Romanian Students in the UK

Mesajul de mulțumire al LSRS UK adresat Ambasadorului Ion Jinga

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Excelenței Sale Dr. Ion Jinga, Ambasador Extraordinar și Plenipotențiar, Reprezentantul permanent al României pe lângă Organizaţia Naţiunilor Unite

Londra,  04.10.2015

Excelenţa Voastră,

Permiteți-ne să ne exprimăm, pe această cale, profunda apreciere față de interesul și implicarea dumneavoastră în proiectele Filialei Marea Britanie a Ligii Studenților Români din Străinătate pe parcusul mandatului dumneavoastră anterior de Ambasador al României la Londra. Datorită dumneavoastră, Echipa LSRS UK s-a bucurat mereu de susținerea Ambasadei României la Londra în cadrul unor proiecte de impact, ce au reușit să creeze legături solide între românii din Marea Britanie, atât pe plan profesional, cât și pe cel studențesc. Conferința Studenților, Profesorilor și Cercetătorilor Români din UK si Evenimentele de SpeedNetworking sunt doar două asfel de exemple de inițiativă comună ce au devenit tradiție, iar vizitele și întâlnirile cu studenții români sunt încă un semn de atenție specială pe care ați acordat-o comunității noastre de studenți. Iar pentru toate acestea vă purtăm un profund respect. Considerăm că fiecare român aflat în Marea Britanie este un „ambasador“ al propriei țări, de aceea am apreciat răbdarea și înțelegerea cu care v-ați implicat în fiecare comunitate a diasporei, încercând să promovați o imagine reală, dar totodată pozitivă a României. În timpul mandatului de ambasador, ați dat dovadă de atudinea unui om care își cunoaște țara și respectă fiecare membru al ei, apărându-ne imaginea în contextul european. Prin prisma activităților desfășurate împreună, putem declara cu sinceritate că v-ați remarcat prin profesionalism și o neîncetată pozitivitate, oferindu-ne motive să fim mândrii că ne reprezentați. Sperăm că împreună am reușit să construim o comunitate mai unită și vom încerca să păstrăm acest parteneriat de succes și cu viitorul ambasador, ducând munca noastră comună pe mai departe. În final, vă mulțumim încă o dată pentru ajutorul acordat, vă felicităm pentru cel mai lung mandat în capitala Angliei după 1990 și vă urăm din suflet succes în funcția de reprezentant al țării noastre la ONU. Cu deosebită considerație, Echipa LSRS UK reprezentată prin:

Ioan – Vlad Miftodi, Coordonator

Andrei Ioan Stan,  Membru de onoare

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Romanian Ambassador speaks at the University of Bedfordshire

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Mon 24th February, 2014

Dr Ion Jinga and Bill RammellTHE Romanian Ambassador to the UK discussed Romania’s role within the European Union at a lecture held at the University of Bedfordshire.

Hosted by Bedfordshire’s Vice Chancellor, Bill Rammell, Dr Ion Jinga highlighted the responsibilities and challenges Romania faces as an EU member state, having joined in 2007.

In addition, Dr Jinga, who visited the University last Wednesday (19th), discussed a host of other topics during his lecture, including the growing number of Romanian students studying in the UK, including at the University of Bedfordshire.

“The number of Romanian students wishing to study abroad is growing and, with 80 per cent of the Romanian population using English as their second language, the United Kingdom is an increasingly popular place to study,” said Dr Jinga, who was appointed Romania’s Ambassador to the UK in 2008.

“The University of Bedfordshire is proving particularly appealing for Romanian students due to the high employability rate the University enjoys, while the prospect of English students studying in Romania is something we would love to happen.”

Mr Rammell commented: “After speaking at last year’s conference for Romanian students in London, I was delighted to welcome Dr Jinga here to Bedfordshire.

“The number of Romanian students studying here at Bedfordshire currently stands at more than 130, and I only see that number increasing.

“I am extremely proud of the University’s links with Romania. After holding talks with Dr Jinga, we are keen to develop this relationship further by extending the University’s student exchange trips to Romania.”

