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RAU signs historic partnership to establish new university in Uzbekistan

The Cirencester-based Royal Agricultural University (RAU) has entered into a long-term partnership with the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture to launch the International Agriculture University (IAU) in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

After months of planning and discussions, RAU vice-chancellor Professor Peter McCaffery signed the official partnership agreement, formalising the relationship between the two institutions, yesterday (June 17) via video link during a meeting with Mr Jamshid Khodjaev, Uzbekistan's minister of agriculture.

The aim of the new International Agriculture University is to lead the reform of higher education in agriculture in Uzbekistan and secure international recognition for agriculture's role in Uzbekistan's transitional economy and society.

The partnership will give IAU students an equivalent educational experience to that of students at the RAU, with IAU students accessing a blend of face-to-face and online lectures and resources, by franchising some of the RAU's existing degree programmes, and developing new degrees and modules to suit Uzbekistan's conditions and its international trade ambitions, as the new university grows and develops.

Professor McCaffery said: "The RAU is very proud to have been selected as a founding partner of IAU. For much of its 177-year history, the RAU has sought to collaborate with agricultural experts globally to ensure that students receive a world-class education that is both international in outlook and local in relevance and applicability.

"This new partnership continues this tradition, ensuring that students at the International Agriculture University receive the best of both worlds."

After initial discussions in 2020, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed last year between the RAU and the Ministry of Agriculture of Uzbekistan, outlining the intent of cooperation, and a delegation from the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture visited the RAU for further discussions last November.

As well as a tour of the university's facilities, delegates were given a demonstration of the RAU's new International Virtual Learning Environment and blended approach to module delivery, which has already been successfully used to teach RAU students at partner universities in China. A similar system is now being developed with IAU to provide online resources, lectures and other support.

Last month, a Presidential Resolution to open the IAU was ratified and the new university was established. Undergraduate courses at the IAU are due to start in autumn 2022 and it is expected that around 200 Uzbekistan students will be offered full scholarships in the first year.

Professor Munira Aminova, acting rector of IAU, said: "Today's signing of the Partnership Agreement by the two founding members - the RAU and the Uzbekistan Ministry of Agriculture - is a turning point in the partnership to fully establish the International Agriculture University.

"We are glad to be cooperating with such a well-respected partner as the RAU, which has almost 200 years' experience in teaching and research in this area. In the future, we hope to set up student exchange and other projects that will contribute to the development of an innovative and sustainable, digitally enabled, climate-change and disaster resilient, agri-food industry in Uzbekistan."

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