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ACA in 2016: Preparing for 2020

Approaching the end of 2016, it is again time to take a look at the past achievements and future opportunities - and make some SMART wishes!

ACA’s event season traditionally started with the flagship European Policy Seminar (EPS) “What’s New in Brussels?”, which reviews developments in EU programmes and policies, and gathers key higher education stakeholders in Europe. The second European Policy Seminar of 2016, which was ACA’s jubilee EPS, 50th in the series, was organised in Amsterdam instead of Brussels due to the unfortunate events that shook our dear city in end-March. This seminar was dedicated to Master’s level education in Europe and discussions on a comprehensive and strategic approach in linking processes and practices in marketing, admission, student and alumni relations at European universities. In October, we were back in Brussels for the third European Policy Seminar “Crisis management in international higher education”. The event gathered around 80 participants from higher education institutions, international networks and national-level bodies, who engaged in group activities and plenary discussions on safety and security concerns and risk management. Following up on ACA’s 2015 seminar on the refugee crisis, ACA member organisations had the opportunity to meet on 3 November at an ACA members-only event and exchange experiences and practices related to the integration of refugees in higher education. The closing event of 2016 was the excellent Annual Conference in Budapest titled “UniverCities. Higher Education Institutions and their habitat”, organised jointly with our Hungarian member Tempus Public Foundation, who are celebrating their 20th anniversary this year. Excellent organisation by TPF, fascinating speakers and inspiring discussions marked this year’s conference and the ACA Secretariat would like to express gratitude to the TPF colleagues for all their cooperation and support.

Taking a glimpse into the near future, we invite you to save the date of the next “What’s new in Brussels?”, which takes place on 2 February, where else but in Brussels. Registrations are open!

ACA has been engaged in a number of interesting projects this year, some old, some new, some short and timely.

The study on WU-China researcher mobility was finalised and presented at the EU Delegation in Beijing. ACA continues to be involved in the 'Mastermind Europe' project, coordinated by the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) and in the big global project of promoting the attractiveness of European Higher Education in the world (Study in Europe project), coordinated by the British Council. Between January and March ACA conducted a series of information and training seminars in Brazil, China, South Africa and India. More about ACA’s role in the projects can be found on ACA’s website. ACA is a partner in IMPALA, Erasmus+ Capacity Building in Higher Education project, the aim of which is to support South African higher education organisations (HEIs) in their internationalisation efforts through a range of training and peer learning activities (workshops, site visits, seminars).

In late March the ACA Secretariat was invited by the European Parliament, the Policy Department for Structural and Cohesion Policies, to do a short but very important project looking into the implementation of decentralised actions of the Erasmus+ programme by national agencies (NAs). The project consisted of collecting information on the experiences of NAs in the Erasmus+ programme countries in the implementation of decentralised actions during the first almost 2.5 years of Erasmus+, via an online questionnaire and via a number of follow-up interviews. The report can be found on the EP The ACA Secretariat is also involved in the Advisory Boards of two EU funded projects: CALOHEE, co-coordinated by the Universities of Groningen and Deusto, and in HousErasmus+, led by Erasmus Student Network (ESN).

ACA´s monthly Newsletter ‘Education Europe’ maintains its role as ACA’s renowned news service providing updates and analyses of global, European and national developments in higher education. ACA’s Newsletter has covered a wide range of policy developments in Europe and around the world and presented the readers with more than 150 articles on EU, national and international news and analysis of higher education and research policies.

Last, but not least, ACA is actively working on its new strategy ACA 2020, with a view to maintaining and enhancing its relevant role in the internationalisation landscape in Europe and beyond. More information is to come soon.

Many warm thanks to all ACA members for contributions, cooperation and coordination of ACA activities throughout 2016. Our gratitude goes to ACA readership, partners and enthusiasts who continuously support ACA’s work and who gave useful feedback in the preparation of the ACA 2020 strategy.

Marvellous holidays and best wishes to all ACA friends and partners! And don’t forget to take your ideals along into 2017!