When COVID-19 struck, students and staff did not just think about mitigation, they raised their ambitions. Professor Alice GastPresident
The news comes as the College's student satisfaction, as measured in the National Student Survey, reaches an all-time high, and Imperial takes a further Good University Guide award as University of the Year for Student Experience 2022. Imperial has significantly increased its investment in learning and teaching, including developing a world-class hybrid education experience.
The awards follow more than 18 months of Imperial people leading the scientific response to COVID-19 as researchers, students, health workers, volunteers and innovators.
Professor Alice Gast, President of Imperial College London, said: “Imperial’s success is thanks to its brilliant people. When COVID-19 struck, students and staff did not just think about mitigation, they raised their ambitions.
“When labs closed, we sent ‘lab in a box’ kits to students’ homes. As borders shut, we developed virtual field trips. When the NHS needed doctors, we brought medical exams forward and online as our students stepped-up.
“This teamwork blurred the formal divide between researchers, educators and learners. Students and staff collaborated on virology, vaccine technology, epidemiology and testing innovations that leave a lasting legacy beyond the pandemic. They worked together to rethink our curriculum. Imperial’s experience is not just a case study in crisis, it offers a glimpse of what higher education can be.”
Leading through the crisis
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost of Imperial College London, said: "This award is testament to the hard work, innovative thinking and pragmatic mindset of our students and staff. Faced with the need to change, our community collaborated in new and creative ways, across Departments, and worldwide. We delivered a transformative education and student experience, as well as impactful research that helped people - exactly when the world needed Imperial.
“We have learned a lot from rethinking how we operate in a pandemic, and we are applying those lessons to build a stronger, more flexible and resilient institution.”
High-quality student experience
This award and our recent student satisfaction results demonstrate that the Imperial community has exceeded expectations in the most difficult of circumstances. Professor Emma McCoyVice-Provost (Education and Student Experience)
Students have taken leadership roles in shaping what aspects of the learning experience the College provides additional support for and at what pace.
Imperial invested over £7m in improving teaching spaces across all its campuses within the last year alone. This sits alongside a sustained level of investment in student wellbeing throughout the pandemic, including generous levels of hardship funding, sustained support for students with research funding from the College and funding bodies, and financial and training support for the shift to digital learning.
The College community also worked hard to deliver a coordinated and comfortable experience for students that have had to self-isolate as COVID-19 contacts this past year, with meal deliveries, laundry service, and live-stream exercise classes delivered free-of-charge.
Professor Emma McCoy, Vice-Provost (Education and Student Experience), said: “I give thanks to the College’s incredible student-facing staff, who have gone above and beyond in this past year to ensure our students have had a safe and enjoyable university experience.
“This award and our recent student satisfaction results demonstrate that the Imperial community has exceeded expectations in the most difficult of circumstances. It is important that staff and students work together to maintain this momentum as we enter a new era at the College.”
While it innovated for its students to maximum effect during the pandemic, Imperial also played a critical role in the life of the nation.Alastair McCallEditor of the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide
Many of Imperial’s departments have switched to a revolutionary new remote assessment format and have accommodated a range of different living situations when doing so, meaning students have been able to demonstrate their knowledge from afar. They have also been offered grading 'safety nets' to account for the unprecedented challenges they have faced in this past year.
Over the longer term, the College has dedicated the past four years to comprehensively updating its entire curriculum to make it more reflective of what students, staff, and employers think is needed in the modern world. Teaching content and formats are now more engaging, more diverse, and more practical.
Last week a separate measure, the Guardian's university guide, found that Imperial retained its place as the UK's number one university for graduate employability.
'No one did it better'
Alastair McCall, editor of The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, said: “Imperial showed the university sector how to deliver higher education for undergraduates in lockdown. No one did it better, a fact reflected in this year’s National Student Survey, where Imperial improved its scores for student satisfaction during a year that took a heavy toll on those scores elsewhere. It was a remarkable achievement and Imperial is a worthy winner of both our University of the Year award and the title of University of the Year for Student Experience.
“While it innovated for its students to maximum effect during the pandemic, Imperial also played a critical role in the life of the nation. Its epidemiologists kept the country and the government informed of where the pandemic was going next, helping shape the government response to the unfolding situation. At a time of national and international crisis, Imperial demonstrated its worth as an academic powerhouse of global significance.”