Aston Business School in Birmingham will today sign a pioneering partnership protocol with the Institute of Asian Business.

The partnership agreement commits the two organisations to working together on areas of mutual interest, such as human resources, research, consulting and training.

The protocol provides a roadmap for Aston Business School and the Institute of Asian Business to achieve set goals that will benefit both and ensure a sustained, long-term relationship.

One of the key projects is the creation of a joint ABSIAB student scholarship fund, which would provide a source of funds for Asian students in the West Midlands to support their studies at Aston University.

The idea for the fund will be discussed further by Prof John Saunders, head of Aston Business School, and Gurjeet Bains, chair of the IAB, after the protocol signing ceremony.

"This is an unprecedented but clearly mutually beneficial opportunity for both organisations given the importance and significant size of the Asian communities at Aston University and in the West Midlands," explained Brian Porter, director of advancement at Aston University.

"We were able to come to a rapid agreement about the areas, goals and future anticipated activities of the part-nership. These have now been endorsed by the stakeholders of ABS and the IAB and are embodied in the form of a written partnership protocol.

"It is not meant to specify an exclusive business relation-ship in any way. However, from a common vision, it commits both partners to working together in various levels of a relationship in a sustained, longer-term, comprehensive manner.

"By setting goals to be achieved, directions to fulfil them and a means of determining the success, the protocol provides a roadmap with clear destinations and measures to guide both partners."

Other areas of mutual benefit covered by the agreement include the IAB promoting ABS work placements and facilitating graduate recruitment, as well as the business school acting as a research arm for the Institute.

The proposed scholarship fund will be a vital component in the partnership, as will the establishment of an Asian advisory committee at Aston Business School. This committee will focus on corporate advice and connections.

The agreement will be officially signed by Prof Saunders and Gurjeet Bains prior to a working lunch where further ideas will be discussed. The ceremony will take place in the recently opened £20 million Management Development Centre at Aston Business School.

Others attending the event include the IAB's Dipak Shelat; Pawan Budhwar, Aston Business School's professor of international HRM; and Sarinder Singh Sahota, former chair of the IAB and ABS Advisory Board.