UKCISA Fest highlights importance of international students to the UK

25 November 2020
Taking place from 16-20 November 2020, UKCISA Fest brought together more than 400 international students from across the UK with policymakers, and representatives from sector bodies to inform policy and practice through their lived experience.

Putting the student voice at the heart of policymaking is central to UKCISA’s vision to deliver world-class student experience in the UK. In keeping with this, all the sessions at UKCISA Fest were developed, led and facilitated by our #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors, reflecting their individual policy interests and areas of expertise – from graduate employability to student mental health.

Professor Sir Steve Smith, UK Government International Education Champion, kicked off the celebrations on International Students’ Day (Tuesday 18 November), leading a session outlining his vision for international students in the UK and how we can work together to deliver a world-class international student experience.

This was followed by an interactive discussion with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on International Students, focusing on the contributions international students make to their institutions and communities.
Other highlights included a session from NUS national president, Larissa Kennedy on how students can engage with their students’ unions; informative sessions with sector partners and experts from the Office for Students, Student Minds, Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education, UUKi and AGCAS to explore different aspects of the international student experience; and interactive sessions from our team of specialist advisers who use their expertise to support students and members to navigate the UK immigration session.

Throughout the week, key themes emerged from the discussions, including the myriad ways international students contribute to their institutions and wider communities – and the need to prioritise student support and graduate employability. UKCISA will continue the critical work – with members, the #WeAreInternational student ambassadors and wider international student community, and partners across the sector – to use the outputs from UKCISA Fest to shape our ongoing policy work.

Anne Marie Graham, UKCISA Chief Executive, said: “UKCISA is committed to supporting our members and the sector to deliver a world-class international student experience – and UKCISA Fest was the perfect opportunity for us to hear from the students themselves on what this looks like, what challenges they face, and where we can work with the sector to improve the support on offer.

“Thank you so much to everyone who joined us for our first online student conference – it was fantastic to hear from so many international students studying across the UK!”
Developing an International Student Charter

As part of UKCISA’s commitment to delivering a world-class international student experience, we will be working with the #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors and members to design and deliver an International Student Charter.
More information

Kindly sponsored by UCAS, UKCISA Fest brought together more than 400 international students, with UKCISA members, policymakers and higher education professionals in the UK.

The #WeAreInternational campaign celebrates the value of international students – and international education – to the UK.
The #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador Programme – UKCISA’s student network of global future leaders – is an education policy and leadership development scheme for exceptional individuals from around the world who are currently studying in the UK.

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