Scotland's universities and colleges have signed a partnership deal valued at Pounds 3.54 million with News International to become a worldwide distance learning distributor.
Scottish Knowledge plc comprises 13 universities and eight colleges and has been marketing Scotland's home-grown distance learning around the globe since August 1997. The deal means that News International will own 25 per cent of Scottish Knowledge.
Worldwide Learning Limited (WWL), a subsidiary of TSL Education (publisher of The THES), will market and distribute the distance-learning courses and products.
Steve Beere, Scottish Knowledge's chief executive, said: "The substantial cash injection from News International, combined with the marketing expertise and scope of WWL, means Scottish Knowledge is now in a position to be a leading global player in the provision of distance learning."
James MacManus, WWL managing director, said he hoped that the online marketing initiative would allow Britain's higher education market to expand into new territories.
Mr MacManus said: "Demand for undergraduate and postgraduate education is set to outstrip supply as governments - particularly in the developing world - seek to upgrade the education of their populations in order to compete in the knowledge economies."
New markets to be targeted by the distance learning initiative include China, India, Latin America and the United States.
Sir Graeme Davies, principal of Glasgow University, said: "Together with Edinburgh University, we were original backers of Scottish Knowledge. I am sure that the universities will continue to play a key role in the company's future success."