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Brussels, 2 February 2017

What's New in Brussels? Recent Developments in European Policies and Programmes


The opening ACA event every year is the well-known European Policy Seminar What’s new in Brussels? Recent developments in European Policies and Programmes. So will it be in 2017.

Brussels is the place and 2 February 2017 is the date.

The seminar traditionally takes stock of EU supported initiatives and programmes in higher education (HE), and showcases successful cooperation in HE at national, European and global level. The expert community that this event brings together features representatives of the European Commission, national agencies and internationalisation bodies, higher education institutions, student and alumni organisations, and many more.

2017 is the year of the mid-term review of EU’s flagship programme for education and training, Erasmus+. It is also the year in the course of which the higher education community will mark three decades of European cooperation through the Erasmus programme and two decades of research collaboration within the framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA). Through the lenses of different stakeholders, the seminar will offer a look into the Erasmus+ landscape three years after its launch and the prospects until, or even beyond, 2020. Participants will have the opportunity to share in smaller groups their experiences with European mobility schemes, partnerships and policy support initiatives. We will traverse the thirty years of Erasmus, its beginnings, development over three decades and state of the art, and also look into the research support that MSCA have provided for two decades to junior and senior researchers in and much beyond Europe. We will address the new Skills Agenda for Europe through an overview of the existing and planned initiatives regarding the revision of key competencesdigital skills development and promotion of ICT careers through multi-stakeholder cooperation at national level.

Without doubt and exception, we expect – just like every year - stimulating discussions and valuable exchange while bringing together specialists and novices, sceptics and enthusiasts, researchers and practitioners– all of whom will have something enlightening to give and take during the event. Welcome!


Wednesday, 01 February 2017

18:00 Free guided tour “The Secrets of Brussels”

19:00 Seminar dinner

Thursday, 02 February 2017


08:30 Registrations and coffee
09:00 Welcome by the ACA Secretariat
09:15 Opening panel: Erasmus+ mid-term evaluation: what’s behind, what’s ahead of us?
Moderator: Bernd Wächter, ACA Director
Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot, Acting Director, ‘Youth, Education and Sport’, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Mikko Nupponen, Head of Unit, Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI)
Michael Gaebel, Director of the Higher Education Policy Unit, European University Association (EUA)
10:15 Three decades of Erasmus mobility and cooperation
Siegbert Wuttig, Independent HE consultant & former Director of the German National Agency for EU Higher Education cooperation
Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Deputy Head of Unit Higher Education, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
11:00 Coffee break


Parallel sessions (Round 1)

Session 1 – International mobility
Moderator: Bernd Wächter, ACA Director
ICM snapshot and future opportunities
Claire Morel, Head of Unit ‘International cooperation’, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Erasmus+ joint degrees
Ragnhild Solvi Berg, Senior Advisor, SIU – Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education

Session 2 – Partnerships
Moderator: Irina Ferencz, ACA Deputy Director
Strategic Partnerships: funds and opportunities – state of play in Austria
Ernst Gesslbauer, Head of the National Agency Erasmus+ Education, OeAD
Capacity Building partnerships – IMPALA: EU-South African cooperation
Piet Van Hove, Director of International Relations Office, University of Antwerp/Chairman of the Board at Flanders Knowledge Area

12:45 Lunch


Parallel sessions (Round 2)

Session 3 – Support for policy reform
Moderator: Marija Mitić, ACA Project Officer
Expectations for the future (priorities, funds, types of projects and partnerships)
Fiorella Perotto, Deputy Head of Unit, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Forward-looking cooperation projects:HousErasmus+
Jeremy Apert, HousErasmus+ Coordinator, Erasmus Student Network (ESN)

Session 4 – Intra-EU mobility
Moderator: Bernd Wächter, ACA Director
Vanessa Debiais-Sainton, Deputy Head of Unit Higher Education, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Szabolcs Bokodi, Head of Unit Higher Education, Tempus Public Foundation (TPF)


Study in Europe initiative – joint promotion of Europe as a study destination

Adrian Veale, Policy Officer, International cooperation, DG Education and Culture, European Commission
Marija Mitić, Project Officer, ACA
Guido Schnieders, Head of Section International Higher Education Marketing, DAAD
Johanna Hellwig, Chief of Projects, European Projects Service, CampusFrance


Coffee break


20 years of Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions
Alessandra Luchetti, Head of Department for “Excellent Science”, Research Executive Agency, European Commission


Skills Agenda for Europe: plans and milestones in 2017
Sonia Peressini, Acting Head of Unit “Skills and qualifications”, DG Employment, European Commission


Wrap up: dates, actions and prospects, an overview (ACA)





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.

Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot

Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot is Acting Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+ at the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture in the European Commission. She is in charge of coordinating the design and implementation of Europe’s flagship programme Erasmus+ and supporting the modernisation of education systems (pre-school, school education and higher education) and youth policies (including volunteering) to help Member States in policy development and reforms.
She has previously held various positions within the Commission, including Head of Unit for Europe 2020, Investment Plan and ET 2020 within DG EAC, Member of Cabinet, Coordinator for the European Employment Strategy and Programme Manager for the European Social Fund. She is an Economist and did her Erasmus exchange in France.

Mikko Nupponen

Mikko Nupponen is Head of Unit in the Finnish National Agency for Education (EDUFI). Among other tasks, he is the Director of the Finnish Erasmus+ Agency hosted by EDUFI. The Finnish Eramus+ Agency covers all fields of the programme, Education and Training, Youth and Sport. Mr. Nupponen has made a long carrier with the EU action programmes extending back to 1990s and consisting of different assignments on both National and European level. Apart of being National Agency Director, he has been working at the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture and as the Deputy Director of Socrates, Leonardo and Youth Technical Assistance Office in Brussels.
He has been member of several Commission working groups, Programme Committees and has also been involved in negotiations and preparations of different Programmes.

Michael Gaebel

Michael Gaebel is Head of the Higher Education Policy Unit, which focuses on the educational mission of universities, in particular the Bologna Process, lifelong learning, internationalisation, and digitalisation. When he first joined the organisation in 2006, he was in charge of developing EUA’s international strategy and for global exchange and cooperation.
Before joining EUA, Michael worked for more than a decade in higher education cooperation and development in various parts of Asia.

Siegbert Wuttig

Siegbert Wuttig graduated in French and Italian Philology, History and Psychology and holds a number of academic degrees.  Before he retired in 2014 and started work as an Independent Education Expert, he was Director of the National Agency for EU higher education cooperation at the DAAD and Director of the international ASEM Education Secretariat.
Prior to these functions, he was National Secretary the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience, head of the National Erasmus Agency, head of division for Western Europe at the DAAD and Assistant to the President of the University of Würzburg.During the last three decades, he took part in many international working groups, organised numerous international, national and regional conferences on internationalisation and cross-border mobility, contributed to the political discussions on the development of EU education programmes and the European Higher Education Area, and published widely on topics related to higher education. In 2015, he was honoured with EAIE’s Constance Meldrum Award for Vision and Leadership.

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Vanessa is Deputy Head of Unit responsible for the Higher education strand of the Erasmus+ programme at the Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture of the European Commission. She is responsible for devising and overseeing the implementation of the programme. She also leads the Task Force in charge of the 30th anniversary of Erasmus+. In previous posts in the European Commission, Vanessa has worked for the Marie Skłodowska Curie Actions as policy officer and call coordinator in DG Research and Innovation. Before moving to the European Commission in 2006, Vanessa spent eight years working for several petroleum and chemical companies (Solvay, Ineos and Total). She studied Chemical Engineering in France (Institut National Polytechnique de Lorraine) and went on to achieve an MSc at the Institut Français du Pétrole (IFP School, France) in collaboration with McGill University (Canada) and Ineos

Claire Morel

Claire Morel is the Head of Unit for international cooperation at DG Education and Culture of the European Commission, with particular focus on the international dimension of Erasmus+ and international policy dialogue in higher education. She has worked several years on academic cooperation with the neighbouring countries.
Before she worked for Tempus – a programme for higher education modernisation – cooperating with Central Asia; and 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 and Central Asia.

