What's new in Brussels? Recent developments in European policies and programmes.

Brussels, 21 January 2011

Bernd Wächter

Bernd Wächter is the Director of the Academic Cooperation Association (ACA), a consortium of European and global agencies which support international cooperation in higher education. ACA is a think-tank which promotes innovation and internationalisation in higher education. Bernd was born in Giessen (Germany) and studied at the universities of Hull (UK), Giessen and Marburg (Germany).  He lives in Brussels (Belgium) and is married to Thora Magnusdottir, a delightful lady from Iceland.

Bernd’s career has been focused on international higher education. In his first post, at the University of Kassel (Germany), he devised international degree programmes in cooperation with universities abroad. He later joined the British Council, before becoming the Director of the international office of the Fachhochschule Darmstadt. Moving on to Germany’s internationalisation agency DAAD, he became the head of this organisation’s European section. He subsequently became Director of Higher Education in the Brussels Socrates Office, with overall responsibility for the Erasmus Programme in Europe. In 1998, he took up his present post as the director of ACA. Bernd has published widely on international matters in higher education, and he is a frequent speaker at European and international education conferences. He is the editor of the ACA Papers on International Cooperation in Higher Education and.  He also works, as an expert advisor, for many international organisations. 

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Christian Tauch

Christian Tauch studied history, international relations and literature in Germany and the US. From 1991 to 1995 he was head of the International Office at the Technical University of Dresden. In 1995 he became head of the International Department of the German Rectors’ Conference HRK in Bonn, a position he held until 2005. He co-authored several studies related to the Bologna Process (in particular the EUA "Trends reports") and was until recently working at the Unit for Higher Education Policy and the Erasmus Programme in the Directorate General for Education and Culture of the European Commission. He is now head of the Department Education at the German Rectors’ Conference.

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Filip Van Depoele

Filip Van Depoele (born 1970 in Ghent, Belgium) is an economist by training (University of Leuven, Belgium) and subsequently studied European Economic Integration (College of Europe, Bruges, Belgium) and International Relations (Johns Hopkins University, Bologna, Italy). He worked for a number of years in the private sector (banking) before joining the European Commission in 1997. Filip held several positions in the Directorate General for Employment and Social Affairs and the Directorate General for Competition before moving to the Directorate General in charge of Education and Culture. Within this Directorate General he is the deputy head of the unit ‘Higher education and Erasmus’ and the Team Leader for the Erasmus Programme.

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Bert Vandenkendelaere

Bert Vandenkendelaere (°1986) is the Chairperson of the European Students’ Union for the academic year 2010/2011. He graduated as Master of Laws at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, and did a part of his studies at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy. Bert has been active in student politics since 2004, on the local level at the Kortrijk campus of the Leuven University and later on in the Leuven Student Council and VVS, the National Union of Students in Flanders.

He was a member of the Executive Committee of ESU last year, where he was responsible for the coordination of the Student Union Development Committee, membership issues and capacity building within the student movement. He has been speaking at various conferences on higher education, including the OECD 2010 IMHE Conference in Paris.

ESU - The European Students’ Union - is the umbrella organisation of 44 national unions of students from 37 countries, and through these members represents over 11 million students. The aim of ESU is to articulate and promote the educational, social, economic and cultural interests of students at a European level towards all relevant bodies and in particular the European Union, Bologna Follow-Up Group, Council of Europe and UNESCO. 

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Hans Vossensteyn

Hans Vossensteyn holds a Master’s degree in Public Administration & Public Policy from the University of Twente and he completed his PhD (with distinction) on student price-responsiveness in 2005. After starting as a Research Associate at CHEPS in 1991 he now is the Executive Director and Research Coordinator at CHEPS. Since 2007 he is a Professor at the MBA Hochschul- und Wissenschaftsmanagement at the Osnabrück University of Applied Sciences in Germany.

Hans has participated in a multitude of research projects covering a wide array of subjects including internationalisation; higher education indicators; quantitative and qualitative international comparative analyses; and funding issues such as national financial allocation models, tuition fee policies, student financial support and the affordability of higher education.

