How we work
A non-profit organisation, the ISIC Association consists of 54 member organisations from across the globe. Association members hold the exclusive license to distribute, promote and develop the ISIC card within their territory or country.
The ISIC Association is governed by the ISIC Association Constitution and Convention and overseen by the 10 member ISIC Association Board. Board members are elected by their peers at the Annual General Meeting held in May as part of the ISIC Event. Day-to-day central administration and operations are undertaken by the ISIC Global Office B.V., located in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
The ISIC card is distributed in close to 130 countries through a network of ISIC Exclusive Representatives, Provisional Exclusive Representatives and Appointed Offices. Exclusive Representatives and Provisional Exclusive Representatives have the exclusive authority to distribute, promote and develop the ISIC card within their country. Usually ISIC Exclusive Representatives are organisations such as student travel organisations, national student unions, non-government organisations or companies solely dedicated to the ISIC card.
Exclusive Representatives and Provisional Exclusive Representatives each issue the ISIC card to students through their own outlets, stores or online, and via wholesale distribution agreements with other organisations such as universities and financial institutions. The network of Exclusive Representatives makes up the 54 ISIC Association member organisations.
An Appointed Office is an alternative outlet where a student can get their ISIC card. Appointed Offices are either selected by the Exclusive Representative or are appointed directly by the ISIC Global Office.
Interested in becoming an Appointed Office or Provisional Exclusive Representative? Find out how.
The ISIC card was first created by students for students in 1953. The decision to create the ISIC card was an initiative of the Norwegian and Dutch Union of Students, supported by the Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students (COSEC) of Denmark. Together at the 3rd International Student Conference they collectively made the decision to take the necessary steps to ensure that an International Student Identity Card be made available as soon as possible in as large a part of the world as possible.
Originally the ISIC card was a student identity card that gave fulltime students world access to special discounted airfares. In order to get discounted airfares students bought an ISIC card allowing cardholders to explore the world and discover new countries and cultures. This supported the ISIC cards pioneering mission statement: Increasing international understanding through the promotion of travel and exchange opportunities among students, young people and the academic community.
2013 marked the 60th Anniversary of the International Student Identity Card (ISIC). To recognise ISICs 60 years of history a short documentary featuring interviews with key people central to the ISIC cards significant milestones in the past and present.
ISIC 60th Anniversary documentary from ISIC Global Office on Vimeo.
A change in focus
ISIC continues to be the only internationally recognised proof of student status. However, the growth of discounted airfares online has changed the ISIC card focus. The availability of cheap online flights has led to the decrease in ISIC card sales in the new millennium for simply travel related purposes. Today, the portfolio of benefits and discounts accessible with the ISIC card goes far beyond travel alone. The ISIC card is now also an everyday use student lifestyle card. Cardholders still enjoy discounts and services on travel opportunities. In addition, students gain preferential access to over 42,000 products, services or experiences in every stage and area of student life, both at home and abroad.
Want to know more on the history of ISIC? View the 2013 ISIC Association Annual Report with a timeline of our history.
Facts & figures
Present in more than 130 countries and territories worldwide, and over 100 million valid cardholders since its creation, ISIC is the only internationally recognised proof of student status.
Quick facts and figures.:
- The ISIC card was first created by students for students in 1953
- In 2013 ISIC celebrated its 60th Anniversary
- Currently distributed to students in over 130 countries
- Cardholders gain access to 150,000+ relevant, especially negotiated discounts and services worldwide
- All bona fide full time students over the age of 12 years are eligible for an ISIC card
- Endorsed by UNESCO since 1968
- Affiliate Member of the United Nations World Tourism Organization
- Affiliate Member of the International Association of Universities
- Over 155 active endorsements of the ISIC card exist worldwide
- 10 percent of all ISIC cards carry MasterCard payment functionality
- More than 1.5 million Facebook fans globally
- 70+ national ISIC websites targeting students at a local level
- ISIC Association also manages the International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) and International Teacher Identity Card (ITIC)
For further information, please read the 2016 ISIC Annual Report.
