James Watt College in Greenock is set to become Morocco's leading English language business school after clinching a deal in the north African country.
A joint venture with Casablanca Chamber of Commerce and the Moroccan Institute of Management will see the college initially offering advice on curriculum, quality assurance and assessment. The agreement also allows for "a streaming mechanism" enabling Moroccan students to study in Scotland.
The Moroccan Institute of Management has already developed extensive links with educational institutions in France, and James Watt will become the leading British college in opening up the country's vocational education market. "I am delighted that we have succeeded in bringing on board two new partners that will enable us to expand the college's reputation," Bill Wardle, the college's principal, commented.
The model builds on arrangements the college already has in China, the Far East and the Middle East. "We will be looking to attract students from Morocco who will be able to progress to courses at James Watt College and then on to Scottish universities," Mr Wardle said.
James Watt representatives travelled to Morocco on a Scottish Enterprise trade mission in April. The contacts made enabled it to return in June and finalise the deal within a week.
The move is the latest in a series highlighting the growing importance of further education in working with businesses to promote overseas trade and economic growth. "Morocco is a market of growing importance for Scottish companies, particularly in the emerging energy sector," Denis Taylor, Scottish Enterprise's director of international business development, said.
Currently, Morocco produces fewer than 1,000 barrels of oil per day but recent discoveries have put reserves at as much as 20 billion barrels.
This has led to deals being signed with Australian, French and American exploration companies.
James Watt has already tapped into overseas markets with students from China, Europe, the Middle East, the United States and the Far East.
The college's partner universities in the Moroccan venture include Glasgow Caledonian, Heriot-Watt, Napier, Paisley and Northumbria.
The initiative is in line with the Scottish Executive's "Smart, Successful Scotland" strategy which is based on the export of Scottish knowledge to world markets as well as attracting knowledge from overseas to exploit in Scotland.