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Can there be such a thing as an academically strong, socially inclusive, well-funded and internationally-oriented university? This was the key question behind this year’s Annual Conference of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). The conference’s main conclusion, expressed by final keynote speaker Sir Peter Scott, was that internationalisation, academic excellence, solid funding and social responsibility do not naturally occur together. To make them all happen at the same time in one and the same institution requires political will and interventionist policies, as well as abandoning higher education systems which are only or mainly market-driven.
The ACA Annual Conference 2012 took place in Helsinki, between 10 and 12 June, and was jointly organised by ACA and its Finnish member CIMO. The University of Helsinki hosted the event, which drew an audience of close to 300. ACA had once again succeeded in engaging top-level experts, among them Jamil Salmi (formerly World Bank), Sijbolt Noorda (ACA President), Joan Dassin (Ford Foundation/IIE), Rolf Hoffmann (Fulbright Germany) and Ulrich Grothus (Deputy Secretary General of DAAD). Most participants were highly pleased. One enthusiastic delegate, who had brought along many colleagues, highlighted the different “perspectives on internationalisation” which the “fantastic speakers” provided.Next year’s ACA Annual Conference will be jointly organised with the NUFFIC and take place in The Hague, from 9 to 11 June. On this occasion, ACA will also celebrate its 20th anniversary. The next ACA European Policy Seminar will be organised on 12 October 2012 in Brussels. It is devoted to “higher education in 2030”.