20 January 2021

Introducing the AUN Thematic Network Series #0 - What are the Thematic Networks?

AUN Writer Team

By Dhvani Sanghavi, AUN Intern
Supervised by Phasawit Jutatungcharoen, Programme Officer

Helen Keller put it best when she said “Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much.” Indeed, the ASEAN University Network Secretariat has initiated and engaged in several activities and hosted numerous meetings, but there is so much a single team could do. Like a tree, AUN cannot possibly grow without the help of its branches: the AUN Thematic Networks.

The AUN Thematic Networks play a larger role than simple departments of an organization. They act as specialized areas of academic cooperation that are deemed significant enough for a new secretariat to be established to tackle it. Each thematic network is given relatively high autonomy to pursue their own areas of higher education in ASEAN, whether it is focused on innovation or economics. They also benefit from being part of the AUN, being able to access a platform of collaboration between the AUN Secretariat, member universities, and other thematic networks.

The AUN is currently comprised of 17 Thematic Network, each established gradually following various Board of Trustee Meetings. The following table is a brief overview of each one:

Thematic Network

Est. Year Host Institution Description



1998 Chulalongkorn University Promoting quality assurance in higher education institutions and collaborating with both regional and international bodies to increase educational quality.



1999 Universitas Gadjah Mada Facilitating collaboration among ASEAN universities to strengthen education, research, and industry relevance in business and economics.



2001 Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) Promoting human resource development in engineering for the sustainable socio-economic development of the ASEAN region.



2003 Joint-library hosts from University of the Philippines Diliman, Ateneo de Manila University, and De La Salle University Platform for academic resource sharing, information exchange, and networking among academic libraries within AUN Member Universities and academic communities in the ASEAN region through an online resource sharing system.



2009 Universitas Indonesia Universitas Indonesia
Facilitating student and academic mobility in the ASEAN region.



2009 Mahidol University Network of academic collaboration by AUN Member Universities to promote education and research in human rights in Southeast Asia.



2011 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Facilitating social responsibility initiatives between higher education institutions and stakeholders to promote greater university-industry-community collaborations in ASEAN and Asia.



2014 Mahidol University Regional network of academic collaboration between health experts, medical practitioners, and higher education institutions, focusing on the role of universities in promoting healthy lifestyles and environments.



2015 Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia A platform to promote collaborative research between academic, industry, government agencies, and relevant organisations in support of policy-making focusing on ASEAN Economic Community related issues.



2016 The University of Malaya Focusing on disability-focused policies and research in ASEAN to promote an inclusive, barrier-free and rights-based environment for education and capacity building.



2016 Universiti Utara Malaysia Platform to empower, develop student leadership, as well as addressing student affairs and governance through the Student Affairs body of AUN Member Universities.



2017 Universitas Indonesia Platform for AUN institutional members to collaborate and share knowledge focused on sustainable city and urban development studies.



2017 De La Salle University A network of cultural offices among AUN Member Universities aimed to promote creativity, culture and the arts among students in the ASEAN region.



2018 Chulalongkorn University Aims at facilitating the entrepreneurial and innovative capacity of universities through university-industry-government networking for the purpose of equipping ASEAN students for competencies required for the future.



2018 National University of Singapore Platform for intellectual exchanges on the futures of architecture design education and research in Southeast Asia.



2018 Ateneo De Manila University Focus on developing ecological mindsets and competencies in ASEAN students to empower their abilities to conserve and protect their local environments.



2019 Singapore Management University Fostering collaboration among ASEAN universities to improve students’ success through technology-enhanced personalised learning.

In this series, we will introduce each AUN Thematic Network week-by-week. We will go into detail about its history, its purposes and goals, as well as a preview of their past activities over the years. We hope you stay tuned with us on this journey as we walk along this path, learning something new about the vastness of the AUN family.

Our next article in this series will look at the very first of AUN’s Thematic Network, AUN-QA. We will examine its first venture into quality assurance for higher education in ASEAN and the journey of AUN’s oldest branch.