We Are International - #WeAreInternational campaign
We value international students and are passionate about making sure their contribution to our economy and culture is recognised.
That's why the University and Students' Union, led by our Vice-Chancellor and the Students' Union President, launched our #WeAreInternational campaign in 2013. So far, over 160 universities, education institutions and international organisations have backed it.
Find out more about the roots of our campaign, how it's grown and the impact it's had.
Welcome to Britain?
British education is generally perceived to be one of the best in the world and is one of our most valuable exports.
But there's a fear that international students are being discouraged from studying in the UK because the country is seen as less welcoming following changes to visa rules and political rhetoric over immigration.
Is this the message that we want to give international students?
We realised that the positive impact of international students had been buried – and so had our voice and our story. So in response, we wanted to stand together with academics, students, the community, city leaders and other partners to show that Sheffield is a city that says no to prejudice and one that values its international students.
More importantly, we needed to influence the debate to ensure the contribution that international students make - not just financial, but to the knowledge base, economy and culture - is celebrated here in the UK and communicated more widely to the world.
After all, we are all international.
Publicising the evidence
In 2013 we commissioned a report from Oxford Economics that showed international students in Sheffield are responsible for pumping over £120 million into the city economy over a single year – that’s 10% of inward investment in Sheffield.
The report, launched at the Houses of Parliament, sparked a parliamentary debate on the importance of international students and later led to the University of Sheffield's Students' Union President and International Officer being invited to parliament to make the case for international students as the controversial immigration bill returned to the House of Commons.
More than money: the myth of isolation
As part of the #WeAreInternational campaign, we also wanted to bust the myth that international students don’t integrate properly with the city and to demonstrate that their value to Sheffield isn't just financial.
In fact, our research showed that international students are totally ingrained in city life. They work on placements in our hospitals and businesses; they volunteer for over 140 Sheffield charities and schools; and also are involved with Raising And Giving (RAG).
They also enrich the cultural life of the city through a spectacular programme of music, food, dance and language events all year round, many of which are organised through our very own Students' Union.
Going national – and international
After publicising how international students benefit a major UK city like Sheffield, we were keen to expand this to a broader campaign with the support of all universities, students’ unions and all those who are concerned about international students in the UK.
The campaign has been supported by more than 160 UK universities and colleges, the British Council and the Home Office.
Working together we've:
We're forging links internationally, working closely with representatives from Temple University in Philadelphia, USA who are using We Are International as an inspiration for their own #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign, set up in response to the new administration's policies on immigration.
Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sir Keith Burnett, is continuing to comment and reflect on these issues across in the media.
We're not finished yet
We're proud of what we've achieved so far with our #WeAreInternational campaign and are honoured that this was acknowledged by our ranking in Times Higher Education's list of top 100 most international universities.
But we know there's still much work to do to make sure that the value of international students is properly recognised. We'll continue to develop our campaign to highlight the positive contribution they make – and to promote the message that anyone studying in the UK will receive a warm welcome and a world-class education.
The campaign has been supported by more than 160 high-profile bodies, including: