Truly Global

 A group of our International Students at our Essex Futures event

Although we can reach each other in an instant, the distance between us can sometimes feel greater than ever before.

Our founding vision was to bring global communities together at Essex. To live and learn as one.

Sixty years later, we are one of the most international universities in the world with our education and research infused by internationalism and our campuses thriving hubs of cultural collaboration.

“The world in one place” is how the University of Essex’s vibrant campuses are often described.

As it celebrates its 60th anniversary, Essex’s appetite to engage internationally continues to grow and this commitment is underlined by the fact Essex has risen to 15th for international outlook in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024.

This makes Essex the highest-ranking English university for international outlook outside London and Oxbridge – in fact Essex is level with the University of Cambridge on this measure.

This is unsurprising as Essex has built an incredible international network of partners, alumni and research collaborators over the past six decade. This all supports the key factors influencing Times Higher’s international outlook which reflects a university’s ability to attract undergraduates, postgraduates and faculty from all over the planet while also reflecting the level of collaboration with academics across the world..

Arriving at Essex – as a student or a member staff – places you at the heart of a community drawn from more than 140 countries from around the world.

Student in traditional dress during Welcome week
Student standing in front of a Brazilian flag

A Long Way to Essex

James Faiumu undertook what must be one of the longest journeys to come to Essex to study. He travelled halfway around the world to the UK from Samoa in Polynesia after winning a Chevening Scholarship to complete a Masters at Essex Business School. That is a journey of more than 15,000km and takes over 33 hours.

Coming to Essex has been an incredible experience for James – especially as he arrived just as Samoa were winning through to the final of the Rugby League World Cup hosted in England. Since then James has packed in an incredible range of experiences into his year. He has played rugby, worked as a student ambassador and joined the student travel society and he obviously has a passion for travel – visiting Belgium, France, Greece, the Netherlands, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Spain. He has also taken advantage of being able to travel easily to London. The highlight of the year was being selected to be a flagbearer at the official Commonwealth Day at Westminster Abbey. “That is definitely something I will look back on with pride,” he said.

So what brought him to Essex? “I was born and bred in Samoa and the oldest of seven. In my application for the scholarship I emphasised how unique Samoa culture is – we hold onto our traditional values. “I chose Essex Business School as it aligned with my passion in terms of sustainable practices. Sustainability is especially important to me as I come from the Pacific and we are one of the most affected areas in terms of climate change. In my work I’ve seen the importance of using resources in line with traditional knowledge. The professors at Essex have a lot of experience in working on these issues and they have worked in developing countries so they understand how culture and environment come into play when we look at solutions.” Now he is completing his course and looking to the future.

Before coming to the UK he worked for the Samoan Government on environmental issues and he hopes his Masters can inform his work on sustainability reporting – which he feels is vital in protecting culture and nature. He said: “I’m looking forward to going back to my community and helping out – especially with young people. I hope I can inspire people and provide support in the areas where I have skills.”

James Faiumu standing in front of the lakes on our Colchester Campus

International networking

Naomi Gumede and Nilisha Subasinghe standing in front of the lakes on our Colchester Campus

Nilisha Subasinghe loves travel and now through studying at Essex she has a global network of friends.

Originally from Sri Lanka, Nilisha completed her undergraduate studies in Japan and then chose Essex to undertake a Masters in Criminology.

She said she was “embraced” by the incredible international community at Essex and threw herself into a startling range of activities at Essex including the University of Essex Choir, getting paid work experience as a frontrunner for research centres in the Faculty of Social Sciences, volunteering through the Students’ Union’s vTeam programme and working as a content creator for the University’s Communications team.

“I've loved it,” she said. “There are so many opportunities, from volunteering to working as a frontrunner. Every day on the university calendar, there is something that you can engage with. I was very comfortable getting involved in things because of how the University embraces people from around the world.”

As a frontrunner she worked as an events assistant to support the Centre for Research in Economic Sociology and Innovation and worked with the academic team launching the new Centre for Global South Studies at Essex. “Being from the Global South, it was a really big opportunity for me,” she said.

