100 signatures reached
To: The University of Manchester
A petition for the preservation of the Manchester International Society
The University of Manchester has reviewed its support for its international students and has concluded its new strategy will be to fund only one organisation to do so, namely the Student Union. As a result, the International Society (in existence since 1966) has stopped receiving direct funding and has had to vacate it premises and relocate to the Student Union building. This petition seeks to draw the attention of the University management board, highlighting the importance of the existence of the International Society as an independent entity for our wider (international) university community, and calls for the guaranteed continuation of all the long-running events and activities that the International Society has been able to host for years.
Why is this important?
The University of Manchester has one of the largest international student communities in the UK. The International Society, previously housed in the beautiful and spacious William Kay House on Oxford Road, where it hosted events and activities for the international community, has long been a major part of the student experience in Manchester for many international students.
In 2016, the University reviewed its support for international students and concluded its preferred strategy is to fund only one organisation to support its many international students. Consequently, it decided that, from 31 July 2019 onwards, direct University funding of the International Society will stop and be diverted to the Student Union instead. As a result, the Society has had to vacate its previous premises and has relocated to the Student Union building, and the Society’s Small World Café, one of the main meeting points for Manchester’s international community, had to be closed.
For the time being, it seems the Society will remain a separate charity entity operating from the Student Union premises. However, given the limited space allocated in the Union building and the future uncertainty, this petition calls on all individuals who have enjoyed and benefitted from the programmes of the International Society, to highlight the importance of the existence of an independent International Society for our university community and international community.
This petition thus seeks to draw attention to the University management board, and calls for the guaranteed continuation of all the long-running events and activities that the International Society has been able to host throughout its years, which have been a major part of the student experience in Manchester for many international students, including myself.
In my personal experience, as an international student, half-German and half-Japanese, born in the UK but raised in various countries, the International Society acted as a home-away-from-home, as it provided a warm and welcoming space for international and British students and staff, as well as members of the local community, to come together and connect with people from every corner of the world. Popping in to meet familiar or new faces, to have a coffee, to play piano, or to work on language skills– the International Society always provided a welcoming and inspiring cross-cultural atmosphere none of the single-country Student Union societies were able to offer.
Besides the many language classes, trips, cultural workshops and families groups the Society has been hosting for years, exemplary of this was the "International 16" project which I was predominantly involved in during my past 3 years at our university. It included a series of events to encourage students, staff and all community members to come together in a welcoming place to meet new people and learn about different cultures through cuisine and activities, thereby enriching our cultural awareness and appreciation.
Previously supported by all three universities in Manchester (UoM, MMU and the University of Salford), through these activities and events, the Society has thus been positively contributing to community cohesion, and has celebrated cultural diversity since 1966.
Run by international staff and volunteers themselves, the Society does an outstanding job at understanding and meeting the needs and wishes of our university’s international community, and as an international student far away from home, it is beautiful to see an entire entity dedicated to the wellbeing of internationals as its top priority and purpose.
To sum up, looking back on the International Society as one of the fondest university experiences for many, including myself, this petition strives to ensure that future students, as well as the wider (international) community of The University of Manchester, will be able to continue to enjoy the International Society too.