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Brussels, 9 November 2018

Mobility-migration nexus: policies, practices, discourses and evidence


Be it in research, practice or policymaking, migration is a subject of continuous fundamental debate, which cannot be rightly comprehended without a multidisciplinary approach. What is considered migration, who is a migrant and what type of migrant – the discourse is shaped on many levels, migration trajectories are rarely clear-cut, and evidence never conclusive, reflecting the unpredictability of human life path.

The interplay and the distinctions between migration and mobility are not easy to establish and the ‘grey zones’ in-between make the debate so complex as it is. And while the movement of people remains a constant throughout history, the types of movement and movers have, at least in Europe, shifted the old notions of migration, bringing forth academic and highly skilled migration as a high demographic and market requirement and, as such, a concern of governments, researchers and education and training providers.  

Recruiting, training and retaining global talent is a piece of the mobility-migration puzzle that has for long guided higher education actors in the attempt to understand mobility choices and that has led national policymakers to ensure better conditions for entry and stay of international academic population. While on the one hand, international graduates (i.e. highly skilled immigrants) often struggle to find work matching their qualifications, there has also been a movement of re-gaining ‘home’ talent from abroad with attractive incentives introduced by (national) governments.   

Mobility-migration nexus: policies, practices, discourses and evidence” - ACA’s next European Policy Seminar - will focus on this very intersection between international mobility and migration by looking into current policy-practice links and gaps, contemporary discourses and existing evidence on the two in the context of highly skilled migration, both voluntary and forced, particularly in light of Europe’s recent struggle to cope with the latter. 

This seminar aims to support HEIs in their endeavours in international cooperation by pinpointing current trends in international student and graduate movement in Europe and beyond. Not less so, it aims to inform policymakers and practitioners alike of ongoing and relevant research, to create space for the policy-practice-research ‘trialogue’, and to point to some effective practices that can serve as an example and inspiration to national-level actions and university initiatives. Another ambition of the seminar is to help tackle the prevailing pejorative discourses, which not only make the debate on migration a contentious one, but also defy the European commitment to solidarity and diversity.  

We strongly encourage relevant stakeholders at EU, national and institutional level to join us on 9 November 2018 in Brussels and provide their contribution to discussions, which will result in a report for policymakers and practitioners. The event will offer a highly interactive setting and an array of distinct perspectives and positions on the migration-mobility relationship.   


8 November 2018

19:30 Pre-seminar dinner at La Manufacture

9 November 2018
8:30 – 9:00 Registration opens. Welcome coffee
9:00 – 9:15 Welcome note by ACA
9:15 – 10:15 International Migration & Mobility – Concepts, Discourses and Realities
Introduction and moderation by Ulrich Grothus, ACA President
Geertrui Lanneau, Senior Regional Labour Migration and Human Development Specialist, International Organisation for Migration: Migration, (higher) education and development
Prof. Russell King, Professor of Geography, University of Sussex: International Student Mobility: trends and trajectories
10:15 – 10:45 Coffee break
10:45 – 11:45 Academic Migration Networks & Public Diplomacy – From Student Recruitment to Alumni Engagement
Moderator: Ragnhild Solvi Berg, Senior adviser, DIKU
Pietro De Matteis, European External Action Service Advisor on Public Diplomacy: EU’s public diplomacy initiative & alumni engagement
Mikael Börjesson, Uppsala University: Academic mobility and international migration – A study of the Swedish Institute scholarships

11:50 – 13:10

Parallel Sessions Round 1
Between Brain Gain and Brain Waste

Session 1. Panel discussion
How to better use the capital of international migration?
Moderator: Irma Garam, Research Manager, EDUFI
Adinda van Gaalen, Senior Policy Officer, Nuffic/ PhD candidate Ghent University, The brain drain – brain gain dilemma of international mobility
Marco Pecoraro, University of Neuchâtel & IMISCOE research group on highly skilled migrants and brain waste: Overeducation of highly skilled immigrants: how can universities, policymakers & employers cooperate more effectively?
Session 2. Poster session
From refugee to international student/researcher – current policies and practices supporting highly skilled refugees
Moderator: Marija Mitić, ACA Policy Officer
Kitty Fehringer, Policy Officer, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission: The Science4Refugees initiative – present and future
Project leaders of Horizon2020 / Erasmus+ projects focusing on integration of highly skilled refugees

