Bunhill: In from the cold

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The Independent Online
IF YOU bump into a Siberian in the next few days, don't be surprised. Chances are he is one of a group of 10 senior government officials and advisers in the UK courtesy of South Bank University to learn about life under capitalism.

Bruce Lloyd, head of South Bank's management centre, says the programme is designed to give the visitors, from the Yakutia region of Siberia, an insight into a variety of aspects of the market economy.

During the two-week stay that ends on Saturday, they will be introduced to such concepts as accounts and tax, strategic management, marketing, privatisation and the small business. But Mr Lloyd is anxious that they don't spend all the time in the classroom. As a result, the party - which includes the region's vice-president - has visited Birmingham's National Exhibition Centre for a training and personnel development show, as well as Oxford Street and Covent Garden, with a trip to a Sainsbury supermarket also planned.

'The idea is to give them some real-life insight. You can't pass this message on just by sitting in lectures,' says Mr Lloyd.

It's just as well they have come at a time of recession rather than boom. Then the culture shock might have been a little too much.