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Sun, sea, sand and high level studies

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Preston’s University of Central Lancashire is flying the red rose for Queen and country at its campus in a small corner of the Eastern Mediterranean. Education Reporter SONJA ASTBURY speaks to students at the only British university in Cyprus.

The University of Central Lancashire prides itself on having a world-class reputation for excellence and innovation, and its leaders make no secret of their ambition to become a global force.

The institution’s overseas links are extensive but the establishment of its first private university in Pyla, Cyprus, is already paying dividends, at home and abroad.

In two years since it opened in the border town of Pyla, UCLan Cyprus has already surpassed its original recruitment target.

The lure of a British education - UCLan is the only university on the island with its own education licence - and dual award (British and Cypriot) has been well received by the locals, many of whom would previously have sent their children to the UK, or elsewhere abroad, to finish their education.

An English education was the most important factor for all the people I spoke to, including the small group who have travelled from as far afield as Russia, the United States and Africa to study at UCLan Cyprus.

Maria Tyrimous, 18, from Larnaka is studying accounting and financing. She’s in her first year. She says: “I think it is a very interesting place to study. Pyla is a very quiet village and the only place where Turkish and Greek Cypriots live side by side.

It is very close to my house and before UCLan was here I would have had to go to study in England because England is one of the best places to study.”

Neofita Christou, also 18, is also from Larnaka and is studying psychology.

She adds: “I would have had to go to either England or America. I like it (UCLan) because we have many cultures here and it is close to my house.”

Having a brand new campus is a real bonus for the students and Neofita adds: “The campus is really good. I like it here.”

Lilia Andreieva, 24, is originally from the Ukraine, graduating in 2010, but is now continuing her education at UCLan, which she says is “like paradise. ”

She explains: “My parents live in the UK, so I originally thought of going there to study but they come here every summer for vacation so when I found this very interesting university of UCLan I was very happy to study here.

“It is great to have the British education and study in such a lovely place.”

Oscar Constantinou, 21, is studying business administration and although he lives in Larnaka the campus is close to his dad’s shop in Dhekelia, so he can go there in his free time.

He joined after his national service and explains: “If UCLan wasn’t here I would go to Sweden to study because my mum is Swedish. This is better because I can have an English education and degree and also be close to home.”

It is not just the Cypriots who get to study in the sun, through its pioneering Student Travel Bursary Scheme, more than £1 million of university funding has enabled over 1,000 UCLan students to undertake a work placement or study period overseas.

UCLan’s Graduate Development Programme has been designed to provide an introduction to leadership and assumes no prior experience or knowledge of the subject.

It is open to all students irrespective of their academic course or level of study and combines leadership with global study through delivery at UCLan Cyprus, alongside Cypriot students.

Groups of up to 30 students travel to Cyprus each week and between October 2013 and June 2014 nearly 600 will have taken part. The most recent group were health studies students undertaking a graduate development programme - in the sun.

For single mum, and mature student, Jo Davies, 37, from Hutton, near Preston, this was the first time she had left her six-year-old daughter Madison, but the heart wrench was made easier by the superb surroundings the NHS worker of 19 years found herself in. She said: “I am an assistant theatre support worker, still working part-time and doing bank shifts on the wards, as well as studying adult nursing full time.

“When the opportunity came up (to go to Cyprus) I was unsure because of my daughter and I also have a lot of health issues. I toyed with the idea but am glad I got on the trip.”

She was really taken with the openness of the campus and added: “It is lovely, really nice.

“Very, very clean and I think it is a good idea to get people out of their usual surroundings.”

The group, although all based at UCLan’s Preston campus, are studying for different qualifications and the visit gave them a chance to use their skills to work together as well as making new friends.”

Rachel Mason from Leyland left her three children at home. She’s studying for a diploma in mental health nursing and says: “I’ve not been to Cyprus before and it’s the first time I have been away without the children but the staff are lovely and we have been made to feel welcome.

“I was quite surprised that we could come to a place like this but I think it is really good to be able to experience something like this and mix with people from different places.”

Former Our Lady’s Catholic High School pupil Rosie White, 19 from Fulwood in Preston, was really looking forward to spending five days in the sun. She says: “ It is beautiful.

“The campus is so modern and is wonderful to be working in this heat.

“It’s much better than going off for a team building exercise at home.”

• Tomorrow we talk to the people who run the campus.

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