UKCISA Fest 2023

Last modified: 14 November 2023

Welcome to UKCISA Fest: a free one-day event for international students in the UK to inform policy and practice through their lived experience.

UKCISA Fest will take place on 15 November 2023 at International Students House in London.

Students will participate in seminars and workshops, alongside sector partners and policy makers, and share their diverse experiences with like-minded students.

From mental health and wellbeing to academic experience and employability, their insights will shape policy to enhance the international student experience in the UK.

UKCISA Annual reception will take place in the evening to celebrate International Education Week, International Students Day, and World Access to Higher Education Day.


Last modified: 30 October 2023

Bookings for UKCISA Fest 2023 are now closed.

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Last modified: 13 November 2023

UKCISA Fest is a platform for international students to meet and discuss their experiences of studying in the UK with their fellow students. These discussions will help UKCISA to inform policy and practice, ensuring that international students are represented in policy development and government strategy. 

Workshops will be developed jointly with the #WeAreInternational Student Ambassadors - developing a deeper understanding of international students’ experiences at every stage of their education journey – including mental health, academic experience, visas and immigration and making a home in the UK.

09:30-10:00 Arrival and registration

Portland Room, International Students House, 229 Great Portland Street, London, W1W 5PN

10:00-10:15 Welcome from UKCISA

Portland Room

Speakers: Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive, UKCISA

10:15-10:30 Opening remarks

Portland Room

Speakers: Lord Karan Bilimoria, President, UKCISA

10:30-11:45 Opening plenary – putting international student voice at the heart of policymaking

Portland Room

‘Enhancing the international student experience’ became one of the priorities in the refreshed International Education Strategy. UKCISA believes the perspectives and lived experiences of international students are vital in guiding efforts to help the UK shape a world-class student experience.

But in reality, how can we include the international student voice when developing policy and setting a new strategy? The panel will share their experiences and views on international student representation at an institutional and national level.

11:45-12:15 Tea break

Venue 2

12:15-13:15 Workshop 1 – Policy 101: raising your voice for change

Gulbenkian Room

Speakers: Iona Murdoch, Deepa Chadha

Do you want to be a changemaker, but not sure how the policy process works at your institution? Or maybe you’re not sure what policy is and how it works in the UK?

Join us for an introduction to policy where we will explore some basic policy concepts and their significance, as well as the wider policy landscape affecting international students in the UK.

This session will teach you how to engage with and navigate detailed policies and become an effective advocate for change, so that we can all shape the international student experience.

12:15-13:15 Workshop 2 – Using evidence to represent international students

Club Room

Speaker: Jim Dickinson

International students are often called on for their voice to improve student experience – but that voice can often be challenged within university structures and bureaucracy that thrive on evidence and data to drive decision making.

In this session, we’ll explore the sources of evidence available on international students, how to get hold of evidence and the ways in which you can use both data and your first-hand experience to secure positive change in the student interest.

13:15-14:30 Lunch and networking

Venue 2

14:30-15:30 Workshop 3 – Navigating Global Networks: Using stakeholder relationships to ensure a quality experience in the UK 

Gulbenkian Room

Speaker: Annie Bell

From university administrators and faculty members to fellow students and potential employers, international students must navigate a complex web of relationships with various stakeholders. The ability to manage these relationships effectively can be invaluable in ensuring a quality experience in the UK. 

In this session, we will analyse the integral role that stakeholder and relationship management plays in the experiences of international students, not only at an institutional level, but at a political and professional level as well. Students will leave with a better understanding of how to engage with various stakeholders as well as how to leverage these connections to effect lasting, positive change for international students in the UK.

14:30-15:30 Workshop 4 – Telling your stories to inspire and influence others

Club Room

Speaker: Jim Dickinson

Storytelling draws an audience into your speech by emotionally connecting to them through your shared experiences. When it comes to public speaking and policy influencing, it couldn’t be more important.

In this session, we will explore how to establish the foundations of making your points and sticking to them,  and gaining confidence when telling your stories.

15:30-15:45 Tea break

Venue 2

15:45-17:00 Closing plenary – From student experience to work experience

Portland Room

In the final session of the day we will explore a key topic that we know is of critical importance to many international students: finding a job.

You will have the opportunity to reflect on the skills you are bringing to your future role, learn from one recent graduate’s experience of finding work in the UK and hear from a senior careers advisor about what to expect from a university careers service and what more you can do to enhance your future career prospects during your time in the UK.

The session will be interactive, inspiring and fun!

17:00-17:15 Closing remarks

Portland Room

17:30 – 19:00 UKCISA Annual reception

Gulbenkian Room


Last modified: 14 November 2023

Anne Marie Graham, Chief Executive, UKCISA

Lord Karan Bilimoria, President, UKCISA

Jim Dickinson, Associate Editor, WonkHE

Annie Bell, Head of Communications and External Affairs, University Alliance

Iona Murdoch, Policy Officer, UKCISA

Deepa Chadha, Advice and Training Officer, UKCISA

Lindsay Nygren, #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador, University of Glasgow (PhD), USA

Adityavarman Mehta, #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador, University of Leeds (PhD), India

Diana Catana, #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador, King’s College London (PhD), Romania

Vartika Khandelwal, #WeAreInternational Student Ambassador, University of Liverpool (PGT), Kenya & India


Official partners

Last modified: 27 October 2023

In partnership with: 


With thanks to Duolingo English Test, British Council - Study UK and BUILA for their generous support.