Scotland's educational links with China have been taken to the next level, after an agreement was struck to establish a Confucius Institute at Heriot-Watt University, the first to specialise in business and communication.
Building Scottish links with China
The Institute, the fifth Confucius Institute in Scotland, will aim to help Scottish companies to engage with China and increase the provision of Chinese language learning for business purposes.
The announcement was made during the First Minister's meeting in Beijing with Hanban - the organisation that is charged with promoting Chinese learning and language across the globe.
Heriot-Watt's China strategy
The new Institute will build on Heriot-Watt University's well-developed China strategy to help forge new partnerships; attract more well-qualified students to study in Scotland and help foster joint research collaborations across Heriot-Watt University.
Heriot-Watt University, which already has expertise in applied languages, will launch an undergraduate degree in International Business and Management and Chinese Language in 2014.
The Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication (SCIBC)
This will form the core of the Scottish Confucius Institute for Business and Communication (SCIBC) although further development of degree programmes in Chinese will follow.
Heriot-Watt's Department of Languages and Intercultural Studies in the School of Management and Languages, already runs Chinese teachers' programmes and expanding this CPD activity is an important part of the initiative.
Speaking about the announcement, Heriot-Watt University's Principal Steve Chapman said: "We look forward to working together with existing Confucius Institutes in Scotland and throughout the worldwide network.
"Given the increased business collaboration between Scotland and China and Heriot-Watt's leading expertise in business and communication, we believe it is good timing to set up a dedicated Confucius Institute to meet the needs for the business, cultural and languages exchanges in Scotland.
"The Institute draws on our particular strengths in teaching interpreting and translating. We already have state-of-the-art digital interpreting labs, among the best in Europe. It will enable us to promote understanding of Chinese business, language and culture, attract more students to train as Chinese interpreters and to support the Scottish Government's China strategy."
A 'Scotland China Exchanges Bridge' will also be set up to facilitate the joint conferences, joint research collaboration, joint funding application and partnerships with Chinese universities.