LSRS 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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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 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

De vorbă cu Andrei Ioan Stan (Prim Consilier LSRS Anglia) despre cum studiile în străinătate îți oferă o trăire continuă de noi experiențe

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Smartdreamers.com (septembrie, 2013):

Andrei Stan LSRS

”Experiența proprie mi-a demonstrat că poate fi chiar un mod de viață care îți asigură o trăire continuă de experiențe noi. Cu fiecare schimbare de decor, experimentezi un fel de tabula rasa, practic pornești de la zero într-o nouă etapă de acumulare a cunoașterii.”

Ca o completare ”mai filozofică” la postarea precedentă, astăzi îți expunem opinia lui Andrei (student în anul 3 – Relații Internaționale și Studii de Securitate – University of Sheffield), despre importanța unei experiențe de învățare peste hotare. Iar în a 2-a parte îți prezentăm cele mai active și dezvoltate rețele de studenți prin care poți accesa un stagiu de studii extern: LSRS, GRASP și CAESAR.

Textul pe care îl redăm mai jos este punctul lui de vedere, un mix între experiența personală a lui Andrei și interacțiunile cu tinerii plecați la studii în Anglia, pe care i-a întâlnit prin Liga Studenților Români din Străinătate.

Despre tineri, mobilitate internațională… și multe altele cu Andrei Ioan Stan:

”Introducere în conceptul internaționalizării
Pentru că ați vrut să vă vorbesc din experiența (internațională) personală, nu văd cum aș putea spune altceva decât că, dacă vrem să vorbim despre un zeitgeist sau saeculum (i.e. spiritul veacului contemporan epocii noastre), acela este cel al internaționalizării. Mai mult, cred că, în mod ideal, mobilitatea și internaționalizarea sunt două cuvinte ce ar trebui să caracterizeze evoluția cât mai multor tineri din ziua de astăzi. Altfel, acest spirit, precum o „mână invizibilă” îi va „pedepsi” pe cei care se secluzionează în spatele granițelor naționale.

De ce am simțit nevoia anticipării unor reacții critice? Fiindcă într-o societate post-comunistă precum cea românească – cu toate derivatele ei, mai multe rele decât bune, după aprecierea mea – de ale cărei reminiscențe, din păcate, încă ne mai zbatem să ne descătușăm, paradigma internaționalizării este mai degrabă percepută negativ la nivelul românului de rând. Motivația ar fi aceea că ea s-a manifestat predominant sub forma (e)migrației masive peste hotare în trei valuri succesive din ’90 până în prezent.

Ați vrut să vorbim despre internaționalizare. Prin urmare, să facem un joc de concepte: să renunțăm la maniera oarecum auto-compătimitoare de a discuta în termeni negativi despre (e)migrație ca fenomen sistemic în care indivizi constranși de factori socio-economici sau socio-politici pleacă spre a-și căuta respectiva dezvoltare personală sau profesională prin cine mai știe ce colțuri ale planetei, pentru că „acasă” nu o găsesc.

Alternativ, să ducem discuția despre internaționalizare în termeni pozitivi. Dar, pentru asta e nevoie să pornim de la premisele că intrinsec condiției umane există predilecția cunoașterii și interacțiunii cu societăți, culturi sau civilizații diferite; că provocările însoțite de oportunitățile aferente expunerii unor medii străine, sunt corelate cu dezvoltarea noastră personală sau profesională; și că o parte dintre noi alegem în mod voluntar să punem acel pas peste hotare.

Chiar și conștient de privilegiile de care, nominal, am beneficiat, refuz să abordez acest subiect în nota constrângerilor de ordin material, social sau politic. Acestea își au rolul lor, dar nu trebuie să perpetuăm mentalitatea românească dominantă, că acestea sunt exclusiv cele ce ne mână în lumea largă. Ar fi interesantă extrapolarea prin care încerc să inoculez lucrul acesta unor cunoscuți precum, să zicem, unei germance care a făcut voluntariat 6 luni în Nepal, unui britanic tocmai revenit după un an de Erasmus în Spania sau altuia revenit dintr-un internship de doua luni în China. Toți trei beneficiau la ei acasă de condiții economice, sociale și politice la care mulți români aspiră, dar contraintuitiv, au optat pentru experiențe internaționale. De ce?

