The success story began when a handful of universities in Austria, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam joined forces in 1994 to form a network with the vision of facilitating research activities between Austria and Asian partner universities.
Today, nearly 30 years later, ASEA-UNINET consists of approximately 85 universities in nearly 20 countries in Europe and in the ASEAN countries of Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines as well as in Iran and Pakistan (associate members). And the network is constantly growing. Long since not all universities seeking membership can be accepted. Only after a “probationary period” of several years they have a chance to become full members. ASEA-UNINET has been a research-oriented network from the very beginning, and this in all branches of science. For almost 30 years it has stood for sustainable scientific cooperation, innovative and participatory research projects as well as study, teaching and research stays. It thus serves as a forum for the exchange of ideas and opinions between two continents.
Austria has played an essential role in shaping ASEA-UNINET’s history, starting with the initiator and founder, and today's honorary president of the network, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. mult. Bernd M. Rode, but also because of its far-sighted members of the board of directors and of the board of trustees and a great number of committed (prospective) scholars and scientists who have always “fraternised” their research with colleagues in the ASEAN region to create new knowledge.
ASEA-UNINET, which is funded and continuously supported by the Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF) and implemented by the OeAD, enables Austria a range of funding. For example, around 80 bilateral and multilateral projects take place each year between Austrian and the Asian partner universities, including Pakistan. Moreover, Ernst Mach scholarships totalling more than 400 scholarship months are awarded annually to incoming students from selected ASEAN partner countries within the framework of ASEA-UNINET. Every 1.5 years ASEA-UNINET honours outstanding scientific achievements within its network with the Bernd Rode Award. New as of 2021 is a research fellowship that enables postdocs from selected Southeast Asian partner universities to spend a short-term research stay in Austria.
Compared to other funding programmes the volume may seem modest. But that does not signify that the success and lasting impact of ASEA-UNINET are not a great one! Let's let some circumstantial evidence speak for its performance: In the almost 30 years since the network was founded many hundreds of (prospective) scientists and scholars have researched and taught in Austria and the ASEAN partner countries as well as in Pakistan, thereby also inspiring, encouraging and having a formative influence on just as many researchers. For some alumni the network was and is a springboard to great academic and political careers in their home countries.
In these almost 30 years not only has a veritable flood of joint scientific cooperations and publications emerged but also the much respected “ASEA-UNINET family” spanning two continents, whose consistency has withstood even global crises such as those we are currently experiencing and which looks to the future with enthusiasm. ASEA-UNINET’s success story is also reflected in its role model effect. ASEA-UNINET has served as a role model for two other networks with similar objectives: Eurasia-Pacific Uninet (EPU), which was founded in 2000, and the Austrian-African Research Network (Africa-UniNet), which was launched in 2020.
Well done! Here's to the next 30 years!