13:10 – 14:15 Lunch break

14:15 – 15:30

Parallel Sessions Round 2
Retaining and Tracking Global Talent

Session 3. Panel discussion
Retaining non-EU talent: latest developments at EU and national level
Moderator: Karla Zimanova, Deputy Director, SAIA
Hélène Calers, DG Migration and Home Affairs, European Commission: overview of the latest developments in facilitating legal migration and retaining international talent
Leonardo Ortega, Work in Estonia: National incentives for graduate retention – the case of Estonia

Session 4. Presentation
Graduate tracking – Capturing international mobility in the trajectories of graduates
Moderator: Irina Ferencz, Deputy Director, ACA
Nadia Manzoni, Policy Officer, Higher Education, DG Education and Culture, European Commission: Rationale for the European graduate tracking initiative and expected results
Martin Unger, Senior Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies (HIS): EUROGRADUATE study – state of play and future activities

15:30 – 15:50 Coffee break
15:50 – 16:50 Closing Panel
Linking Research, Policymaking and Practice – the way forward
Moderator: Bernd Wächter, Director, ACA
Claire Herrmann, Policy Officer, European Commission, DG Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
Martin Unger, Senior Researcher, Institute for Advanced Studies (HIS)
Marie Desrousseaux, Human Rights and Solidarity Coordinator, European Students’ Union (ESU)
Prof. Ides Nicaise, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
16:50 – 17:00 Thank you note and end of seminar



Ulrich Grothus

Ulrich Grothus is President of ACA. Before his retirement in July 2018, he was Deputy Secretary-General and head of the Berlin office of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He obtained a master’s degree in Political Science at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1976. He then worked as a journalist before joining the International Division of the former West German Rectors Conference in 1982. He worked for DAAD from 1988 through 2018, first as spokesman and head of the president’s office. From 1991, he was consecutively director of all three DAAD program directorates, for the Southern and Northern hemisphere and for supra regional internationalization programs. In between, he served as director of the Paris office from 1998 to 2000 and of the New York office from 2004 to 2008. Grothus speaks five foreign languages and has given three others a try.

Geertrui Lanneau

Geertrui Lanneau is a Senior Specialist on labour mobility and human development at the International Organization for Migration (IOM). Based at the organization’s Regional Office for the European Union, Norway and Switzerland, she provides policy guidance on labour migration, migrant integration, and the linkages between migration and development. From 2007 to 2013 she was attached to IOM’s Regional Office for West and Central Africa in Dakar, advising governments on labour mobility and human development issues. She also provided capacity building support to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in migration management. Prior to joining the IOM, she worked as a Human Rights Specialist for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Uganda and as Adjunct Advisor for the Belgian Federal Ministry of Justice. She holds a master’s in law from the University of Leuven.

Russell King

Russell King is Professor of Geography at the University of Sussex, and former Director of the Sussex Centre for Migration Research. Between 2001 and 2013 he was the editor of the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies. Following his early interests in land tenure and agricultural geography, deriving from his PhD on the land reform of Southern Italy, Russell’s research interests shifted to the study of migration, which he has been researching now for 40 years. He has directed major research projects on return migration to Southern Italy (funded by ESRC), Irish migration (Trinity Trust and the Bank of Ireland), British retirement migration to the Mediterranean (ESRC), Albanian migration (Leverhulme Trust), international student migration (HEFCE), second-generation return migration to Greece and Cyprus (AHRC) and New European Youth Mobilities (the EU Horizon 2020 ‘YMOBILITY’ project). He also headed the Sussex involvement in the EU Framework Six Network of Excellence on ‘International Migration, Integration and Social Cohesion in Europe’ (IMISCOE), which is still ongoing as Europe’s major forum for migration research. His main regional interests are in Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, but he has also researched migration, as a global phenomenon, in other parts of the world. He is a strong believer in the value of collaborative, comparative and interdisciplinary research, and in the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods.

