​​Benefits of


Improved Data Quality & Integrity


Decreased Risk of Fraud & Abuse


Faster, Streamlined Processing & Delivery

of Student Data & Results


An Open, Community-Based,

Value-Added-Service Like an

Online Directory is Positioned for Success

Based on Best Practices in Other Industries


The Service is Free, Unlike Other Services

Which Are Provided on a

Subscription-Paid Basis


The Service is Designed

with an Open Architecture Using

Standardized Web Services

& Protocols


Institutions & Organizations

Are Already Using the

PESC GEO Code in production

processing thousands of files


​​​​​GEO CODE 

is the principal project of 

PESC’s Global Data Mobility

(GDM) User Group.


is governed by a
User Group & Steering Committee.  Participation in User Group

meetings is encouraged & open

to all representatives of 
PESC Member Organizations, AACRAO,

& Signatories & Delegates of the

Groningen Declaration Network.

For more information on the 
User Group or Steering Committee,

please visit the 

PESC GEO CODE Workgroup Page.



GEO CODE is a 'look-up' service offered and operated by PESC and directly managed by PESC Members. The foundation of the service is a directory 'look up' server that lists active and inactive institutions, including historical data plus additional demographic and identifier data.  Countries currently listed:

- Antarctica

- Argentina

- Australia

- Canada

- Brazil

- China

- France

- India

​- New Zealand

- Peoples' Republic of China, Province of Taiwan

- Poland

- United Kingdom

- United States of America​​


GEO CODE is a project of PESC's Global Data Mobility User Group (GDM launched at Spring 2016 Data Summit). At it first meeting, the need for a global institution code set surfaced as one of the highest priorities.  Today's technological innovation with open, transparent collaboration (the cornerstone of PESC's foundation and guiding principle) and having finally reached the tipping point whereby most experts agree that such a code set is not only needed, but now impacts data quality, cost and fraud, all contribute to the conclusion that such a list is now a necessity. 


GEO CODE is currently in proof of concept phase and includes a growing number of countries. While a directory is currently being built, added on to, and maintained, the University of Southern California has integrated components of this service as a PILOT into production.​  PESC has also partnered with AACRAO and the Groningen Declaration Network.


The GEO CODE Workgroup established a Steering Committee in 2017 at the Spring 2017 Data Summit, ultimately governed by the PESC Board of Directors, to administer more direct management, oversight and strategic planning of GEO CODE. The Steering Committee is made up of nine PESC member representatives, is diverse, representing the various sectors across education, is semi-autonomous, and is responsible for the overall management and operation of GEO CODE.


GEO CODE is in proof of concept phase and is being piloted by the University of Southern California and IERF.  This proof of concept entails establishment of a unique Global Education Code using seven (7) digits:

- Two (2) digit ISO country code, plus
- Five (5) digit automated, alphanumeric code

To test this approach and underlying methodology, the Workgroup is assigning this unique Global Institution Code to institutions as it adds and enters them into the directory.  The University of Southern California has already integrated components of this service into production as a pilot.​


GEO CODE is still in development stage and therefore, no service is available at this time.  The Workgroup envisions availability sometime in 2018.  As a driving principle and in alignment with PESC’s mission, use of the Global Education Code will be free and open to the education community.


The GEO CODE Workgroup, now in partnership with AACRAO and the Groningen Declaration Network, is open to its Signatories and delegates free of charge (previously the Workgroup was limited to PESC Members).  

There are three main ways to participate:

1) contribute a list and/or help improve the list with updates and corrections

2) participate in quarterly community conference calls to stay informed

3) endorse or partner with PESC

Please join the Workgroup's Community calls held every quarter on the 1st Wednesdays at 11am EDT (January, April, July, October).

Global Education Organization Code List Directory

The PESC Global Education Organization (GEO) Code

is a free, open and standardized online directory

of codes & identifiers of education organizations

for use by institutions & stakeholders worldwide.



