UK is praised for its warm reception

April 21, 2006

Initially they were nervous - a small group of overseas students standing up to talk about their experiences of UK higher education in front of government ministers and vice-chancellors.

But they sat down to rapturous applause, having delivered not only a paean to Greenwich University, but also to the saving graces of multiculturalism.

Meenal Mohan (pictured, front page), an Indian psychology student, said: "I have found that the atmosphere here has made me feel comfortable. It has been full of warmth."

Ms Mohan said she came to study in Britain despite her mother's worries about her safety and her own concerns that she would miss out on traditional celebrations.

But she said: "My experience of Divali (in Britain) will be a life-long memory. There are people from so many cultures here. It is truly a multicultural place."

Ms Mohan chose to complete her degree in Britain on her grandfather's recommendation.

"He told me that I would receive a quality education," she said. "I want to expand my horizons and to take my skills back to my home nation."

Nayem Hassan, 32, a Bangladeshi student, said that he felt part of a "family" at Greenwich, where he is completing a PhD in natural sciences.

"My baby daughter was born while I was studying here. The university has been supportive and I never feel alone. I feel at home."

Also attending the launch were the 12 finalists of the British Council's International Student Awards, in which overseas students record their experiences of studying in Britain in the form of a letter to a relative or friend back at home.

Armineh Soorenian, 29, a partially sighted PhD student, said that she had written about her experiences at Leeds University. She said studying at Leeds was easier than it would have been in Iran, her home country.

"I have a computer that reads my e-mails to me, and I have the help of a personal assistant once a week," she said.

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