Around 250 new international students were formally welcomed to Belfast today (Sunday, September 30) with a reception at Belfast City Hall.
The event brought together students from both Queen’s University Belfast and Ulster University and signifies the importance of international students to the city, with students from all over the world in attendance.
Lord Mayor, Councillor Deirdre Hargey said: “It is wonderful to see so many students from around the world have chosen Belfast for their studies. It is a reflection of the city’s reputation for excellence in terms of education and of the warmth with which international students are met when they come here.
“I am sure you will all leave with lingering memories of Belfast, its culture, ‘craic’ and people as well as a first class education.”
This International Student Welcome is the first of its kind for Belfast, and was a collaboration between Belfast City Council, Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University, British Council Northern Ireland and Invest NI.
It comes after a recent report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) found that international students are worth £170m to the Northern Ireland economy - but their value to Northern Ireland goes well beyond their economic value - they bring new insights, valuable intercultural skills and diversity to the student population.
About the event, Jonathan Stewart, Director, British Council Northern Ireland said: “Opening our doors to international students brings cultural diversity, new experiences and ideas in to our city and we are delighted to support this collaboration between Ulster University and Queen’s University.
“Both institutions offer students top-class facilities and quality teaching and combined with events such as this, can build Belfast’s reputation as the destination of choice for international students.”
Professor Ian Montgomery, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Global Engagement at Ulster University commented: “With an above average student satisfaction rate Ulster University is delighted to welcome more international students to our four campuses across Northern Ireland than ever before.
“Our international students enrich the local student experience, support our globally significant research, extend our networks and partnerships, assist our mission in expanding global student and staff mobility opportunities, and support our global citizenship in support of global challenges.”
Queen’s University Belfast’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Professor Adrienne Scullion, said: “It has been a pleasure to be part of this brilliant event at Belfast City Hall that is all about welcoming our international students to the city. At Queen’s we work hard to ensure our international students settle well into university life but we also want to make sure that they integrate happily into life in Belfast too.
“This event sets exactly the right tone for the universities and the city – letting all our internationals students know that you are all very welcome to this famously friendly city and that they should rightly look forward to some great times ahead.”