Dr Jinga trained as a nuclear physicist before obtaining a PhD in Law from the University of Bucharest. He joined Romania’s diplomatic service in 1992 and has served in a number of roles including Deputy Head of the Romanian mission to the European Union, Director General for European Union Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bucharest and Romanian Ambassador to Belgium before he was appointed as Ambassador to the United Kingdom.

 

Read story here.

The visit of the Ambassador of Romania to the University of York

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On 9 March 2014, the Ambassador of Romania to London visited the University of York at the invitation of the York Romanian Society (YRS) and met, on this occasion, the members of the society and several executive representatives of the university –  Dr Jane Grenville, Deputy-Vice-Chancellor and Ms Hilary Layton, Director of Internationalisation.

The event marked three years since the establishment of the YRS and represented the Ambassador’s second visit to the University of York, the first one taking place on the 28th of April, 2012, when HE Dr Ion Jinga participated in the “Students or Immigrants?” conference, the first national event organized by the York Romanian Society.

In addressing the audience, the Ambassador of Romania noted that, during the past two years, the YRS has been one of the most active and professional Romanian students’ organizations in the United Kingdom and represented a model for other such associations. In this context, the society’s representative performance during the recent edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers in the United Kingdom was evoked. The Ambassador highlighted his appreciation to the University of York’s emphasis on the development of student activities on-campus as an element which encouraged the evolution of the Romanian Society to the level it reached at present. Furthermore, Dr. JInga acknowledged the support of the University of York given to the Romanian students which were affected by the suspension of tuition fee loans.

The Ambassador of Romania pointed-out that Romanian students at York, along with the entire Romanian student community in the United Kingdom, represent one of Romania’s greatest assets, not least given their exemplary academic performance – a constantly appreciated feature by all British universities. As such, each Romanian student represents an Ambassador of Romania on a daily basis, having personal behaviour, academic performance and social inclusion as key instruments in the promotion of the image of their country.  His Excellency also mentioned that the entire Romanian community in UK has the potential to make its opinions heard within the context of the upcoming European elections. As an overall young, active and educated community, Romanians in the United Kingdom have the chance to have their opinions accounted for by voting either for Romanian candidates, at polling stations set up by the Romanian authorities, or by registering locally and voting for the British candidates to the European Parliament. Through exercising their voting rights, the Romanian community can be accounted for as a valid and relevant actor within the British political environment.

Dr Jane Grenville emphasized York’s collegial system as a fundamental pillar of the university’s overall approach to the educational experience, having the integration between the leisure and academic features of student life as a defining element. Dr Grenville appreciated the performance of the YRS as exemplary among York’s student associations and indispensable for the process of creating long term relationships among students of different nationalities living and studying at the University of York. The Deputy-Vice-Chancellor also brought to the audience’s attention the potential for collaboration between the British and Romanian academic environments within the ‘Horizon 2020’ European project, potential which the YRS and similar organizations can bring a fundamental contribution to, given their membership and objectives.

Ioan Polenciuc, PhD candidate in Physics at the University of York and the Chair of the York Romanian Society thanked the Romanian Ambassador for his presence on such a special occasion for the Romanian students at York and emphasised the appreciation of the Romanian Society for the support given by the Ambassador to the Romanian community in the United Kingdom. Reiterating some of the YRS’s accomplishments in its three years of existence, he emphasized the fact that the Embassy of Romania remains the York Romanian Society’s most important partner.  The three Ambassador’s Diplomas held by YRS officers and the Romanian Ambassador’s acceptance of the title of Honorary President of the York Romanian Society in April 2012 stand, in the view of the YRS members, as both evidence of the support given by the Embassy to Romanian student organizations in Britain and of the willingness and ability of the YRS to play a role within the Romanian students’ associative environment in the UK in a mature and professional manner as part of the process of promotion of the image and interests of Romania in the United Kingdom.

Bulgarian and Romanian students in UK find their maintenance stopped

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The Guardian, Friday 31 January 2014 17.07 GMT

Crina Petrariu in Hull

Crina Petrariu, a Romanian in her second year at Hull had her maintenance grant withdrawn and a demand to pay back £3,500. Photograph: Christopher Thomond

When the letter landed on Crina Petrariu’s doormat at the home she shares with her husband and young son in Hull, she assumed there had been a mistake. The short, official note stated that the second-year chemistry student’s financial support had been frozen – and that she now owed the government £3,500.

