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What’s new in Brussels? – Again a success

ACA opened its 2014 seminar season with its signature start-of-the-year event – What’s new in Brussels? Recent developments in European policies and programmes. This popular seminar, held on 30 January, drew a total of 155 participants from all over Europe, being fully-subscribed. The seminar gave the floor to speakers from the European Commission (EC), as well as from several stakeholder groups, who provided comprehensive updates on some of the most current issues on the European higher education agenda.

The programme was built to focus on novelties related to the final design and start of implementation of the new generation of EU programmes in the field of (higher) education and research, namely Erasmus+ and Horizon 2020. Two high-level speakers from the Directorate General for Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission, namely Adam Tyson and Claire Morel, presented what Erasmus+ brings new in the field of higher education and in the cooperation with partner countries respectively. They also shared information on the funding opportunities under the new programme, commenting on the present and upcoming calls for proposals, and on the similarities and differences in the application procedure compared to the calls that were previously organised under the Lifelong Learning Programme (LLP). Next, Siegbert Wuttig, who spoke from the perspective of a national agency (in his case the DAAD), gave further insights into the differences between and particularities of two key activities to be funded under Erasmus+ , i.e. Strategic Partnerships and Knowledge Alliances.

A panel moderated by Bernd Wächter (ACA) and formed of experts from stakeholder organisations, namely Florence Balthasar (Swisscore), Stefan Delplace (EURASHE), Inge Knudsen (Coimbra Group) and Rok Primožic (ESU), discussed very heatedly what the new programme brings for their constituencies, revealing that the new programme is met with both excitement and concern. 

The afternoon was marked by research-related topics. Don Westerheijden, from the University of Twente, updated the audience on the state of development of the U-Multirank, a multi-ranking and not an anti-ranking, whose first results are expected in spring this year. Fabienne Gautier, from the Directorate General for Research and Innovation gave an overview of the Horizon 2020 programme, which seems to bring, at least at a first glance, the much-awaited simplification of application and project management procedures. Bodo Richter, of DG EAC, shed light on the new features of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions, a sub-programme of Horizon 2020 bridging the gap between education and research. Last but not least, Laura Keustermans shared with the audience the view of an elitist group of European universities – LERU – of the Horizon 2020 programme.

In line with tradition, ACA will organise (at least) three more European Policy Seminars this year and hopes that each of these will be as captivating as this first very lively and informative event of 2014.