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Gratitude for an enriching and dynamic 2023

Looking back at the year 2023, for a quick retrospective, there are many developments and accomplishments to be grateful for at an organisational level. This year marked ACA’s 30th anniversary, which was celebrated in the framework of our annual leadership event – the ACA Strategic Summit – with close collaborators and partners. Additionally 2023 kicked off the start of the implementation period of ACA’s 2023 – 2027 Strategy, and brought significant advancements in each goal dimension, as well several additional ambitious initiatives. 

First, and foremost, our network not only continued to grow, with three new members in 2023 – Taith (Wales), Foundation Tempus (Serbia) and SAAIC (Slovakia) – but also further intensified its collaboration with and support to member organisations, through an enhanced portfolio of activities and formats. Two well attended and inspiring conferences in Prague (with DZS) and Bled (with CMEPIUS) brought the topic of digitalisation of international higher education to the limelight, taking stock and facilitating grass-roots, hands-on discussions with higher education staff in Czechia and Slovenia on the administrative and pedagogical aspects of digital transformations, contrasted by experiences shared by renowned international speakers. Impactful training sessions for higher education institutions were also co-delivered with ACA members (AMEUP, CMEPIUS, DAAD, EDUFI, OeAD, Rannís), ACA strategic partner SIHO and external experts, in the framework of the Inclusion ACAdemy for over 160 staff of higher education institutions in the six countries, supporting them in advancing their practices in inclusive mobility. This was also done through a tailor-made training event with ACA member IKY, for Greek university representatives. The effective format of the Thematic Peer Groups (TPGs) was extended this year to regularly convene communication officers and specialists from ACA members, in respective TPG meetings, streamlining peer learning and joint campaigns, while the TPG Global Developments inaugurated a new series of exchanges that will be continued in 2024, on Responsible internationalisation and knowledge security, centred around the role that national internationalisation agencies do and need to play in related developments at national and European fronts.  

Second, as 2023 was a thriving year in terms of policy initiatives at the European level, ACA actively contributed to related developments via two official groups – the HE stakeholder group convened by DG EAC to inform the elaboration of the Monitoring Framework and the Investment Pathway for the European Universities Initiative (EUI) and the Working Group on KA131 Higher Education Mobility. The ACA secretariat published two extensive policy statements – on the learning mobility framework and the mid-term review of Erasmus+, informing also the Draft report produced by MEP Milan Zver for the CULT Committee of the European Parliament. Preparing for the upcoming EU programme period, ACA also started essential discussions tracking the tangible evidence of the impact of degree and credit mobility, for the mobile individuals, as well as for economies and society at large, via its annual advocacy event.  

Third, the topic of institutional transformation during uncertain times, marked by complex geopolitical developments was further explored, in the framework of ACA’s internal meetings and events, but also during the ACA flagship event What’s new in Brussels? seminar. Exchanges between ACA members in the framework of two tailor-made events – one in Washington, DC, hosted by ACA member IIE, and one in Brussels, hosted by the ACA Secretariat, DAAD Brussels and Movetia – enabled members to further learn from their own practices and approaches to contributing and advising on national policy developments for the advancement of international cooperation.  

Fourth, as ACA is also known for its studies, and knowledge development, 2023 brought the start of important work on a 20 year impact study of the Erasmus Mundus programme at institutional level, in collaboration with partners and experts (as part of the Erasmus Mundus Support Initiative – EMSI, implemented on behalf of EACEA and European Commission, and funded under Erasmus+), the full roll-out of the HIBLend project, mapping the evolution of blended mobility formats in the European context from a quality-enhancement lens, and aiming to develop a related framework and community of practice, the start of the ECEM project on community engaged mobility and the release of a very informative and explorative report on the institutional impact of staff mobility (in collaboration with Rannís, AMEUP, CMEPIUS, DZS, OeAD, TPF). 

As we look ahead to 2024, we are excited to continue building on the momentum of our ongoing projects, advocacy efforts, and membership development activities. The first opportunity to catch up with or get to meet the team of the ACA Secretariat in 2024 is at ACA’s flagship seminar – What’s new in Brussels? Recent developments on European Policies and programmes, scheduled for 25-26 January 2024 in Brussels (registrations open). 

We hope to meet you soon into the New Year, after a refreshing holiday season!