Guiding Principles of


1)  The intent of the PESC Global Education Organization (GEO) CODE initiative is to provide a unique index value for known postsecondary (tertiary) institutions for countries that exist in the service directory, for use in the transmission of electronic student data exchange within transaction sets that require a transmission data source value.  (NOTE:  Phase 1 focuses on institutions; Phase 2 expands to all education organizations.)

2)  There is no implied validity, accreditation, status or other official standing for institutions that are included in the Global ID service. The index value represents the existence of the institution and provides the ability to identify that institution within an electronic data exchange transaction set.  Sending and receiving parties utilizing the Global CODEs acknowledge the mutually agreed upon index assignments.

3)  Minimum requirements for an institution to be listed in the directory require a unique institution name and location of the institution. Location can be a city, state, province, postal code, or a fully articulated address. The name may be listed in English, the native language, or both languages for non-English speaking countries.  Additional data may also be present, such as URL, former name, native indices within the country of origin, and other information that may be provided by ministries of education for the country of reference, or other sources deemed reliable.

4)  Each institution within a country will have a status of active or inactive. Those schools listed as inactive will have a reason code and explanation given for the action.

5)  PESC, the GDM User Group & the GEO CODE Steering Committee have full control over which institutions are added and listed in the institution directory service. Users within the community who are exchanging digital records and are using the GEO CODE may request additions and corrections to the directory.  PESC is developing the governance model for these types of requests.

6)  The format of the Global Drectory index has been determined to be the two (2) character ISO country code, followed by a five (5) alpha numeric value, e.g. US00458.  This format has been shared with the PESC Community, and more recently with the participants at the Groningen Declaration Network meeting in Melbourne, Australia.  With no objections expressed, this format serves as the basis on how institutions will be listed.

7)  Once a GEO CODE has been assigned to an institution, it will not be available for reuse.

8)  For diploma mills, the recommendation made at the Groningen Declaration Network meeting was to include diploma mills in the list of institutions if those diploma mills are known. These will be marked as inactive with a reason code of “Other” with an appropriate explanation.

9)  Various sources have been used to list institutions by country in the directory.  Some success has been achieved with some of the central agencies within some countries.  In partnership with Erasmus Without Paper, good contributions have been added; while a grassroots campaign where lists don’t readily exist is also being undertaken.  One of these efforts has been to rely on Wikipedia.  For the record, for the handful of countries in which Wikipedia is being used as a reference, manual review has verified the very existence of each institution, including the address, and the URL.  Wikipedia has demonstrated, with validation, to be an extremely reliable source of data.  In the absence of other information,  Wikipedia will continue to be used to build these lists.  Sharing these ‘wiki-lists’ with informed parties is the last step to final inclusion in the directory.

10)  The development of a web service or other utility to search the GEO CODE directory is the next step, along with the building of the remaining countries that will exist in the service. Sufficient 'starter' data exists to conduct development and testing of the service.

11)  A major consideration being discussed is the addition of a GEO CODE LOOKUP ID ("GEO') through the PESC APPROVED STANDARDS development and maintenance process as a TransmissionData.Source.Organization.ID enumeration, which is a necessary step in preparing for the use of this index value in PESC XML transactions.

12)  As maintenance of any directory is critical to its usefulness, PESC is planning a rolling 5-year review process for each entry in the directory.  The user community will play an important role in this process and in maintaining and updating this index. A link for UPDATES to provide users the ability to submit omissions and corrections to the existing GEO codes for countries that exist on the service.   In addition to submissions through this service, all countries which exist on the GEO index will undergo a periodic review for currency and updates.  Each country on the index will be reviewed every five years, based on the review schedule maintained by the PESC office. 




Global Education Organization Code List Directory


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PESC - Postsecondary Electronic Standards Council | Leading the Establishment and Adoption of Open Data Standards Across the Education Domain | XML | EDI | JSON | Transcripts | Credentials

PESC GEO Code Presentation

AACRAO Technology & Transfer Conference

Matt Bemis, USC

Jim Kelly, ECE