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International arm for colleges

The Scottish further education sector is going global, it was announced at the weekend. Scotland's Colleges International (SCI) is being set up as an independent organisation to support the collaboration of colleges aiming to win overseas business.

The move, unveiled at the annual conference of the Association of Scottish Colleges in Aviemore, coincided with initial findings from an unpublished research project commissioned by the Scottish Executive and the British Council Scotland that eight out of 10 international students studying in Scotland would encourage others to take up a course here.

Allan Wilson, Deputy Minister for Lifelong Learning, said: "We are working on further ways in which Scottish education can grow in an international market, but it is important that colleges do not lose the momentum they are building up."

Craig Thomson, principal of Adam Smith College, who has been leading the development, commented: "There are tremendous opportunities for Scottish education in international markets, and approaching these markets as a sector rather than as individual colleges will open new doors, doors that colleges acting alone will struggle to access."

Dr Thomson acknowledged that colleges, working separately, have been successfully engaging in international projects, but he believes there is a strong argument that they can be even more effective if they work together.

SCI has marked its launch by signing a "commitment to collaborate" with TAFE Global, the international arm of the education and training department in the Australian state of New South Wales, which currently manages more than 150 projects in 37 countries.

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