Asian University for Women (AUW) is an independent, international university in Chittagong, Bangladesh seeking to educate a new generation of leaders in Asia. AUW admits students solely on the basis of merit, regardless of their family’s income level. Nearly all students are on full scholarship with many as the first in their family to attend university. AUW offers two pre-collegiate bridge programs called Access Academy and Pathways for Promise, as well as a three-year undergraduate program based in the liberal arts and sciences. The university is committed to graduating generations of women leaders who will tackle their countries’ social, economic, and political issues while collaborating across cultural, ethnic, and religious lines. AUW has more than 700 students enrolled from 15 countries across Asia and the Middle East.
The story of AUW began well before its inaugural class entered in 2008. The idea for the university grew out of the World Bank/UN Task Force on Higher Education and Society. In 2000, the Task Force, which included Kamal Ahmad, Harvard University’s Dean Henry Rosovsky and the World Bank’s former managing director Mamphela Ramphele, published its findings in a report titled “Higher Education in Developing Countries: Peril and Promise”, which concluded that developing countries must improve the quality of their institutions of higher learning, in governance and pedagogy, to compete in today’s increasingly globalized, knowledge-based economy.