Indian, Scottish university bodies pledge commitment to sharing knowledge and expertise

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New Delhi, Oct.12 (ANI): A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between the Association of Indian Universities (AIU) and its Scottish equivalent, Universities Scotland, to promote cooperation between Indian and Scottish higher education institutions.

Highlighting the significance of this occasion to both countries, the signing of the MoU was witnessed by Ashok Thakur, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India and Michael Russell, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Scottish Government.

This bilateral agreement is the first international MoU signed by Universities Scotland and the first signed by AIU with the United Kingdom.

"Indian and Scottish institutions have valuable knowledge and expertise, so both countries stand to benefit from the collaboration that will result from this agreement." said Michael Russell, Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution, Scottish Government.

Under the agreement, Universities Scotland and the AIU will facilitate knowledge exchange and sharing of best practice between institutions, promote student and faculty exchanges, and drive collaboration in research and development. The two bodies will also encourage joint degree development and help identify opportunities for enhanced funding to support institutional initiatives and drive advocacy in areas of mutual interest.

Michael Russell continued: "With a world-class educational system, Scotland is actively seeking to support India's goals of significantly growing its education sector, enhancing research and development capabilities and skilling its workforce to boost sustainable economic growth. Today's agreement is a great opportunity to ensure that two countries with similar goals work together for mutual benefit. It also reflects why India is our number one country of interest for educational collaboration.

"Excellence, achievement and innovation are key features for which Scotland's education sector is renowned, making it the ideal partner for India in this field.

"Scotland has global strengths in key industries such as life sciences, energy, financial and business services, and information technology, which are also important to India's continued growth. Coupled with India's capabilities in these areas and our respective governments' strong commitment to continued innovation, the opportunity for mutually beneficial partnerships across many sectors is clear.

This MoU was facilitated by Scotland's international development agency Scottish Development International (SDI). To further develop the relationship between Scotland and India, SDI will lead its first education mission to India in November where Scottish university principals and professors will attend the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, Higher Education Summit, where Scotland will feature prominently as an event partner.

Mr Russell has also announced an application round for Scotland's Saltire Scholarships - a scheme offering students from India, Canada, China, and the USA the opportunity to study at postgraduate masters level in Scotland. 2009 marked the first year of the scheme which offers 200 awards of £2000 towards successful applicants' course fees. Under the scheme, 50 Indian students are now studying for a Masters degree at a Scottish University. nds

Scotland has world class universities and a very robust higher education system, with 14 universities, six other higher education institutions and 43 higher and further education colleges.

Four Scottish universities are ranked in the world's top 200 and almost half of Scottish university research departments have been recognised for international excellence.

Scotland ranks third in the world, ahead of both the US and Germany, in terms of research publications and citations per head of population.

Scotland's Saltire Scholarships is managed by British Council Scotland and funded by the Scottish Government with contributions from Scotland's universities. More information at www.scotlandscholarship.com

With around eight percent of the UK's population, Scottish universities attract around 13 percent of all Indian students studying in the UK.

The devolved Government of Scotland is responsible for most of the issues of day-to-day concern to the people of Scotland, including health, education, justice, rural affairs, and transport.

The Scottish Development International (SDI) is a government organisation which helps overseas businesses tap into Scotland's key strengths in knowledge, high level skills, technology and innovation. SDI also works to help Scottish companies do more business overseas and to promote Scotland as a good place to live and work.

It is jointly operated by the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. Its work is guided by the Scottish Government's strategy for economic development in Scotland. In Asia, SDI has offices in New Delhi, Mumbai Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Seoul, Taipei, Singapore and Sydney. SDI has doubled its presence and resources in India during 2009. (ANI)

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