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Organisational structure

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Organisational structure

The Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) is an international not-for-profit association under Belgian law and portrays the typical organisational structure for entities with this legal status.

It is governed by its supreme body – the General Assembly (GA) – where all the association’s members (both full and associate) are represented. However, only ACA’s full members have voting rights at the GA meetings. The Assembly is generally convened twice a year. Being the highest decision-making body of ACA, the GA deals with matters such as electing the President, admitting new members, approving the association’s budget and accounts, and any other matters within its competence, in accordance to the ACA Statutes.

The decisions of the GA are based on the proposals put forward by the Administrative Council (AC) – ACA’s management body. Like the General Assembly, the AC usually meets twice a year and is headed by the ACA President. It consists of up to 7 members – the ACA Administrators – elected by and from amongst the members of the General Assembly for a three-year term. This number includes the ACA Treasurer and the Vice-President. The mandate of all the Administrators is renewable once, except for the Vice-President. In addition, the ACA President and the Director are ex-officio members of the AC.

The ACA Director heads the Brussels-based ACA Secretariat, which handles the day-to-day affairs of the association and supports the development of ACA members through policy updates (ACA Newsletter) and the production of policy briefs and analyses of broader issues related to the internationalisation of higher education. The ACA Director from September 2020 is Irina Ferencz.

Ulrich Grothus

ACA President

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Ulrich Grothus is president of ACA. Before his retirement in July 2018, he was Deputy Secretary-General and head of the Berlin office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He obtained a master’s degree in Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1976. He then worked as a journalist before joining the International Division of the former West German Rectors Conference in 1982. He worked for DAAD from 1988 through 2018, first as spokesman and head of the president’s office. From 1991, he was consecutively director of all three DAAD program directorates, for the Southern and Northern hemisphere and for supra regional internationalization programs. In between, he served as director of the Paris office from 1998 to 2000 and of the New York office from 2004 to 2008. Grothus speaks five foreign languages and has given three others a try.

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ACA Administrators in 2021

Dana Petrova

ACA Vice-President / Director, Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (DZS), Czech Republic

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Short Bio Dana Petrova is the Director of the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (DZS) and the Vice-President of ACA. She has many years of experience in various positions in the field of international education. From 2000 to 2011 she was Head of the Erasmus Unit at the National Agency for EU programmes in Prague, responsible for the overall implementation of the Erasmus programme in the Czech Republic. Later she worked as Director of the Office for International Cooperation at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic (2011-2013) and Senior Project Manager at CHE Consult GmbH, a Berlin based consulting company in the field of higher education (2013-2016). Dana has extensive experience with coordination of EU programmes at national and institutional level, international strategy development and implementation, impact assessment and strategic leadership in international education. She holds an MSc degree in International Politics and Diplomacy (University of Economics and Business, Prague) and currently pursues an MBA degree.

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Ragnhild Solvi Berg

ACA Treasurer / Senior Adviser, Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Diku), Norway

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Short Bio Ragnhild Solvi Berg is Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (Diku) and has been working in the agency since 2004. At the time being, she is working at the recently established Norwegian Cooperation Office for Research, Innovation and Education (Norcore), as head of Diku Brussels office. From 2010-1016 Ragnhild was seconded as a national expert to the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, where she worked as a policy officer in the unit for international cooperation and programmes. She holds a master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen.

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Stephan Geifes

Director, Erasmus+ National Agency Higher Education within the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany

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Short Bio Dr. Stephan Geifes is the Director of the Erasmus+ National Agency Higher Education within the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since Feb 1, 2020. He has been working for the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) since 1999. Before his current position he was Head of Division Transnational Education and Cooperation Programmes at the DAAD in Bonn since 2013. Prior to this position he was Director of the DAAD Paris Office from 2001 to 2005, Secretary General of the Franco-German University (FGU) from 2005 to 2008, and Scientific Coordinator at the German Historical Institute of Paris from 2008 to 2012. Geifes has studied History, Sociology, Roman Languages and Political Sciences at the University of Bielefeld, the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris (EHESS) and at the Institute d’Études politques (IEP) in Paris. After earning a Master’s degree in History from the University of Bielefeld he continued his studies at the École nationale d’administration (ENA) in Paris. He has a PhD in History from the University of Bochum and has published on international higher education exchange.

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Runa Vigdís Guðmarsdóttir

Director, Erasmus+ National Agency within Rannis, Iceland

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Short Bio Rúna Vigdís Guðmarsdóttir has worked on internationalisation in education since 2007, when she joined the Icelandic National Agency for the Lifelong Learning Programme. She was seconded to the Erasmus+ Higher Education team at DG Education and Culture from 2013 to 2017, working first and foremost on programme management and impact assessment. She was responsible for outgoing student mobility from the University of Iceland until 2018, when she took over her role as the team leader for higher education at Rannís – The Icelandic Centre for Research, which serves as the Erasmus+ National Agency in Iceland. As of 1 January 2021, Rúna is the Director of the National Agency. She holds an undergraduate degree from the Iceland University of Education and two master degrees: in Intercultural Education from Freie Universität Berlin and Applied Linguistics from the University of Sussex. Green and inclusive internationalisation is her favourite topic at work.

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Olivier Tschopp

Director, Movetia - Swiss National Agency for Exchange and Mobility, Switzerland

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Short Bio Olivier Tschopp acts as Director of the new Swiss national agency Movetia (exchange and mobility) since January 2017. He obtained a master’s degree of arts at the Universities of Lausanne and Neuchâtel in 1992. Before joining Movetia, Olivier was teacher, school director, responsible for the upper secondary and tertiary educational level (professional and vocational education and training - head of the unit training) and general secretary within the department for education of the canton of Jura (Switzerland). During his term he contributed directly to develop an exchange and mobility office. His professional choices are closely linked to "change management", thus starting or setting up new structures or project organizations.

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