Ragnhild Solvi Berg

Ragnhild Solvi Berg is a senior adviser for the Norwegian Centre for International Cooperation in Higher Education (SIU), 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. 

Irina Ferencz

Irina Ferencz is Deputy Director at the Brussels-based Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), a mainly European umbrella organisation, which brings together national-level agencies from many European countries that act as higher education internationalisation vectors in and for the respective higher education systems.
Irina’s main interests and expertise are in the fields of international student mobility (both quantitative and qualitative analyses) and in internationalisation policies at the university and national level, including the assessment of internationalisation via indicators and the internationalisation of the curriculum.
Irina holds a Bachelor (License) in International Relations and European Studies of Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania and a Master in European Politics and Policies (magna cum laude) of the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Irina speaks Romanian (mother tongue), English, French, Italian and some German. She also reads Spanish and is learning ‘Larish’, a language of the under-two-year-olds.

Ernst Gesslbauer

Ernst Gesslbauer is Director of the National Agency for Erasmus+ Education in Austria at OeAD. He has been Director for European Programmes since 2004. Mr Gesslbauer has a long-standing expertise in international learning mobility and co-operation projects and undertaken expert work in a great number of international and national consortia.
Between 2002 and 2004 he had been working at the European Commission, DG Education and Culture. The National Agency has a number of 70 staff. It hosts and organises ca. 40 events on national and  European policy issues in education.
Administering an annual budget of 32m Euros in European funding the National Agency contracts more than 400 co-operation projects in all fields of education and funds 14.000 learning mobilities per year. Besides the Erasmus+ programme the National Agency’s portfolio also comprises Euroguidance, Europass, ECVET, eTwinning and EPALE.

Piet Van Hove

Piet Van Hove is Director (since 2005) of the International Relations Office of the University of Antwerp, Belgium (, where he previously obtained his masters degree in Law. He first started his career in internationalization of higher education in 1996. He serves as Chairman of the Board (since 2011) of Flanders Knowledge Area vzw (formerly Flamenco vzw), the Brussels-based agency for international promotion of Flemish higher education and research institutions ( In the past he served as a member of the IRM Board and the General Council of the European Association for International Education (EAIE).
Piet is also a non-executive board member of APOPO vzw (since 2008). APOPO is social enterprise (NGO) which trains and uses giant African pouched rats for humanitarian detection purposes, notably detecting landmines and tuberculosis among vulnerable populations in Africa and Asia ( 

Marija Mitić

Marija Mitić is Project Officer at ACA. She began her work at ACA as a trainee in March 2014 and then joined the team in her current position. She has since been responsible for several ACA projects and European Policy Seminars. Before joining ACA, Marija was a trainee at the European Commission, in the International Cooperation and Programmes Unit of DG EAC. While still in her native country, Serbia, Marija worked as an intercultural trainer and language teacher, and worked briefly for the national government. She has international experience in youth leadership and adult learning. Marija has a BA degree in English studies and an (Erasmus Mundus) MA in Lifelong Learning Policy and Management as well as training in intercultural youth leadership (Pestalozzi Children’s Foundation, Switzerland).

Fiorella Perotto

Fiorella Perotto is Deputy Head of the “Strategy and Investments” unit (“Europe 2020, Investment Plan, Education and Training 2020” until December 2016) at Directorate-General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. She coordinates i.a. the “Initiatives for policy innovation” strand under Key Action 3 of the Erasmus+ programme.
She has been previously Deputy Head of the “Multilingualism Policy” unit and Project Officer in the “School Education” unit in the same DG. She has previously worked for DG Environment and DG Budgets at the EU Commission and for the Council of the European Union. 

Jeremy Apert

Jeremy comes from France where he spent most but not all of his life. Attracted by the world, he went on to discover it and lived in the USA, the UK and now lives and work in Brussels. Coordinating project for ESN International and particularly the HousErasmus+ project, he has been gaining more and more insights on international student issues, European policies and cooperation to add to his personal experiences. Jeremy is also a very active scout and is a youth advisor to the board of the World Organisation of the Scout Movement.

Szabolcs Bokodi

Szabolcs Bokodi joined Tempus Public Foundation in 1999. He studied philosophy and political sciences at the University of Debrecen.He received the scholarship of the Hungarian Republic in 1997/98. In 1997 he spent a semester at the University of Trier as Tempus scholarship student. He worked as national Erasmus coordinator from 2001 until 2012. He coordinated the GenERAtion project having 21 countries in a consortium in 2005. He was member of the Erasmus Stakeholder Group, and several other working groups at EU level.
He assisted the Eurostat Task Force on International Student Mobility Statistics in 2011. He has been the Head of Department for Higher Education by TPF from 2012. Now, he is in charge of the Higher Education part of the Erasmus+ programme, the CEEPUS programme, EEA Grants – Scholarship area, Bilateral state scholarships, Campus Mundi – a European Social Fund project in Hungary, and the EHEA Reforms project.

Adrian Veale

Adrian Veale works in the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Education & Culture, within the unit that deals with the international dimension of Erasmus+. He works in particular on Erasmus Mundus joint master degrees, the promotion of European higher education, and the Erasmus+ student and alumni association. Adrian worked previously on Erasmus Mundus within the Executive Agency, on regional cooperation programmes with Asia in the DG for Development Cooperation, and on information for the European Social Fund. He has also worked in the private sector as an editor. He is – at least for the moment – British.

Guido Schnieder

Dr. Guido Schnieders is Head of Section ‘International Higher Education Marketing’ in the DAAD Headquarter in Bonn, Germany, since May 2016. The section supports German higher education institutions with regards to enhancing the international visibility of their study and research programmes and recruiting international students by offering various marketing services and organizing participation in international education fairs.

Before he served as the Director of the DAAD Information Centre in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in addition taught German linguistics and culture at University of Malaya (2011-2016). From 2004-2010, he worked as Deputy Director of the DAAD Regional Office in Jakarta, Indonesia.

In Malaysia and Indonesia, his main tasks were to provide information and advice on study and research opportunities in Germany. Guido Schnieders studied German linguistics, literature and philosophy in Berlin (Germany), Vienna (Austria) and London (U.K.) and hold various teaching and research-related positions at universities in Dortmund, Munich and Frankfurt/ Oder (Germany) and Szeged (Hungary).

Johanna Hellwig

Johanna is Project Manager at the European Projects Unit at Campus France in Paris, the French national agency for the promotion of higher education, international student services, and international mobility. She is coordinating Campus France’s activities in the scope of the European funded project “Study in Europe.”

Previously Johanna worked in the Higher Education Marketing Unit at DAAD, the German Academic Exchange Service in Bonn. She has a long experience of organizing European higher education fairs in Asia and Latin America.

Johanna holds a French-German master degree in international relations and international management from the University of Freiburg and University Paris-Est Creteil.

Alessandra Luchetti

Alessandra LUCHETTI is an agronomist graduated at the University of Perugia, IT. Between 1988 and 1992 she was research fellow at the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche and at the Istituto per la Ricerca in Olivicoltura. In 1994 she joined the European Commission as project officer at the agro-industrial research unit of Directorate-General for Research. She was mainly responsible for research fields related to food raw material improvements and food consumer acceptance and needs. In 2001 she moved to the Directorate responsible for the implementation of the Human Resources and Mobility programme, as the Head of Sector for the Reintegration Grants and later on the Deputy Head of the Unit “Marie Curie Actions-Fellowships”. In December 2011 she was appointed  Head of the unit “Research careers; Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions” in the Directorate-General for Education and Culture.  In April 2015, she joined Research Executive Agency as Head of Department for “Excellent Science”.

Sonia Peressini

Sonia Peressini is acting head of unit for skills and qualifications at the European Commission’s Directorate-general for employment, social affairs and inclusion. A linguist by education, she worked as a translator at the European Commission before moving to human resources and recruitment. Before joining DG employment, social affairs and inclusion, she dealt with multilingualism policy and skills issues at the Directorate-general for education and culture of the European Commission, including in the context of Erasmus+. Currently she is following the implementation of the New Skills Agenda for Europe, in particular the proposed decision on the Europass framework.


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