As the first cohort of #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors end their term, we’ve sat down with them to reflect on their experiences. The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador programme is UKCISA’s student network of global future leaders. We are proud to work with and learn from our Student Ambassadors to help deliver a vision for a world-class international student experience.
Anant Rangan is a recent graduate of University of Birmingham with a first-class Law degree, now completing the Accelerated Legal Practice Course at BPP University before starting as a trainee solicitor.
Born in India, raised in the United States, and educated in England, Anant has a unique, global perspective which he applies to his work as a Student Ambassador. Because of his multicultural background, Anant identifies as truly international (although he admits to being a New Yorker at heart, having spent much of his life in NYC).
Anant has dedicated his time with UKCISA to working on employability issues faced by international students, such as visa restrictions on volunteer work. Anant reflects on his work with UKCISA, his international identity, and his future as a lawyer at a top international law firm.
How do you think your background of living in India, the USA, and the UK has shaped your identity?
I lived in India for a decade before moving to the United States, and now I live in England. So, I definitely feel more like I’m part of an international community than tied to any specific nationality. I don’t necessarily feel American, although I definitely identify as a New Yorker.
Much of my identity is my global perspective, which is why UKCISA’s Student Ambassador programme was so attractive to me and why I’d like to work in an international law firm.
“Much of my identity is my global perspective, which is why UKCISA’s Student Ambassador programme was so attractive to me and why I’d like to work at an international law firm.”
How did you first become involved with UKCISA’s Student Ambassador programme?
Honestly, I was inspired to get involved with UKCISA because of frustrations I had about visa restrictions as an international student in the UK.
International students can only work 20 hours a week maximum, including any voluntary work. During my law degree, I had the opportunity to do some pro bono work. However, I quickly realised that this work contributed to my 20-hour limit and that I therefore could not also work part-time to earn money. I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I could choose the pro bono work and not struggle financially, but not everyone in my situation would be.
Voluntary work is important because it enriches us and our communities. Our visas should not restrict us from doing it.
When I read about the Student Ambassador programme, I liked the way it advertised itself as centring on issues that students are passionate about. It didn’t ask us to act as spokespeople, but to make real change. I thought it’d be a great platform to challenge these visa work restrictions and other employability issues faced by international students.
“Voluntary work is important because it enriches us and our communities. Our visas should not restrict us from doing it.”
You’re a member of the cross-sector International Student Employability Group (ISEG) and a co-leader of UKCISA’s Employability Working Group. Can you tell me about your experience working with students and across the higher education sector to improve international student employability?
What struck a chord with me was how many people care about international students and their employability struggles.
In ISEG, there were a range of people working on these issues from different perspectives. They had people from recruitment, data, policy, and even us students. Seeing cross-sector work include students was great. And through UKCISA’s Employability Working Group, which was set up by us to tackle employability challenges that international students face, I was able to get insight from students seeking jobs in all industries and then pass that information on to ISEG.
It was inspiring to see policy being changed. Progress always feels slow from the outside, but behind the scenes there’s a lot that goes into pushing for new initiatives, like the Graduate Route.
“Progress always feels slow from the outside, but behind the scenes there’s a lot that goes into pushing for new initiatives, like the Graduate Route.”
Now that the programme is coming to an end, what’s next for you?
I’m starting as a trainee solicitor in February, and I’m fortunate enough to be part of a firm that does international secondments during the training contract. It’s a two-year contract and I may get the chance to spend six months abroad. I’d love to do that – I’d really like to live somewhere like Singapore or Tokyo. Anywhere to get a new experience, really.
For now, though, I love London. Nothing against Birmingham where I did my law degree, but London is more my speed. It’s an international city, which is something I’ve missed since moving away from New York.
So, if it’s London, I’m happy to stay. But if it’s elsewhere in the world, that’s fine too and I’m happy to experience a new culture.
Find out more about the #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador programme.