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Brussels, 3 February 2015

What's new in Brussels? Recent developments in European Policies and Programmes


Like every year, in 2015 ACA will start its series of events with the already legendary What’s new in Brussels?  seminar. This time round, the focus will be on the new EU programmes in education and research, and especially on Erasmus+. The seminar will try to identify and analyse the experience made with the start of this programme. What worked, what did not and what needs to be improved are some of the guiding questions behind the programme. They will be answered by a multiplicity of actors, such as the European Commission, national agencies and, most important, university representatives.

Once again, the event features knowledgeable experts from the European Commission, such as Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Claire Morel, Bodo Richter and Georgi Dimitrov.  Karin Christen will present Switzerland’s ‘shadow Erasmus+’. Representatives from Erasmus+ national agencies and universities will share with you their experience with the first programme year. 

To round things off, the seminar includes a speech by former Secretary General of DAAD, Christian Bode, on the recent report of a ‘high-level group’ of wise women and men on the modernisation of European higher education, and of Uwe Brandenburg , who will present a recent study on the impact of the Erasmus Programme. 

What’s new in Brussels? has the tendency to fill up very fast indeed. We suggest you register soon, to secure a place. 

ACA uses this occasion to wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 


Monday 2 February 2015



Seminar dinner

Tuesday 3 February 2015



Registrations and coffee


Welcome and introduction
Bernd Wächter, Director, ACA (Brussels, Belgium)


Opening keynote

The first year of Erasmus+: successes, challenges and future improvements
Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Head of Sector Erasmus, European Commission (Brussels, Belgium)


Internationalising Erasmus: a successful start?
Claire Morel, Deputy Head of Unit “International Cooperation and Programmes”, European Commission (Brussels, Belgium)


Coffee break


Stakeholders and national agencies on the first year of Erasmus+: a panel discussion
Kathleen van Heule, Head of the International Relations Office, University College Ghent (Ghent, Belgium)
Dorothy Kelly, Vice-Rector for International Relations, University of Granada (Granada, Spain)
Hans Grönlund, Director, Swedish Council for Higher Education (Stockholm, Sweden)
Hanns Sylvester, Head of the Erasmus+ Agency, DAAD (Bonn, Germany)


Marie Sklodowska Curie in Horizon 2020
Bodo Richter, Deputy Head of Unit, European Commission (Brussels, Belgium)




Afternoon keynote

New modes of learning and teaching in higher education. The report of the high level group on the modernisation of higher education

Christian Bode, former Secretary General, DAAD (Bonn, Germany)


The results of the Erasmus Impact Study
Uwe Brandenburg, Managing Partner, CHE Consult (Berlin, Germany)


Coffee break


HEInnovate: towards more entrepreneurial and innovative higher education institutions
Georgi Dimitrov, Policy Officer, European Commission (Brussels, Belgium)


Swiss measures to cofinance Erasmus+
Karin Christen, Head of Erasmus Programme, CH Foundation (Solothurn, Switzerland)


Conclusions and farewell
Bernd Wächter, Director, ACA (Brussels, Belgium)



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 Morel

Claire Morel has worked for the past 18 years in the field of international cooperation in education and training. Before joining the European Commission, she worked at the European Training Foundation, and agency of the EU based in Turin, on the modernisation of vocational education and training systems in the Eastern neighbouring countries. She then moved to DG Education and Culture (DG EAC) of the European Commission where she worked for the Tempus programme (for higher education modernisation), dealing mainly with Central Asian countries, and the programme’s external communication. She is now deputy head of the unit for international cooperation and programmes in DG EAC and her work concentrates on international policy dialogue in education and training, in particular with the EU’s neighbouring countries, and preparing the next generation of EU international education programmes.

Kathleen van Heule

Kathleen van Heule is Head of the International Relations Office at University College Ghent. She has been in this position since February 2012 and prior to this she has worked as Staff Officer International Relations at the same institution since September 2000. Kathleen has an educational background in educational sciences and educational psychology and has worked as a researcher at the Department of Educational Studies of Ghent University for 10 years.

At present, her main tasks consist of the management and promotion of internationalisation in higher education, promoting participation in European programmes, stimulating international mobility of students, staff and alumni, implementing quality assurance of internationalisation, and developing the internationalisation policy at University College Ghent.

Kathleen participates in various organisations regarding internationalisation and higher education. She is a former member of the EAIE Board and she is currently the vice-president of Flanders Knowledge Area vzw.

