£10 million investment as Imperial confronts 'brutal facts' on student diversity


Imperial College London is to support Black and other underrepresented students with a series of generous scholarships and studentships.

The university wants to attract the best students from all backgrounds. 

We are missing contributions from large segments of the population. Professor Alice Gast President

The investment, launched by Imperial's President Alice Gast, will include £5 million for new scholarships and studentships for Black students and others from underrepresented groups or those facing financial barriers. 

A further £5 million will support matching funds for a series of new scholarships for international students, as Imperial - one of the world's most international universities - further diversifies its global intake.  

The world top ten university is launching a fundraising campaign to at least double the institution’s £10 million investment to £20 million or more through support from alumni, friends and other philanthropists. 

Students in Imperial's Enterprise Lab

It comes as President Alice Gast speaks of the need to confront the “brutal fact” that “our talented community lacks diversity,” in Imperial’s annual President’s Address

“Many of our friends and alumni are eager to help,” Professor Gast said. “I invite them to use this moment to join with us to make a difference. We have seen the power of their support. One example is the generous donation from the Olanrewaju brothers to support scholarships for black undergraduate students of exceptional academic merit in Engineering and a gift to begin establishing a new endowed scholarship.”

The Olanrewaju brothers' philanthropy is helping Imperial extend opportunity through scholarships
The Olanrewaju brothers' philanthropy is helping extend opportunity at Imperial

Other philanthropists include the Amjad & Suha Bseisu Foundation and the Lee Family, who provide pivotal support for international students at Imperial, while Beacon Scholarships target gifted students from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia. 

Michael Murphy, Vice President (Advancement), said: "We know our alumni and friends are eager to help current students through scholarships and other financial support. We will aim to at least double this £10 million investment through philanthropy and build a tide of support to diversifying and expanding opportunities for Imperial students from the UK and across the world."

'We must diversify our community' 

In her annual address to the Imperial community, President Alice Gast said: “Like other universities, we are missing contributions from large segments of the population. We must diversify our community, at all levels, from students to Council members.  We must be more ethnically diverse, gender balanced, and internationally diverse. Increasing diversity will strengthen and enrich our community. It will make us more competitive.”

Professor Alice Gast

Imperial is mindful of the benefits for social mobility, as well as to UK science and industry, of a more diverse student body. 

Though entry to Imperial remains fiercely competitive - with more than eight applicants per place - the university is determined to dispel myths of elitism, or any sense that STEM degrees are only for people from certain backgrounds. 

Professor Gast said: “We know that by providing this support, supplemented by philanthropic donations, we can improve our recruitment and retention of students we historically have not attracted.” 

The new funds, which will be distributed over the next five years, build on a series of initiatives that have helped Imperial reach beyond those who traditionally enjoy access to its education in recent years. These include: the Wohl Reach Out Lab, the Invention Rooms, mentoring programmes, maths homework clubs, edX courses for A-level maths, and a new maths school. 

The Race Equality Charter Self-Assessment Team helped shed light on racial inequities at the College and advance the case for change.  

Imperial's Shifting the Lens campaign has raised the profile of ethnic minority students and staff.

Olawunmi Olatidoye
Shifting the Lens: Chemical Engineering undergraduate Olawunmi Olatidoye says "Representation is really important; showing young black students that opportunities in STEM exist and that it's possible."

One new mentoring programme pairs Imperial student mentors with Black A-level students to help remove barriers to top-tier universities. 

The President's Address can be viewed on YouTube and the full text can be read online.

President's Address 2021


Andrew Scheuber

Andrew Scheuber
Communications Division

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Email: press.office@imperial.ac.uk
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Diversity, International, President, Equality
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