Ragnhild Solvi Berg

Ragnhild Solvi Berg is a senior adviser for the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (DIKU) and has been working in the agency since 2004. At the time being, she is working at the recently established Norwegian Cooperation Office for Research, Innovation and Education (NORCORE). From 2010-1016 Ragnhild was seconded as a national expert to the European Commission, DG Education and Culture, where she worked as a policy officer in the unit for international cooperation and programmes. She holds a master’s degree in Social Anthropology from the University of Bergen.  

Pietro De Matteis

Pietro De Matteis holds a PhD in international studies form the University of Cambridge where he researched in the field of Energy and Climate Change Diplomacy. Currently he is the advisor on Public Diplomacy at the European External Action Service, the EU diplomatic corps, and works on developing new approaches to build trust and mutual understanding with citizens worldwide. In the past he worked for the European Commission managing cooperation programmes for Asia and North America as well as in the field of regional policy and city-to-city cooperation. He also worked for the Chamber of Commerce of Milan, a Multinational Company in Shanghai (China), the European Central Bank in Frankfurt and the EU Institute for Security Studies in Paris. An economist by training, he graduated from the University of Milan-Bicocca (summa cum laude) after an Erasmus year at University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne and then obtained a Masters-level degree from the European College of Parma. Supported by various scholarships (and by working aside) he was able to spend one year as a visiting scholar at Columbia University (NY) and at Renmin University (Beijing).  In his free time, Pietro has supported citizens’ activism at European level through various organisations (e.g. JEF, GFE) and he was one of the founders of Stand Up for Europe and formerly of the European Federalist Party. He is also the initiator of and a founding member of Alliance 4 Europe an organisation that connects several pro-European organisations.  In 2014 he ran as a candidate for the European Parliament elections and is an elected city councillor in Brussels (Saint Gilles) to connect the European project with the local level. 

More information about Pietro you will find here

Mikael Börjesson

Mikael Börjesson is professor in Sociology of Education at Uppsala University and is co-director of the research unit Sociology of Education and Culture (SEC) and director of the Swedish Centre for the Studies of the Internationalisation of Higher Education (SIHE). His main research domains are fields of education, transnational strategies and the internationalisation of higher education, elites and elite education, as well as applications of Geometric Data Analysis. He is currently directing the research project Swedish Higher Education. Financing, Organisation, Enrolment, Outcomes, 1950–2020 (SHEFOE), funded by the Swedish Research Council.

Irma Garam

Irma Garam works as a Research Manager in Finnish National Agency for Education EDUFI. She has a long experience in research and development projects focusing on different aspects of internationalization of education, including international study programmes, international curriculum, student and staff mobility and employment. Her main fields of expertise are internationalization of higher education, international mobility, impact assessment, evaluation of internationalization and evaluation methodologies.

Adinda van Gaalen

Adinda van Gaalen works as a senior policy officer at Nuffic in the Netherlands and is a part time PhD candidate at Ghent University in Belgium. Adinda is both an advisor to the board of Nuffic and an advisor to HE institutions in developing internationalisation strategies. In addition, she works as trainer and auditor. Working with both institutional and national level decision makers as well as practitioners she has developed expertise on many challenges related to internationalisation. Her research activities allow her to bring relevant data to discussions of a range of internationalization-related topics. Her fields of interest include internationalisation strategies and policies, ethical issues and sustainable internationalisation. Adinda has (co) authored a number of publications and she was an elected member of the EAIE General Council from 2014-2016. Adinda previously worked as a policy adviser, head of the international office and teacher at the Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences.

