Media releases

Sydney’s warm welcome for international students

Published 26 April 2023

Last night the City of Sydney officially welcomed hundreds of international students who will study at various educational institutions across the city over the next few years.

Hosted by Clover Moore, Lord Mayor of Sydney, the Welcome for International Students ceremony at Sydney Town Hall was attended by more than 650 students, including participants from the 2023 international student leadership and ambassador (ISLA) program.

Comprising 24 students from 12 countries and regions, the ambassadors are taking part in a year-long program that includes free training, work integrated learning and volunteer opportunities to develop leadership skills and work on projects for international student communities.

The Lord Mayor said the welcome event recognises and celebrates the contribution international students make to Sydney’s vibrancy, liveability and cultural diversity, helping them start lifelong connections with the city.

"I'm so pleased international students are returning to Sydney, and I’m delighted to welcome them to their new home, whether it’s temporary or permanent,” the Lord Mayor said.

"International students contribute to Sydney's rich cultural diversity, as well as being an investment in our city's future.

“Sydney offers world-class educational and research institutions, a leading knowledge-based economy and a friendly, welcoming population.

“It’s these qualities that make it one of the world’s most popular cities for students.”

The City of Sydney collaborated with several key stakeholders on the event including leading tertiary education institutions and Study NSW.

The welcome was an opportunity for students to learn about support services and volunteer opportunities and provided a range of free resources and assets to help make international students feel welcome.

Sri-Lankan born ISLA alumni member, Anston Ratnayake, presented at the reception and raised the importance of international students having a strong support system and feeling welcomed in a new environment.

“The Lord Mayor’s welcome event provides an opportunity for international students to connect with their counterparts from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, fostering a sense of community and global citizenship,” Ratnayake said.

“It’s so important for students to immerse themselves in the local culture, and one of the best ways to achieve this is by going to cultural events, festivals and engaging in activities that are representative of the host country's customs and traditions.

“Through the ISLA program I helped support other international students to build connections with the city.

“The leadership experience also significantly impacted my personal life and career trajectory – it has been immensely rewarding and fulfilling and enabled me to build meaningful connections and personal growth.”

Since it was established in 2013, the City’s ISLA program has involved approximately 200 international students who have together contributed tens of thousands of hours of local volunteer work at legal and community centres, events and educational institutions.

Each year, the young leaders also play an important role in helping to shape the policies, services and information that aim to enhance the education, health and wellbeing of international students in Sydney.

The City of Sydney is committed to welcoming international students to Sydney and creating a safe and enjoyable city for everyone. View the City’s program and support guides for more details.

For more details on the City of Sydney’s ambassador program visit the ISLA webpage.

For media enquiries, contact Elaine Kelly. Phone 0477 362 550 or email

For interviews with Lord Mayor Clover Moore, contact Zoe Delamare. Phone 0477 263 615 or email

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