British Council offers prizes for students' top 'letter home'

November 1, 2002

International students are to be invited to describe their achievements and experiences in UK universities, colleges and schools for a chance to win awards worth thousands of pounds.

The International Student Awards scheme was launched this week by the British Council, with support from The THES . It aims to recognise overseas students who are making the most of their time in the UK.

The emphasis will be on wider non-academic activities. Judges will look for evidence of personal development such as contributions to institutional or community life, challenges overcome, personal goals realised and sporting, artistic or cultural achievements.

Entrants will have to submit a "letter home", accompanied by photos and video diaries if they wish, explaining how they are developing and what they are achieving in their time in the UK.

The best will be awarded prizes worth between £500 and £2,000. Winning entries may also be used as case studies by institutions promoting courses to overseas students to highlight the all-round attractions of studying in the UK.

David Green, director-general of the British Council, explained: "The quality of UK education is respected throughout the world, but international students return home with far more than just an academic qualification.

"Studying in the UK can be a life-altering experience, giving students extra confidence and a huge range of positive experiences. The International Student Awards are all about celebrating those wider experiences."

Tim O'Brien, who heads the University of Salford's international office, told a focus group for the awards: "The real challenge now is to promote the wider benefits our institutions and locations offer - those things students can't find anywhere else."

Submissions will be accepted from next month until February 14. An awards ceremony will take place in April.

Information for students will be available at www.educationuk.org/shine . Institutions can send email inquiries to shine@britishcouncil.org

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