Sign the Declaration

The Declaration

Our Declaration on Knowledge Equity captures our collective commitment and aspiration to reduce inequality by increasing access to knowledge.  

The Declaration sets out a structure for a diverse network to operate across virtual and physical spaces. It sets clear principles for improving fair and open access to knowledge to gain traction and evidence the collective dedication of signatories to deliver positive impact.   

Declaration on Knowledge Equity

Our planet faces unprecedented challenges including climate change, economic instability, inequality, poverty, and forced population displacements that threaten the health and wellbeing of humanity. Higher Education is at the forefront of addressing these profound problems. To do so effectively, we must continue to develop an open, collaborative approach, working as a global community, and reaffirm the core purpose of Higher Education; to improve the world for the benefit of all.

Meaningful global partnerships with fair and open access to quality education for all will help reduce inequalities across the world. Open collaboration and dissemination in research will lead to new ideas and discoveries and help us resolve challenges such as climate change, poverty, sustainable energy production, the maintenance and enhancement of ethical governance and human rights, and a high quality of life in general.

We will reconfirm the important roles Higher Education fulfils in society, and drive toward the open, collaborative culture and environment that will be required to make a meaningful difference to this world.

The Knowledge Equity Network will create a shared community of learners, practitioners, and innovators to unlock open and equitable access to knowledge. We believe that through the power of knowledge we will be able to reduce inequalities, and that collective intercultural creativity is crucial to generate the leadership and solutions to tackle global challenges. We will strive for equity and access for all and recommend several principles to make this possible.

Our principles are:

Universal: the Higher Education system is for the good of all, educating the workforce and leaders of tomorrow, enriching cultures, improving health and wellbeing, and driving innovation and entrepreneurship.

Collaborative: the need to prioritise collaboration over competition, working in inclusive, transdisciplinary partnerships with generosity and compassion.

Inclusive: the need to consider all potential beneficiaries of higher education, and the knowledge it creates, enabling practices that provide equal and fair access to all, leading to equitable outcomes.

Sustainable: the need to carry out these practices in a way that is sustainable for providers, funders, and participants.

We recognise that many institutions, funding agencies, publishers, organisations, networks and individuals are already encouraging improved practices to support different aspects of openness and knowledge equity. Our aim is to share and build upon these practices, developing a global approach for the benefit of all. Working with signatories, we will deliver a step change in global approaches to Higher Education, including (but not limited to):

  • adoption of good governance principles (e.g. cohesion, openness, participation, effectiveness, and accountability);
  • a cohesive approach to improve equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • a move away from competition-focussed rankings;
  • an increase in collaborative efforts to address UN Sustainable Development Goals;
  • a wholehearted commitment to open publication and open practices;
  • a significant increase in co-design and co-delivery of research and research-led education between the Global North and Global South; and
  • addressing the demographic characteristics of learners that reflect our local and global populations.

The signatories of the Declaration on Knowledge Equity support the adoption of the following practices.

General Recommendations

  1. The Higher Education system must create a culture and environment where there is open and equitable access to both research-led education and the benefits of knowledge and innovation that result from Higher Education.
  2. The Higher Education system must actively address inequalities (e.g. social, geographical, financial) that prevent or limit open access to Higher Education.
  3. The Higher Education system must move away from a competition-based environment to a global collaborative endeavour where partnership is actively sought, celebrated and rewarded.
  4. The Higher Education system must create an environment that respects and supports all knowledge systems, acknowledging their importance and value.

For Higher Education Institutions

  1. Publish a Knowledge Equity Statement for your institution by 2025, incorporating tangible commitments aligned with the principles and objectives below.
  2. Commit to institutional action(s) to support a sustained increase of published educational material being open and freely accessible for all to use and reuse for teaching, learning, and research.
  3. Commit to institutional action(s) to support a sustained increase of new research outputs being transparent, open and freely accessible for all, and which meet the expectations of funders.
  4. Use openness as an explicit criteria in reaching hiring, tenure, and promotion decisions. Reward and recognise open practices across both research and research-led education. This should include the importance of interdisciplinary and/or collaborative activities, and the contribution of all individuals to activities.
  5. Define Equity, Diversity and Inclusion targets that will contribute towards open and inclusive Higher Education practices, and report annually on progress against these targets.
  6. To create new mechanisms in and between Higher Education Institutions that allow for further widening participation and increased diversity of staff and student populations.
  7. Review the support infrastructure for open Higher Education, and invest in the human, technical, and digital infrastructure that is needed to make open Higher Education a success.
  8. Promote the use of open interoperability principles for any research or education software/system that you procure or develop, explicitly highlighting the option of making all or parts of content open for public consumption.
  9. Ensure that all research data conforms to the FAIR Data Principles: ‘findable’, accessible, interoperable, and re-useable.

For Funding Agencies

  1. Publish a statement that open dissemination of research findings is a critical component in evaluating the productivity and integrity of research.
  2. Incorporate open research practices into assessment of funding proposals.
  3. Incentivise the adoption of Open Research through policies, frameworks and mandates that require open access for publications, data, and other outputs, with as liberal a licence as possible for maximum reuse.
  4. Actively manage funding schemes to support open infrastructures and open dissemination of research findings, educational resources, and underpinning data.
  5. Explicitly define reward and recognition mechanisms for globally co-produced and co-delivered open educational resources that benefit society.

For Publishers and Suppliers

  1. Ensure the availability of fair, transparent and equitable routes by which research findings can be rapidly published in an open format.
  2. Ensure that open educational resources can be freely shared through open licences, which facilitate use, revision, translation, improvement and sharing by anyone.
  3. Ensure resources are published in formats that facilitate both use and editing, and that accommodate a diversity of technical platforms.
  4. Ensure open resources are also available in formats that are accessible to people with disabilities and people without access to the Internet.
  5. Actively include and highlight open resources within resource repositories.
  6. Conceive digital platforms with sharing and open APIs as a design principle.

For Individuals, Organisations and Networks

  1. Champion the benefits of openness and knowledge equity at peer, institutional, sectoral, and cultural levels.
  2. When involved in making decisions about funding, hiring, tenure, or promotion, ensure that due consideration is given for the contribution toward openness and knowledge equity.
  3. Ensure that all research outputs are deposited in a way that is openly accessible immediately on publication on a platform with a licence which is as open as possible (CC BY equivalent), improving access to and impact of research findings.
  4. Ensure that all research data conforms to the FAIR Data Principles [1] : ‘findable’, accessible, interoperable, and re-useable.
  5. Embrace educational practices built around collaboration, discovery, and the creation of knowledge, inviting peers and colleagues to get involved.


Sign the Declaration