WHEN 19-year-old Russian Iurii Layvgin first saw pictures of Glenalmond College, in rural Perthshire, he thought the main building looked like a castle.

The image appealed to him - as well as the private school's location in 300 acres of countryside.

Glenalmond, he says, which was opened in 1847 and charges fees of up to £9765 a year, "looks a bit like Hogwarts", where fictional wizard Harry Potter went to school. "Scotland is a unique country because it has a long historical tradition, whereas many other cultures have changed so much. It is a place where you can see castles and the landscape is also beautiful," he said.

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The reason Iurii left home was to experience a different culture, as well as learning a language and securing the qualifications required to get a place at a good university in the UK.

"I am not from Moscow, or any other major city in Russia. I am from Siberia, which is very far away, and I wanted to know about other people."

As well as his love of Scottish history and culture Iurii, who is studying maths and physics and hopes to be an engineer, also came because of the international reputation of the education system. He has also been enamoured of the people he has met. "I have friends in schools in England and they say the pupils don't help each other, but at Glenalmond it is very different. We all help each other."