THE University of Edinburgh is opening a new liaison office in New York City today.
The North American office, at 45 Rockefeller Plaza in midtown Manhattan, will be used to recruit new students who want to study in Edinburgh. It will also form links with businesses, governments and its 20,000 alumni in North America.
The university is the most popular destination for UK-bound American students and is one of the top choices for Canadians. There are about 1,800 US students studying in Edinburgh and more than 550 Canadians.
The university has many long-standing links with the US and North America.
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers, once declared: “The University of Edinburgh possessed a set of truly great men, professors of several branches of knowledge, as have ever appeared in any age or country.”
To mark the opening of the new office, the university is funding two John Witherspoon masters scholarships, named after one of two of its graduates who signed the Declaration of Independence. The postgraduate scholarships for 2015-16 are worth up to $35,000 (£21,500).
Witherspoon, born in Gifford, East Lothian, in 1723, is credited with transforming Princeton University into one of the most successful seats of learning in the US.
The university is also hosting a series of events in New York to coincide with the launch.
Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice-principal, will mark the office’s opening with a talk on the aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum.
There will also be a one-day conference, involving the Clinton Foundation, the United Nations, Pfizer, Johnson&Johnson and a number of other academic institutions with close links to the university discussing the need to improve healthcare provision in developing countries.
Professor Sir Tom Devine will give a talk tonight entitled “Enemy or Friend? The Scottish factor in the origins of the USA”, examining the links between the university and America. The lecture is being held in the Morgan Library, which houses the biggest collection of Sir Walter Scott papers outside Scotland.
Professor Harald Hass will also demonstrate new high-speed wireless technology, called li-fi, which uses light to send information securely and at far greater speed than wi-fi.
Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, Edinburgh’s principal, said: “North America is of immense importance to the university and I believe opening this new office will extend and deepen the already strong links we have across the USA and Canada.”
The New York office is the university’s fourth overseas liaison base, with others in Beijing, Mumbai and Sao Paulo.
Last year, Glasgow Caledonian University opened a satellite campus in New York.
A number of other Scottish universities, such as Heriot-Watt, use recruiting agents in North and South America. The University of St Andrews makes use of “roving” staff who travel to the US to help recruit students. The University of Glasgow has three full-time US consultants based in Colorado, Florida and Minnesota.