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Dumfries university campus sees international student influx

When the University of Glasgow opened its Crichton campus in Dumfries its student population was very different.

At the time, one of its main aims was to provide higher education in an area where people usually had to leave the region for such opportunities.

After 25 years, however, the focus has changed and it now boasts staff and students from more than 40 nations.

Drawn in by the courses offered, what do they make of their new south of Scotland surroundings?

Noura Seada, 32, is from "very close to the pyramids" in Giza, Egypt, but the Crichton offers something she could not find in her homeland.

"I did a masters in Egyptology and then I wanted to study something related to sustainability because in my country there is no programme about sustainability but there is a lot about tourism," she said.

"Egypt is one of the most famous tourism destinations but we never take it from the perspective of sustainability."

Having found the course she wanted - sustainable tourism - she is enjoying living somewhere "completely different" to Egypt which is "very loud and full of people".

However, she is yet to brave one culinary frontier.

"So many friends have talked to me about haggis but when I found out what haggis is I decided not to try it," she said.

"But I am thinking about eating vegetarian haggis one day."

Sreekumar
Sreekumar Vattekkattu Pradeep Kumar said Dumfries was "very calm" and a "very nice place to be".

Sreekumar Vattekkattu Pradeep Kumar, 21, from Kerala in southern India, is studying environmental risk management.

He has found Dumfries a "wonderful" place to live

"For me, it is not so much the place that matters, I think the course made me join the university," he explained.

"I'd be open to move to any place if what I'm learning excites me."

However, he finds some similarities with where he comes from.

"I am actually based in a very remote village in India so I am very much enjoying this atmosphere here," he added.

"It is very calm and it is a very nice place to be."

For Aimee Becker, 23, from Austin, Texas, in the United States, the course in sustainable tourism in Dumfries was what drew her in after working in "side jobs" in hospitality.

"I kind of noticed how waste was disposed and there wasn't enough being done to help the environment," she said.

"That was when I found this programme in Dumfries which matched perfectly with what I was feeling so that is why I chose that programme online."

She said the town had been a "pleasant surprise".

"It is everything you need but on a much smaller scale," she said.

"It has been fun but also calming at the same time, so you can slow down if you want to but there is still stuff to do if you are a more active person.

"I think my favourite part is the environment, the parks, you can walk around - and the people too."

Another environmental risk management student, Swathi Sreeja Prashanth, 23, from Kerala in India, was recommended the University of Glasgow by her brother who was studying at the main campus in Glasgow.

"I did look into other places but then I saw the opportunities and seeing the campus I chose this," she said.

She is enjoying the slower pace of southern Scotland.

"It is very peaceful here and calm compared to where I am from," she said.

"India is pretty crowded and there is a lot happening - when I came here it was like a breath of fresh air.

"It is very peaceful here and the people are super-friendly and it is very nature-friendly - that is something that I enjoy about being in Dumfries."

Crichton campus
The University of Glasgow has been on the Crichton Campus in Dumfries for 25 years

The legendary seasons of Scotland, however, came as something of a shock.

"The weather was something which really took time for me to get adjusted to," she said.

"You never know what the weather is - one minute it is sunny, the next it is a storm and rain, then it snows.

"Back in India it doesn't snow - so here it is like a totally extreme condition."

'Truly diverse'

Campus director Prof Fabrice Renaud, said there was a "truly diverse community" which had "enriched" the Dumfries campus.

"For 25 years, the University of Glasgow has had a presence in the town and we are proud to be a local university of choice for the surrounding community," he said.

"In addition to our regional purpose, we have welcomed a growing number of international students in recent years and the feedback we have received is that they are choosing our campus specifically because of the programmes we offer.

"We have developed a distinct portfolio that is underpinned by world-leading research, and makes use of the surrounding landscape."