“It was a shock but I didn’t really think it could be right,” said the 34-year-old Romanian in a break between studying and looking after her six-year-old son, Rares. “I called the student finance people and they said it was a new law and that the government had said to stop all finance to Romanians and Bulgarians.”

Two months later, despite repeated phone calls and sending off a parcel of bank statements to prove she has lived in Britain for more than the three years qualifying her for student maintenance support, Petrariu, a student at Hull University, says she still has not had a penny of her allowance or tuition fee support.

“Every time when you call them, they say they are still checking. ‘We don’t have an answer for you yet.’ But it has been more than three months now. It is getting very hard.”

Petrariu, who has lived in Britain for five years and whose husband has just got a job as a secondary school maths teacher, was one of about 7,500 Romanian and Bulgarian students who had their financial support – fees and maintenance allowance – frozen without warning in November last year.

The government said it suspended the grants and loans after noticing an upsurge in the number of students from the two countries applying for maintenance support. Officials asked them for fresh proof they had been resident in the UK for the qualifying three years.

The move coincided with increasingly hostile rhetoric about theanticipated influx of “beggars and benefits cheats” from the two countries when working restrictions to Britain were lifted on 1 January. And some students fear they have been caught up in the government’s efforts to appear tough on immigration.

Andrei Stan, a student at Sheffield University, is the co-ordinator for the UK branch of the League of Romanian Students Abroad. He said some Romanians had been forced to abandon their studies as the money dried up – and many more were sceptical about the government’s motives.

“The timing of this announcement and the very precise targeting – that only students from these two countries, out of all other EU member states, were initially involved – leads to the suspicion that there may have been a party political motivation for this initiative, with legitimate Romanian and Bulgarian students paying the price.”

David Willets, the universities minister, announced the initial crackdownin a written statement in November. This was subsequently extended to cover other EU students at private colleges who claimed maintenance allowance, but it is only Romanians and Bulgarians at both private and public universities who have been affected.

Ion Jinga, Romania‘s ambassador to the UK, says he has received several letters from students who have been caught up in the clampdown, some of whom have been in Britain for 10 years. One 18-year-old got in touch to say she had received a letter just after Christmas telling her she had to repay £9,000 in 10 days or prove she had been in the country for three years by sending utility bills, council tax or bank statements in her name.

“The problem is that when you are 15 you do not put these things in your name,” said Jinga. “So she sent them an official letter from the UK Border Agency proving she has been a resident in the UK since 2010, as well as diplomas from her UK secondary school and college. But still their answer was negative, and now she does not know what to do.”

Jinga said he was 100% supportive of any legitimate measure to stop fraud, but he was concerned that Romanians and Bulgarians had been targeted, adding that this could lead to discrimination.

“These students appear to have become caught up in this political and media storm around immigration, and they did not want to be caught up in it, and they did not ask to be involved,” he said.

The government has so far failed to give any specific details of the increase in Romanian and Bulgarian students applying for maintenance allowance in England. A spokesperson for the Department of BusinessInnovation and Skills [BIS] said it would be providing a breakdown in the next few weeks, adding that proof of entry requirements had been toughened up for all EU students applying for maintenance allowance. “We identified that there had been a significant increase in the number of Bulgarian and Romanian students applying for full student support in England this year … We have asked each of these students to supply additional information to support their applications for maintenance, before any further public funding is made available to them or to their institutions.”

Andrew McGettigan, an expert in higher education, said the problem had arisen because the Student Loans Company [SLC] has no appropriate process to deal with young Romanians and Bulgarians who have moved to Britain with their professional parents in the past 10 years and who are now heading to university.

“This is a problem of poor information management between different branches of government,” said McGettigan, author of The Great University Gamble: Money, Markets and the Future of Higher Education. “Officials at BIS and SLC saw the figures claiming maintenance support from Romanian and Bulgarian applicants and did not believe that so many people had been here legitimately for three years. They may have stopped some fraud, but this issue is not confined to Romanian and Bulgarian students, and many of these young people who are here totally legitimately have had their studies jeopardised.”

