ACA Annual Conference 2016:
UniverCities. Higher education institutions and their habitat

Budapest, 20 - 22 November 2016

This year’s ACA Annual Conference, to be held in the beautiful city of Budapest, bears the title UniverCities. Higher education institutions and their ‘habitat’. The event will explore the relationship between universities and colleges and the cities, towns and regions where they are located. The conference is expected to draw an audience of some 300 participants, including central actors and decision-makers from universities and colleges as well as policy-makers and practitioners from government departments, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, municipalities, enterprises and think tanks. As always, we are striving to offer high-quality information, analysis and discussion.


The theme of the conference is being hotly debated these days. Which ‘habitat’ do higher education institutions and the knowledge industries require, where do they thrive? In metropolises and megapolises, which attract talent because of the tolerant environment and the advanced technology they provide, as the American urban studies theorist Richard Florida argues? Probably, but is this the only ‘environment’ in which higher education institutions flourish. What about all these cosy little towns, of the type of Oxbridge, Freiburg or Lund, which are hosts to well-reputed and even world-class universities? And, not to forget, remote or underdeveloped regions with declining demographies or regions undergoing economic transformation, where higher education institutions are being founded as catalysts of regional rejuvenation and growth. In these cases, it is the university or college which is to strengthen the town or region - and not the other way round. 

The ACA Annual Conference 2016 will address all of these different ‘habitats’ – big cities, small towns and remote and challenged regions. In doing so, it will not only explore the relationship between higher education institutions and municipalities, but also of university-enterprise interaction and cooperation between academic institutions and civil society actors in their city, town or region. Speakers will be higher education researchers and representatives, but also business representatives and civil society actors.  


The ACA Annual Conference 2016 will take place on 21 and 22 November, and is to be preceded by a social programme and opening reception in the afternoon and evening of 20 November. The conference itself will feature a mix of plenary and parallel sessions. Plenary sessions will include ‘classical’ presentations, panel discussions and ‘debates’.  In addition, there will be three interactive parallel sessions which will be repeated once, allowing participants to attend two such dynamic sessions instead of only one. The programme also includes the by now legendary conference dinner. 

Tempus Public Foundation

Traditionally, ACA Annual Conferences are organised in cooperation with ACA members and other important local partners. This year, ACA is very proud to co-organise its Annual Conference together with the Tempus Public Foundation (TPF), its Hungarian member organisation. TPF celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and the conference is part of the anniversary festivities. 


In our choice of speakers we remain very ‘conservative’. We invite only speakers who have something to say and who are able to say this well. Presenters at ACA Annual Conferences are chosen exclusively from a small group of internationally reputed experts in higher education research, policy and practice. In the coming weeks, we will present some of these outstanding personalities to you.

Overall, we aim at an event that not only provides useful information, reflection and analysis, but also ample opportunities for discussion, peer learning, and networking. 

The conference language is English.


Image: Shutterstock