It is perfectly clear that the Association of Southeast Asia Nations or ASEAN, which was established in 1967, has achieved remarkable progress in strengthening the ties and promoting co-operation among countries in Southeast Asia, especially in terms of cultural, economic and social collaborations. Nevertheless, it was not until the Fourth ASEAN Summit, held in Singapore in January 1992, that co-operation in the fields of higher educaiton and human resource development has become the point of attention of the ASEAN leaders.
At the Summit , ASEAN leaders directed that ASEAN should help hasten the solidarity and the development of a regional identity by considering ways to further strengthen the existing network of the leading universities and institutions of higher learning in the region. The idea was later developed into ASEAN University Network (AUN) which was established in November 1995 with the signing of its Charter by the Ministers responsible for Higher Education from ASEAN countries, the signing of the Agreement on the Establishment of the AUN by the presidents/rectors/vice-chancellors of participating universities and the formation of AUN Board of Trustees.
The main objective of the AUN is to strengthen the existing network of co-operation among leading universities in ASEAN, by promoting co-operation and solidarity among ASEAN scholars and academicians, developing academic and professional human resource, and promoting information dissemination among ASEAN academic community. Indeed, the network has brought together the ASEAN countries’ individual quest for academic collaborations in the identified priority areas that would deepen understanding of the dynamic ASEAN, and accordingly hasten regional identity and solidarity.
Soon after the inception of the AUN, the role of the organisation is greatly boosted by an indispensable guideline for ASEAN to achieve ASEAN Vision 2020: an ASEAN as a conert of Southeast Asian Nations, outward looking, living in peace, stability and prosperity, bonde together in partnership in dynamic development and in a community of caring societies. ASEAN leaders then emphasises the importance of strengthening the ASEAN University Network and urges that it moves forward to the ASEAN University. The role of the AUN later reemphasized by the theme identified by the Vientiane Action Programme 2004-2010 :”Towards shared prosperity and destiny in an intergrated, peaceful and caring ASEAN Community”. Today, the AUN is a network widely recognised as a vital mechanism for the build-up of an active and renowned ASEAN community in higher education. Given such importance, the AUN was highly commended by the Meeting of Ministers for Education in ASEAN Countries in August 2005 for its achievements in upgrading the capacity of ASEAN human resource and enhancing the quality of education of AUN member universities. With the strengths and expertise of our members, the AUN could play a major role in broadening the integration of the ten member countries into one cohesive ASEAN Community and narrowing the development gap among them which are the ultimate goals of the Vientiane Action Programme endorsed at the Tenth ASEAN Summit.