A spokesperson for the Student Loans Company said that as soon as it received proof from students that they had lived in Britain for three years their funding would be reinstated.

But as the debate about what has happened and why Romanians and Bulgarians have been singled out continues, time is running out for students like Petrariu. “I am worried now because it is getting very difficult. I have a child and we are struggling with money. Our credit cards are empty … Please don’t mess up my life with your political games. Yes, I know the politicians will probably win lots of votes, but it is affecting our lives and that doesn’t feel fair.”

Romanian students in York: the flood of skilful immigration

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Chloe Farand, an editor with The Yorker and a ‘Treasured Friend’ of the York Romanian Society, wrote the following article on the 22nd of November, 2013:

In the light of the recent attacks of the right-wing populist press against Romanian immigration and the outspoken claim of a threat of“Thousands of Romanians and Bulgarians planning to flood the UK in 2014”, Romanian students in York and across the country have spoken out against this offensive upsurge of xenophobia.

It’s early on a Sunday morning, under the dim lights of the still unawakened Courtyard, that I meet Arina, Mihai, Ioan and Andrei, members of the Romanian Society in York and founders of the forum of Romanian Societies in the UK in April 2012.

While my eyes are still tired from too little sleep, the group of under-and-postgraduate students, finishing their take away coffee, are already very much alert. The atmosphere is relaxed but there is no doubt that we are about to embark on some serious discussion. I straighten up and open my eyes and ears.

The reason for our meeting is the publication on November 4th of a national press release, co-signed by the Association of Romanian Student Societies and the League of Romanian Student Abroad. The latter manifesto denounces the “pseudo-alarmists accounts” of Romanian immigration which, exacerbated by the current political climate, crystallised increasing hostility towards the Romanian community.

Indeed, despite Romania and Bulgaria having joined the European Union in 2007, both countries are still subject to workers restriction when immigrating to the UK. These restrictions were part of the deal made between the new member-countries and the EU as initial temporary restrictions on numbers allowed to come to the UK and an incentive for Romania and Bulgaria to improve wages and working conditions.

It suddenly seemed as if the greatest threat to 21st century Britain was an invasion of criminals and lazy, uneducated individuals eager to get their hands on all available benefits.

These restrictions could be prolonged by the hosting countries if they assumed that Romania and Bulgaria hadn’t met their target. France and the UK have used the maximum seven years extension of the legislation, therefore they are now legally compelled to abolish these restrictions by January 1st 2014.

The news, inflamed by conservative backbenchers and Ukip opportunists, has unleashed a violent mediatic debate about immigration and has put increasing pressure on the government to act in favour of tighter immigration regulation.

It suddenly seemed as if the greatest threat to 21st century Britain was an invasion from the East of criminals and lazy, uneducated individuals eager to get hands on all available benefits, spoil the schools with dirty and aggressive children and seize all the jobs from the native population until it gets down on its knees, begging.

Today’s Daily Mail front page “Enough is Enough” calls on Mr. Cameron to go against Brussels’ regulation and maintain the workers restrictions for Romanians and Bulgarians immigrants despite the threat of a fine. Such a political stand, unsurprisingly advocated by the latter paper, would have dire consequences on Britain’s future in the European Union.

According to Romanian student representative organisations, the Romanian student body in the UK “is immensely more representative of the features of the Romanian community in Britain” than any of the accounts found in the populist press. As such, the students have taken it upon themselves to speak out in the name of the whole of the Romanian community in the UK.

Mihai Cocoru, former chair of the Romanian society in York and vice-chair for national activity, has fought on both the York and national scene in order to ensure the integration of the Romanian community. He says:

The problem with the press in the UK is that they have been using the Ukip message in order to create sensation and increase their readership. But altogether they have presented very few convincing arguments. The alleged behaviour of Romanian immigrants is one that we do not tolerate.

Indeed, since the creation of the Romanian society in February 2011, dedicated groups of Romanian students have brought their support to the Romanian community established in York. They help and give advice to around fifty families in York with things such as enrolling at the Jobcentre, opening a bank account and obtaining a national insurance number. The credo of the Romanian society is however clear: there is a zero tolerance policy regarding the practice of any illegal activities.

