Students say 'thank you' at the Union's first ever staff awards


The inaugural Student Academic Choice Awards

Academic and support staff were honoured at the inaugural Student Academic Choice Awards (SACAs) this week.

The awards, organised for the first time by Imperial College Union, are the first ever student-led celebration of excellence in teaching, supervision and support at the College. 

The SACAs launched in February with a call for students to nominate staff in eight categories, including; Best Teaching for Undergraduates, Best Teaching for Postgraduates and Best Support Staff. Six categories recognised the work of academic staff; the remaining two awards were designed to acknowledge a member of support staff and a postgraduate who teaches undergraduates.


The awards ceremony was attended by over 150 people from across the College


Any student was able to submit a nomination via the Union website, with over 400 received by the April deadline. Once voting, student panels sifted through the nominations, selecting a shortlist of six staff for each category.The most popular category was Best Teaching for Undergraduates with 244 submissions, followed by Best Supervision, with 101 nominations. 

The eight winners were announced at the SACA Ceremony on 21 May in the Queen’s Tower Rooms. The event was attended by over 150 people from across Imperial, including senior College and Union staff and students. 

Speaking at the event, Paul Beaumont, President of the Students’ Union, said; “The SACAs is our way of thanking all of the nominees and winners for their hard work and recognising the positive impact that they have on the student experience.”  

Doug Hunt, Deputy President (Education) and Becky Lane, Deputy President (Welfare) welcomed guests and announced the winners of the eight categories: Best Undergraduate Teaching, Best Innovation, Best Graduate Teaching Assistant, and Best Teaching for Postgraduates, Best Tutoring, Best Feedback, Best Support Staff and Best Supervision.

"All the staff at the Silwood campus put a huge amount into teaching the Masters courses here, so I'm delighted that the students appreciate it."

– Professor Andrew Purvis

Ecology & Evolution

Dr Alastair Donaldson (Computing), winner of the Best Teaching for Undergraduates award was the first name to be called. Alastair said: "Since I joined the Department of Computing in 2011 I've been constantly impressed by how bright, enthusiastic, questioning and hard working the undergraduate students are. It's a privilege to have the opportunity to talk to the undergraduates about my favourite topics - programming languages and software reliability - and I am hugely honoured to receive this praise of my lecturing skills from them - it really means a lot." 


Anna Hikel, Undergraduate Office Administrator (Civil and Environmental Engineering), won the Best Support Staff award - the only SACA for non-academic staff. Anna, who has worked at the College since 1980, said: “I heard about the nomination when I was emailed by the Student Union and our Head of Department, so I was thrilled to receive the news that I had won the award. I am pleased that the students recognise my dedication to them”

“Bringing students deeper into our academic community has been for me the most fulfilling aspect of being an Imperial academic."

– Dr Jane Saffell


Dr Jane Saffell (Medicine), won the award for Best Innovation: “Bringing students deeper into our academic community, by devising opportunities for experiencing the creativity of research and gaining behind-the-scenes insight into how research works, has been for me the most fulfilling aspect of being an Imperial academic. Being nominated feels very special, so thanks very much to whoever put me forward or voted, and to the Union for developing the scheme.”  

Each finalist was presented with a certificate, and the winners each received a trophy.


Each finalist was presented with a certificate, and the winners each received a trophy


Paul added “As well as commending those awarded, the SACAs is about sharing best practice, and enthusing more academics and support staff to try new teaching or supervision techniques.  We’ve had a fantastic response for the inaugural SACA and we hope that over time it will grow to become one of the most important dates in the College calendar.”

It is hoped that the SACAs will take place annually.To find our more visit the Imperial College Union website

Photos courtesy of Tom Roberts. 


Lucy Handford

Lucy Handford
Communications and Public Affairs

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