Newcastle gave students from 152 different countries a real ‘Geordie welcome’ with 25 days of celebrations to coincide with the Welcome Weeks of the City’s three Higher Education institutions, Newcastle and Northumbria Universities and Newcastle College.
The celebrations kicked off in style in September with a flag-raising ceremony outside the Civic Centre organised by Newcastle NE1, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID).
Student representatives from a multitude of countries, including Iraq, the Maldives, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam attended the event, along with Newcastle United Chief Executive Lee Charnley and consular staff from Sweden, Norway and France.
The flags of all 152 countries have been on display in rotation on 30 flagpoles both outside the Civic Centre and around the City, including above Grey Street, and inside Newcastle Central Station and Newcastle International Airport.
During the celebrations, seven spotlights, representing the seven continents Newcastle’s students’ hail from, were placed at iconic locations throughout the City, lighting up the sky every evening from8pm with their beams scanning the skies above the city.
A spectacular firework display marked the closing of the official welcome celebrations on Sunday.
International students are important to Newcastle; NE1 estimates that Newcastle’s universities contribute £1.3 billion to the city’s economy per annum. Along with regularly topping polls for the best student experience in the UK, many students remain in Newcastle after completing their studies, using their skills, expertise and qualifications to the benefit of the job market.
Sean Bullick, Newcastle NE1 Chief Executive, said: “Newcastle has always been a truly international city with a history of global travel and trade and a reputation for warmth and friendliness.
“Newcastle’s diverse and growing economy is boosted by its fantastic higher education offering. 80,000 students from across 152 nations contribute more than a billion pounds to the local economy. Along with their economic contribution, international students also bring intellect, vibrancy and a cosmopolitan feel to the city.”
Usman Amin, an international student from Pakistan studying at Newcastle College, said: “Newcastle is a place where everyone is welcomed, the raising of the flags and the 25 day long celebrations showed that no individual or nationality is left behind.
“The Geordie culture is very friendly. I’m happy to be living in Newcastle and extremely proud to have raised my home flag in a different country. It’s a moment I will remember for the rest of my life”