International students are each other’s biggest advocates | World’s Best Universities

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Many international students are stepping up their efforts to bring attention to the rights and needs of international students through on-campus clubs, independent off-campus organizations, and international student campaigns. And their efforts pave the way for a better global university experience for future international students.

Here are three main ways that current international students are making a difference.

Richard Tanson, senior international student and academic advisor in the University of VirginiaThe Office of International Studies of, says the school “is an institution known to promote student autonomy, so that student groups play a decisive role in the life of the university by supporting our international community” .

One group, the Global Student Council, was formed by then undergraduate Batkhuu Dashnyam along with 12 other international students. Dashnyam says the board worked with the AVU administration to bring a holistic perspective to the courses and reflect the diversity of the student body and faculty.

The group also worked with the admissions office to contact potential candidates by visiting high schools abroad and with the alumni association and the university engagement office “to formalize and strengthen the university’s existing international alumni network”.

AT Miami University in Ohio, Ancilleno Davis, an international student from the Bahamas, recently founded Graduate Students of All Nations. Davis says the group is compiling “questions, comments, concerns and suggestions from international graduate students to present in meetings or forums” with faculty and staff. The group’s accomplishments range from contributing on the hiring of a new international student advisor to revising the university’s draft diversity statement.

Prospective international students can contact current international students through the university’s web pages to find out more about the school and the support available. Davis says his group can serve as a resource by connecting potential international students with current international students and other local resources.

2. Off-campus organizations: In some countries, like Australia and the we, off campus, student organizations play a key role in defending international students.

Canadian Karen Cochrane heard about the Council of International Students Australia while she was active in her student union in University of Sydney. CISA, run by international students, provides member associations, such as student unions, with representation to the Australian government on issues ranging from immigration to employment.

“We are also trained in peer support for students who feel they have been treated unfairly or unreasonably for equity and welfare issues – for example, if students have problems with calls from notes or need help with their rights at work while in Australia, ”Cochrane said. , national public relations manager of CISA.

Indian national Surya Dev Aggarwal, doctoral student at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania, serves as an advocate for international student concerns for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students, a student rights group. Aggarwal says with others the group has advocated for the extension of optional hands-on training for science, technology, engineering and math students to help influence the US Department of Homeland Security to expand the STEM extension. OPT from 17 months to two years.

He says that for years, the group has also been an active advocate for students with F-1 university visas to be allowed to renew their visas in the United States before international travel, rather than at an office abroad.

For potential international students, Aggarwal says he’s currently working on a toolkit that will cover everything from cultural sensitivity to advocacy resources. The toolkit will soon be available on the NAGPS website and at member universities.

Current international students attending CISA or NAGPS member institutions may participate in advocacy efforts that benefit both registered and prospective international students.

3. Growing international student movement: For prospective international students, attending a university in a country that has a strong pro-international student movement means they can expect broader support as well as a platform to voice their needs once they arrive.

In the United States, the #YouAreWelcomeHere campaign led by Temple University in Philadelphia was launched to reassure prospective international students that they are welcome. Many universities have joined the campaign, such as Eastern Mennonite University in Virginia, of which 1 minute video features students and staff from several countries welcoming potential international students to the campus in different languages.

In England, the #weareinternational campaign is the result of a collaboration between the University of SheffieldUnion of Students and University and has secured the support of over 100 UK universities and the National Union of Students.

Romanian national Ana-Gabriela Popa, spokesperson for the campaign, said #weareinternational started in 2013 as a call for solidarity action against the abandonment of the study working license for international students in 2012, which previously provided for two years to seek employment after graduation, and has since grown to four months.

She says the movement serves as a platform to pressure members of parliament and government “for a positive change in the treatment of international students.”

Abdi-Aziz Suleiman, a Somali refugee and campaign co-founder, says the movement is determined to protect and develop the best interests of prospective international students.

Suleiman, former president of the University of Sheffield Students’ Union, said the campaign “gives us great hope that the UK will remain and become an even more welcoming and defining place in life”.



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