Imperial College London

University watchdog sees Imperial student experience in action

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Sir Michael Barber in Imperial's Enterprise Lab

Office for Students (OfS) Chair Sir Michael Barber visited Imperial this week.

Sir Michael, who chairs England’s higher education regulator, was hosted by President Alice Gast and Provost Ian Walmsley on his first visit to the College since becoming OfS Chair in January 2018.

After meeting with the President and Provost to discuss issues facing students and the higher education sector, Sir Michael enjoyed a student-led demonstration of the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant.

Students in the Carbon Capture Pilot Plant
The plant, stretching over four floors at the centre of the Department of Chemical Engineering, provides a hands on discovery experience as part of the College’s training for undergraduate chemical engineers.

Real world applications

Dr Colin Hale and his students explained to Sir Michael how the training in the plant typifies “real world” scenarios and gives them skills applicable to future careers in industry.

Students presenting to Sir Michael on carbon capture

Next generation entrepreneurs

The group moved on to the Imperial Enterprise Lab where they were welcomed by Liz Choonara, the Lab’s Head of Programmes and Community.

Liz introduced Sir Michael to the students in the lab – a mix of Enterprise Lab regulars and students nominated by Imperial College Union – before giving a brief overview of the work of the Lab, which works to inspire, educate and nurture the next generation of student entrepreneurs at Imperial.

Liz Choonara

Liz spoke of how the Lab had students “innovating in really interesting areas” across the science, engineering and medical disciplines and how Imperial student startups have attracted more than £36m of investment since 2013.

Students presenting in the Enterprise Lab
Liz handed over to final-year medical undergraduates Luke Geoghegan and Christian Eichhorn who pitched their idea SOCRATES, a medical education assistant that “enables you to take medical histories, interpret investigations and formulate diagnoses based on real patient data.”

Students in the Enterprise Lab

You need people like Zainab who can present a great idea with clarity Sir Michael Barber Chair, Office for Students

PhD student Zainab Ahmed presented on behalf of the student team behind QuickCount, a hand held device that counts the number of red and white blood cells in a finger prick blood sample to determine whether a patient has a bacterial or viral infection, improving the accuracy of diagnosis and reducing unnecessary antibiotic prescriptions.

Sir Michael noted that “some of the science you study is very complicated… you need people like Zainab who can present a great idea with clarity.”

Becky in the Enterprise Lab
Imperial College Union Deputy President (Welfare) Becky Neil chaired a discussion about student life at Imperial where students had the opportunity to discuss their experiences with the College’s President and Provost, as well as Sir Michael. The points raised ranged from the friendliness and openness of teaching staff, to the challenges of charting a clear career path in new disciplines such as bioengineering.

Group pic with Sir Michael

In December 2018 the College hosted the new Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore MP, who had the opportunity to see some cutting edge bioengineering research before meeting undergraduates to hear about student life at Imperial.


Thomas Angus [Photographer]

Thomas Angus [Photographer]
Communications and Public Affairs

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Tom Rutland

Tom Rutland
Communications and Public Affairs

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The-Forum, Entrepreneurship, Student-experience, Enterprise, President, Student-entrepreneurship, Strategy-decision-makers
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