Students from 152 different countries will be arriving in Newcastle over the next month and 25 days of celebrations have been organised to welcome them to the city.
Organised to coincide with the International Welcome Weeks of the city’s three Higher Education (HE) institutions, Newcastle and Northumbria universities and Newcastle College, the celebrations kicked off with a flag-raising ceremony organised by Newcastle NE1, the city’s Business Improvement District (BID).
The ceremony marked the start of a 25 day-long welcome to Newcastle’s new and returning students, during which the flags of all 152 countries will be displayed in rotation on 30 flagpoles outside the Civic Centre and around the city.
Attendees at the ceremony included students from a multitude of countries, representatives of Newcastle’s academic, business and political institutions, and consular staff from France, Sweden and Norway and Newcastle United Chief Executive Lee Charnley. Students, consular staff and local businesses will help with the flag raising.
Throughout the period seven spotlights, located at prominent and iconic locations throughout the city, will light up the sky each evening, with their beams converging above Grey’s Monument. The opening and closing of the student welcome are marked by spectacular fireworks displays on the evenings of 8th September and 2nd October.
Making international students welcome is particularly important to Newcastle, which regularly tops polls for the best student experience in the UK, as Newcastle NE1 estimates that Newcastle’s universities contribute £1.3 billion to the city’s economy each year. The city is also home to an impressively large number of its former students; 60% of doctors graduating in the city for example, remain after completing their studies.
The international student welcome weeks organised by Newcastle’s HE institutions give overseas students the chance to explore the city and the North East, with visits to St. James’ Park and important local sites, and to meet other students from around the world and the UK.
Sean Bullick, Newcastle NE1 Chief Executive, said: “Newcastle has always been a truly international city with a history of global travel and trade. Today’s ceremony and the upcoming student welcome celebrations show that despite a change in the UK’s relationship with the European Union, we are open for study, business and tourism. Our city’s diverse and growing economy is boosted by our fantastic higher education offering, which is known across the world.
“As one of the UK’s best known and most well regarded cities, known for our culture, unique retail offering and academic excellence, it is essential that students from around the globe know they are welcome in Newcastle.”
Jon Reast, Pro-Vice Chancellor (International) at Northumbria University, said: “Northumbria’s international students and staff play a crucial role in helping to position the University at the centre of global academic excellence, innovation, diversity and research. Newcastle is a fantastic destination to work and study, and I’m sure that the welcome events planned over the coming weeks will help our new students realise how important they are, not only to the academic institutions, but also for the city as a whole.”
Nick Forbes, Leader of Newcastle City Council, said: ““Newcastle is a global city, and every year we welcome thousands of students from across the world to study here.
“These students enrich our city while they are here, and many go on to be ambassadors for Newcastle when they graduate.
“Every successful city in the world has vibrant, talented and diverse universities and students. With Brexit it is still early days, but it is clear that any restrictions the Government makes on overseas students studying here will harm the competitive edge we currently have. “
Professor Richard Davies, Pro Vice-Chancellor Engagement and Internationalisation at Newcastle University, said: “We are proud to have such a diverse and talented body of students who come from all over the world to study here in Newcastle.
“They make our campus and our city the thriving place that it is and we hope this next month will show them how much we value them.”