and internationally. The invitation is open to diverse entities (within and outside the UN system) willing to establish a partnership with UNESCO under the purpose and main themes of the WHEC2022. 

  • Read the general contribution guidelines and download the related forms.
  • National Commissons: read the specific contribution guidelines and download the related forms 
  • UNESCO Chairs and Networks: read the specific contribution guidelines and download the related forms 
  • Youth engagement strategy
    presentation - concept note
    contribution guidelines and related forms
  • Survey for university professors
    Life for university professors can be tough, especially during the COVID-19 crisis. This is why UNESCO is conducting a worldwide study to explore the critical factors behind work exhaustion and risk of burning out in university professors. 
    If you are a university professor, complete our survey and help UNESCO identify and create actionable strategies to prevent burnout and protect the wellbeing of professors at work.  
    Results will be presented at the Conference and you can be a part of this important initiative. Your response will contribute to improving the lives of thousands of professors worldwide. Do not miss out on this opportunity! 
  • Participate in the Higher education conversations: UNESCO is organizing a series of conversations on higher education in the leadup to the Conference. Learn more.

Watch what happens when we #UnleashTheTalent of every learner


The number of students in universities has more than doubled globally in the last two decades to 235 million. And it’s expected to double again in the next decade, along with international student mobility.

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