Stay in the loop! Subscribe to our mailing list

Organisational structure

About us

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

+ Read more

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.

- See less

ACA Administrators in 2021

Alenka Flander

ACA Vice-President / Director, Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS)

+ Read more

Short Bio Alenka is the Director of ACA’s Slovene member organisation – the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS), the leading Slovene institution in the field of internationalisation of education and training. In that capacity she is responsible for the implementation of EU programmes (Erasmus+) in Slovenia with a strong focus on achieving sustainable impact of the projects and programme and ensuring effective dissemination and integration of programme results into institutional and national systems and practices. Alenka was trained as an electrical engineer and completed her PhD in the Political Science. Her research work is interdisciplinary in nature and encompasses monitoring and measuring the impact of European programmes in the area of education and training, and research on internationalisation and higher education. She contributed to national or international expert groups (i.e. EUROSTUDENT, EAIE Task Force) and is author of several publications and articles on internationalisation in higher education and academic profession.In internationalisation, she was behind the preparation of Slovene Strategy for internationalisation of higher education adopted in 2016.

- See less

Katarzyna Aleksy

ACA Treasurer / Director of Department - Programmes for Institutions at NAWA Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange

+ Read more

Short Bio Katarzyna Aleksy is the Director of Department – Programmes for Institutions at NAWA Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange. In 2017 she worked on the concept of the creation and operation of NAWA at the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. Prior to her leadership at NAWA, she worked at the National Agency for Erasmus, and in 2012 she became the Director of the Scholarship Programmes within the EEA and Norway Grants, as well as Swiss-Polish Cooperation Programme. In 2020, she received the award of IROs Forum - a network of the international offices of leading Polish state universities for her outstanding contribution to the internationalisation of education at Polish universities, innovative approach and vision. In the last three years she has presented and been a speaker in sessions organised during APAIE, NAFSA and EAIE conferences, as well as in many national events. In 2021, she was designated by the Ministry of Education and Science to the advisory committee on the European Universities Initiative. Presently at NAWA she also coordinates projects funded from the European Social Fund.

- See less

Stephan Geifes

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

+ Read more

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.

- See less

Runa Vigdís Guðmarsdóttir

Director, Erasmus+ National Agency within Rannis, Iceland

+ Read more

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.

- See less

Olivier Tschopp

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

+ Read more

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.

- See less

Jakub Tesař

Director, Higher Education Department at the Czech National Agency for International Education and Research (DZS)

+ Read more

Short Bio Jakub Tesař has been leading the Higher Education Department at DZS – Czech National Agency for International Education and Research since 2018. His unit supports comprehensive internationalisation of Czech higher education through the Erasmus+, governmental and inter-governmental scholarship programmes, the Study in the Czech Republic initiative, Czech Republic Alumni programme, and the Monitoring Internationalisation of Czech Higher Education (MICHE) project. Jakub is a co-author of the Ministry’s Internationalisation of Higher Education Strategy 2021+. Before obtaining his position at DZS, Jakub worked in the J. W. Fulbright Commission for 18 years. He received his Master’s degree at Prague University of Economics and Business in 1998.

- See less

Gerhard Volz

Head, Department for International Cooperation in Higher Education at the OeAD (Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalisation)

+ Read more

Short Bio Gerhard Volz is Head of the recently established Department for International Cooperation in Higher Education at the OeAD (Austrian Agency for Education and Internationalisation). He is responsible for national and European support schemes in higher education, including Erasmus+ and international collaboration, as well as additional initiatives such as Study in Austria, EURAXESS, and Bologna support projects. Working for the OeAD since 1998, Mr. Volz was initially responsible for higher education cooperation programmes and funding schemes for various regions, such as Central and Eastern Europe, as well as development cooperation programmes worldwide. Between 2007 to 2020 he was acting as Head of Section for Erasmus+ Higher Education and Deputy Director of the National Agency Erasmus+ Austria. Mr. Volz holds a Master’s degree in Political Sciences, History and Educational Sciences (University of Vienna). He has studied and participated in work-related activities in Europe, Caucasus, Asia, Africa.

- See less