26 October 2023

University Performance Metrics (UPM) and World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI): Benchmarking Roles in Priming AUN Universities for the Evolving World

Ninnart Ratanasukhon
AUN Programme Officer;

The 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference concluded successfully on 21 September 2023 at Universitas Airlangga, Surabaya, Indonesia. During the second day of this executive forum, our distinguished attendees were joined by Prof. Nguyen Huu Duc, the visionary behind the University Performance Metrics (UPM), and Prof. Kim Tae-hyun, the brilliant mind  behind the World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI). Both distinguished speakers came to share with our participants their pioneering assessment methodologies for universities, designed to keep global higher education institutions aligned with the dynamic shifts in the global landscape of higher education and the evolving demands of the fourth Industrial Revolution.

University Performance Metrics (UPM): Bench-“marking” and Bench-“learning” ASEAN Higher Education Institutions


“When we talk about ‘ranking,’ people always think about ‘competition.’ However, with UPM, we would like to bring you back from competition to cooperation,” said Prof. Nguyen Huu Duc from Vietnam National University, Hanoi, during the opening of his session presenting the overview on University Performance Metrics (UPM), its core metrics and application.

Launched in August 2020, UPM is a response to the needs of higher education institutions and stakeholders in the ASEAN region to learn more about the good practices of benchmarking and ‘benchlearning,’ that is, not only to compare oneself with others but to learn from one another’s success stories, experiences, and practices. Moreover, as the world embraces the Fourth Industrial Revolution, higher education institutions need a benchmarking system that can fully reflect the characteristics and requirements needed to drive entrepreneurship, innovation, and sustainability in this new era.

The heart and soul of University Performance Metrics (UPM), as captured in Prof. Nguyen’s speech, lies not in the rating nor the benchmarking of universities’ success and achievements, but in the ‘learning’ of good practices and experience from one another. 

In this regard, UPM evaluates universities' eight operational aspects against five core metrics of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which are: 1. Entrepreneurship 2. Innovation 3. Digital Transformation 4 Student Mobility and 5. Ethical Values.

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Classifications are distinguished to specific missions and purposes of each university, with separated classifications for research-based and applied universities, and for universities whose specialty focuses on STEM education and humanistic education. Universities can undergo UPM evaluation at an institutional level and programme level, with specific criteria and indicators for each level.

Today, UPM now sees participation from over 100 universities across eight nations, including Brunei, Myanmar, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Taiwan, and the United States of America.

In conclusion of his presentation, Prof. Nguyen called on the members of the ASEAN+3 University Network to acknowledge the establishment and purpose of the UPM rating system, along with considering the possibility of cooperating with the UPM team to build up a database of best and good practices for higher education institutions in the region.

World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI): the Evolving Rankings for the Evolving World


Following Prof. Nguyen, the Meeting gave a warm welcome to Prof. Kim Tae-hyun, Director of the Institute for Policy and Strategy on National Competitiveness, who presented to the Meeting the World University Rankings for Innovation (WURI).

Prior to its first release in 2020, WURI could trace its conception to the 1st Hanseatic League of Universities Conference at Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen, the Netherlands in April 2018, where the conference agreed to launch a university ranking system that evaluates higher education institutions based on their real impact on society.

WURI recognised modern challenges that are encroaching on traditional higher education institutions across the globe such as:

  • Evolving students’ needs - Students are looking for more practical, flexible, and personalised learning that can equip them with skills for entering the job market, rather than pure theoretical knowledge
  • Changing needs from the industry - Traditional curricula do not reflect the skill sets and knowledge currently needed by the industry
  • Rapid technological advancement - Development of IT platforms and infrastructure enabled online education with more affordable cost and with greater reach  
  • The emergence of new competitors - Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), online learning platforms, and remote online universities are competing with traditional universities in providing life-long learning to the public

Based on such knowledge and awareness, WURI is designed to be the benchmark that could provide universities with the reflection against these modern challenges and keep them relevant in the landscape of evolving needs and emerging competitors.

WURI Ranking 2022 consists of six categories in which participating universities can apply for evaluation:

  1. Industrial Application
  2. Entrepreneurial Spirit
  3. Ethical Values
  4. Student Mobility and Openness
  5. Crisis Management
  6. Fourth Industrial Revolution

However, as the playing field is constantly changing, WURI primes itself for constant evolution and adaptation to any challenges it may present. Special or new categories can be added as new needs or disruptions arise within the educational landscape. For the year 2024, the special topics are the application of generative AI and the support for global resilience under major global conflicts such as in the context of the Ukraine-Russia War. 

Members of the ASEAN+3 University Network were highly invited to participate in WURI as WURI not only values the real impact of universities upon industry and society but also takes into consideration the future potential of the universities. Through the evaluation of ongoing innovative efforts and processes, WURI puts emphasis on not only what the universities have achieved but how the universities have worked to achieve it. With comprehensive innovation categories, WURI can serve as the universities’ guide to effective innovation as well.

Universities that are interested in WURI or would like to participate in the 2024 Ranking can learn more about the ranking at: The World University Rankings for Innovation.


The ASEAN University Network Secretariat stands firm on its belief that rankings can mean so much more to higher education institutions than a means to compete with one another. Rather, they are valuable tools for universities to keep track of their performance, identify strength and weakness, explore areas of potential, and appraise themselves against international standards or global players. 

We would like to take this opportunity to express our sincerest gratitude to both speakers for an insightful introduction to each of their ranking systems which could provide higher education institutions of ASEAN a much more comprehensive look into their potentials and possibilities ahead.

Learn more about the topics and agendas discussed at the 6th ASEAN+3 Rectors’ Conference in the following list: