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The Pan African University was conceptualized in 2008, as part of implementation of the Plan of Action for the Second Decade of Education for Africa, to support the revitalization of higher education in Africa, and contribute to the achievement of the vision of the African Union. In 2009, a High Level Panel of eminent African Professors was established to help in the development of operationalization instruments that were endorsed by the Conference of Ministers of Education of the African Union in November 2009. The Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the African Union made a Decision to establish the Pan African University (PAU) in 2010, and on December 14th, 2011, the AUC launched PAU as a flagship continental initiative. The Pan African University’s Statute was adopted by the Assembly in January 2013 and the revised PAU Statute was adopted in January 2016.

The Pan African University (PAU) was inspired and driven by major policy frameworks of the AUC, including the Vision of the African Union, the Second Decade of Education, and the Consolidated Plan of Action for Science and Technology. It is the culmination of continental initiatives of the African Union Commission to revitalize higher education and research in Africa. It is a project designed to exemplify excellence, enhance the attractiveness, local relevance and global competitiveness of African higher education and research, and establishes the Pan African University at the core of Africa’s development. 

The African Union Commission identified critical themes within the five institutes of the Pan African University, as key to the development of Africa and attainment of the vision of the African Union. These are hosted in the different PAU Institutes as follows:

  • Water and Energy Sciences (including Climate Change) (PAUWES, Algeria);
  • Basic Science, Technology and Innovation (PAUSTI, Kenya); 
  • Life and Earth Sciences (PAULESI, Nigeria);
  • Governance, Humanities and Social Sciences (PAUGHSS, Cameroon);
  • and Space Sciences (PAUSS, South Africa).

The PAU operates under the direction of the AUC Department of Human Resources, Science and Technology, as one University managed by a singular Rectorate, with a Senate supervised by a Council. 

Each PAU institute is headed by a Director. Staff of PAU Institutes include: academic and administrative staff who work within Departments and other units related to teaching, research extension activities and administration. Each Institute has a Board chaired by the Director and is responsible for the supervision of the academic, administrative, and financial management of the institute.

To date, PAU has graduated 1249 students from all over the continent and is currently enrolling students for the 2018-2019 academic year.