New chapter for award-winning #WeAreInternational campaign

Earlier this week we announced a new chapter in the development of the #WeAreInternational campaign. The UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) will now drive the award-winning campaign forward – supporting it to reach even more international students across the education sector by capturing and sharing the voices of students from universities, colleges, schools, pathway providers and study abroad programmes.

Along with our Students' Union, we founded #WeAreInternational in 2013 and have been coordinating it on behalf of the higher education sector ever since. This new chapter doesn't mean the end of involvement. On the contrary, as UKCISA takes on the national coordination, we will continue to use the campaign to engage with our communities of current and prospective international students and staff.

Our President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Koen Lamberts is also Chair of the UKCISA Board. He said: “In Sheffield we are very proud of this campaign, the impact it has had on international students and the positive UK policy changes it has helped to facilitate. #WeAreInternational grew organically from the University of Sheffield and developed into a campaign that others can pick up and use freely when offering a warm welcome or advocating for the rights of international students. UKCISA is a natural new home for #WeAreInternational. Its support and networks will mean that the campaign can expand its reach - helping to shape the International Education Strategy and playing a role in further improving the international student experience for everyone.”

The #WeAreInternational campaign aims to counter negative messages about international students in the media and concerns about a culture of welcome for overseas students in the UK through the development of shared materials and messages. It is supported by more than 160 UK universities and colleges, the British Council and the Home Office.

WeAreInternational staff campaign

We've achieved so much since 2013. Here's a quick overview of just some of the achievements so far. Thank you to everyone who has been involved and who continues to support the campaign.

  • In 2013, we commissioned a report from Oxford Economics launched at the Houses of Parliament that showed international students in Sheffield are responsible for pumping over £120 million into the city economy over a single year – that's 10 per cent of inward investment in Sheffield. The report sparked a parliamentary debate on the importance of international students.
  • In 2014, the Stand By Me Selfie campaign launched. #WeAreInternational won the Internationalising the Student Experience category at the National Union of Students (NUS) and UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Internationalisation Awards. In the same year the campaign won best International Student Strategy award at the Times Higher Education Awards.
  • In 2016, we relaunched the campaign following the EU referendum and the decision to leave the European Union with a statement of solidarity with Sheffield Hallam University and Sheffield College.
  • In July 2017, we organised a second Houses of Parliament event with Paul Blomfield MP and Lord Bilimoria of Chelsea, co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group on International Students. This event saw representatives from businesses, higher education and student organisations join forces to further highlight the economic, social and education contributions that international students make to the UK. At the event we explained to MPs and peers why it is in the UK’s national interest to create policies that welcome more international students to study and work here.
  • The campaign received a gold 2017 Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) award for Making the Case for Internationalism in UK Higher Education.
  • In 2018, a QS survey revealed 82 per cent of prospective students 'felt like the UK was welcoming to international students' after seeing the campaign.
  • In September 2019, the campaign celebrated as the government announced it would reintroduce a new two-year post-study work visa for international students.
  • The campaign has received a number of awards including for Best International Strategy from the Times Higher Education, PIE News and The Guardian.

#WeAreInternational materials will remain free to download from the website and an open, crowd-sourced approach will continue to be essential to the campaign’s credibility.

To find out more about #WeAreInternational visit: weareinternational.org.uk or follow the campaign on Twitter or Facebook.