Blog: Celebrating UKCISA's 50th Anniversary

Did you know that Royal Holloway is home to around 3000 international students from more than 130 countries? There are over 500,000 international students in the UK, and we are part of that global community.

What’s the sitch?

On 14 November 2018, I attended a parliamentary reception at the House of Commons to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). The organisation provides support to international students, institutions and students’ unions about immigration rules and issues relating to international student experience, such as mental health and culture shock.

I heard from Lord Bilimoria and Paul Blomfield MP, who are Co-chairs of the All Party Parliamentary Group for International Students, about the immense contribution by international students to our university campus and local communities.

According to Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), international students who began their studies in 2015/16 contributed £20.3 billion in net economic benefit to the UK. Beyond that, international students bring diversity of thought to our learning environments, which is increasingly crucial as big problems affecting our society will require global solutions, such as climate change.

Celebration: Willow pictured at UKCISA's 50th anniversary with Denise Keable, Head of International Support and Inclusivity at the College

Sounds great! How does this relate to me?

We are always looking for more international students to get involved with the Students’ Union!

Whether that’s by joining a society or sports club, getting involved with our campaigns or shaping your educational experience by becoming a course rep, you can find everything that’s happening on our website. Next week is also International Week, where we celebrate diversity in all cultures and faiths, so make sure you have a look at the events list to see what’s going on!

In term two, there will also be opportunity for all students to run for a sabbatical officer position and work full-time to lobby and advocate in students’ interests. As an international student, I have chosen to take a year out of my studies to improve student welfare at Royal Holloway. Some of you may have heard about my success in lobbying for international students to receive equal printing credits as home/EU students or organising sexual health screening on campus!

Leader: Earlier this month, Willow (second from the right) had the opportunity to speak at the International Student Leader Conference, held at British Council, about her experiences as an international student leader at university

Being an international student at Royal Holloway has allowed me to use my experiences to help many other students make the most out of their time at university. If you’re an international student who has a question or a really cool idea you’d like to share with me, you can find me on Facebook, email me or come to see me at the SU!

Willow Wong // Vice President Welfare & Diversity