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.

The signing of the MoU was witnessed by Ashok Thakur, Additional Secretary, Ministry for 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 said, “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, at which Scotland will feature 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. The current year marked the first year of the scheme which offers 200 awards of 2000 pounds towards successful applicants’ course fees. Under the scheme, 50 Indian students are now studying for a Masters degree at a Scottish University. More information at www.scotlandscholarship.com