International students bring diversity to UK

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The International Officer at the University of Sheffield has called for universities around the UK to recognise the importance of international students and to value the diversity of their contributions.

The recently launched No Borders campaign comes as part of the university’s continued commitment to support international students, and follows the success of the previous #weareinternational initiative.

Current immigration policies have left international students facing more barriers than ever when it comes to studying and working in the UK after graduation.

The campaign aims to break down borders that prevent international students from accessing higher education and work in the UK.

“International students face a physical border in coming to the UK, that the government wants to try to restrict their entry,” said Jose Diaz de Aguilar, International Officer.

“They also face a mental border through adapting to the country and facing a culture shock.

“We want to try to remove all these borders.”

The campaign has also launched an #EducationNotMigration petition, which calls for the government to remove international students from net migration figures.

Jose said that UK universities constantly send out the wrong message to international students that they are unwanted and not valued in the country.

“The immigration rhetoric is giving the wrong answers for the most problematic issues in the UK,” he said. “Just because student immigration is an easy target to blame for the problems in the UK it doesn’t mean we should. It’s just wrong.”

“The UK is such a multi-cultural country and we should be doing more to contribute to this diverse community.”

At the University of Sheffield, a thriving community of international students from over 120 countries exists among the 26,000 strong student population.

As an international student himself, Jose had never been to the UK for an extended period of time before starting his education in Sheffield.

“It was a complete gamble coming here. Before coming to the UK, I’d only been once for a week’s holiday to Scotland,” said Jose.

“But I’m so happy I chose Sheffield because everyone is so supportive towards international students and are always there to listen.”

An annual International Cultural Evening (ICE) is only one of many events the university holds to celebrate its diverse student body.

Now in its 43rd consecutive year, ICE is a vibrant night of cultural performances by students from over 15 countries.

The night includes stunning dance, song and other performances from different national societies.

“ICE, alongside the World Food Festival, is by far the biggest international flagship event of the year for the Students’ Union,” said Jose.

“Last year national societies from Romania to Pakistan put the biggest efforts to showcase their individual culture.

“It’s through events like these that you can see how much diversity and culture international students bring to Sheffield from different parts of the world. I would recommend every single person to see it at least once in their time at Sheffield.”

ICE will take place on Saturday, March 7, at Sheffield City Hall from 7pm-10.30pm. Tickets are open to the public and are available from £4-£5 at the City Hall box office or at http://tickets.sheffieldstudentsunion.com/. To support the #EducationNotMigration campaign go to http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/72263

INTERNATIONAL FACTFILE

* International students contribute £7 billion a year to the UK economy 
* Overseas students in Sheffield bring £120million per year to the local economy
* The single biggest country of origin of international students in the UK is China
* The number of Indian students commencing courses in the UK has almost halved in two years
* 18.4 per cent of students at the University of Sheffield are international students
* A large majority of overseas students are single, without dependents and under 30.

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