The origins of International Students House go back as far as 1917, when Student Movement House, a social centre, was founded in London in memory of students who died in the First World War. Its objectives were to provide companionship and social facilities for some of the thousands of overseas students who came to London each year, with a view to increasing international understanding and friendship.
The House, in Russell Square, became an established part of the London scene. Mary Trevelyan, a woman of remarkable vision and determination, became the Warden in 1933. The House relocated to Gower Street in 1938.
Mary Trevelyan’s travels as overseas student adviser to the University of London, (appointed in 1950) and her visits to the International Houses established in the US made her further aware of the need to do more in the field of international friendship and understanding. She tirelessly campaigned to raise funds to realise her dream of an international residence as well as a club to serve the needs of all students in the London area.
In 1962 Mary’s perseverance paid off. As a result of the generosity and enthusiasm of the Hon. Patrick Wills, and later help from the Dulverton Trust and the British Council, the International Students Trust was formed. Generous gifts from education and charitable foundations, individuals and industry all played their part in establishing International Students House.
The then Lord Euston, later, Duke of Grafton, the founding Chairman of the Trust, with the help of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother found us this fabulous site in Park Crescent and the Trust became one of the partners assisting the Crown Estate in carrying out the recommendations of the Gorrell Report to restore Regent’s Park to its former glory and use some of the terraces for educational purposes.
The International Students Trust rebuilt Park Crescent East and York Terrace East following World War Two bomb damage. Finally the dream became a reality and International Students House was officially opened in May 1965 by the Trust’s first patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
The first building at 1-6 Park Crescent, W1, was acquired and rebuilt and was finally opened in May 1965 by the Trust’s Patron, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (known as GPS because of its entrance at 229 Great Portland Street). In 1968, a series of Nash buildings on York Terrace East in Regent’s Park (seven minutes walk from GPS) were acquired and rebuilt and subsequently named Mary Trevelyan Hall, which opened in 1971. The House also built an underground garage in York Terrace East as part of the development.
ISH’s third residence (known as Wills House) which is located adjacent to GPS and is now connected to it was purchased in 1991. The fourth and most recent addition in 2005, following the merger with Wandsworth Student Housing Association, is Blain House in Balham, which provides 12 one and two-bedroom self-contained flats for postgraduate students and their families.
These four buildings combine to give us International Students House, providing over 700 beds (including 56 flats for students with families), three bars, a restaurant, internet access points, a fitness centre and public meeting rooms.
In 1985 the original Trust was separated into two sister charities, operating in parallel, with the International Students Trust (IST) managing the investment portfolios and International Students House owning and operating the residences and the activities.
In 2011/12 ISH is proud to announce that the resident students represent over 100 nations and ISH has over 70,000 non-resident student members creating a vibrant multi cultural and youth oriented atmosphere.
We encourage UK students as well as international students to live or participate in our home. Our four main areas of operation are housing, provision of social facilities and activities, welfare and advice support and the provision of residential scholarships which together with the House’s partners represents a sum just over £1.1 million plus an annual programme which received a Commendation in The Charity Awards 2002.
The House operates as a financially self supporting charity with a diverse number of self generated income streams, therefore a professional and entrepreneurial management style has developed in order that we can fulfil our mission. The House employs a total of around 150 staff who between them can speak at least 20 languages. Good human resource practices are a significant driver for the organisation’s success which is indicative in the caring, friendly, relaxed customer focused culture. ISH has been a recognised 'Investor in People' since 1997 and most recently has achieved 'Customer First' recognition in 2009.
International student numbers are expected to treble by 2020 in the UK. There were by 2009/10 figures, 102,000 international students in London so projected numbers are pretty much on target and International Students House intends to play a leading role in the provision of services during this period of expansion
The intentions and dreams of Mary Trevelyan live on through International Students House today. We continue to provide an environment which facilitates the growth and development of today’s young people from all over the world. We give them the opportunity to live in London and experience a wealth of culture, not only British but of the many nationalities of their peers. We encourage peace, understanding and tolerance and provide a home away from home where lifelong friends are made.
Our accommodation, scholarships, facilities, services, events and activities all encompass the mission of ISH and what we do here that makes our mission possible to achieve.