Arina, who finished her Masters in York in June and is currently working as a Marketing Executive in the city, says that the majority of the Romanian community in York is middle class, educated and has a good command of English – which by Romanian standards is likely to mean absolutely fluent. Amongst them are a couple of doctors, the director of a clinic and the head of a local company.

The group of students seems to agree that all the Romanian families in York appear to have integrated perfectly well and that they themselves have never encountered any prejudices here because of their nationality.

Mihai confirms that York is a good example of the immigration of a group of people

with a set of skills who were willing to get the best out of their skills and therefore decided to come to Britain. But the reason for their coming is not because they thought there was milk and honey in the tap, which is what the press is successfully trying to convey.

Mihai is talking quickly in a perfectly mastered English: his tone is sharp and his determination is apparent through the weight he gives to each word.

He adds confidently:

I am a European, highly skilled individual and I can go wherever is best.

Yet, there is no doubt that “wherever is best” is tied to the prospect of a better pay: whilst social workers in the UK get a minimum of £12 an hour, in Romania they receive no more than £2. [http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/10/flood-romanian-migrants-not-going-to-happen]

I am a European, highly skilled individual and I can go wherever is best.

Skills. The word is repeated over and over again, resonating like a chant in their mouths. Rarely have I witnessed that much determination from students at York: ambition does not even come close to describing what is driving the group of students.

Andrei, the society’s secretary and currently a second year computer science student, asserts that about 60 to 70 per cent of what he is studying this year he has already learnt in his school back in Romania. To the question what was his reason for coming to study in the UK, Andrei replied:

I want to study and learn as much as possible in my niche and then go back home and change something. I would like to start my own company and make a difference in Romania.

Ioan Polenciuc, chair of the Romanian society and doing his Phd in Physics adds that

Britain is benefiting from Romania’s brain drain. We would recommend that students go back to Romania.

Today, the UK is the host of no more than 200,000 Romanians; about 6,000 are students who usually make the top of their institution. According to the National Press Release of November the 4th, the UK Migration Advisory Committee has noted that the Romanian community in the UK is not only one of the youngest communities, but also has one of the lowest unemployment rates, close to 4.4%.

However, the latter figures are not the ones picked up by the press. On the contrary, a 26% rise of Romanian workers between April and June of this year, amounting the number of Romanians in the national workforce to 0.3%, has clearly aroused passions.

As British unemployment remains one of the country’s greatest concerns, headlines such as “How do I claim benefits when I get to Britain” and“Romanians rush for ‘Come to UK’ jobs” continue to flourish.

Yet, there will be no Romanian invasion in the coming year, as Mihai puts it:

Romanians who wanted to come to the UK already did despite the restrictions.

This is just another example to fit the uneasy debate on immigration. Yet again, it seems that the anger and fear which have invaded the public sphere are, above all, reflecting the country’s own anxieties about its job market, its social welfare system and its place in the European Union.

Aggressive press articles on Romanian immigration unfortunately still have a long life ahead, and yet, like Mihai, Arina, Ioan and Andrei leave the Courtyard, I cannot but believe that the Romanian case has got plenty of hope.

Read article in The Yorker here.

Romanian Students in the UK – a Mistreated Asset –

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On the 4th of November, 2013, in an exemplary instance of collaboration and cooperation between the UK branch of the League of Romanian Students Abroad (LSRS – UK) and the Association of Romanian International Student Societies (ARISS), the Romanian students’ associative environment in the UK issued the following press release:

download               ariss-alina-var-finala-site

This document represents a press release issued by Romanian students in the United Kingdom through the organizations which represent them, in response to recent press criticisms against the Romanian community. Its main purpose is to present a representative and true account of the Romanian presence in the UK, namely that of a mistreated asset.

High-flying libel has been set as standard in the past year within the British right-wing populist media, with the local Romanian community being the punching bag in the search of an ever increasingly ignorant readership. In a media Farage-isation, bombastic accounts revealed how  Romanian gangs of beggars and criminals, already terrorising Britain, can’t wait for January 1st, 2014, when work restrictions are lifted, and their ‘mates’ – the benefits seekers – can freely leave their homes, where “they live like animals”, to come and suffocate the British labour market. Pseudo-alarmist accounts call for drastic solutions, ranging from extending the restrictions placed on Romanians’ access to the UK labour market to the outright British withdrawal from the EU. Representatives of Romanian students’ organizations in the UK, the present signatories of this line of argument, however, are keen on emphasizing one clear point: ignorance hurts!