Marco Pecoraro

Marco Pecoraro is a scientific researcher at the Swiss Forum for Migration and Population Studies (SFM) and the Institute of Economic Research (IRENE) at the University of Neuchâtel. He holds a PhD in Economics from the Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium, and he has extensive experience in the statistical analysis and econometrics. Dr. Pecoraro is familiar with institutional setup of migration in Switzerland, and his work focuses on the determinants of migrants’ health from a labour market perspective and on the determinants of attitudes towards foreigners and immigrants. His research has also been devoted to other relevant aspects of labour market adjustments, including educational and skills mismatch. He has also acted as an international expert in the analysis of the Albanian Census in 2014. His recent publications appeared in Applied Economics, International Migration Review and the International Journal of Manpower.
Marija Mitić

Marija Mitić is Policy Officer at ACA, where she has worked since 2014. Marija’s responsibilities at ACA include a wide variety of tasks characteristic of an association and think tank such as ACA – from diverse membership-oriented activities, project and event management, policy analysis to representation of ACA in Brussels and globally. Marija’s interest and expertise lie in intercultural learning and diversity studies, EU lifelong learning and education policies, and EU’s international cooperation in higher education, especially EU-Western Balkans relations. Marija is a big fan of Brussels, where she initially came for music, but stayed for many additional reasons, including its international setting.

Kitty Fehringer

Kitty Fehringerjoined the European Commission in 2002. From 2007 to date she is in charge as policy officer for activities under “EURAXESS-Researcher in Motion” dealing with the mobility aspects of a researcher career. Ms Fehringer is coordinator of around 550 EURAXESS Services Centres located in 40 European countries and at the same time in charge of EURAXESS Worldwide. Ms Fehringer coordinates the work of the service centres as well as the development and update of the EURAXESS portal.  Ms Fehringer has a professional background in Marketing Management following her studies of special education for disabled children at the University of Vienna.

Karla Zimanova

Karla Zimanova, PhD., SAIA, n. o. Deputy Director as of 2009, joined SAIA in 2005. Since 2005 she has been a project manager, desk officer and portal content manager of EURAXESS Slovakia. She also was a project manager responsible for Scholarship programme area of EEA and Norway grants in SAIA. She has been active in collaboration with various national stakeholders, she has prepared and collaborated on several SAIA publications and participated in the official legislation commenting especially with respect to entry and residence conditions for researchers and their families. She was a member of the expert group preparing the Operational programme Research and Innovation.

Hélène Calers

Hélène Calers works as Policy Officer in the Unit “Legal Migration and Integration” of the Directorate General on Migration and Home Affairs of the European Commission. In that position, she was involved in the negotiations of the Students and Researchers Directive and is now responsible for the follow-up and implementation of that Directive and the Seasonal Workers Directive.  She previously worked in the General Secretariat of the European Parliament, including six years in the Secretariat of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where she was responsible for borders, migration and budget issues. She was notably involved in the negotiations of the Seasonal Workers Directive and the Intra-Corporate Transferee Directive.  She studied at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques of Strasbourg and holds a Master in European Politics and Policies from the Université Libre de Bruxelles.  

Leonardo Ortega

Leonardo Ortega is partner relations specialist at Work in Estonia program. Migrated to Estonia 6 years ago, specializes in highly skilled migration and has worked in different areas including private, public and non-profit sector.

Irina Ferencz

Irina Ferencz (née Lungu) is Deputy Director at the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), the organisation where she also started her professional career in the field of internationalisation of European higher education in 2008. Irina, who is a Romanian national, is a graduate of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, holding an advanced master’s degree in EU public policies and politics, and an undergraduate degree of Babeş-Bolyai University (Romania) in international relations and European studies. Through her research and project management at ACA, Irina has worked on studies related to: student and staff mobility in the European context, on internationalisation policies at university and at national level, on the development of internationalisation indicators and multi-level assessment of internationality, and is generally interested in comparative policy analysis in higher education. Irina also serves as a member of the Publications Committee of the European Association for International Education (EAIE) and is a reviewer for several higher education journals. She is currently enrolled as a PhD candidate at the Centre for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), Ghent University, researching internationalisation, identity and organisational change in universities of applied sciences (UAS). Irina speaks Romanian (mother tongue), English, French, Italian and a bit of German. She also reads Spanish and masters ‘Larish’, a language of the under-two-year-olds.

