UNESCO Chairs & UNITWIN Network



The UNITWIN Networks and UNESCO Chairs Programme advances research, training and programme development across UNESCO’s work in education, science, culture, communication and information. Currently made up of 719 UNESCO Chairs and 55 UNITWIN Networks (across 700 institutions in 116 countries), the programme aims to develop inter-university cooperation, collaboration and information sharing to address pressing challenges and contribute to the development of societies.

Our role as the UK National Commission for UNESCO, as directed by UNESCO, is to carefully consider and evaluate proposals for the establishment of new UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in the UK and to select a small number of high-quality proposals each year to put forward to UNESCO. All UK higher education institutions wishing to apply for the UNESCO Chairs or UNITWIN Networks Programme must submit their application through the UK National Commission for UNESCO (UKNC). Information on our UK process, including deadlines for the 2020 cycle, is available in the sections above.

Three important details to note:


The Chair is an Agreement between UNESCO and the university. It is therefore imperative that the proposal has full commitment from the university.


A Chairholder, who leads the Chair at the university, must be a professor.


The UKNC may not endorse and submit all applications, and UNESCO may not approve all applications endorsed and submitted to them by the UKNC.

Discover the UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Network in the United Kingdom

Step 1: Contact us with your Expression of Interest

UK institutions looking to establish a UNESCO Chair or lead a UNITWIN Network in the UK must submit an expression of interest to the UK National Commission for UNESCO by Friday, 31 January 2020. Please make contact with the UKNC at the earliest possible opportunity using the form provided on our website. You will be asked to provide the UKNC with information about the proposed Chair/UNITWIN Network, the name of the lead academic (please note, the lead academic must be a Professor), an outline of the relevant area of research, alongside a working title of the proposed Chair/UNITWIN Network.


Download the expression of interest

Step 2: Preparation


Following submission of your expression of interest, you will receive notification from the UK National Commission for UNESCO to proceed with preparing your application. The guidance below should be consulted in preparation of your application.



The UK 2020 Handbook provides advice and guidance on the UK application process. It is highly recommended that you read this in advance of commencing your application. It is a step-by-step guide to the UNESCO Programme, our timeline, our review process, and submission to UNESCO, and provides details on the criteria for 2020 and links to further information.

Read the Handbook



The UNITWIN/UNESCO Programme Guidelines and Procedures handbook is produced by UNESCO and provides an overview of the UNESCO Programme, explains what it means to establish a UNESCO Chair or UNITWIN Network, and gives information on reporting mechanisms and renewal procedures. This is also an important document to read before commencing writing your application.

Read the Handbook

Step 3: Apply


To make an application to establish a UNESCO Chair or UNITWIN Network in the UK, please complete the form attached, deleting the first section:


Download the application form
Guidelines for the Submission of project proposals.

These are instructions from UNESCO on how to complete the application:

This project outline indicates the information which is required in order for UNESCO to evaluate your proposal. Details are requested in order for UNESCO to analyze the importance of the project in the context in which it is proposed.

The proposal, not exceeding 10 pages, but excluding annexes, should be presented in a separate document and not on this form. However, it should follow the format as laid out from Section A below.

A complete application is comprised of the following documents:

  1. Letter from the President/Rector/Vice-Chancellor proposing to UNESCO the establishment of
    the UNESCO Chair/UNITWIN Cooperation Programme;
  2. Proposal following the UNESCO template;
  3. Letter of support to the project from the National Commission for UNESCO;
  4. CV of the expert nominated as Chair holder or Network Coordinator;
  5. Letters of support from partners (academic, donors, foundations, NGOs etc.).

Incomplete applications will not be considered. Proposals received after 30 April will be considered the following year.

The completed application should be submitted to the UKNC by Monday, 2 March 2020 for review at UK level.

Step 4: Review

We have a peer review process to provide support and advice and to ensure only applications of the highest standard are submitted to UNESCO. All applications are reviewed by pro bono experts in the field who will be guided by the criteria and guidelines set out by UNESCO. Applications are reviewed and scored by at least three experts and presented to the UKNC Review Panel for final consideration and decision.

Feedback is provided to applicants. This can help enhance an application for submission to UNESCO. If the application is not successful the feedback can assist applicants on whether to apply in a future cycle.

If an application is successful, a letter of endorsement from the UK National Commission for UNESCO will be provided for the application.

Step 5: Submission to UNESCO

Submission must be made to UNESCO by 30 April each year.

A review will take place within the relevant sector in UNESCO during the following months, and either acceptance or not will be notified in due course.

If the application is accepted by UNESCO, they will invite the university to enter into an Agreement to establish the UNESCO Chair or UNITWIN Network over the next few months. Only then will the UNESCO Chair or UNITWIN Network be able to use the UNESCO logo. The initial period is for four years, with a progress report being submitted at the midway point, and a final report being submitted with any renewal request.