Imperial Strategy consultation feedback summary
Thank you to everyone who took part in our strategy consultation. Your feedback is key to shaping our ambition and vision for the future.
In this first phase, we were focused on addressing fundamental questions about our academic mission, as set out in our consultation paper. This included questions about our overall vision as well as these core pillars:
- education and student experience
- research and enterprise
- societal and global engagement
We received 2,500 survey responses, as well as group responses from Faculties, Departments, staff networks, our Imperial College Union, alumni, prospective students, external partners and many more.
The feedback showed that there is broad support for the strategy as well as the core pillars. From the results, we were able to draw out some key points:
- 4 out 5 of respondents - 82% - agree or strongly agreed that the pillars encompassed the key directions they would like to see from Imperial in the next 10-20 years.
- Pride that Imperial is a leading global university – and continued ambitions for reaching our full potential.
- Respondents want Imperial to remain ‘curiosity driven’ and create space for ‘blue-sky research’.
- For signature issues, respondents want us to maintain a leading position in our research and consider major global issues like climate change.
- Sustainability should be explicitly referenced in the strategy.
- Supporting our people, improving our infrastructure and investment in our systems are fundamental, as was creating a ‘culture of collaboration’ to help partnerships within Imperial and outside to grow.
- Strong desire to bolster our reputation and get Imperial the recognition it deserves.
Statistics from the survey
Statistics from the survey
Strategy at Imperial
The key findings from the consultation showed broad support for the strategy.
Other key findings on the overall strategy and its impact on Imperial include:
- Alumni, students and staff feel a strong pride in Imperial as a leading global university and one of the top STEMMB institutions in the world.
- There is a desire for Imperial to set ambitious targets and reach its full potential.
- Respondents feel that Imperial should be more ambitious, to reflect both the current strengths and high aspirations for the College. Some felt that the strategy risked being too broad and should target some areas specific to Imperial.
- There was continued support for a curiosity driven approach and blue-sky research, which were proposed for specific inclusion in the future strategy.
There were also several key themes throughout the feedback:
- collaboration and interdisciplinarity
- research excellence
Collaboration and interdisciplinarity
- 30% mentioned a “need to work across disciplines” as an attribute that future researchers will need in 2043.
- Some felt that interdisciplinary working needed greater enabling through ways of working and structures. There were suggestions to protect time for research and enterprise, either through blocked time in the timetabling or specific protected FTE proposed.
- The importance of interdisciplinarity was repeatedly mentioned, with some adding that an increasing connection to social and behavioural sciences could bring benefits (though this could be achieved through partnering rather than significant subject expansion).
- 54% of those answering Q27 (is there anything else we should invest in to ensure we maintain existing partnerships and form new ones?) mentioned a “culture of collaboration”. Comments included enabling secondments or part secondments to networks, external partners and research bodies. They also included the ability to quickly convene teams across departments and institutes to increase interdisciplinarity and improve communication.
38% of those answering the question on a signature initiative spontaneously mentioned “leading in research” in their answers. The focus groups also demonstrated a strong sense of research excellence, where this was seen as having cyclical benefits for staff and students and as being at the heart of Imperial.
Respondents felt that Imperial’s brand was not where it should be, particularly internationally and outside of London and the South East. There was strong desire to increase the reputation so that the College has the recognition that respondents felt it deserved. There were specific suggestions relating to name recognition, branding of physical spaces and better leveraging of alumni to aid in name recognition. Respondents primarily felt that STEMMB was the unique selling point for Imperial, particularly for our external audiences.
- 20% of those answering on signature initiatives for Imperial mentioned tackling climate change and 62% highlighted it as one of the world’s most challenging problems that Imperial should be addressing.
- Sustainability featured prominently with a feeling that Imperial should take a lead in "provid[ing] a sustainable future for humanity”. Participants viewed this as a key underpinning factor for any future-focused strategy and felt there cannot be a vision for the next 20 years that does not directly address environmental impact.
- Sustainability was also highlighted as a consideration for future students when considering a choice of university.
- Consideration of sustainability and social purpose when partnering also featured prominently.
- Respondents felt strongly that people should be integral to the strategy rather than as part of the enablers.
- 20% of responders highlighted changes to the working culture as key to attract and retain top talent. Imperial’s approach to issues such as pay, progression and promotion, and flexible working are seen as contributing to a sense that Imperial does not properly value all of its staff. There was a particular sense (including from many Academic Staff) that professional services staff are not properly valued.
- Diversity was also mentioned within this theme, both in terms of diversity of thought and diversity of people. Feedback focused on the need for more students from outside London and the South East. There were also a number of comments on the current fee structure and its potential hinderance to students from lower income countries who might benefit from greater flexibility in the fee structure. Overall, there was a strong sense across the consultation and in the focus groups that Imperial is its world-leading staff, students and alumni and this is not currently explicit in the strategy.
- The most common area spontaneously mentioned in final comments to the consultation was investment in systems.
- Infrastructure was mentioned as both physical and digital/systems; with the physical featuring when talking about world-leading facilities and spaces for collaboration.
- There was a general feeling that, whilst some of the facilities are world class, many are not and that few if any could be considered truly world-leading despite this being Imperial’s global position. Updating Imperial’s infrastructure so that the ‘inside’ reflects the external brand was felt to be important.
- 31% of respondents mentioned “campus improvements” in the context of required educational infrastructure for the future and “utilising technology to enhance education” also featured.
- Feedback from the focus groups included updating technology systems to reflect the quality of the technology research at Imperial to help the internal community reflect Imperial’s brand. There were also thoughts that applying this technology to internal practices and communication and making use of modern technology will enhance the teaching experience for students and staff.
What will happen next?
We are analysing your ideas and feedback and using these to form the second part of our consultation in June.
Your feedback will help to refine our approach and we look forward to launching our new strategy in October 2023.