Principal opens international student event

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Professor Richard A Williams OBE, Principal and Vice-Chancellor wlecomes international students with the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon

Scotland's 19 universities joined together this week to launch ‘Scotland Welcomes.' The campaign is designed to challenge post-Brexit uncertainty faced by EU nationals working and studying in Scotland and tackle the decline in the number of students coming from some countries following the introduction of Westminster's visa restrictions.

At an international Burns Supper attended by the First Minister, students and university staff from 68 different countries, Professor Richard A Williams, Principal and Vice Chancellor of Heriot-Watt, opened the event in his role as convener of Universities Scotland's International Committee.

He said: “We are delighted to shout out from our institutions why we are proud to welcome the world.  We understand we succeed only because we share in the experience of our international students and staff's diversity, cultures and wisdom.  Scottish higher education has always been cosmopolitan. Internationalism is the heartbeat of all world-class universities and institutions, and it will continue to be so.

“Scotland is a magnet for education. 50,000 European and international students from over 185 countries study in our 19 higher education institutions.  Over 36,000 students are studying with Scotland overseas through distance learning and at overseas campuses.

“Studying and working in Scotland is more than just coming to an overseas country; it is about coming to a country that is a global exemplar of excellence in its education.  With some of the most highly-rated scientific, arts and performing arts institutions in the world, studying in Scotland gives students access to world-class facilities and multiple centres of excellence.”

Professor Williams also talked about the impressive number of international staff working in Scottish universities today. He continued: “Over 7,500 academic staff and research staff have chosen to make their career in Scotland's universities and their home in Scotland.  The contribution they make to Scotland is invaluable and goes far beyond the reaches of their chosen institution.”

The celebrations were mirrored at an event held at Heriot-Watt's Edinburgh campus attended by hundreds of students and staff, many of whom wore their national dress. The afternoon showcased the university's inclusivity and diversity.