I've had beat-up M2s and cheaper, older Leica lenses before, and I think they are wonderful but also false economy. Of course a Leica is great but it should be a good servicable one. In the USA you can find a good M4 or M6 for $900 to $1200. A nice M2 or M3 might be found for $7-800. A decent 35/2 Summicron runs $800, or you could get a Voightlander lens for $300 or so.
Leica quality feels much better in your hand, without question. I feel like I make better photos with the Leica, but it is an intangible feeling - maybe it is respect for the camera or knowing that the camera will not be the weak link in the chain? Or simple pride of ownership?
If that is too much by all means check out the Bessas. Or, in terms of quality for the money, a good 1980s Nikon SLR with manual AIS lenses is an even better bargain and excellent for students. Look for a Nikon F3HP or the FM2n, plus the better AIS lenses like the 24/2, 35/2, 50/1.4, and 85/2. They are excellent and dirt cheap.