Award for University of Sheffield's #WeAreInternational campaign

 September 14, 2017

A groundbreaking campaign by the University of Sheffield highlighting the importance of international students to the UK has been honoured by a leading award ceremony for the international education sector.

The #WeAreInternational campaign, which is driven by universities, businesses, student groups and people across the UK, has been awarded Marketing Campaign of the Year at the inaugural PIEoneer Awards 2017 by The PIE News, which stands for Professionals in International Education.

Judges for the awards praised the campaign’s use of video content featuring home and international students, and how it has celebrated international students’ contributions to the UK’s knowledge base, economy and culture. They also recognised the campaign’s impact overseas and its collaboration with the US sister campaign #YouAreWelcomeHere.

A diverse and inclusive University

Launched by the two Presidents of the University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union in 2013, #WeAreInternational celebrates the huge contribution that international students bring to the UK and is urging the UK’s government to reinforce this in word and deed through positive policies and rhetoric.

The campaign is now supported by more than 160 universities and organisations across the UK and highlights the importance of the diverse international student and staff communities in higher education.

Supporters of the campaign, including representatives from businesses, higher education, and student organisations, recently joined forces with the University of Sheffield for a #WeAreInternational event in Parliament to highlight the economic, social and educational contributions that international students make to the UK.

Making an impact

The Parliamentary event, which was hosted by Co-Chairs of the All-Parliamentary Group on International Students, Paul Blomfield MP and Lord Bilimoria, gave a platform to business leaders such as the CBI, Institute of Directors and Chambers of Commerce to convey why it’s in the UK’s national interest to create policies that welcome more international students to study and work here.

The campaign has acknowledged the recent announcement that the UK government is launching an investigation into the impact of international students on the society and economy in the UK, and will be providing further evidence of the contribution of international students and staff to the UK.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted that the #WeAreInternational campaign has once again been recognised for its support of international students. It’s now more important than ever for universities to join forces to champion the value that international students bring to the UK and how crucial they are to our communities of scholarship.

“Besides the huge economic impact international students make both locally and nationally, they volunteer for local charities, raise funds for good causes and act as homework mentors for struggling British pupils. These talented young people from around the world enrich the lives and experience that British students have at university and form friendships that last a lifetime.

“Our postgraduate international students also become crucial members of our international research groups and push the boundaries of knowledge in medicine and science. I can’t overstate how important international students are to the UK.

“We are determined to now build on the success of the campaign acknowledged by this award and will work with our many allies and supporters across UK Higher Education to ensure that, despite political challenges, the UK remains a true centre of welcoming global scholarship and exceptional higher education for students from around the world."

Recent studies on International students

  • Two thirds (64 per cent) of British adults think international students have a positive impact on the local economics of the towns and cities in which they study (ComRes, April 2017)
  • Almost one in seven countries around the world has a prime minister or head of state who studied in a UK higher education institution (British Council, 2014)
  • £25.8 billion is generated for the UK through on and off-campus spending by international students and their visitors (Universities UK, 2017)
  • Spending by international students supported 206,000 jobs all over the UK (Universities UK, Oxford Economics report)

In 2014, following the first launch of the campaign, students at the University of Sheffield also demonstrated their support with #StandByMe – an international selfie project highlighting the tremendous number of international friendships within UK universities. Sheffield students shared a selfie taken with an international friend along with a short explanation of how they became friends.

To find out more about the #WeAreInternational campaign and to pledge your support for international students, please visit:


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