Impactul personal
Experiența proprie mi-a demonstrat că poate fi chiar un mod de viață care îți asigură o trăire continuă de experiențe noi. Cu fiecare schimbare de decor, experimentezi un fel de tabula rasa, practic pornești de la zero într-o nouă etapă de acumulare a cunoașterii.

Mai mult, în surclasarea impedimentelor fiecărei resetări la zero a micro-universului tău, parcurgi și un drum al cunoașterii proprii. Suntem ființe sociale și, fie că o recunoaștem sau nu, ajungem să ne definim ca persoane nu doar după modul în care ne închipuim noi în propria minte, ci mai ales în relație cu mediul extern. Teoretic, cu cât realizăm mai multe permutări în medii care mai de care mai străine, cu atât ajungem să ne definim propria identitate mai precis.

Sunt convins că toți cei care au locuit cel puțin câteva luni într-o altă țară, vor întelege perfect la ce mă refer. Dar de ce am ținut să fac toată poliloghia aceasta soră cu metafizica? Pentru că am întâlnit în cercurile mele și persoane sceptice privind beneficiile unei experiențe internaționale, și asta nu dintr-un patriotism pronunțat, ci mai degrabă din cauza unui scepticism rațional bazat pe analize cost-beneficiu, mai ales în termeni de comfort.

Ca să termin ideea, dacă în urma unei analize raționale, o persoană anume consideră că, ținând cont de toate implicațiile, are un castig profesional relativ mai mare „internaționalizându-se”, ar trebui să aibă toată încrederea în propria-i judecată si să facă acest pas, fiindcă pe lângă aceasta, se adaugă și câștigul din planul dezvoltării personale. Nu neg faptul că a învăța la o universitate care, în aria mea de studiu, este numărul 4 per total, respectiv numărul 1 pe cercetare în Marea Britanie, nu contează deloc pentru mine. Dar, privind retrospectiv, dezvoltarea personală extra-curriculară a cântărit mai mult pentru mine.

Este nevoie doar de o deschidere către înțelegerea altor perspective, de altfel principiul esențial al altui concept (i.e. multiculturalismul) despre care mulți tot auzim în ultima perioadă. Poți la fel de usor să participi la webinare cu oameni de pe tot mapamondul sau să urmezi cursuri oferite de universități de oriunde în lume, tu stând bine-mersi la tine acasă.

Impactul asupra societații
Până acum, m-am referit mai mult sau mai puțin la impactul personal. Haideți să le subliniem acum si pe cele ale societății. Evident, la prima analiză, dacă persoanele respective nu se mai întorc, niciunei nații nu îi este pe plac faptul că îi pleacă creierele sau generațiile mai tinere. Este o pierdere pentru stat (al nostru), pentru societate (a noastră), pentru noi toți. Însă, iarăși, tind să nu fiu întru totul de acord cu abordările alarmiste.

Desigur că as vrea să vad un stat român care poate ar oferi niște facilități fiscale igenioase, sau o serie de burse de studiu în străinatate condiționate tinerilor s.a.m.d., astfel încât să mai recupereze din capitalul uman plecat din țară. Dar și în contextul actual, nu trebuie să ne fie teamă de internaționalizarea societății noastre.

Mobilitatea internațională a tinerilor este ceva normal, conditiile vitrege socio-economice sunt comparabile cu cele ale străbunicilor nostri. Ce să vezi, la nivel global, perioada respectivă coincide cu epoca unei masive migrații internaționale. Da, vorbim de „brain drain”, dar chiar în absența unui implicări considerabile a statului, la fel de bine putem avea și „brain regain”. În parte, cu asta se ocupă ONG-uri precum LSRS și CAESAR. De asemenea, mai toate națiunile moderne au o diaspora consolidată. Deseori, auzim vorbindu-se de lobby-ul israelian sau polonez și impactul favorabil pentru țara de origine pe care îl joacă componenta din diaspora. De ce nu am putea vorbi și noi despre lobby-ul românesc care să complementeze acțiunile externe ale statului?

Sper să nu fiu înțeles greșit, nu susțin exodul tinerilor din țară, ci o discuție pluralistă și o înțelegere mai nuanțată a „internaționalizării” generației tinere.”