A-level Results Day: Son of Kosovan refugees is going to Oxford University

PUBLISHED: 09:30 16 August 2018 | UPDATED: 10:18 16 August 2018

Edi Rama, 18, will read maths at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. Pic: Tom Barnes

Edi Rama, 18, will read maths at Corpus Christi College in Oxford. Pic: Tom Barnes


A Barking student who is the son of Kosovan refugees says he left his family in tears after winning a place at Oxford University.

Edi Rama, 18, a student from Newham Collegiate Sixth Form (NCS) in East Ham, has been accepted on a degree course at the world-famous Corpus Christi College, where he will read maths in September.

It is a far cry from the Balkan battlefields his painter and decorator dad Arsim, 48, and receptionist mum Gezime, 42, escaped in the mid-1990s – as they were only too quick to remind him.

They were the first people he called after discovering he had scored A* in his maths, further maths, and chemistry A Levels.

Edi, who has two siblings and older brother Drin, 21, and younger sister, Dea, 14, said: “They are often reminding us how lucky we are to be living in the UK.

“They don’t talk much about what happened but they make sure we know how different their childhoods were to ours.

“It is very difficult for me to appreciate just how hard it was for them because I was born here and have known nothing else. It seems remote for us but obviously not for them.

“When I told them how well I had done they were both in tears. It means so much to them that their son has done well in this country. They are so grateful for everything this country has given us.

“If they had not left Kosovo and been caught up in the fighting, chances they would not have lived long enough to have children, let alone have one going to the best university in the world.”

Edi’s parents fled Serb controlled Kosovo as the civil war was raged, arriving in Germany in 1995.

After the war ended they were told by authorities they had to return to Kosovo.

Fortunately, they gained asylum in the UK moving here in 1999 and settling in Barking.

Edi added: “I am not really sure where my brains have come from. Guess it is just luck.

“I know I was bright from about the age of seven when I was finishing work much quicker than everyone else.

“Oxford was a big dream for me for a long time. A lot of my success is down to the sixth form I attend.

“People here come from a variety of different background but we all share a belief that we can succeed at whatever we choose to do.

“A lot of that s down to the confidence instilled in us by this sixth form.”

NCS headteacher Mouhssin Ismail, who left a six-figure salary in the City to become a teacher in his old inner-city hometown, said: “I am so pleased for Edi, securing a place at one of the best universities in the world after not having had the best possible starts in life demonstrates what a champion he really is.

He is an inspiring individual whose strong work ethic, determination and desire to succeed is an example to us all.

“Everyone at the NCS would like to wish Edi the very best of luck at Oxford and we will all be keeping a very close eye on his progress as he takes on the world of Mathematics.”

Last year 90 per cent of NCS students got grades of A*to B, on par with Clarendon schools such as Eton College and Winchester, while 10 were offered places at either Oxford or Cambridge.

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