The Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) is a non-profit organization of higher learning institutions that are primarily concerned with open and distance education. It strives to widen the educational opportunities available to all people in Asia and to improve the quality of the institutions in terms of their educational management, teaching and research. It promotes education by distance teaching systems, as well as professional and ethical standards; develops potentialities of open and distance education; cooperates with official bodies and others directly or indirectly interested in education at a distance; and facilitates cooperation with other similar regional and international bodies.

The concept of the Asian Association of Open Universities (AAOU) originated during the 1st Regional Seminar on Distance Education held in November-December, 1986, at Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University (STOU) under the auspices of the Asian Development Bank and STOU, in co-operation with UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (PROAP). The Seminar gave an opportunity for the heads of open universities in Asia (India, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Thailand) to discuss the establishment of the AAOU and draft the Constitution which was then taken back to the respective institutions for further discussions and consideration. Subsequently, all prospective AAOU members made a firm commitment to support and join the AAOU with an understanding to cooperate towards increasing the educational opportunities available to all people of the region.

The AAOU Inaugural Meeting and Research Conference was thus organized by Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, the University of the Air, and the National Institute of Multi Media Education, Japan, in cooperation with UNESCO Principal Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (PROAP), which supported the AAOU through financial assistance for the air travel of the heads or representatives of the participating institutions to the AAOU Conference.

Two sessions of the AAOU Inaugural Meeting and Research Conference were scheduled, the first venue being Sukhothai Thammathirat Open University, Thailand from 13-14 November, 1987, and the latter being the Tokyo Garden Palace Hotel, Japan, 16-18 November, 1987.

It is expected that the establishment of the AAOU will serve as a link for close cooperation among open universities in the Asian region and other existing regional and international organizations, and as the AAOU continues to progress, more open universities will become members, creating even more potentiality for all the people of this region to acquire an education and thus play a larger role in the social and economic development of their respective countries.

The AAOU membership consists of Full and Associate members. Our members share a common belief that the development of distance education can be obtained through friendship and close exchanges among institutions of open higher learning.

The AAOU Annual Conference, hosted in turn by member institutions, is a stimulating forum for all those associated with open and distance learning in Asia, particularly academics, administrators and students. It provides a focal point for bringing everyone up to date on the issues, ideas and developments in the field of open distance learning.