Stand by me: Students launch international selfie campaign

  • Friends of different nationalities take selfies to celebrate international friendships
  • International campaign launched in World Week (22 February – 2 March 2014)
  • Campaign follows extensive lobbying action by Sheffield students against anti-migrant talk

Students and staff at the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union are showing friendship has no barriers in a unique international selfie campaign.

Adam and Jason Lai

Today (Monday 24 February 2014) marks the launch of the student-led, global #standbyme project in celebration of the value and contribution of international staff and students to all UK universities.

The idea is that two friends of different nationalities take a selfie and upload it to a huge online collection to demonstrate the tremendous number of international friendships within the University community and beyond.

Friends will also submit a short description of their relationship explaining their nationalities, how they first met, and how long they have been friends.

Ally Buckle, President of the Students’ Union, said: “Over the past few months Students’ Union sabbatical officers and University staff have been working hard to tell the Government that we love our international students, and do not like the anti-migrant talk and policy that is coming from Parliament.

"We've petitioned, sent letters and met MPs and Lords; but it’s time to get creative if we want to win over hearts and minds as well as influence policy.

"It’s time to get out our secret weapon: the selfie.

"If you have a friend from another country, and you care about protecting their right to be here, then we want you to send us a selfie with them, accompanied by a short explanation of your friendship.

“We will use these in a campaign that will tell the politicians that for every international student or staff member that they undervalue, there is a UK friend that is willing to fight their corner."

Andy and AmyThe launch of the campaign coincides with World Week 2014 (22 February – 2 March 2014) which aims to promote integration, inclusion and the spread of culture. The event will be marked with a huge selection of activities and events on campus including Piñata making, an international pub quiz, a treasure hunt, Chinese name workshop and Latin American and ballroom dancing.

Professor Elena Rodriguez-Falcon, Professor of Enterprise and Engineering Education, said: “I came to this country 17 years ago. I am proudly Mexican born and since 2007 have been humbly British adopted.

"The selfie campaign is another amazing combined effort from the University of Sheffield and Students’ Union which shows that international students and staff are not only crucial to this country's economy and growth but they help to add cultural value and long lasting friendships which make this country and the rest of the world a better place. I don't know what I would do without my British friends, who I consider my family."

She added: "It is also so important that this campaign is led by students who not only learn from lectures and text books but from the friendships they make with their peers from all over the world. At a time when so much of the world is divided, they remind us that our real hope and security lies in building genuine understanding and friendships across national boundaries.”

The Photography Society at the University of Sheffield has set up a photo station where friends can go to capture their selfies throughout World Week. Everyone will get a free copy of their photograph as well as a slice of cake.

The University is calling for students, staff and alumni at institutions across the world to join in the campaign and show their support by uploading their own selfie with a friend they met of a different nationality during their time at university.

To upload your own selfie email and don't forget to share it on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #standbyme.

The pictures used on campus may even be taken to the Houses of Parliament.

#standbyme is part of the University’s We Are International Campaign launched last year which is now supported by more than 50 universities and organisations. For more information visit We Are International.

Yoon and Cally

Daniel and Sarah

Lizzy and Sarah

Melissa and Michelle

Additional information

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.

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