President's foreword

This has been an unprecedented year of challenges and accomplishments. As the pandemic continued to ravage societies around the world, Imperial people were at  the forefront of the fightback.

As COVID-19 jeopardised our academic mission, members of the College community intensified their efforts to benefit society and excelled in education, research, and innovation.

As we publish our financial statements and reflections on the past year, we can be proud of our entire community. 

Our research discoveries, innovations and inventions have made a significant difference to the pandemic response, and the world took note. From virologists and epidemiologists tracking new variants to the world’s first  human challenge trials to critical support for vaccine rollouts – the contributions of Imperial’s community have been indispensable. We have all benefitted from the wise expertise Imperial academics freely shared with the world; and you can read about some of our research highlights below.

Our students rose to the challenge of hybrid learning, studying remotely and under unusual new safety requirements in person. They worked thoughtfully, constructively and collaboratively with our staff who focused attention and energy on developing more effective online meetings, discussions and feedback. The clever innovations for this new way of learning – from use of HoloLens technology to labs in a box – helped enrich their experience. These extraordinary educational innovations –alongside the institution’s pivotal role in terms of coronavirus response – have gained widespread recognition, including Imperial being named ‘University of the Year’ in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.

Throughout the year, we have been exceptionally supported by our many professional staff members who tirelessly provided security, safety, campus services and support for students and staff. Our communications team continues to provide a tremendous service through clear and informative reporting on the work. I commend our website ( and daily news service to all interested in following our exciting discoveries and inventions.

While the pandemic affected schools and admissions processes nationwide, we were pleased to further diversify our student community by attracting broader participation from across the UK. We intend to make an Imperial education a possibility for talented students from all walks of life. We have committed to, and pledged to match, scholarship funding for students from underrepresented groups, and I am pleased that our friends and alumni are stepping up to provide their support.These investments in our future are critical.

We remain one of the world’s most international universities. During the country’s first year outside of the European Union, we have deepened our bilateral collaborations and built new connections with institutions from across the world. These include the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Technical University of Munich and Nanyang Technological University. That such longstanding partnerships have continued to grow and flourish says much about the long-term commitment shared by both us and our collaborators to global higher education, research and innovation. As I speak to my counterparts around the world, I find a growing appetite for collaboration in teaching in addition to research. We aim to provide our students with all the best opportunities we can develop through our partnerships.

We value the strong support of our UK and international alumni who help recruit and mentor students. Many also support scholarships for international students. We will now help match their generosity, with a £5 million pledge, and thus ensure that we continue to attract and welcome the best and brightest from around the world.

The energy and buzz in our White City Campus is breathtaking now that people have returned to working on site. It is exciting to see our incredible medics and engineers pursuing their biomedical work in the fabulous new space in the Sir Michael Uren Hub. Our incubator is also bubbling with activity. Many enterprises are growing up in ScaleSpace, our new venture with Blenheim Chalcot, where small companies can grow, create jobs, and drive their innovations to meet societal needs. Our community work through The Invention Rooms has been very important throughout the pandemic and we look forward to welcoming neighbours and students back to
in-person maker challenges and activities.

As always, it is our people who make all the difference in what we do. We thank and applaud them for their courage, resilience, intellect and positive outlook. Imperial College London has never been stronger, nor more important for the world.

Professor Alice P. Gast
President of Imperial College London

Read more about Imperial in 2020–21