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ACA Reflection Paper on synergies through internationalisation

The objective of enhancing synergies between education, research and innovation has recently gained in prominence within the EU, national and institutional policy and programme agendas. To contribute to this critical evolving conversation, ACA – as a unique type of stakeholder organisation in higher education, representing national-level internationalisation agencies – has released this month a related Reflection Paper titled Minding the gap – Higher education, research and innovation in international cooperation.

Through this paper, ACA advocates for the role of international higher education cooperation in strengthening synergies between education, research and innovation. By enhancing synergies through internationalisation, not only is a fourth dimension added to the knowledge triangle, but also an essential ingredient for maximising these interrelations and their impact. Factual and theoretical evidence show that international cooperation and exchange positively contribute to the quality of research, teaching and innovation, in a variety of ways. As a result, the paper:

  • showcases several successful examples of national policies and programmes run by ACA member organisations and related bodies, that have demonstrably contributed to further integrating higher education, research and innovation activities in an international set-up and in multiple ways. These are to serve as inspiration for policies and programmes currently designed at EU level; and
  • puts forward a number of reflections and possible implications for and of further action at European, national and institutional level.

Key in the enhancement of synergies are: pursuing them with the added value, quality and greater impact objectives in sight; cross-policy and cross-programme thinking and funding; joint promotion of mobility schemes for students, staff and researchers; open and regular communication in the co-development process by actors at different levels; facilitating great flexibility in testing new models and concepts, fostering innovation potential; and working to close the gap between different statuses assigned to education and research, by reshaping the current excellence paradigm.

The paper was developed in close consultation with the ACA members, and also builds on discussions that took place in the framework of the webinar by the same name, which took place on 16 June 2020. The session recordings are available on ACA’s YouTube Channel.