The Universiade is an international multi-sport event, organized for university athletes by the International University Sports Federation (FISU). The name is a combination of the words "University" and "olympiad". The Universiade is often referred to in English as the World University Games or World Student Games; however, this latter term can also refer to competitions for sub-University grades students, as well.
The idea of a global international sports competition between student-athletes pre-dates the 1949 formation of the International University Sports Federation (FISU), which now hosts the Universiade. English peace campaigner Hodgson Pratt was an early advocate of such an event, proposing (and passing) a motion at the 1891 Universal Peace Congress in Rome to create a series of international student conferences in rotating host capital cities, with activities including art and sport. This did not come to pass, but a similar event was created in Germany in 1909 in the form of the Academic Olympia. Five editions were held from 1909 to 1913, all of which were hosted in Germany following the cancellation of an Italy-based event.
After the closure of the CIE and the creation of the first UIE-organised games, FISU came into being in 1949 and held its own first major student sport event the same year in the form of the 1949 Summer International University Sports Week. The Sports Week was held biennially until 1955. Like the CIE's games before it, the FISU events were initially Western-led sports competitions.
Division between the largely Western European FISU and Eastern European UIE eventually began to dissipate among broadened participation at the 1957 World University Games. This event was not directly organised by either group, instead being organised by Jean Petitjean in France (which remained neutral to the split), but all respective nations from the groups took part. The FISU-organised Universiade became the direct successor to this competition, maintaining the biennial format into the inaugural 1959 Universiade. It was not until the 1957 World University Games that the Soviet Union began to compete in FISU events. That same year, what had previously been a European competition became a truly global one, with the inclusion of Brazil, Japan and the United States among the competing nations. The increased participation ultimately led to the establishment of the Universiade as the primary global student sport championship.