Imperial strongly values its international connections and considers the collaborative creativity and initiative of our individual academics and faculties to be paramount to the College’s mission. Imperial is a global academic community where people from different cultures contribute diverse perspectives, new ideas and fresh approaches to solving complex problems. Working with partners not only helps us solve problems together, it helps us to create impact for societal and economic benefit. Our global reach is spreading further than ever with collaborations or projects in 192 countries, establishing partnerships to tackle global challenges in areas such as healthcare, engineering, technology and sustainability.














These partnerships are fundamental to our purpose and mission, and our community is encouraged to pursue and support global relationships with businesses, universities, governments and international organisations. However, we must be cautious about the potential risks involved, we need to ensure that our partners align with the values and principles we hold as a community. Balancing risks with positive impacts is part of what we need to do in striking new partnerships.

To navigate uncertainties, recognise and mitigate potential risks, the Partnership Working Group (PWG) strives to develop Guiding Partnership Principles: these will proactively support our community in creating and sustaining values-based collaborations with partners. The principles aim to ensure that all engagements are consistent with the ethos of the College for example commitment to purposeful discovery; free and open inquiry and expression; diversity, inclusion and non-discrimination; justice, human rights and respect for the natural environment.

In the context of this work, partnerships are defined as: a formal relationship with a third party, involving a signed undertaking such as a contract with exchange of funding or an MoU. Partnerships may relate to Research or Teaching arrangements and may be with the College or any constituent Department of the College.

The PWG’s recommended principles, which President’s Board will review, will not focus on specific countries or sectors but are anticipated to include how to identify research, education, philanthropic and entrepreneurial partnerships that:

  • enhance our capabilities and impact.
  • support our ability to extend our reach and influence.
  • align with our ethos.

The establishment of these principles follows and broadens the remit of the Socially Responsible Investment Engagement Working Group which recommended processes for implementing the fossil fuel portion of the College’s SRI Policy. We should stress that this consultation is not re-opening earlier consultation discussion. Additionally, this work is separate from the College Values and Behaviours that guide our behaviour as a community to improve our working culture and help build a positive and enabling environment for all, although we may expect some overlap in the outcomes.

Commuity Engagement 

We sought the input on what these Principles should be and what matters most to the College in this area. These Principles will impact everyone, and we wanted to hear as many views as possible; the community were encouraged to participate via a short survey and several focus group sessions. 


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At the March 2021 meeting, President’s Board approved the establishment of a PWG. The PWG will support the refreshed College Relationship Review Policy and the new Scrutiny Committee by facilitating a College-wide conversation and recommending principles to guide College decision-making beyond financial or legal criteria.

The Guiding Partnership Principles are a proactive approach to protecting our staff, students, the reputation of the College and ensuring the College can continue to benefit from partnerships while extending our reach and positive influence. The Guiding Partnership Principles intend to consider the evolving nature of collaborative risks and threats and help promote greater consistency across the College.

The PWG anticipates that a formal College document that lists the College’s Guiding Partnership Principles will be utilised as a part of the College’s due diligence process. This guide will help determine if the proposed partner has demonstrable, reciprocal values and evidence of how these values are applied in practice.