The All-Party Parliamentary Group for International Students convened the celebration event which was attended by many international students as well as embassy staff, MPs and industry stakeholders.
Yu and the National Union of Students used the event to call on HEIs to join a social media campaign aimed at empowering mobile students and highlighting the value of international education.
“I came to the UK due to its incredible reputation, for a prestigious, quality education,” Yu told the audience.
“A student who travels across the continent to access education has the hopes of so many people behind them. Many of us are thousands of miles away from home, experiencing migration and isolation, all to fulfil a dream.”
In celebration of International Students’ Day, the NUS is asking students’ unions to collect stories from international and UK students on the positive impact of student mobility and share them on social media platforms using the #StudentsOfTheWorld hashtag.
Suggestions for the campaign include quotes that demonstrate the social or economic contributions that international students make and the long-term benefits of international collaborations.
“A student who travels across the continent to access education has the hopes of so many people behind them”
Yu said the campaign is rooted in NUS’ objectives around protecting student mobility post-Brexit in a bid to show how international study produces globally-minded graduates and enriches life on university campuses.
Speaking at the APPG’s celebration event, he explained how the NUS campaign would demonstrate the real-life impact that international education and student mobility have on individual students.
He also used his platform to highlight difficulties that international students had to face in the UK:
“For too long now, international students have felt under attack, unwelcome and have had to face barriers at every step of the way… from visa restrictions to student loans and basic healthcare,” he said.
“We need to provide a platform for international students to share their powerful experiences and to create a space which is inclusive, friendly and where we are able to reach our potential,” he said.
With a looming Brexit, some of the major concerns for universities are the increased barriers to recruitment of European staff and students and the loss the networks that come out of international collaboration.
In April, NUS published a report which showed that a majority of students in the UK felt their degrees would suffer if international student numbers dropped.
It found 70% of UK students agreed that any reduction in international students would impact their cultural experience at university.
In addition to the campaign, NUS has created the Great Education Exchange, a downloadable, interactive style board-game that presents the journey of being an international student.
70% of UK students agreed that any reduction in international students would impact their cultural experience at university
Yu described UK home secretary Amber Rudd’s comments on removing international students from net migration figures as a “golden opportunity” to show international students that they are appreciated and welcome.
“We’re on verge of victory in finally acknowledging the positive contribution that international students bring to the UK; not just in terms of economic value but social and cultural value too,” he said.
“We now know that over 97% of students return back home after completing their studies.
“With Brexit negotiations already underway, and the Immigration Bill around the corner, we need to protect and safeguard the transformational experiences both international and home students gain from moving freely in Europe, and internationally.
“This campaign will empower international students across the UK by putting their voice at the centre of the debate,” Yu added.
“I want as many students as possible to have the opportunities that I have had, and I want you to join me in making that possible.”