UUK moves to reassure Indian students following shooting (UK)

By Simon Baker

The president of Universities UK has written a letter to newspapers in India expressing his “deep sadness” at the murder of student Anuj Bidve and to reassure others planning to study in Britain that such events are “exceptionally rare”. Eric Thomas, vice-chancellor of the University of Bristol, said the death of Mr Bidve, who was killed in Salford on Boxing Day, was a “loss for us all” and that people in Britain had been “appalled by this terrible event”.

The 23-year-old from Pune in India, who was studying micro-electronics at Lancaster University, was shot dead at point-blank range as he and a group of friends made their way to join the sales queues in Manchester. In the letter, sent to major English-language newspapers such as the Times of India and the Hindustan Times, Professor Thomas stresses that UK universities take international students’ well-being “very seriously”.

“Institutions offer induction and orientation sessions for international students which includes advice on safety,” he says. He adds: “We at Universities UK would want to reassure current and future Indian students and their parents that this kind of incident is thankfully exceptionally rare.

“Compared to other countries the UK remains a safe and tolerant country with low levels of violence and street crime.” The letter follows extensive coverage in the Indian media about the murder.  Similar reporting of attacks on Indian students in Australia two years ago was blamed as a major reason for a downturn in applications to study in the country.

The family of Mr Bidve, who was staying in Salford to visit friends in the Manchester area, arrived in the UK on Wednesday to repatriate his body, meet with police and politicians, and visit the scene of the attack. Hundreds of people attended a candlelit vigil at the scene in Salford earlier this week while a memorial ceremony is due to be held later this month at Lancaster University, where a memorial book has also been set up. Kiaran Stapleton, 20, of Ordsall, Salford, has been charged with Mr Bidve’s murder and has been remanded in custody until his next hearing at Manchester Crown Court in March.

Source: Times Higher Education http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=418618&c=1