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Uni of Sheffield’s #weareinternational wins THE award

The University of Sheffield has been named the first ever winner of the Times Higher Education (THE) International Student Strategy award for its hugely successful #weareinternational campaign, which aimed to spread a more welcoming image of the UK as a destination for international students in light of the heated debate over student visas and immigration.

The winner was announced at the THE Awards ceremony in London.

"Ensuring the UK is welcoming to overseas students is fundamental to who we are, and there has never been a time when it was more important to say so"

Presented at the black tie THE Awards 2014 ceremony in London, the prize was given in recognition of the campaign’s success in challenging government policy while putting forward a positive message.

“This managed to go beyond a local campaign to become something that captured the national imagination”

“This managed to go beyond a local campaign to become something that captured the national imagination about why international students matter,” Joanna Newman one of the judges and vice-principal (international) at King’s College London, commented.

Developed in partnership with the British Council and the UK Council for International Students (UKCISA), the campaign included videos detailing the visa application process for Indian and Chinese students.

It received cross-party support from parliament and the videos have used by more than 100 UK institutions.

The university also launched #standbyme, a social media campaign inviting student, staff and alumni to share photos of themselves with an international student.

Sheffield’s Vice-Chancellor, Keith Burnett, said that the campaign has been “at the service of far more than simply our own university”.

“Ensuring the UK is welcoming to overseas students is fundamental to who we are as a university, and there has never been a time when it was more important to say so,” he commented.

“We are determined that the debate around immigration must not damage our wonderful tradition of learning from one another as vibrant international communities in our universities and that international students are not and should not be thought of as migrants.”

It has been a successful year of internationalisation efforts by the University of Sheffield, which picked up two awards at the National Union of Students’ (NUS) Internationalisation Awards in June.

Sheffield also scooped two further THE accolades along with the international award: Widening Participation Initiative of the Year and Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers. See the full list of winners here.

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