We are keen to use this channel in order to present a realist account of our segment of the local Romanian community – namely Romanian students in the UK. This segment embodies anything but the above-mentioned examples and, most significantly, is immensely more representative of the true features of the Romanian community in Britain than the accounts above. Consequently, as Romanians in the UK, we take direct offence in the intentional attempt at libeling our image and deplore both the superficiality of the xenophobic rhetoric which influences such arguments and the (lack of) deontological norms behind their publication in a number of right-wing populist media outlets in Britain.

The intellectual competences of Romanian students in the UK have been constantly recognised by both British academia and peers alike. Romanian students are continually evaluated to be among the best within British education, not least because the Romanian educational system in which they originated has a strong knowledge focus. Thus, there exists a significant degree of complementarity Between the Romanian knowledge-based education curricula and the British research skills-oriented focus and this, in itself, represents both a feature of British Higher Education which appeals to our nationals and a factor which increases their competitive advantage – as they develop to become products of both frameworks. This isn’t to say, however, that Romanian students do give back to the system that educates them. According to the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency, during the 2011/12 academic year, 5915 Romanian nationals were enrolled within UK Higher Education Institutions, of which 5175 were studying in England. At an average rate of £3200 per year, Romanian students in England have paid their universities a total of £16,560,000 in tuition fees alone. If one would add to this a very small estimate of £50 per week in accommodation costs (although, in general, in England rents are known to be higher), simply by living in England for 38 weeks of the year meant that another £9,832,500 can be added to the sum and, without accounting for any other expenses (such as shopping, utilities, etc.), £26,392,500 was the 2011/12 sum of money paid by our students enrolled at English universities to cover the costs associated with their education. In other words, throughout their (average of) 3 years of undergraduate studies, our 2011/12 generation would have paid a little under £80 million in Romanian capital transferred to England. Again, this very cautious estimate does not account for any other expenses such as shopping, bills, living in accommodation for longer than 38 weeks, pursuing postgraduate studies (and paying for tuition fees for longer than 3 years), or paying post-2013 tuition fees exceeding £3200. By comparison, 5000 Romanian students paying the increased tuition fees alone following 2011/12, would pay £45,000,000 per academic year to English academic institutions.

Giving back does not stop here. As the results of professional formation begin to show, Romanian students transform into young, multilingual and intelligent professionals, and, to the potential benefit of Britain, direct contributors to the British economic recovery and growth. Even the UK Migration Advisory Committee has noted in 2012 that educated foreign nationals, such as our own, increase the skills capital available to companies/organizations employing them, which leads to a visible increase in their competitiveness. This is where the representativeness of the Romanian student community in the UK becomes most obvious – as the main supply base for the future young and highly skilled Romanian workforce in Britain, which, according to Push and Pull Factors for Romanians and Bulgarians (2012) is the most active of all foreign communities in the United Kingdom and has an unemployment proportion of only 4.4%. This is, however, only if Britain is attractive enough to be able to benefit from their assets. In this sense, statements such as that of Foreign Secretary William Hague that “In view of the fact that the UK will lift working restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian nationals on 1 January 2014 in accordance with our legal obligations, we acknowledged the positive contribution that most Romanians in the UK make to the UK economy” are welcomed by the Romanian student community in the UK as a sign of mainstream normality, and research contributions, such as the recent study carried out by the University College London, as a focus on real data.

