In 1924, the l’Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore (Milan, Italy) and the Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen (Nijmegen, Netherlands) took the first step towards bringing Catholic universities together in a Federation. The purpose at the time was to deal with specific issues which were of common concern. The universities came together the following year at the Institut Catholique de Paris, where representatives from fourteen institutions met. The first directory of Catholic universities was published in 1927.
It was only after the Second World War that the Fœderatio Universitatum Catholicarum was fully established. Created by a Decree of the Holy See in 1948, it was recognized by Pope Pius XII in 1949 and became the International Federation of Catholic Universities (IFCU) in 1965.
A watershed moment in the history of the Federation came in 1967, when the IFCU was recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), thereby becoming an Associate Non-Governmental Organization with consultative status.
Unity in Diversity
Every Catholic university is unique, with roots in a specific country and region with a culture unlike any other. While these institutions are often compared, each has its own history, assets, problems and objectives, its specific way of finding a niche in the field of education, research and services and also of honoring its academic, cultural, social and spiritual commitments.
This diversity is not only an asset; it is both fundamental and essential. At the IFCU, we purpose to defend it in the very spirit of what we are: a federation. Each member must feel as though it has found a safe haven. The IFCU is a communal house built from all the materials of the world.
From all the materials of the world: non-Catholics, and even non-believers, all work with us to carry out joint research, partnership and exchange projects. In the chorus of voices that calls for knowledge and justice, that champions universal science and awareness, the International Federation of Catholic Universities has its own, one with a specific tone. It is this that we invite you to discover or rediscover.
The Operational Aspects of the IFCU
The International Federation of Catholic Universities is made up of some 200 Catholic universities and institutions of higher education. They have at their disposal a permanent secretariat tasked with implementing the orientations and policies as set forth by the General Assembly and the administrative bodies. In addition to administrative tasks and managing the Federation’s activities, the general secretariat also serves as a facilitator, enhances coordination and fosters an unimpeded flow of information between the members and organizations as well as with partner institutions of the IFCU.
The International Presence of the IFCU
As a proponent of international cooperation, our Federation enjoys consultative status with the following organizations, where it also maintains an active presence:
The United Nations (UN), New York
The Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), Vienna
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Paris
The Council of Europe, Strasbourg
In addition, the IFCU also actively works with other university organizations at the national, regional and international levels.