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Sector celebrates 2023’s International Education Week

This year’s International Education Week saw universities and organisations across the sector celebrate international students and their contribution to higher education.

The International Education Week is celebrated from the 13-17 November. Photo: US State Department

The University of Denver launched a project with the US Consulate General in Mumbai for IEW

Various organisations launched week-long celebrations with the theme, “International Education is the Future”.

The US Department of State along with the Department of Education also defined daily themes across the five days, starting with “Open Doors to the Future”, with the release of the Open Doors data, outlining inbound and outbound mobility numbers for the US.

The data, which is released around IEW in November each year, brought some much-needed good news – the country hosted over a million international students last year, with the fastest growth rate in 40 years.

Tuesday and Wednesday’s daily themes were “You are the Future” – pointing to the wide array of opportunities available in international education – “The Future is Global”, looking at exchange programs.

The rest of the week the State Department’s themes were “Innovate the Future”, stressing that not every opportunity is in a traditional classroom, and finally “Lead the Future”, looking at the ways in which international education is changing the world – now and in the future.

In a video addressing the sector and students, the US secretary of state Antony Blinken stressed the importance of education – especially study abroad.

“There’s something different about studying abroad. You learn to see the world through someone else’s eyes… and you forge friendships and connections that last a lifetime,” he said.

“Wherever I go, I meet foreign officials, business leaders, civil society members who understand our country better because they studied here,” Blinken continued.

The festivities continued in the UK, with the UK Council for International Student Affairs holding its annual UKCISA fest during the week – inviting international students in the UK to inform policy and “practice through their lived experience”.

At the annual reception following the day, BUILA chair Catriona McCarthy said international students can be “absolutely reassured that UKCISA has your back”.

“[UKCISA] is your collective voice,” said McCarthy.

Universities UK International celebrated the week by releasing a series of videos from the perspectives of international students, leading up to International Education Day on November 17.

Shähla, from Finland, said she “only ever wanted to come to the UK”, and studies medical physiology at the University of Leicester, where she also threw herself into student life, including joining the institution’s basketball team.

“If I had one piece of advice to others considering the UK, it’s simple: come,” she said in the video.

The Council of Europe, a human rights organisation on the continent, chose to celebrate the Week through the theme of “Peace for the Planet. A planet of Peace”.

“It is a call to rethink our world together, using Global Education as a tool for solidarity and change and contribute to a more sustainable and equitable world,” the organisation said.

Various institutions across the US pitched in with their own flavour of celebration.

The University of Denver launched a project with the US Consulate General in Mumbai to promote more US and Indian higher education partnerships. India’s international student population grew by 35% year-on-year in the Open Doors data.

“Our hope is that the United States Mission in India assists Indian education institutions to internationalise their campuses which ultimately increases joint efforts in research, tech development, and people to people contact,” said Mike Hankey, US consul general at the US Consulate in Mumbai.

“It is a call to rethink our world together”

Virginia Commonwealth University held events across the week to celebrate, including a faculty-led study abroad showcase, and an international alumni meetup.

The University of Delaware also held multiple events, featuring a coffee hour hosted by Korean students and a Diwali celebration.

“Every year, we look forward to IEW as a way to reflect on the incredible global experiences held on our campus and at the more than 200 institutions we are proud to partner with around the world,” said the university’s associate provost for international programs, Ravi Ammigan.

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