The #WeAreInternational campaign, now supported by more than 160 universities and organisations across the UK, was established by the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union in 2013 to celebrate and highlight the importance of our diverse international student and staff communities.
This followed concerns overseas and by international students about negative media coverage and some political statements about immigration in the UK.
In response to questions raised by overseas applicants about changes in UK visa policy, particularly in India, #WeAreInternational produced two films in partnership with the Home Office – approved by the then Home Office Minister Theresa May – to help the most talented students from across the globe better understand how to apply to study at the UK’s leading universities.
Other films produced by the campaign – including a Stand By Me selfie video and a film highlighting the impact international students have on UK businesses – have consistently featured real students to convey a warm message of welcome to those who wish to study at the UK’s world-leading universities.
These have been endorsed by the GREAT campaign and used by the Foreign Commonwealth Office, as well as widely across the higher education sector, and have been supported by all three of the UK’s leading business organisations in recognition of the investment made by international students.
The #WeAreInternational campaign is also widely supported by university staff and the hashtag has become associated with the value placed on universities as a place of welcome and global scholarship amongst both academics and students.
Scholars from across the continent and the world enhance our academic life, knowledge and our economic growth and are vital to the teaching of students and research in everything from medicine and science to engineering, social sciences and the arts and humanities.
More recently, concerns about immigration targets and post-study work visas have led to a call for changes in policy on both these issues – a request which has also been made by MPs of all parties and five Select Committees.
The #WeAreInternational campaign will continue to ensure our research knows no geographical boundaries and our students and staff from around the world are able to celebrate their own cultures and friendships.