Imperial celebrates universities' international success at Parliamentary event


Luca demonstrates his violin to Catherine West MP

Higher education leaders, student innovators, and politicians gathered to celebrate the impact of London's universities.

Hosted by the British Universities International Liaison Association (BUILA) and London Higher, the International Success, Delivered Locally event celebrated the profound contributions London universities make to the capital, the UK and the wider world.

London universities collectively contribute £17 billion to the city’s economy and supporting the 88,000 jobs it creates.

Catherine West MP

Catherine West MP

Welcoming guests to the event Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green, spoke of the benefits of an international higher education sector brings to the UK.

She said: “We know how important it is to get the best minds here to London and elsewhere in the UK. We know that education is one of our most important exports and we know the importance of education to our economy.”

Other speakers included Professor Geoffrey Petts, Vice Chancellor, University of Westminster and Chair of London Higher,Muystafa Khanwala, Co-founder & CEO MishiPay and Professor Jenny Higham, Principal of St Georges, University of London.

Professor Jenny Higham

Professor Jenny Higham

Professor Higham, previously Vice Dean for Institutional Affairs and Director of Education in the Faculty of Medicine at Imperial, spoke of her experiences of research in life sciences and the great ideas that international collaboration brings.

She said: “We as universities generate new knowledge and we cannot underestimate the economic benefit that that brings. Research is also key in the UK’s reputation on the international stage and the relationships and we have with our collaborators around the world.

“In London there are 30,000 life science graduates, we have an amazing infrastructure of medical schools, academic health science centres and the Sir Francis Crick Institute. We have the resources and the capacity to lead on health related research here in London.”

International Student Success

The event also saw exhibitions from some of London’s international student success stories, including Imperial graduate Luca Alessandrini.

Catherine West MP tries out the spider silk violin.Luca demonstrated his innovation -  a violin which is made from a mixture of spider silk and resin, which was developed during his MSc in Innovation Design Engineering, run jointly between the Royal College of Art (RCA) and Imperial's Dyson School of Design Engineering.

His innovation saw him named London’s most entrepreneurial student at last year’s International Student Innovation Awards, an award programme set up to highlight the work of the city’s international students and provide financial help to assist them in taking their innovation to the next stage of development.

Luca, originally from Urbino, Italy, said: “Studying in London has been one of the best experiences in my life.”

“I have spent two years working full time with 38 people from 14 different countries and I couldn’t imagine a more supportive and stimulating environment than this city.”

Since winning his award last November Luca has continued developing his project, producing new prototypes, and starting production.

“We’re going to be small scale, artisanal and specialist. We’re taken some pre-orders and we’re hoping to ship the first instruments in September”, Luca added.


Jon Narcross

Jon Narcross
Communications and Public Affairs

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International, Strategy-decision-makers, Student-entrepreneurship
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