Groundbreaking film gives unprecedented insight into student visa applications

  • Film shows unprecedented access to student visa application process
  • Part of a UK-wide collaboration aiming to help students understand how to apply to study in the UK
  • International students contribute £7.9 billion to the UK economy every year

Today (19 March 2014) a groundbreaking film will be unveiled at the House of Commons which helps the most talented students from across the globe better understand how to apply to study at the UK’s leading universities.

Ground breaking videoThe pioneering project, led by the University of Sheffield grew out of unique partnership working between UK universities, the British Council and the Home Office celebrating the value of international students to the UK - financially and culturally.

The film, gives an unprecedented insight into the application process and for the first time cameras go behind the scenes at the UK Visa Application Centre in Beijing to capture a unique glimpse of how young people in China who wish to study in the UK go through the visa process and go on to become students in the UK.

Viewers follow two talented Chinese students as they prepare to make the emotional journey to leave their family and friends to further their education at renowned UK universities.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “This film is extremely important for our relationship with students and families in China. Filmed in both Chinese and English, it helps applicants understand the processes involved in coming to study in the UK, and it gives us renewed respect and understanding for the huge decision Chinese families make when they send their precious children to study in the UK.

"It is important for us to show that we respect the commitment they are making, and that talented Chinese students who are so crucial to our universities and to the UK will be welcomed and treated well when they come to study with us."

The students featured in the video, Qu Yinjiao and Lü Meng, are two of 65,000 students who applied to the British Embassy in Beijing last year to benefit from the first class education offered in the UK.

Qu Yinjiao, 21, who is now studying translation and interpretation at Swansea University, said: "I chose to study in the UK because I am very interested in the UK’s culture, language and the important role the UK plays on an international stage. The UK is a great country which has a huge influence in major international relations and to study in the UK opens a large window to see the world and enhance your vision and knowledge.

"I really enjoy studying here, everything is fantastic and the people are friendly and I feel like I am at the centre of the world as I have met so many students and academics from countries all over the globe."

The UK is a world-leader in higher education with more top-rated institutions than any other country apart from the US. It welcomes over 400,000 international students annually, responsible for pumping £7.9 billion pounds into the UK economy every year. Crucial indirect impacts include increasing the pool of employable graduates for the global knowledge economy and establishing trade and research networks between countries.

Jazreel Goh, British Council Director of Education Marketing in China, said: "Chinese students contribute immeasurably to the intellectual vitality of the UK and its education. They make a critical contribution to UK research capacity and its standing in the global knowledge economy. This film helps to dispel myths and misconceptions about applying for a UK visa in China, which I am sure will help to reaffirm the UK’s position as welcoming genuine Chinese students to its institutions."

Directed and produced by a talented team of independent and BBC journalists including Chris Eyre, Nicola Carslaw and Lucia Ring-Watkins, the video will be used by the British Council at education fairs and events across China, by universities in the UK and shared widely by students across the world via social media.

The Chinese video follows an inaugural film shot in India last year which has already been supported and shared by more than 80 UK universities and international organisations through the We Are International project.

We Are International showcases the commitment UK universities have made to recognise the value of international students.

In support of the campaign, hundreds of students and staff across the country are also taking part in the #standbyme selfie campaign which gives people the opportunity to celebrate their own international friendships that transcend geographical and cultural barriers.

Additional information

To watch and share the videos please use the links and embed codes below.

China film on Vimeo
embed code:
<iframe src="//" width="640" height="360" frameborder="0" webkitallowfullscreen mozallowfullscreen allowfullscreen></iframe> <p><a href="">UK visa application from China</a> from <a href="">WeAreInternational</a> on <a href="">Vimeo</a>.</p>

China film on YouKu
embed code:
<embed src="" allowFullScreen="true" quality="high" width="480" height="400" align="middle" allowScriptAccess="always" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"></embed>

#StandByMe Selfie Film
embed code:
<iframe width="640" height="360" src="//" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

International students

  • According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, the UK welcomes over 400,000 international students annually. Overseas students make up 14 per cent of full-time first degree students and 46 per cent of all taught postgraduates.
  • A report commissioned for the Department of Business, Industry and Skills estimates that the total value of UK education and training exports to the UK economy is £14 billion, with a projection that this could rise as high as £26 billion by 2025. Estimating the value to the UK of Education Exports -
  • Chinese students form the highest number of overseas students in the UK, followed by students from India.
  • International students also make a huge contribution to the economic prosperity of city regions across the UK. An independent study of the net economic contribution of international students carried out by Oxford Economics for the University of Sheffield concluded international students provided £120 million to the city region annually, equivalent to 10 per cent of inward investment.

Stand By Me
The University of Sheffield is encouraging students, staff and alumni at institutions across the world to join in the campaign by uploading their own selfie with an international friend.
Selfies should be sent to and can be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #standbyme.

#standbyme is part of the University’s We Are International Campaign launched last year which is now supported by more than 80 universities and organisations.

For more information visit We Are International

The University of Sheffield
With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities. A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines. Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.
In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.
Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.
Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.


For further information please contact:

Amy Pullan
Media Relations Officer
University of Sheffield
0114 222 9859