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Bernd Wächter

Director
Academic Cooperation Association
  • www.aca-secretariat.be
  • 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.

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​Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot

Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+
European Commission
​Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot
  • ​Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot

    Sophia Eriksson Waterschoot is Director for Youth, Education and Erasmus+ at the European Commission's Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. She is in charge of Europe's flagship programme Erasmus+, the newly launched European Solidarity Corps, school, higher education and youth policies. She has previously held various positions within the Commission in the field of strategy and investment in education, higher education policy, employment policy, European structural and investment funds and the European social fund. She studied international economics and did an Erasmus student exchange in France. She is an Eisenhower Fellow.

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Ragnhild Solvi Berg

Head of Diku Brussels Office
DIKU
  • www.siu.no
  • 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), as head of Diku Brussels office. 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.

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Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Head of Unit, Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture
European Commission
Vanessa Debiais-Sainton
  • Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

    Vanessa Debiais-Sainton is Head of the Unit in charge of Higher Education policies and programme at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Education, Youth, Sport and Culture. The unit is the lead service for European policies on reform and modernisation of higher education, the new European Universities initiative, automatic mutual recognition of higher education qualifications, the creation of the EU student card, and the higher education strand of Erasmus+. In previous posts in the European Commission, Vanessa has worked in DG Research and Innovation. Before moving to the European Commission in 2006, Vanessa spent eight years working for several petroleum and chemical companies.

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Claire Morel

Head of Unit for international cooperation at DG Education, Culture, Youth and Sport
European Commission
Claire Morel
  • Claire Morel

    Claire Morel is the Head of Unit for international cooperation at DG Education, Culture, Youth and Sport of the European Commission, with particular focus on the international dimension of the Erasmus+ programme and international policy dialogues in higher education and youth issues with various partners of the EU in the world. She has worked several years with the countries neighbouring the EU. Before that, she worked for the Tempus programme (for higher education modernisation), cooperating with Central Asian countries, and for the European Training Foundation, an agency of the EU based in Turin, on the reform of vocational education and training systems in the Eastern neighbouring countries and Central Asia.

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​Florian Pecenka

Head of unit for Education, Science and Research at the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU
Permanent Representation of Austria to the EU
​Florian Pecenka
  • ​Florian Pecenka

    Florian Pecenka studied law at the University of Vienna and during his studies he spent one year in Madrid, participating in the Erasmus program. He is since 2010 Attaché in Brussels where he is head of unit for Education, Science and Research at the Austrian Permanent Representation to the EU and was Co-chasir at the Education Committee during the Austrian Presidency 2018. Pecenka holds a master's degree in law (2002) and received his Master of Advanced International Studies from Aliter Madrid (2004). He also holds an MBA in Public Management from SMBS – University of Salzburg Business School (2010).


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Wouter Kerkhove

Education and Training attaché
Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU
Wouter Kerkhove
  • Wouter Kerkhove

    Wouter Kerkhove is the Flemish Education Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Belgium to the EU and is a member of the Education Committee of the Council of the EU. Previously he worked as European policy officer for the Flemish Public Employment Service VDAB and was a member of the Eures Committee. Wouter holds a KULeuven master degree in modern history and a MA in European studies. He also obtained at KULeuven the MSc in European Politics and Policies for which he was an EMPA student at the University of Liverpool.

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​​Rasa Pečiukonienė

Education Attaché
Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU
​​Rasa Pečiukonienė
  • ​​Rasa Pečiukonienė

    Rasa Pečiukonienė is Education Attaché at the Permanent Representation of Lithuania to the EU. During the Lithuanian Presidency of the Council of the EU in 2013, she was a Co-Chair of the Education Committee. Previously she worked as a Chief Officer of International Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Education and Science of Lithuania, responsible for EU coordination and Erasmus+ Programme implementation supervision, member of the Education Committee of the Council of the EU and member of Erasmus+ Programme Committee. She has a MA degree in EU Policy and Administration of the Law University of Lithuania, participated in exchange studies in French language and European studies at the University of Bourgogne (France) and was a Tempus scholarship student at the University of Aalborg (Denmark).

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Jan Pakulski

Head of Unit EAC.A.4 - Evidence-Based Policy and Evaluation, DG Education, Youth, Sport and Culture
European Commission
Jan Pakulski
  • Jan Pakulski

    Mr. Pakulski joined the European Commission in September 2009. Prior to taking his current assignment he worked for 16 years for the World Bank in Washington DC where he held numerous positions in the Bank's operational complex as well as the external affairs and operational services vice-presidencies. He has an extensive track record of project management, primarily in social sectors, held management as well as advisory positions related to Bank-funded operations in the Europe and Central Asia region. Prior to joining the World Bank, he worked as expert in the area of social development for the Netherlands Government, the European Commission Phare program, the Council of Europe and other agencies. Following his university graduation, he worked as Executive Director of a Netherlands-based international NGO network, working in the area of development education and social justice, traveling extensively through the developing world. Mr. Pakulski holds a M.A. degree in economics from the Warsaw School of Economics and a doctorandus degree in development economics from the Erasmus University Rotterdam.

