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Thematic Peer Groups

ACA Membership

Thematic Peer Groups

Thematic Peer Groups (TPGs) have been a significant way for ACA members to discuss specific topics in international higher education and to exchange experience and insight. The five TPGs allow ACA and members to stay abreast of evolving and immediate areas of interest in internationalisation by creating new groups as needed – as with our COVID-19 TPG, and also represent a shared dedication to some of the core pillars of ACA’s expertise and internationalisation of higher education. The TPGs aim to harmonise member organisations’ synergies and to catalyse joint initiatives, such as new projects and events.

After each TPG description below there is a curated selection of position papers, projects, and/or publications meant to highlight ACA’s engagement related to each TPG; please note, these lists are non-exhaustive. For more related work, visit our ACA Positions, Projects and Publications pages.


1. Global Developments
Chaired by: Gro Tjore, President, ACA

There are number of developments around the world that effect the internationalisation of higher education. Since the beginning of 2022, significant developments have included but are not limited to: the ongoing war in Ukraine, the crisis around civic freedom in Iran, geopolitical tensions, and the energy and housing crises. With all of these and future developments interlinking, supporting students and scholars remains key for ACA and its member organisations. This Thematic Peer Group provides members with a platform to share resources and to exchange ideas and solutions on related global developments, while remaining flexible to discuss other arising matters. 

2024: National resources from ACA members on Knowledge Security
2. Research on international higher education

Co-chaired by: Irma Garam, EDUFI, and Irina Ferencz, ACA

Research remains central as a way to advance knowledge in the field of international higher education. ACA and its members have a long-standing commitment to keep a pulse on, and advance, existing knowledge on topics of internationalisation. This group leverages the diverse expertise and reach of ACA’s members in order to explore emerging trends to better anticipate major developments in the field. Within the broad range of internationalisation areas of research, this group’s foci include: advancing existing knowledge on staff mobility, data comparability on international student and staff mobility, and questions of impact of internationalisation activities.


Related ACA publications and projects:
2020 – Ongoing: Internationalisation in Higher Education for Society – IHES
2020 – Ongoing: UniWeliS – Supporting internationalisation of higher education through professionalising services for mobile academic staff
2020 – 2021: Erasmus+ Staff Mobility Comparative Data Analysis

3. European Policies

Co-chaired by: Ragnhild Solvi Berg, HK dir, and Veronika Kupriyanova, ACA

As ACA is located in Brussels, it has a central role in the interplay between European policy developments and higher education institutions across Europe, including ACA’s member organisations. ACA draws on its long history in advocacy in this area and serves as a platform for ACA members to discuss developments in European higher education, research policies and programmes. The aim of this TPG is to raise awareness of latest EU developments and help prepare actions and responses at the European level. This group has a specific focus on the Higher Education Transformation Agenda and the European Universities Initiative.


Related ACA publications and projects:
2021: ACA statement on the roll-out of the European Universities Initiative
2020: ACA’s contribution to the EC’s public consultation on the European Education Area
2020: ACA’s input paper, Towards a 2030 Vision on the Future of Universities in Europe

4. Widening inclusion in international higher education

Co-chaired by: Sami Niemelä, Sofia Lähdeniemi, EDUFI, and Martin Bogdan, ACA

Inclusion – equity, access, support and opportunities – has become a priority for ACA, as well as for many higher education institutions in Europe, adjacent to the European Commission. What does inclusivity in higher education mean and how is it translated into policy and practice? One important aim of this TPG is to contextualise the Erasmus+ 2021-2027 call’s Inclusion and Diversity strategy. Together with ACA’s member organisations, this group collectively addresses concerns regarding the development of European higher education inclusion policy as it intersects with the internationalisation of higher education.


Related ACA publications and projects:
2023 – 2024: The Inclusion ACAdemy series
2021 Think Piece series: Inclusion in International Higher Education: European Perspectives & Insights
2019 – 2020: CARe – Career Advancement for Refugee Researchers in Europe
2018 – 2019: GREET – Guiding Refugees via European Exchange and Training

5. New mobility formats

Co-chaired by: Milos Milutinovic, OeAD, and Angeliki Psychogyiou, ACA

How can mobility be inclusive, impactful, environmentally friendly, sustainable, and accessible? International student and staff mobility in higher education is an essential pillar of internationalisation, and participation trends, formats and modes of mobility are continuously evolving. ACA’s long-standing commitment to inquiry on mobility formats is complemented by ACA members’ country-specific input, expertise and networks. This thematic peer group aims to synthesise and explore emerging trends in mobility, with a special focus on green mobility and digitalisation.


Related ACA publications and projects:
2023 – Ongoing: HIBLend: Enhancing the Quality of Blended Mobility in European Higher Education
2022 – Ongoing: European Digital Education Hub
2022 Think Piece series: Digitalisation in International Higher Education
2021 – 2022: Students’ motivations for Blended and Virtual International Exchanges During COVID-19
2020 – 2021: Erasmus+ Staff Mobility Comparative Data Analysis

6. Communications

Co-chaired by: Annemarie Willemsen, Nuffic, Paulo Almeida, Erasmus + Portuguese National Agency, Education and Training (A.N E+EF),  and Courtney Hartzell, ACA

Communicating key messages of significant publications, events and news, and engaging with audiences of ACA and its broader community, is invaluable for ACA and member organisations’ work. In order to stay abreast of the quickly changing landscape of communication tools, platforms, styles, and trends, it is important to stay connected, share experiences, and learn from each other. One aim of this Thematic Peer Group (TPG) is to connect individuals within ACA member organisations who are responsible for disseminating information, in order to exchange good practices and update each other on evolving communications trends and tools.





Archived TPGs
COVID-19 impact on ACA members’ activities

Chaired by: Ulrich Grothus, ACA President

The Covid-19 pandemic continues to impact the internationalisation of higher education. There have been, and continue to be, developments related to teaching and learning, international and national mobility, higher education policy-making and strategic planning and funding schemes. This group benefits from ACA’s member organisation’s reach in its ability to share latest developments on how the global health pandemic is affecting the aforementioned areas, as well as international higher education more broadly in our members’ respective countries.


Related ACA publications and projects:
2020 Think Piece series, The world after COVID-19