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Scotland’s institutions are taking learning around the world


Scottish academic institutions have been spreading their knowledge across the globe, thanks to a company set up to help to exploit the range of expertise and facilities available.

Scottish Knowledge was set up in 1996 by a group of interested businesspeople to help to find ways to encourage and develop Scotland's economic performance. Scottish Knowledge was formed as an over-arching brand to represent universities and colleges in Scotland, receiving initial funding of around £2.2m from partner companies such as Scottish Power Plc, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Ernst and Young and CGU.

The company now makes money for a number of Scottish Universities including Aberdeen, Strathclyde and Dundee. 21 institutions in total are under the umbrella of Scottish Knowledge, which takes their combined resources and markets to the corporate world, spreading worldwide to supply training programmes for companies as far afield as Abu Dhabi and Malaysia.

Using distance learning, the Universities and Colleges provide most of the content for the courses, with Scottish Knowledge take a commission on each student enrolled. The lead to qualifications including BA, MSc, PhD, HND, LLB and nursing certificates. Using distance learning offers an easy way of accessing a well-regarded western education without the need to travel.

Some of the main areas of expertise which overseas countries are keen to access are business studies and information technology, medicine and engineering.

According to Stephen Beere, Scottish Knowledge's CEO, the Americans are particularly keen to access medicinal research due to an ageing population, and Asia as a whole is keen to access qualifications for its steadily-growing youthful populations. Of particular interest to many companies abroad is the expertise Scottish institutions have in petroleum and oil, hence the availability of qualifications such as the HND and HNC in Petroleum and Mechanical Engineering, and the MBA and MSc in Oil and Gas Engineering/Management.

The company has recent secured a number of deals with overseas companies. In April, they signed a global e-university alliance with Shell International, to give the company's 96,000 employees across the world access to online education and training. In May, the company won a £12 million contract from the United Arab Emirates to set up the country´s first petroleum education, training and research institute.

Earlier this year News International secured a 25% stake in the company for £3.5m, reflecting the increase in enrolments and the expectation that the market for this type of certificated e-learning will grow steadily in the next few years.


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