Students’ Union and University honoured with two awards for supporting international students

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  • Pioneering #weareinternational campaign wins major award
  • Students’ Union International Officer Alex Kohnert awarded International Officer of the Year
  • Law student Peggy Lim shortlisted as International Student of the Year

The University of Sheffield and its Students’ Union have been recognised for their work highlighting the vital importance of international students to the UK with two national awards. selfie

The pioneering #weareinternational campaign won the Internationalising the Student Experience category at the National Union of Students (NUS) and UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) Internationalisation Awards, announced at a ceremony in Warwick today (Tuesday 6 May 2014).

Students’ Union International Officer Alex Kohnert was honoured for his leadership and dedication in campaigning to improve the experience of international students in the UK by being awarded International Officer of the Year. Second year law student Peggy Lim had been shortlisted for the International Student of the Year prize.

Alex was a leading figure in the #weareinternational campaign, which has been developed by the Students’ Union jointly with the University of Sheffield to provide a strong voice in support of the welcome for and contribution of international students to the UK’s world-leading universities.

As part of the campaign, the University of Sheffield has produced innovative materials which are being used by partner institutions to inform prospective students about the student visa application process to study in the UK, including two short student-focused films in both India and China.

To demonstrate strong links of friendship across national boundaries and between home and overseas students, University of Sheffield students also launched a #standbyme selfie campaign in which images of students, staff and alumni are accompanied by stories of international friendship. The campaign is now spreading across other campuses in the UK.

Students’ Union President Ally Buckle said: “We are delighted that these awards highlight the fantastic work by students in Sheffield to strengthen our international community.

“Students from around the world, as well as here in the UK reject the damaging views of people from other countries which are too often seen in the media and politics.

“Sheffield has always had a warm welcome for international students, and we are glad of the difference they make in the city and to the UK. We are determined to make this case across the UK, and we have had tremendous support in doing so.

Our belief is that being part of an international community changes people. That change is good for students, but also good for countries and for the world, and being truly international in our outlook benefits UK students as much as those who come to Britain from overseas.

The #weareinternational campaign is proving to be more vital than ever as the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) last month announced international student applications to the UK had fallen for the first time in 30 years.

It has been widely welcomed by students and is now supported by over 100 universities and leading organisations across the UK, including the British Council and the CBI.

Research commissioned by the University of Sheffield shows international students in the city are responsible for pumping over £120 million into Sheffield’s economy over a single year.

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, said: “We are absolutely delighted that the hard work of our wonderful Students’ Union and our international students has been recognised by national bodies which represent both home and overseas students.

“It is a very great honour for our students to receive these awards, and they reflect the talent and commitment which they bring with them to the UK.

“We are also deeply proud to stand alongside the Students’ Union in vital campaigning work in support of international students.

“From the economic benefits international students bring to our city and country to the vital contribution they make to our health service and to innovation, we are truly proud of our international community and we want to shout about it from the rooftops.”

For more information about the #weareinternational campaign, visit

Additional information

  • A report from HEFCE published on 2 April 2014 revealed that the number of international students studying on UK higher education institutions has fallen for the first time in 30 years, with a 25 per cent reduction in students from India.
  • According to the UK Council for International Student Affairs, the UK welcomes over 400,000 international students annually. Overseas students make up 14 per cent of full-time first degree students and 46 per cent of all taught postgraduates.
  • A report commissioned for the Department of Business, Industry and Skills estimates that the total value of UK education and training exports to the UK economy is £14 billion, with a projection that this could rise as high as £26 billion by 2025. Estimating the value to the UK of Education Exports -
  • International students also make a huge contribution to the economic prosperity of city regions across the UK. An independent study of the net economic contribution of international students carried out by Oxford Economics for the University of Sheffield concluded international students provided £120 million to the city region annually, equivalent to 10 per cent of inward investment -!/file/sheffield-international-students-report.pdf

The University of Sheffield

With almost 25,000 of the brightest students from around 120 countries, learning alongside over 1,200 of the best academics from across the globe, the University of Sheffield is one of the world’s leading universities.

A member of the UK’s prestigious Russell Group of leading research-led institutions, Sheffield offers world-class teaching and research excellence across a wide range of disciplines.

Unified by the power of discovery and understanding, staff and students at the university are committed to finding new ways to transform the world we live in.

In 2011 it was named University of the Year in the Times Higher Education Awards and in the last decade has won four Queen’s Anniversary Prizes in recognition of the outstanding contribution to the United Kingdom’s intellectual, economic, cultural and social life.

Sheffield has five Nobel Prize winners among former staff and students and its alumni go on to hold positions of great responsibility and influence all over the world, making significant contributions in their chosen fields.

Global research partners and clients include Boeing, Rolls-Royce, Unilever, AstraZeneca, Glaxo SmithKline and Siemens, as well as many UK and overseas government agencies and charitable foundations.

For further information, please visit

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