As well as being a senior researcher Hans is involved in capacity building activities and consultancies in various areas of higher education policy in different parts of the world. He has been an external advisor to the Dutch Ministry of Education’s Directorate of Student Financial Support Policies, is a member of the International Advisory Board of the International Comparative Higher Education Finance and Accessibility Project sponsored by the Ford Foundation, and serves on the Advisory board of the MESA Project (Measuring the Effectiveness of Student Aid) sponsored by the Canada Millennium Scholarships Programme. Hans is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management and of the Dutch/Belgian journal on higher education (Tijdschrift voor Hoger Onderwijs en Management, TH@MA).

As a staff member and research coordinator of CHEPS he is involved in commissioned research projects, training seminars and consultancies in various areas of higher education policy. He gives many presentations for international conference audiences on various higher education topics.

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Vito Borrelli

Vito Borrelli is a European Commission official in charge of coordinating the implementation of the Erasmus Mundus programme in DG Education and Culture.

More specifically, he has actively participated in the negotiation of the second phase of the programme with the European Parliament and Council and he is presently involved in the preparation of its third phase.

He is also responsible for the relations with RELEX and AIDCO (notably as concerns higher education matters), the sectoral policy dialogue with China in the field of education, training, multilingualism, culture and youth, the management of studies and surveys. He is very often called to represent the Commission vis-à-vis authorities and institutions in EU and non-EU countries.

Vito has many years of experience at the European Commission, where he has worked since 1994. Before taking up his current responsibilities, he was involved in information and communication activities and the management of the Leonardo da Vinci programme.

Vito has studied Humanities (English/Russian Languages and Literatures) and began his career as a teacher and a translator.

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Vanessa Debiais-Sainton

Vanessa Debiais-Sainton is a Policy Officer in the People Programme - Marie Curie Actions unit in DG Education and Culture.

She studied Chemical Engineering at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Industries Chimiques in Nancy and went on to achieve an MSc in Petrochemistry, Polymers and Plastics at the Institut Français du Pétrole (Rueil Malmaison, France) in collaboration with Mc Gill University (Montreal, Canada). During this time she also worked as a Process Engineer for BP Chemicals.

In 2000, Vanessa joined the SOLVAY Research Center in Brussels as Project Manager. She left the chemical industry in 2006 to work as a Scientific Project Officer at the European Commission in DG Research.

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Peter van der Hijden

Peter van der Hijden works for the European Commission, DG Research and Innovation, in the Skills Unit dealing with Universities and Researchers. Dossiers of the Unit include university funding, human resources strategies, research performance assessment, researchers' training, -career and -mobility, all contributing to the creation of the 'Innovation Union' and the European Research Area (ERA).

Peter has worked for the European Commission in the field of transport (inland waterways), but his main experience lies in higher education and research: the Erasmus Programme, the modernisation agenda for universities, the European Higher Education Area (Bologna Process) and the European Research Area. Peter has studied law at Nymegen, Leyden and Maastricht University. Before moving to Brussels, he worked at the University Council and the Law Research Committee of Maastricht University.

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Frederik de Decker

After more than 10 years in international relations in various higher education institutions Frederik De Decker became the head of the Office for educational development and internationalisation at University College Arteveldehogeschool in Ghent, Belgium. From this post he has been seconded to the umbrella organisation Ghent University Association as senior education advisor, advising the board in various educational policy matters.

He has been or is a member of various national and international organisations and has been or is participating in various international projects, mainly dealing with internationalisation, educational development, qualifications frameworks and quality assurance. His special interest is the concept of learning outcomes/competences: how can these be defined, how to measure them, what is the impact of it on e.g. internationalisation etc. Frederik is a frequent (invited) speaker at conferences and publishes regularly about a variety of educational topics. In 2010 he is co-chairing the pilot project “Internationalisation as a distinctive quality feature” of the Dutch-Flemish Accreditation organisation.  

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