In 1963, at the age of 21, Dr Hussain came to Britain as a student. He was financed by his father in Bangladesh (what was then East Pakistan). He first arrived into Bradford, studying there. After completing his diploma, he moved to Stoke-on-Trent to work as a research assistant and to teach. He then moved to Sheffield at the age of 23 to continue with further education. In 1968, aged 25, he moved to Birmingham to do his PhD at the University of Birmingham. On competing his PhD in 1971, he returned to Bangladesh.
While studying in Bradford, Dr Hussain experienced two very different worlds, on the one hand seeing how his ‘working class’ compatriots lived and worked, on the other, living a considerably more privileged student life:
There’s used to live a lot of people in this house. They were sharing rooms and beds. There was a coal heater. And then they would go to bed after having a hot meal, rice and meat. [They] wouldn’t be up for long, go to bed and then get up six o’clock in the morning and then they would run to get the bus. I found it difficult. Tough life in that house because it was cold, and I am not used to cold. I thought I should get accommodation in the halls of residence at Bradford University. So, I applied for a room. The university were kind enough to give me a room. So, I got a single room, centrally heated. It was very comfortable. I had to pay for food and accommodation, £54 quarterly. There was a breakfast and evening meal supplied at the time. You can have as much as you want, as many eggs as you want, as many toast, butter. And evening meal, we used to have formal dinner three times a week, rest of them informal. Dinners, you had to have a jacket and suit for dinner. House tutor, all the students used to be present at the dinner. I lived like a king at the hall of residence.
As a student in Sheffield, Dr Hussain formed a relationship with a British girl:
I met a girl, she was very nice. She was doing education […] She was in her final year. I had a very good time with her. She was very nice. She never had any demands. She used to help me a lot. She even helped me to write her thesis. She typed it. She used to come and cook for me. I used to live in a room. She was a living in a hostel in Matlock, in Derby. She used to come and live with me in the weekend. On Saturdays she would come in the evening and then she would leave Sunday evening. And we had a really good time. After some time, she finished her diploma and got a job, in a primary school in Sheffield. She took an apartment and started living with her friends. She was living very close to my apartment. I used to go and see her quite frequently. But she was very busy, she was a very serious teacher. She must complete her schoolwork first. We were very close together. She put my picture on the table. One day her father came…her parents came from Cannock, Staffordshire. One day they visit her, in her apartment. They saw my picture on her table. They were surprised. […] She had a big brother, he accepted me. Her mother also accepted me. Her father, he was so much annoyed and blasted her, and abused her so much, next day she came [and said] “Well Delwar, this is it.”
Dr Hussain recalled the infamous Enoch Powell speech from 1968 while he was at the University of Birmingham:
I was here. He spoke about the immigrants very seriously, in a meeting. A lot of agitation at that time. People got together, shouting against Enoch Powell about what he said about the immigrants. Ultimately, he could not do anything. He just spoke about the immigrants. He was a racist man […] People got annoyed with him and started shouting at him. Even the English people shouting at him.
I was at the university at the time. I listened to all the speech. BBC showed his speech on the television. So, I watched it in the television room at the Birmingham University Students Union. I watched it, what he said, about immigrants. It was a racist speech. There was a lot of hue and cry in those days against his speech. He was an MP from Wolverhampton. I saw it at six o’clock, it was a regular thing. We used to go to watch the news, want to know about Pakistan, Bangladesh. Enoch Powell’s speech was very important, so BBC showed it first and talked about it. And there was a discussion in Panorama. ‘Sea of Blood’, what does it mean? He could not explain in his discussion. Robin Day was the journalist from the BBC. He just blasted him. We watched it with interest.