Firms are being encouraged to hire international postgraduate students to help them avoid cultural blunders when dealing with overseas business contacts.

A government initiative will help firms recruit overseas students to help break down language barriers and avoid potential protocol errors with potential clients.

Under the scheme, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) will match firms with a student from the market they are trying to break into.

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UKTI's lead language and cultural adviser, Suzannah Hutton, said: "Recruiting an international student from the market you are trying to export to can have a dramatic effect on your business - whether that is undertaking market research, dealing with inquiries that arrive in a foreign language or making sure that you do not make a cultural faux pas when meeting international clients.

"UKTI stands ready to help any business who thinks they could benefit from this service."

International postgraduate students studying in the UK are allowed to work for 20 hours a week in term time and full-time during vacations.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "This important new initiative will help firms overcome the barriers that are a drag on growth."