The Association recognises that international students and their partners have greater difficulty finding good accommodation than those already in the UK. Nansen Village is primarily concerned with students, on low incomes, with or without children (under the age of eight). Eligible British students are also accepted where they meet the same criteria as international students. To promote cultural diversity within Nansen Village, we aim to have no more than five households from the same country in the village at any one time.
Our story starts over 50 years ago by Kurt and Charlotte Weinberg. As refugees from Nazi Germany the couple had personally experienced the challenges of arriving in a new country. For many years they had hosted overseas students in their home but wanted to do more. Seeing the unnatural divisions between people of different cultures they wanted to find a way of bringing people together and give a positive impression of Britain to foreigners, especially foreign students. They felt students were likely to be more receptive to their views on co-operation and understanding between people from different cultures and backgrounds. The ambition was that students would take their positive experience of studying overseas home with them and eliminate any fears of perceived cultural barriers.
Recognising the greatest problem students faced was finding a place to live, Kurt and Charlotte began to conceive a community where people from all over the world could study in peace while exchanging ideas and experiences with people with whom they might expect to have nothing in common.
Barnet Overseas Students Housing Association was created to put this belief into practice. As a not-for-profit organisation, with no funds of its own, it had to seek external funding and, with the help of the British Council providing a grant, Kurt and Charlotte realised the Nansen Village we see and love today.
Sixty-six homes, the first completed in 1971, make up this international community in leafy north London. It is named after Fridtjof Nansen, the explorer, humanitarian and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Since 1971, we have hosted hundreds of families from all over the world. There are about 165 current residents. More than 380 babies have been born to families in the village.