ISIC History

ISIC Card History through the years

Created by students, for students
Following World War II and the Cold War, the Western world was focused on mutual cooperation and ultimately preventing a revival of fascism. During this period many student organisations formed with the aim of working together for peace and cooperation throughout the world. One such organisation, the International Student Conference (ISC) held their 3rd ISC at the Studentferforeningen's Hus in Copenhagen in 1953. It was attended by National Unions of Students and Coordinating Secretariat of National Unions of Students, (COSEC) Denmark, amongst others. The attending student organisations 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."

ISIC as access tool to travel opportunities
From there the International Student Identity Card (ISIC) was created with the aim to provide students with access to travel and to student facilities and services wherever they travelled to. In its first year of distribution, 56,000 ISIC cards were issued in 31 countries. Integral to the decision to create the ISIC card was the view that student travel and exchange opportunities among students and youth leads to greater international understanding and tolerance. This belief remains core to the purpose of the ISIC card today. 

UNESCO Endorsement 1968
The United National Education, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) became involved in the International Student Identity Card from 1955. UNESCO had - and still has - an interest in the ISIC card due to UNESCO's similar aims to promote intercultural understanding and provide access to travel and education. Since 1968, UNESCO officially endorses the ISIC card. UNESCO recognises the ISIC card as the only internationally accepted proof of full-time student status and a unique document encouraging cultural exchange and international understanding. In recognition of their endorsement, the UNESCO logo appears on every ISIC card. More recently, in 2013, the ISIC card received official endorsement from a second leading UN agency: the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO).

ISIC - travel to lifestyle
In the new millennium the need for a student card orientated to travel concessions was becoming less relevant. The reasons for this included worldwide economic decline, the introduction of budget airlines, online flight booking and direct airline sales. Up until 2001, the ISIC card existed as a travel card and a student identity card but it was agreed that the discount aspect must be utilised and the card repositioned as an everyday lifestyle card that gives students greater value and benefits in all aspects of their student life.

ISIC and 'the cloud'
Since 1953, over 110 million students around the world have been able to enjoy the advantages of the unique ISIC card. The ISIC Association is currently working towards the ISIC Cloud, the virtualisation of the ISIC card. The first step was through the launch of the 'ISIC App'. It allows all ISIC cardholders to have access to their ISIC profile anywhere anytime via their smartphones, with direct access to discounts and services around them.

The future of ISIC
Over the past 60 years the ISIC card and its benefits, partners, strategy, and goals have continuously adjusted to the ever-changing student landscape. During those changes, our ideology and core values have always remained the same. In the near and far future the ISIC card will continue to fulfill the same purpose: it will remain the only globally accepted and legitimate form of student status verification in the world - and the key for students to unlock doors to new opportunities and experiences.