Back in November Danil, International Students' Officer and myself Kristina, your SU President attended the International Students Leaders Conference at the British Council. The day was hosted by the National Union of Students (NUS) and welcomed a number of exciting speakers who hosted workshops, panels and networking.
Our role throughout the day was to represent students at City, whilst learning about valuable work to bring back to campus to benefit students on campus.
Over the duration of the Conference Danil and I attended a number of things, with some of the most informative centred around our shared interests based on the promises we were elected on. They were:
- the future of International Students in the UK after Brexit;
- post-study work visas
- and the wellbeing of International Students whilst studying here.
Over the day we heard from a number of people, including our NUS International Students' Officer, Yinbo Yu and a host of others from UK Parliament and Universities UK, the voice of Universities in this country. Hearing from these panels was very rewarding and inspiring and demonstrated that International Student Leaders really do accomplish amazing things on a daily basis for their members.
Some of the simple but inspiring actions we heard about included: Officers meeting and greeting students at the airport as they arrive, Unions creating International-friendly guides to the UK, people organising communities of students to lobby their local MP for further resources and a lot more.
So we could bring everything we learnt back to campus Danil and I have each summarised our two top learning points, which we will use in our roles back here at City.
1. How to Influence the Press
I attended a panel and workshop run by a City University Alumni called Patrick Attack, now Deputy Editor at the Pie. He told the room about the way you can utilise the press for campaigns and changes you are trying to make. I learnt a lot about what makes a good and bad press release and will utilise this if I ever needed it!
2. Future Leaders Connect
This activity was a workshop run in two parts. The first was an introduction to the programme 'Future Leaders Connect', a British Council project which aims to create a global network for policy leaders looking to change the world. The second was an interactive session, which looked at challenging us to think about what the main characteristics of a global leader are, whilst highlighting global issues which should be a concern to us.
1. Post-Study Work Visas
Before attending this Conference I was aware of the increasing worry for the crisis that is post-study work visas. This was from a combination of discussions with University colleagues, as well as friends from other Unions. Both sessions I attended on this day had the purpose of expanding my knowledge and helping to build a bigger picture and that is exactly what it did.
For those who are unaware, these visas are a vital pass for International Students in the UK. They provide us with the right to remain in the country for a year after graduating, giving us enough time to find work and to hopefully settle into our first career step.
The sessions I attended looked at a number of useful strategies to help Unions take action in lobbying for securing the visas, with the most helpful one helping me to further understand how we can work with our Local MP in Islington. I will hopefully be launching this work in the New Year.
2. Creating Networks
One of the most enjoyable aspects of the event was connecting with likeminded people who shared values of developing the wellbeing of the International Student community. We began the conference a little lost and left the conference with a team of allies, ready to challenge and create a better City campus and London for International Students.
Building Networks of students who are interested in the same things is something which I am also aiming to do on campus. This term with the help of your Student Officer team we have launched CitySucceeds, a series of panel events and networking opportunities which aim to help people understand the barriers different groups face when graduating.
Keep an eye on our events page for the next one!