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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. ACA Director is Bernd Wächter. He will be succeeded by Irina Ferencz on 1 September, 2020. 

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 2020

Katrin Kiisler

ACA Vice-President / Deputy Head, Education Agency, Archimedes Foundation, Estonia

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Short Bio Katrin Kiisler is in charge of higher education at Archimedes Foundation. She joined the Archimedes team in 1998 with the mandate to facilitate launching and implementation of Erasmus programme in Estonia. Since then she has been active in the development Estonian higher education internationalisation policies, implementation of various mobility instruments, and been a member of numerous national and international working groups, committees, strategy task forces and evaluation panels. Her research interests are related to the transnational mobility of researchers and reversing the brain drain in higher education. Before joining Archimedes, Katrin was employed as a lecturer of Latin and Roman literature at the University of Tartu.

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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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Alenka Flander

Director, Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS), Slovenia

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Short Bio Dr Alenka Flander is the Director of the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS), leading Slovene institution in the field of internationalisation of education and training. In that capacity she is responsible for very successful 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.

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Christian Müller

Deputy Secretary-General, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), Germany

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Short Bio Christian Müller works at the German Academic Exchange Services (DAAD) since January 2002, and is currently Deputy Secretary-General. Previously, he headed the department of strategy at DAAD head office, since 2015. He served at DAAD Brazil from 2009 to 2014, as Director of the DAAD branch office in Rio de Janeiro. Simultaneously, he was President of the Board of the German Center for Science and Innovation (DWIH), São Paulo. Prior to this appointment, he was head of the Division “Communication and Marketing” at the DAAD in Bonn, leading the secretariat of the consortium GATE-Germany. In former years, he worked as university lecturer for German Language and Literature in Portugal (Aveiro) and Brazil (Campinas, Rio de Janeiro) as well as in the training of experts in development cooperation. His academic background is in Social Sciences and German Studies at the Universities of Göttingen and Bonn.

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Dana Petrova

Director, Centre for International Cooperation in Education (DZS), Czech Republic

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Short Bio Dana Petrova is Director at the Centre for International Cooperation in Education in the Czech Republic and member of the ACA Administrative Council. Dana graduated from the University of Economics in Prague, majoring in International Politics and Diplomacy. From 2000 to 2005 she worked at the Centre for Higher Education Studies in Prague, focusing mainly on the administration of EU educational projects. In 2007 she became head of the Erasmus Unit at the Centre for International Services in Prague. She was responsible for the overall implementation of the LLP/Erasmus programme in the Czech Republic. From 2011 to 2013 she held the position of Director of the Office for International Studies at Masaryk University in Brno, Czech Republic. From 2013 to 2016 she worked in Germany at CHE Consult GmbH, a Berlin based consulting company in the field of higher education. As a senior project manager was involved in a range of studies and research projects (e.g. Erasmus Impact Study for the European Commission), as well as development of tools measuring impact of international student mobility. Dana has extensive experience with international strategy development and implementation, IRO leadership and quality assessment of international projects. Dana is currently member of the EAIE Awards and Talent Committee.

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Péter Tordai

Director, Tempus Public Foundation (TPF), Hungary

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Short Bio Péter Tordai, Director of Tempus Public Foundation (the Hungarian agency for the internationalisation of education and training). He has been involved in the internationalisation of education and training for almost 20 years including school education, VET, higher education, adult learning and most recently youth. He has significant experience in transnational co-operation programmes financed by national, regional or EU resources, particularly on Erasmus+ programme and its predecessors, Stipendium Hungaricum programme (in-coming degree mobility programme financed by the Hungarian state), Campus Mundi (ESF funded inititiative for the internationalisation of the Hungarian Higher Education). Besides the co-ordination of scholarship programmes and the corresponding knowledge management activities he took part in transnational and national working groups on the preparation, monitoring and evaluation of specific initiatives. He is a member of the ACA Administrative Council.

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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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