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Michael Gaebel

Director Higher Education Policy Unit
European University Association (EUA)
  • eua.eu
  • Michael Gaebel

    Michael Gaebel joined the EUA (European University Association) in 2006, where he was first in charge of Global Dialogue and internationalisation, to become in 2009 Head and later on the Director of the Higher Education Policy Unit. This unit focuses on issues related to higher education learning and teaching, including the Bologna Process, lifelong learning, e-learning and MOOCs, internationalisation and global dialogue. He worked for more than a decade in higher education cooperation and development in the Middle East, the former Soviet Union and Asia. From 2002 to 2006, he was the European Co-Director of the ASEAN-EU University Network Programme (AUNP) in Bangkok.

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​Irina Ferencz

Deputy Director
Academic Cooperation Association
  • www.aca-secretariat.be
  • ​Irina Ferencz

    Irina Ferencz (née Lungu) works for the Brussels-based Academic Cooperation Association (ACA) since 2008, currently as Deputy Director, having served in various roles previously. Through her research, publications and project management at ACA, Irina has developed a specific interest and expertise in the area of international student and staff mobility in the European context (data collections, trends, policies), as well as in planning, monitoring and assessing internationalisation activities at institutional and national level (strategic development and enhancement, KPIs, benchmarking, etc.). Currently, she is also: a PhD candidate at Ghent University, Center for Higher Education Governance Ghent (CHEGG), researching internationalisation and organisational identity in higher education; an occasional reviewer for two higher education journals; and a member of the Publications Committee of the European Association for International Education (EAIE). Irina holds an MSc degree in European Politics and Policies (KU Leuven, Belgium) and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and European Studies (Universitatea Babeş-Bolyai, Romania). She is a Romanian national, speaks several languages, including ‘Larish’ (a language of the under-two-year-olds), and calls Belgium ‘home’.

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​Dr. Klaus Birk

Director, Erasmus+ Agency Higher Education
DAAD
  • www.daad.de
  • ​Dr. Klaus Birk

    Dr. Klaus Birk studied Chinese Studies, Political Science and Philosophy at Munich University and Peking University. From 1992 to 1993 he was a Visiting Scholar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. From 1995 to 2001 Dr. Birk taught at Leipzig University. Since 2001, he has worked at the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), first as Head of Section “China and Mongolia”, then as Head of Division “Asia-Pacific” and subsequently as Head of Division “Knowledge and Network”. Since January 2018 he is the Director of the Erasmus+ National Agency for Higher Education at DAAD.

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Ivana Didak

Senior Policy Officer
The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities
Ivana Didak
  • Ivana Didak

    Ivana Didak is the Senior Policy Officer in The Guild of European Research-Intensive Universities, a university network based in Brussels, where she covers Education policy, including Erasmus+ and European Universities. In the R&I policy field, Ivana follows the area of Spreading Excellence and Widening Participation, but also International Collaboration and Brexit. Previously, she worked in the Croatian Erasmus+ National Agency where she focused on Erasmus+ mobilities with non-EU countries. Ivana studied at KU Leuven and holds a Master’s degree in European Politics and Policies. She has a Master’s degree in Political Science from the University of Zagreb.

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​Dr Alenka Flander

Director
Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS)
  • www.cmepius.si
  • ​Dr Alenka Flander

    Dr Alenka Flander is the Director of the Centre of the Republic of Slovenia for Mobility and European Educational and Training Programmes (CMEPIUS), leading Slovene institution in the field of internationalisation of education and training. In that capacity she is responsible for successful implementation of EU programmes (Erasmus+) in Slovenia, focusing on achieving sustainable impact of the projects and programme and ensuring effective dissemination and integration of programme results into institutional and national systems and practices. Alenka was trained as an electrical engineer and completed her PhD in the Political Science. Her research work is interdisciplinary in nature and encompasses monitoring and measuring the impact of European Programmes in the area of education and training, and research on internationalisation and higher education. She contributed to national or international expert groups and authored publications and articles on internationalisation in higher education and academic profession. She was behind the preparation of Slovene Strategy for internationalisation of higher education adopted in 2016.

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​Marija Mitic

Policy Officer
Academic Cooperation Association (ACA)
  • www.aca-secretariat.be
  • ​Marija Mitic

    Marija Mitic is Policy Officer at ACA, where she has worked since 2014. Marija’s responsibilities at ACA include a wide variety of tasks – from membership services, 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.

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Julia Grünenfelder

European Advisor for Education
SwissCore
Julia Grünenfelder
  • Julia Grünenfelder

    Julia Grünenfelder works as European Advisor for Education at SwissCore, the Swiss information and liaison office for European policies and programmes in research, innovation and education (ERI) in Brussels. Before joining SwissCore, she worked at the University of Lucerne, Switzerland, in the fields of academic career development and gender equality. As social geographer, she conducted research and was engaged in teaching at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. During her Master studies, she spent one year at Stockholm University.

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​Piet Van Hove

Director of the International Relations Office
University of Antwerp
​Piet Van Hove
  • ​Piet Van Hove

    Piet Van Hove is Director, since 2005, of the International Relations Office of the University of Antwerp, where he previously studied Law. He is the former chairman of Flanders Knowledge Area, and also a non-executive board member of www.apopo.org, training rats to detect landmines and diseases in vulnerable societies. His interest lies in international education, social responsibility and education without borders.

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