Dorothy Kelly

Dorothy Kelly is Vice Rector for International Relations at the University of Granada, where she is also professor of Translation. She obtained her B.A. in Translating and Interpreting at Heriot-Watt University, and her doctoral degree from the University of Granada. Her main research interests are translator training, directionality in translation, intercultural competence and student mobility. She was a member of Spain’s national Bologna Experts Team until 2013, and has been Chair of the Executive Board of the Coimbra Group of Universities since 2010.

Bodo Richter

Bodo Richter joined the European Commission in 1997. He has worked in the Directorates-General for Employment and Social Affairs as well as Education and Culture in the areas of training, communication, innovation, higher education and international organisations. Prior to taking his current assignment as deputy head of unit, Bodo was in charge of international education and training policy development with industrialised countries, in particular the EU-U.S. and EU-Canada co-operation agreements as well as the co-operation programmes with Australia and New Zealand.

He studied in at the University of Mannheim (Germany) and at the University of Waterloo (ON, Canada), specialising in French, Italian and German languages and literatures. Prior to joining the European Commission, Bodo worked for the German Ministry of Education on EU programmes in the fields of education, training, science and research and was a high school teacher and university research assistant in France, Canada and Germany.

Christian Bode

Christian Bode was Secretary General of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) for 20 years (1990-2010). He was educated in law and received his PhD from the University of Bonn in 1971. Between 1972 and 1982 he held different senior positions in the Federal Ministry of Education and Science. From 1982 until 1990 he was Secretary General of the ( then West-) German Rectors` Conference. He was one of the founders of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) in Brussels and was its Vice President for several times.

Christian Bode has published widely on all aspects of higher education policy, with a special focus on internationalization. He is a member of several administrative boards and professional societies – inter alia the “EU High level Group on Modernization of Higher Education in Europe”and was rewarded several honorary doctorates and numerous other distinctions including OBE (UK), „Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite“ (F), the Cassandra Pyle Award (NAFSA, USA) and the Constance Meldrum Award of the European Association for International Education (EAIE).

Uwe Brandenburg

Uwe Brandenburg is project manager at CHE Consult and an expert on strategic development, internal communication and internal project quality assurance. He was the head of CHE Excellence Ranking (a pan-European quality assessment project of Master’s programmes), project coordinator of the IMPI project (Indicators for Mapping and Profiling Internationalisation), and leads a number of advisory projects in the fields of internationalisation, controlling, strategy development, organisation development, diversity management, benchmarking, and quality control. He has published on financing models for studying abroad, international education systems (inter alia on China with more than 53,000 downloads to date), foreign marketing, internationalisation, EU projects regarding benchmarking, internationalisation, and Change Management at European universities. He has cooperated in the International Deans’ Course for further education and training of deans from developing countries, and is a member of the Deutsche Assoziation für Internationalen Bildungsaustausch (DAIA) e.V. (German Association for International Exchange of Education) (Chairman until 2006), European Association for International Educators (EAIE), Fulbright Alumni e. V., and CHER (Consortium of Higher Education Researchers). He has been invited as core expert to the IAU (International Association of Universities) and to the Ad Hoc expert group on internationalisation.

Georgi Dimitrov

Georgi Dimitrov joined the European Commission in 2008. He was involved in various roles in setting up the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT). Currently, Georgi manages the initiative HEInnovate launched in November 2013 by the European Commission and the OECD. HEInnovate aims at higher education institutions (HEI) interested in developing their entrepreneurial strategies and capabilities. He is further managing the development of a sound evidence base or policy initiatives related to innovation and higher education; and entrepreneurship and higher education. 

Before joining the Commission, Georgi worked for a leading multinational telecommunication company in Düsseldorf, Germany. Prior to that, he worked an IT start-up for four years in different functions (Erlangen, Germany). Georgi studied at the University of Bonn (European Studies); the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (PhD); and the Open University UK (Technology Management).

Karin Christen

Karin Christen is Head of the programme Erasmus at the ch Foundation, the Swiss National Agency for the programmes Life Long Learning and Youth in Action and the designated NA for Erasmus+. She has been at the ch Foundation since 2010, first as project coordinator and since 2012 in her current position. After her master degree in English, history and political science, she worked at the University of Zurich, at the former Federal office for Vocational Education and at a Swiss Think Tank. 

In her current position, she is responsible for the implementation of the “Swiss interim solution” for Erasmus+ for higher education. In the ACA, she represents the ch Foundation, member since 2011.


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