Nadia Manzoni

Nadia Manzoni is a policy officer in the department for higher education in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. In this role, she is responsible for the higher education policies fostering employability of graduates and in particular, the European graduate tracking initiative. Previously in the Commission she worked as an education policy analyst in the European semester process, having studied education studies at the University of Cambridge.

Martin Unger

Graduate of sociology from the University of Vienna. Since 1998 researcher at the Institute for Advanced Studies (IHS) in Vienna. Research interests: Social situation of students, performance of dropouts and graduates on the labour market, funding of higher education institutions; ongoing reforms of higher education institutions in Europe (Bologna-Process). Long-time member of the EUROSTUDENT consortium and member of the EUROGRADUATE consortium. Board member of the Gesellschaft für Hochschulforschung (Society for Higher Education Research, Germany) and member of the Executive Committee of the European Access Network (EAN). Former lecturer at the Univ. of Economics in Vienna (empirical social research) and at the Univ. of Vienna (empirical social research, project planning, selectivity of the education system).

Bernd Wächter

Bernd Wächter is the Director of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA). He studied at the universities of Hull (UK), Giessen and Marburg (Germany). His career has been focused on international higher education. He worked for the University of Kassel, the British Council, and the Fachhochschule Darmstadt, before joining The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) as the head of their EU division.He subsequently became the director for Higher Education (Erasmus) in the Brussels Socrates Office. In 1998, he took up his present post as ACA Director.Bernd Wächter has published and lectured widely on international higher education. He is the editor of the ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Education. He has been the team leader of ACA’s research projects and speaks frequently at major governmental and stakeholder conferences, in Europe and beyond, on the issue of mobility and internationalisation. Bernd Wächter has two children. He is married to Thora Magnusdottir, a delightful lady from Iceland.

Claire Herrmann

Claire Herrmann works since 2011 as Policy Officer in the International Unit of DG Education and Culture. She follows up the EU relations with 10 neighbouring Southern Mediterranean countries in the fields of education, youth and culture. In addition, she is involved in the implementation of the Erasmus+ higher education mobility strand. She joined the European Commission in 1996 and previously worked in DG Employment and Social Affairs in relations to the European Social Fund and anti-discrimination policies.

Marie Desrousseaux

Marie Desrousseaux is Human Rights & Solidarity Coordinator for the European Students’ Union and has been an active voice within student organisations for several years now. She started the Ghent Debating Society and chaired several student organisations in her university-town of Ghent before becoming a member of the Board of Directors for the local students’ union. Later she became the chair of the Executive Committee on the national level where she grew into a strong voice for student-refugees and an extensive European cooperation on student rights. She finished her master’s degree in public administration last year and then got accepted as a coordinator for the European Students’ Union, where she focusses mostly on the fields of solidarity, refugee integration and global students’ voice.

Prof. Ides Nicaise

Prof. Ides Nicaise has a background in economics and works since 1989 as a research manager at HIVA (Research Institute for Work and Society), a multidisciplinary research institute of the University of Leuven (Flemish Louvain). He further specialised in social policy, more precisely the relationships between education, labour market policy and social inclusion (in rich as well as developing countries). He also has part-time teaching assignments at the Department of Education Sciences of the same university. Besides his professional activities, he is chairing the Belgian Resource Centre for the Fight against Poverty, a centre created by law as an interface between the government, the civil society and grassroots organisations defending the interests of the poor. At EU level, he leads the Belgian team of the European Social Policy Network.


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