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The First Hanseatic League of Universities Conference


The Hanseatic League of Universities (HLU) was founded by ten university presidents in April 2018 at Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen, the Netherlands.

The HLU’s vision was to revive the noble objectives of openness and cooperation among the approximately 190 city states of the original Hanseatic League that prospered in Europe from the twelfth century through to the seventeenth century. 

The HLU is a university alliance to pursue the following four visions:

  • Practice orientation in program development: to serve society and industry

  • Customer orientation in membership: from the viewpoint of high school graduates

  • External orientation in service: to equally serve the HLU and non-HLU members

  • Learning orientation in action: to create opportunities to learn from one another

To realize the above four visions, the HLU agreed to launch a university ranking system, which was (later) named as “World’s Universities with Real Impact (WURI).

The First Hanseatic League of Universities Conference

The Second Hanseatic League of Universities Conference


The Second HLU Conference was held in July 2019 at Incheon National University in Korea with the participation of 62 universities and colleges from 16 countries.


Resolution was made to launch WURI with four categories for evaluation:

1) Industrial applications of research and education

2) Entrepreneurial spirit and start-ups

3) Ethical value and social responsibility

4) Student mobility and openness 


More than 30,000 universities, colleges and other institutions in higher education are being invited to WURI and become contenders and evaluators. 

The First WURI Ranking in 2020 

The first WURI ranking was planned to be released during the Third HLU Conference at North Arizona University in the United States, which had to be canceled due to Covid-19 pandemic.   

Thus, the first WURI Ranking was released ONLINE via Zoom on June 11th, 2020.  469 innovative programs of 280 universities were included in the ranking. Top 50 rankings were published in four categories: Industrial Application, Entrepreneur Spirit, Ethical Values, Student Mobility and Openness. Stanford University(US) was ranked #1 in Global Top Ranking followed by MIT (US), Aalto University (Finland), Harvard (US), Minerva Schools at Keck Graduate Institute (US).   


ONLINE releases for the SECOND and THIRD WURI Ranking in 2021-2022


Due to the pandemic, the second and the third WURI rankings were released online in 2021 and 2022.  The participating universities dramatically increased where 511 innovative programs from 299 universities participated in 2021, and 796 innovative programs from 309 universities were included in the ranking in 2022.  MIT (US) ranked #1 in Global Top Ranking in 2021, followed by Stanford University (US), Minerva (US), Arizona State University (US), Hanze University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands).   In 2022, Minerva University (US) ranked #1 in Global Top Ranking, which was the first time for Neo-Boutique University to rise to a top position. Arizona State University (US), MIT (US), Stanford (US), University of Pennsylvania (US) ranked #2-#5 in 2022. 

The First OFFLINE Conference for the FOURTH WURI Ranking in 2023

WURI's full name has been changed to the World University Rankings for  Innovation(WURI).


On May 16-17, 2023, history was made as the Fourth WURI Ranking was unveiled in an in-person gathering. This momentous occasion took place during the Third Hanseatic League of Universities Conference at Florida Gulf Coast University in the US, symbolizing a pivotal step forward. Themed "Vectors of Resilience," nearly 200 participants from universities and higher education institutions deliberated the challenges they confronted and their transformative adaptations. On May 17, 2023, the Fourth WURI Ranking was announced, encompassing 1100+ innovative programs across 400+ institutions. The result revealed Minerva achieving Global Top Ranking #1 for two consecutive years, followed by Arizona State University (US), University of Pennsylvania (US), MIT(US), and Stanford (US). 


Dynamic Innovation: The Continuous Evolution of WURI 

Over the years, the WURI ranking has undergone a remarkable evolution, both in terms of content and methodology. Initially centered around four key categories—Industrial Application, Entrepreneurial Spirit, Ethical Values, and Student Mobility and Openness—the ranking has continually adapted to address contemporary challenges and opportunities.

In response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, WURI introduced a Crisis Management category, recognizing the importance of evaluating how universities navigated these unprecedented challenges. Moreover, the ranking acknowledged the significance of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which prompted a focus on post-pandemic realities.

For the WURI 2024 ranking, a substantial expansion took place, with the number of categories growing from four to an impressive thirteen. This expansion was driven by the desire to comprehensively capture the diverse landscape of innovative efforts within higher education institutions. These new categories serve as a valuable roadmap for organizations, enabling them to strategically plan and implement innovation initiatives. They provide a means for universities to assess their strengths and identify areas where improvement is needed.

Methodologically, WURI has made significant advancements, refining data collection, processing, and editing processes through the utilization of cutting-edge technologies such as Generative AI. This AI-powered tool has empowered the conversion of qualitative data into quantifiable insights, facilitating informed decision-making for consistent and reliable rankings.

This ongoing transformation exemplifies WURI's unwavering commitment to adaptability, its proactive stance in addressing emerging issues, and its dedication to fostering genuine innovation within the higher education sector.

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