AMERICAN academics tasked with bringing gifted and talented students to the UK praised the North East for its friendliness during a whistle-stop tour.
A group of 32 delegates spent yesterday at Newcastle University with the view of promoting the campus and city to potential Fulbright scholars back home.
The visit was organised by the Marshall Aid Commission on behalf of the National Association of Fellowship Advisors (NAFA).
Amongst the guests was team leader Dr Laura Damuth, director of undergraduate research and fellowship advisor at the University of Nebraska.
She said: “Our visit to Newcastle is part of a wider tour of the UK, which sees us visiting Edinburgh, Cardiff and Warwick.
“I think when Americans consider coming to the UK to study they automatically think of London, which is why we thought it was important to see what the other cities had to offer. Newcastle is the first university we’ve been to that doesn’t have a college system and we were keen to see how that works.
“What our students are looking for is somewhere with a strong academic reputation, but where they will also be made to feel welcome by the surrounding community.
“What has really come across here at Newcastle is its friendliness and how inviting it is and that is something I will be very keen to push and promote to the students when I get back.”
The delegation was joined by Michael Scott-Kline, director of the Fulbright Awards Programme, who has worked in the UK for the last 11 years.
He said: “The programme obviously works both ways across the Atlantic.
“As well as trying to find the best and brightest from America to study in the UK, we are also able to work with talented graduates over here who might want to continue their studies in the US.
“For the last three years, we have also run a summer school for undergraduates at Newcastle University which has been very successful. Newcastle is the only university in the UK that has been involved in this project for younger students.
“We hope that by attracting people to Newcastle as undergraduates for the summer school, they may look at coming back for their masters once they graduate.”
He added: “I think the group has really enjoyed the visit to the North East. I visit Newcastle every couple of months and it’s a great place.”
The delegation met American students already based at Newcastle including Ryan Williams, 24, from Baltimore, who is studying a masters in education.
He said: “I like the close-knit feel of the city; it’s very personable and easy to get around, which you wouldn’t find in places like London.
“As Baltimore is a smaller town compared to places like New York, I see Newcastle as a home-from-home and I really like the seafood here.”
The Fulbright Scholarship, founded in 1946, is a prestigious awards programme which aims to promote cultural understanding through educational exchange.