MnSCU partnership with the Basque Country to yield new opportunities for Minnesota

ST. PAUL, Minn., April 28, 2016 – Increasing global competitiveness and the exchange of information, research, and ideas to meet the pressing need for talent is the focus of a Memorandum of Understanding signed today by leaders of the Basque Government and Minnesota State Colleges and Universities.

MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone
MnSCU Chancellor Steven Rosenstone

“This agreement will strengthen the economies of both Minnesota and the Basque Country by encouraging best practices in research, innovation, and learning,” said Steven Rosenstone, chancellor of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “It will promote education and training to prepare our students to meet the needs of business and industry, and promote collaborative educational and research activities.”

The Basque Country is one of the most prosperous regions in Spain, with the highest Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per worker in the country and wide competencies in science, technology and industry, education, and research.

“This agreement has great value for us,” said Cristina Uriarte, minister of education, culture and linguistic policies for the Basque Government. “It’s an honor for the Basque Country to have such an important partner as Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. The training of students and teachers, the support to our own production sectors, and the exchange of knowledge will enable us to successfully address the changes that are occurring in our economies. I am confident that we will learn a great deal from Minnesota, also from MnSCU. I hope that Minnesota also will benefit thanks to the relationship with the Basque Country.”

“We know that global collaborations are important for our next generation of leaders to better understand important advances in the fields of education, research and industrial development,” said Shawntera Hardy, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). “Minnesota’s advanced manufacturing base will continue to grow and is strengthened by this innovative partnership between MnSCU and the Basque Government.”

The agreement establishes a partnership that provides for several cooperative activities. For example, the participants may develop education and training resources, share research and best practices, and develop exchange opportunities for apprentices. A partnership between the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities eight Centers of Excellence (which promote connectivity between industry and our colleges and universities) and the Basque Centre for Investigation and Applied Innovation in Vocational and Educational Training (Tknika, which is a center of innovation and applied research funded by the Basque Government) will establish opportunities for collaborative research and professional development.

Other avenues of cooperation described in the agreement include exchanges of non-confidential academic material, as well as government, business, and industry delegations, and exchanging information about vocational education and training systems.

The signing ceremony was also attended by Ander Caballero, delegate of the Basque Country to the United States. Basque higher education officials in the delegation included Jorge Arévalo, deputy minister for vocational education and training; Adolfo Morais Ezquerro, deputy minister for universities and research; Nicolás Sagarzazu, president of Ikaslan (Association of Public Colleges); and the leadership of Tknika including Jon Labaka, director of the department of technological innovation; and José Luis Fernández Maure, director of international relations.

Today’s agreement stems from a relationship established in 2014 between South Central College (campuses in North Mankato and Faribault) and the Basque Ministry of Education that provided for student, faculty, and staff exchange programs.

“I am honored that the work that we began at South Central College is now an agreement that serves all of Minnesota,” said Annette Parker, president of South Central College.

Minnesota State Colleges and Universities has international partnership agreements with other countries as well, including Mexico, China, and Taiwan.