As proud representatives of their country in the United Kingdom, Romanian students have created one the most cohesive institutional frameworks in Europe for the promotion of their culture and spirit within the academic environments in which they live and work. At a micro level, relationships between Romanian and non-Romanian nationals in the UK resulting from this framework are indicative not only of the spirit of collaboration and shared values between Romanians, Britons and other internationals, but also of the intrinsic and wide-ranging academic co-operation that our students are experiencing throughout their studies. The National Day of Romania, on December 1st, when the entire corpus of Romanian student associations in the UK celebrates not in isolation, but through events to which the majority of guests are British and other international students, professors and researchers, is only one example in which this phenomenon is manifested. Excellence, potential, and meritocratic success represent the characterizing features of the Romanian student community in the UK and they are manifested in a developed and open associative environment which nicely fits into the British multicultural horizons. Multiculturalism, as a celebrated political proposal, has been extensively and discursively promoted in recent years, fact which has massively influenced Romanian students’ choice to study in the UK. However, it is arguable that today’s public discourse is encountering a backlash from multiculturalism in the lights of the increased security measures which aim to redefine immigration policies, among a variety of other strategic decisions. All these place a shadow on Romanian students in the UK, as well, creating a dangerous, concerning and misunderstood label which does nothing else than stigmatizing both their potential and the UK’s benefits from their intellectual and material contribution to wider socio-economic developments.

Neither populism nor xenophobia represent new phenomena. Present instances of their manifestation throughout Europe reveal that they constitute nothing more than archaic instances of rhetoric typical to uneducated activists. Though, as their expression in British media reveals, this does not make them less dangerous or less offensive. Romanian students in the UK can accept the existence and narrative of UKIP as a disconcerting oddity in an otherwise exemplary political environment. However, the success of this political faction in getting its purposefully offensive message across through right-wing populist media institutions can only be codified as a deal aimed at increasing the audience of the said institutions – and this, in itself, represents nothing less than a cheap shot.

Romanian students in the UK are also keen to assure the British public that they do not promote the false image of a 100% saintly Romanian community in Britain. On the contrary, as a community we display the same zero-tolerance to crime and abuse towards our own nationals as towards all others. We are, however, of the strong opinion that the flaws displayed by our nationals are in no way different or more widespread than those of any other European population and, for that matter, of Britain as well. Nonetheless, we could never conceive to pass judgements regarding the United Kingdom exclusively by virtue of Britons’ flaws – a luxury that we were not afforded in the past year.

Signed on the 4th of November 2013 by:

Andrei Ioan Stan, League of Romanian Students Abroad UK Branch (LSRS-UK)

Ariel Alexander Chis, Association of Romanian International Student Societies (ARISS)

Andrei Dinca, University of Durham Romanian Society

Ioan Polenciuc, York Romanian Society

Madalina Luca, King’s College London Romanian Society

Alexandra Bogatu, UCLU Romanian and Moldovan Society

Octavian Tuchila, Imperial College Romanian Society

Cristiana Mirosanu, University of Sheffield Romanian Society

Catalin Munteanu-Ene, Warwick University Romanian Speaking Society

Ema Mihaela Tudose, University of Manchester Romanian Society

Alexandra Irina Pinzariu, Romanian Society at University of Nottingham

Alois Afilipoaie, University of Bradford Romanian Society

Radu Oprescu, University of Edinburgh Romanian Society

Ion Ambrinoc, University of Oxford Romanian Society

Florin Alexandru Sîntean, Glasgow Romanian Society

Adriana Solomon, Napier University Romanian Society

Nida Serban, Leeds Romanian Society

Dan Angelache, Southampton Romanian Society

Dorin Frasineanu, Leicester University Romanian

Vladimir Vancea, Loughborough Romanian Society

Ioana Nastasia Alexandru, Essex Romanian Society

Diana Somanescu, Exeter Romanian Society

Cora Georgiana, Portsmouth Romanian Society

The Ambassador’s Award Ceremony at CRSPR-UK 2013

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Recording of the Ambassador’s Award Ceremony within the 6th edition of the Conference of Romanian Students, Professors and Researchers (CRSPR) in the UK, London, 2013.

The event was organised under the patronage of The Embassy of Romania in London, The British Romanian Chamber of Commerce and The Raţiu Foundation and hosted by the Embassy of Romania and the University of York Romanian Society.

Event organized with the support of the York Annual Fund — “Gifts from Alumni and Friends”

Members of the steering committee of the event included students, professors and researchers from the universities of York, Cambridge, Hull, Bradford, Essex, Portsmouth, Anglia Ruskin, as well as representatives of the League of Romanian Students Abroad, the Embassy of Romania in London and the British Romanian Chamber of Commerce.

For a detailed description of the event proceedings, please see the following press accounts: