The University of Utah and University of Aberdeen in Scotland recently signed a memorandum of understanding for universitywide collaboration and a joint exchange agreement opening learning abroad opportunities to students from both campuses.
“This agreement creates an opportunity for our students to study at one of the top universities in the U.K. and experience an institution with over 500 years of history,” said the U’s Sabine Klahr, associate chief global officer and executive director for Learning Abroad.
Richard P.K. Wells, vice principal international partnerships at the University of Aberdeen added, “Education changes lives, and in particular the opportunity to experience different countries and cultures can deliver lifelong opportunities to students. This new agreement between the Universities of Aberdeen and Utah gives a whole new range of opportunities to students from both countries.”
The academic disciplines offered at Aberdeen complement those offered at the U, and students across most fields of study may choose to spend a semester or academic year at Aberdeen once university travel is permitted again. “We also look forward to hosting students from Aberdeen on our campus and their cultural perspectives and contributions to classes and student life,” said Klahr. The partnership is expected to expand to include faculty and staff collaborations in research and scholarship, teaching and other joint initiatives.
The partnership grew out of a chance meeting that Joni Smith, Scottish affairs counselor to North America, and Ian Houston, now the U.S. ambassador for the Scottish Business Network, had while on an official visit to Utah for the 2019 celebration of the Golden Spike monument. Scotsman John Sharp played a key role in the historic driving of the “last spike” in the Transcontinental Railroad in Promontory Utah in 1869. Smith and Houston met Al Landon, David Eccles School of Business assistant dean, and found a shared desire to connect Utah and Scotland through student and scholar experiences.
The state of Utah has deep historic connections to Scotland due to early immigration by individuals who became leaders in the Mountain West, including David Eccles, for whom the U’s school of business is named. This is the first partnership of its kind between the U and an institution in Scotland.
“In the U.S. we tend to have a romantic view of Scotland—castles and kilts. While that is certainly there and that history and culture needs to be revered and preserved, it’s also so important for students and industry to see the modern progressive Scotland. The converse is true as well—Utah is sometimes misunderstood and people don’t know all that it offers,” said Houston, noting the innovation and spirit of entrepreneurship endemic to both regions.
The University of Aberdeen is ranked in the top 20 universities in the U.K. and in the top 200 in the world (QS World Rankings 2019). Celebrating its 525th anniversary this year, Aberdeen was founded in 1495 and has grown to encompass a broad range of disciplines organized in 12 schools, as well as multidisciplinary research centers and institutes bringing together experts in their fields engaging in cutting-edge research with colleagues around the world.