More about the ISIC Event
The annual ISIC Event is a unique and dynamic annual event for key organisations engaged with the international student community and the ISIC card.
The ISIC Event is the top event each year for ISIC card issuers and a valuable event for ISIC global partners, endorsement partners, student organisations and other associations looking to reach and support the international student community. The ISIC Event creates a platform for collaboration and inspiration, resulting in greater innovation, and improved benefits and engagement in the world of ISIC, where students are at the core.
First introduced in 2011, each year the ISIC Event is held in a country that showcases an important aspect of the ISIC cards history or development. Toronto, Canada was selected as the host city for the 2016 ISIC Event. The thriving North American city boasts multiple universities and is home to over 187,000 undergraduate students – making it a fitting location for the ISIC Event! The 2016 ISIC Event took place from Tuesday 10 May – Thursday 12 May 2016.
2017 ISIC Event
Berlin, Germany has been selected as the host city for the 2017 ISIC Event. The vibrant, iconic and multicultural European city boasts multiple universities and is home to thousands of international students - making it a fitting location for the ISIC Event! The 2017 ISIC Event will take place from Tuesday 16 May to Thursday 18 May 2017.
Please note, participation in the ISIC Event is by invitation-only. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The ISIC Award recognises and rewards organisations working on a global scale to reduce social, economic and cultural barriers and increase access to education. The ISIC Award is awarded annually as part of a special ceremony during the ISIC Event.
The ISIC Award winner receives a 10,000 EUR (USD 13,500) financial contribution to support the continuation of their outstanding work.
Purpose of the ISIC Award
Becoming a student in many countries remains a luxury that not everyone can attain. The ISIC Association wants to ensure individuals who aspire to participate in higher education have the help and resources to enable them to do so. The intention of the ISIC Award is to support existing education accessibility initiatives.
Each year the ISIC Award winner is nominated and selected by ISICs global partners, card issuers and students worldwide.
The 2016 ISIC Award
Four finalists shortlisted for this year’s ISIC Award were:
- The Cangdong Heritage Education project
- CISV International
- International Student Exchange Program, ISEP
- International Federation of Medical Student’s Associations, IFMSA
All four finalists were selected based on the following criteria:
- Proven successful results in the area of improving education accessibility
- Overall impact and contribution to the area of improving education accessibility
- A focus on higher (tertiary) education
- Alignment with the mission, activities, and primary segment of the ISIC Association
- Demonstrated leadership, innovation and creativity
- Geographical scope of activities (multi-region or international reach favourable).
The 2016 ISIC Award winner
The ISIC Association and MasterCard were pleased to announce that the International Student Exchange Programmes, ISEP was selected as the winner of the 2016 ISIC Award. The worthy winner was announced during a special ISIC Award Ceremony and Reception on 12 May during the final evening of the 2016 ISIC Event in Toronto, Canada.
For more information on the 2016 ISIC Award winner, please read the press release.
For more information about the ISIC Award and nomination procedure please contact us.
Previous ISIC Award winners
- 2015 ISIC Award: edX, an online learning destination and MOOC provider, offering high-quality courses from the world’s best universities and institutions to learners everywhere.
- 2014 ISIC Award: Institute of International Education (IIE), An independent not-for-profit founded in 1919, IIE is among the world’s largest and most experienced international education and training organizations.
- 2013 ISIC Award: University of the People (UoPeople), a global non-profit, degree-granting, tuition- free online university dedicated to opening the gates to higher education for all individuals otherwise constrained.
- 2012 ISIC Award: International Association of Universities (IAU), the worldwide association of higher education institutions.
- 2011 ISIC Award: AIESEC, the world’s largest youth-run organisation, providing students with leadership opportunities and internship and development programmes.