A campaign aimed at celebrating the contributions of international students to the UK has relaunched this week, a decade after it first started.
#WeAreInternational highlights the “economic, cultural, social and civic” impact of international students in the UK, as well as promoting the country as welcoming destination.
Writing in The PIE News, Andy Howells, assistant director, external affairs at UUKi, said, “With threats of unwelcoming policy change to some groups of international students from government, aimed at curbing immigration, we are seeing our welcome factor decline – especially in comparison with other study destinations.
Today, home secretary Suella Braverman announced that international students on taught master’s courses in the UK would now longer be permitted to bring dependants with them. The new rule, along with a raft of measures, is expected to come into force in January 2024.
“We must counter this by telling positive stories”
“We must counter this by telling positive stories of the many ways in which international students contribute to the UK.”
Today, home secretary Suella Braverman announced that international students on taught master’s courses in the UK would no longer be permitted to bring dependants with them. The new rule, along with a raft of other measures, is expected to come into force in January 2024.
The#WeAreInternational campaign was initially launched in 2013, supported by universities and sector organisations, before UKCISA took the lead on continuing the campaign in 2019.
Sector organisations Universities UK International, UKCISA, BUILA, London Higher and Study UK have formally relaunched it this week.
Universities across the UK have joined the campaign, celebrating the international students on their respective campuses.
At @StaffsUni we are proud to have a strong, diverse international community of over 3300 international students from across 122 nationalities 🌏
— Staffordshire Uni (@StaffsUni) May 23, 2023
Former UK Universities minister, Lord Johnson of Marylebone, lent his support for the campaign, highlighting the £41.9 billion economic benefit international students generated in the 2021/22 academic year as “just one part of the immense value that international education brings to the nation”.
“International student flows are critical to the UK’s competitiveness as a knowledge economy and boost our soft power across the globe,” he said.
— Uni of East London (@UEL_News) May 23, 2023
#WeAreInternational – which was named marketing campaign of the year at the 2017 PIEoneer Awards –has long advocated for international students in the UK. Its creators pushed for a change in post-study work right policy in 2017, rules which were changed two years later.
An initial call for international students to be taken out of net migration figures has still not been recognised by the government.
The latest UK net migration figures, to be released on May 25, are expected to show a significant increase, despite government commitments to reduce migration.
Speaking on the World at One on BBC Radio 4, director of UUKi Jamie Arrowsmith called for a “much more nuanced and informed debate” around migration, including the net migration statistics.
“We have long called for more nuance in those statistics”
“We have long called for more nuance in those statistics to look at who is actually remaining in the UK over the long term, so actually shifting away from net migration which shows short-term flows towards somethings that looks at who is actually staying in the longer term.”
Arrowsmith noted online that, “With all of the negative political rhetoric and media speculation, it’s vital we recognise the amazing contribution international students make – and celebrate their stories”.
Johnson said, “By bringing together the voice of international students across the UK, the #WeAreInternational campaign helps to quash false narratives and show how our overseas students are a great benefit to our university campuses and our country.”
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