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University success for Romanian teen who defied Brexit to come to the UK for a better education

PUBLISHED: 12:47 01 May 2019 | UPDATED: 13:03 01 May 2019

Aspiring rocket scientist Bogdan Vicol has won a place at Cambridge. Pic: Mark Soanes

Aspiring rocket scientist Bogdan Vicol has won a place at Cambridge. Pic: Mark Soanes

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A Romanian teenager who immigrated to the UK a year after the Brexit vote for a better education has won a place at Cambridge University.

Mouhssin Ismail principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form gave up a career as a lawyer. Picture: Michelle TeckchandMouhssin Ismail principal of Newham Collegiate Sixth Form gave up a career as a lawyer. Picture: Michelle Teckchand

Bogdan Vicol read about the success of students at Newham Collegiate Sixth Form (NCS) in East Ham, so packed his bags and arrived in the country weeks after the country voted to leave the European Union in 2017.

The 18-year-old, who now lives in Ilford, said he had his doubts about leaving his home country after the Brexit vote but knew it was his best shot at getting a “top class education”.

The aspiring rocket scientist has already scored an A* in A-Level maths and will be taking exams in further maths, physics and chemistry in the summer.

If he gets the grades he requires, he will be studying for a degree in engineering, specialising in aerospace and aerothermal engineering at Gonville and Caius, Cambridge, in September this year.

He said: “Brexit was definitely a concern at first. I didn't know if I would be able to stay in the UK or if I would be eligible for any university funding.

“But my parents and I knew that to get a top-class education, and the best chances in life, I had to come to the UK.

“I searched for the best schools online and Newham Collegiate came up. I started reading about all the students who has gone to Oxford and to universities in America.

“I knew this was the place where I would get the right education to match my ambitions of being a rocket science.”

Bogdan's parents still live in Romania where they run a furniture distribution business in Bacau so for the last two years he has been living with a friend of the family.

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He said: “We managed to find a family friend who l was willing to take me in, which was very lucky.

“It's been lonely at times, leaving all my friends and family. But when I got that letter saying I had been accepted to Cambridge, I knew it was all worth it.”

He added: “I can't believe I'm now going to Cambridge. It's one of the most famous and prestigious universities in the world. It's surreal.

“My parents are so proud. I don't think I ever would have applied to somewhere like that if it hadn't been for Newham Collegiate. I just wouldn't have been encouraged or known where to start.”

“I'm particularly interested in space engineering and will now be studying alongside some of the brightest minds in the world.

“To one day be able to say 'hello, I'm a rocket scientist' will be quite something.”

For two years running, 95 percent of students at NCS were offered places at Russell Group universities while in 2017 student Tafsia Shikdar won a place at MIT in the US.

Newham Collegiate principal Mouhssin Ismail gave up a high-flying career as a lawyer to teach children in the borough he was raised in.

He said: “Bogdan has done outstandingly well and has been one of our top students.

“He left his home and life behind to achieve his ambitions, which was a brave thing to do. He deserves all the success in the world.”

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