Education in science, engineering, medicine and business is central to the College’s mission to benefit society. We deliver that benefit through our efforts to ensure that all students with academic ability and potential, regardless of background, can access an Imperial education.

We are committed to the success of our students during their time at Imperial, and as such the educational experience we offer is world leading, rigorous, inclusive and embedded in a vibrant research and entrepreneurial environment.

This experience means that when our students graduate, and as they progress in their careers, they are equipped to work effectively in diverse environments, solve problems with independence and creativity, and become leaders in their chosen fields.

Widening participation and access

Two children and a woman recording details of the insects they have found in a park.
Local school children take part in Creative Roots, an outreach project in White City organised jointly by Imperial and the Royal College of Art.

During 2017–18, we ran programmes aimed at raising aspirations, improving attainment, and widening access to Imperial among students under-represented in higher education.

Our established relationships with over 300 schools and colleges in London and south east England allows us to offer sustained collaborative outreach activities including summer schools, mentoring and tutoring, and academic enrichment programmes.

Individual participants in outreach programmes are selected based on a range of criteria which measure disadvantage, while schools are selected for outreach activities based on examination performance and/or the proportion of students in receipt of free school meals.

Continuous monitoring and in-depth research into the efficacy of our outreach activity helps us to make regular informed improvements to our programmes to increase the benefit they deliver.

Examples of outreach programmes during 2017–18 included:

  • The Pimlico Connection, which placed Imperial student volunteers in primary and secondary schools to tutor and mentor students in science, while providing positive role models for university and science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) careers.
  • STEM Potential, which worked with approximately 400 Year 10 – Year 13 students to provide tailored subject-specific and soft-skill support designed to raise attainment and widen access to STEM degrees.
  • Pathways to Medicine, which supported three cohorts of disadvantaged students (from Years 11, 12 and 13) to make strong and informed applications to study medicine at university. Activities included talks from admissions tutors and medicine students, subject and skills-based summer schools, and guaranteed work experience placements in healthcare settings.

Our on-campus facilities for outreach activity include the Reach Out Makerspace at The Invention Rooms, which provides a space in White City for the outreach team to support young people to develop hands on technical skills in design and making, together with business and soft skills.

The Wohl Reach Out Lab at South Kensington Campus gives pupils aged six to eighteen, who are at schools without access to laboratories, the opportunity to experience hands-on STEM education. The space is also used for targeted master-classes and revision sessions.

As in previous years, Imperial continued to offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to support students with the cost of tuition fees and living in London. Scholarships, awarded to students with the highest academic excellence and potential, were provided to home, EU and international students at undergraduate and postgraduate level.

The Imperial Bursary scheme is available to all home undergraduate students, and it provides financial support on a sliding scale for Imperial students with annual household incomes of up to £60,000. The scheme is one of the most generous overall student financial support schemes in the UK.

In 2017–18, the College’s regulator for access and participation changed, as the Office for Fair Access became part of the Office for Students.

Our access and participation plan for 2019–20, which was submitted in July 2018, outlines an ambitious plan to expand our outreach activity to achieve higher impact and widen access to Imperial for students from particular under-represented backgrounds.

Learning and teaching

Dr Wayne Mitchell with four students at a laboratory work bench
Dr Wayne Mitchell (far left) with delegates on Mastering Laboratory Skills, an intensive training programme for students and medical staff offered by the Department of Medicine.

In early 2017, the College launched its Learning and Teaching Strategy, with a focus on reviewing and improving curricula and assessment; making teaching more interactive; the fostering of an inclusive and diverse culture; and the development of digital tools to enhance curricula, pedagogy and community.

During 2017–18, staff (often working in partnership with students) have been working to deliver the Strategy’s vision for an Imperial education.

We recognise that more needs to be done to improve our students’ experience. In support of this, the College launched a number of initiatives in 2017–18, including:

  • StudentShapers, an innovative programme which provides students with the opportunity to participate in educational development and research projects with staff.
  • £1.8 million of new investment to renovate teaching spaces across the South Kensington Campus.
  • A new Digital Learning Hub to develop the ‘classroom of the future’ utilising digital technologies and interactive teaching tools.
  • Educational Research Methods, a series of resources designed to help guide researchers undertaking educational research and evaluation.

During 2017–18, Imperial expanded its teaching through the launch of our first Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) with the global online education platforms Coursera and EdX. The new MOOCs in AI and creative thinking involve experts from across the fields of Materials, Design Engineering, Computing and Physics and allow learners from across the world to access Imperial teaching.

Imperial graduates

Alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan holding a drone at the opening of the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena at Imperial.
Alumnus Brahmal Vasudevan at the opening of the Brahmal Vasudevan Multi Terrain Aerial Robotics Arena. His £1.25 million gift to support the development of the arena enables Imperial engineers to test the next generation of aerial robotics for urban environments and extreme conditions.

In the College’s Learning and Teaching Strategy, we commit to ensuring that Imperial graduates will:

  • Demonstrate deep conceptual understanding of their chosen discipline.
  • Work effectively in multi-cultural, international teams and across disciplinary boundaries.
  • Approach challenges with curiosity, critical thinking and creativity.
  • Innovatively apply their skills to tackling complex real-world problems.
  • Understand and value different cultures and perspectives.
  • Have developed into independent learners with high self-efficacy.
  • Display a strong sense of personal and professional identity.

The work to embed these skills, characteristics and values in all our graduates continued in 2017–18, with highlights including the roll out to all students of the Imperial Award, a scheme which recognises the development of skills in self-reflection and critical thinking, and our continued ranking among the top universities in the UK for graduate employability.

The impact of our alumni community on the wider world is testament to the value of an Imperial degree. Alumni achievements in 2017–18 included:

  • Alumni startup Skipping Rocks Lab created Ooho, an alternative to plastic packaging made from seaweed. The company has recently partnered with the online food ordering company Just Eat to provide plastic-free ketchup sachets to customers ordering through the platform.
  • Dr Melanie Windridge (PhD Plasma Physics 2009) climbed Everest in 2018. Dr Windridge, who is an Academic Visitor in the Department of Physics, created the ‘Science of the Summit’ outreach project, comprising a stage-by-stage live blog of her progress and the science of mountain climbing.
  • In November 2017, alumnus Pae Natwilai won Innovate UK’s 2017 Design in Innovation Award for harnessing the potential of drones to improve structural inspection of buildings and infrastructure. Her startup, TRIK, uses automated drones to check for damage or defects to large structures, such as oil rigs and bridges. TRIK started life as a project developed for WE Innovate Imperial’s flagship entrepreneurial programme for women.
  • Ten Imperial alumni were named in the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 list, which features 300 young innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders from across Europe.
  • Dr Robin Sham (PhD Civil Engineering 1989) received a CBE in the 2018 New Year’s Honours List for services to the civil engineering profession. Dr Sham is Global Long Span and Speciality Bridges Director for the multinational engineering firm, AECOM, and has contributed to a number of major bridge projects, including one of the longest sea crossings built in recent history, the Second Penang Bridge.
  • Dr Dalya Al Muthanna (PhD Environmental Research 2015) was named as the 12th most powerful Arab Businesswoman by Forbes in 2018. Dr Al Muthanna is the President and CEO of GE Gulf, and is the first Emirati and the first woman to ever hold the post.
  • Alumnus Professor Ian Walmsley (Physics 1980) was appointed as the Provost of Imperial from 1 September 2018.

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