International Students’ Day is celebrated every year on November 17th. Spencer Platt / AFP

Every year on November 17th, International Students’ Day is celebrated all around the world. Though not a common celebration, this day is commemorated annually as a result of the events that took place in Prague during World War II in 1939.

Originally a day to remember the students who died in World War II, today it is held to highlight the importance of education for all students. The goal of this day is to ensure that every child in the world has access to education. 

Being an international student in a foreign country isn’t easy. Having to leave your home and family behind takes courage. International students travel far from their home countries for higher education which will help them to have a better life and provide for their loved ones.

While university life is difficult for all students, there is no doubt that international students face more challenges. This includes homesickness, cultural differences, financial problems, and language barriers.

International Students’ Day is a great opportunity to honour students all around the world. It is a day to celebrate multiculturalism, diversity, and cooperation. 

But what is the full story behind this celebration?


International Students’ Day originated because of the brave students who fought for the right to education during World War II. Source: Fadel Senna / AFP

The history of International Students’ Day 

In 1939, the Nazis attacked the University of Prague during World War II. Students who stood up against the Nazis for their right to education were rounded up and arrested. Nine student leaders were killed, while 1,200 students were sent to concentration camps. Many did not survive. 

In 1941, the Council of International Students in London chose this day as International Students’ Day. Today, it is celebrated around the world to commemorate and promote education.

How can you celebrate the day?

There are several ways you can celebrate International Students’ Day this year. Far away from home and family, loneliness can set in. Spend time with other international students taking the time to get to know each other and providing support.

If you’re having a tough time at university, whether you’re juggling assignments or worried about money, these friends, new or old, can help you out. No friends yet? Check if your uni is hosting any events soon — there are usually many where you’ll find kindred spirits to connect with.

Apart from that, consider volunteering or giving back to the community. Help out a coursemate with homework or housework, or explore the charities in your home away from home.