Another highlight for Nilisha was joining the University choir and performing at Snape Maltings in Aldeburgh, one of the most famous concert halls in the UK. “I'm really happy that I got the chance to perform there,” she said.

Naomi Gumede is from a completely different part of the world but loved the global atmosphere on our campuses too. She is a freelance film maker from South Africa who came to Essex after winning a Chevening scholarship to complete a Masters in Film Studies.

“It was nice to discover the different people, the different vibe Essex has,” she said. “The campus is a really great international space for students.”

Her degree and experiences working on films for various parts of the University have built her confidence and she is full of praise for her supervisor Nic Blower, who is an expert on documentary making, but also linked her up with other specialists in the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies. “He was always there for me and referred me to other people for other questions I had.” she said.

Now she is looking to the future: “Back in South Africa, I’ll be doing more film work and trying to get my own projects off the ground and telling my own stories – well the stories I'd like to tell with other people!”

Nilisha Subasinghe
Naomi Gumede

Attracting global sporting talent

Essex’s increasing sporting profile is attracting rising sports stars to our teaching programmes. One of these is Canadian Zack Kuzyk, 24, who just arrived to study for a Masters in Physiotherapy after completing his undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University in Greater Vancouver.

The track and field athlete was chosen for a Vice-Chancellor’s Global Talent Scholarship plus a sport scholarship benefit package.

“I chose Essex because of its excellent academic programmes in addition to having the opportunity to meet other students from around the world,” Zack said. “And I experienced that right away - we have five people in my flat from five different countries, and it's been really cool meeting people from so many different places.

“Despite just arriving from Canada, I have felt incredibly welcomed by peers, roommates, and University staff. This speaks to the University’s inclusivity. I am looking forward to taking advantage of everything Essex has to offer.”

Part of that offer is continuing his athletics career: “I'll have the opportunity to be on the athletics team here for training, and maybe a little bit of coaching as well, and hopefully I'll be competing in the jumping events for the University at major sporting events.

“The big aim would be to hopefully compete on an international stage or at some level of international competition. But, moving forward, I'm hoping to use this career path to stay connected to athletics throughout my career, whether that means being medical staff, or through coaching and training performance. I think being well established in the sport over the last 10 years of my life, and then also getting this degree and having coaching certifications should mean I will be able to stay connected with this sport for a long time.”

“I chose Essex because of its excellent academic programmes in addition to having the opportunity to meet other students from around the world,” Zack said. “Despite just arriving from Canada, I have felt incredibly welcomed by peers, roommates, and University staff. This speaks to the University’s inclusivity. I am looking forward to taking advantage of everything Essex has to offer.”

We will be hearing more about Essex’s blossoming sports programme in future Sixty Stories.

International Roots

From the start, the University had an international outlook. The Reith Lectures delivered on BBC radio by the University’s founding Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Albert Sloman back in 1963 outlined a new kind of university which embraced the world. This included attracting academics from outside the UK, but also extending the focus of study to countries and regions not normally studied in depth at British universities at the time – Russia, North America and Latin America. “The frame will not be England, nor even Western Europe, but the whole world,” Sloman told listeners.

An international focus led to Essex developing a global character and in 1986, just over 20 years afters its establishment, it was recognised as having the highest percentage of overseas students in the UK at 23%. That internationalism has continued. Now close to 40% of students are from outside the UK drawn from more than 140 countries. The top 10 countries represented in the Essex community at the moment are China, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland, Romania and the United States.

Get to know more

Students sitting down looking at a book

Join us as an International student

Essex introduces you to people from all over the planet. We are a global community that lives, works and plays together. You study an internationally relevant curriculum, become part of our diverse community, and are taught by academics whose research has global impact.

Find out more

Two students hugging

Explore our Global reach

Internationalism is central to everything we do. We are 15th for international outlook in the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2024.  At Essex you’ll find the world in one place.

Find out more

Students at their graduation throwing their caps into the air

Essex Alumni

Whether you’re a recent graduate, or it’s been a long time since you studied with us, we’re here to help keep you involved with the University and your alumni network.

Find out more