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Friday 3 February 2017 | In this issue:

From the Vice-Provost (Education)

Announcements: Staff Survey launch – 27 February 2017 | San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment | Apprenticeship Levy | Enterprise Week, 20 – 24 March 2017 | Central Library building works | Open session with BBSRC Interim Chief Executive | The Francis Crick Institute Microbiota Symposium

News you can use: Maths helpdesk

Forward lookA selection of College events in the New Year


From the Vice-Provost (Education)


Professor Pietro Spanu (centre) leads an undergraduate module on Applied Molecular Biology 


I want to share with you an update on the development of a new Learning and Teaching Strategy for the College.

I’m very grateful to all of you who took the time to share your views, alongside student input, as part of our consultation process. There were many insights which came across, from the benefits of more active learning and small group tutorials, to the need for teaching to be stretching and challenging, with appropriate support in place. There was clear support for research-based learning and teaching, supporting students’ active engagement with research projects and advanced modules focused on their department’s research strengths. The consultation results also demonstrated how important it is for staff to feel that teaching is valued by departments and the College, and that time invested in teaching will be recognised.

Your feedback has guided us as we develop the strategy. It will be focused on three key areas: curriculum redesign and improvement, transformation in pedagogy (such as through increased use of more active learning), and evidence-based innovation, such as in digital learning.

I know that there are already many examples of innovation in teaching at the College – you can read about just a few of them online. What we want to do is build on this foundation of excellence to make sure that all our teaching and learning provision is just as innovative as our research.

Over the course of this term, we’ll be drafting the strategy and producing a plan for implementation and investment to be put forward for approval in the planning round. Further information is available on the website, and we will be sharing more as this progresses.

If the strategy is approved, changes will start to be implemented from this autumn. We know that those of you with teaching responsibilities are already very busy, and we know we can’t ask you to make changes without putting in place appropriate support. That’s why we will be investing to create more time for staff, as well as investing to deliver an enabling infrastructure for future educational developments, and improved educational research capabilities so that we can evaluate the impact of the changes we make.

I have been visiting other universities that have gone through a similar change, and it is remarkable how much energy and excitement is generated. This will not be an overnight change, and it’s not something that can be accomplished by any single individual in isolation. We will need your help, input and dedication, and I am looking forward to working with you over the coming months and years.

Best wishes,

Simone Buitendijk
Vice-Provost (Education) 



Staff Survey launch – 27 February 2017
Imperial is committed to being an outstanding place to work. This commitment is core to the College Strategy, and integral to maintaining and growing Imperial’s position in the world. The Staff Survey 2017 provides an opportunity for all staff to share their experience of working at Imperial.

The results of the survey will be used to develop action plans to address the points raised. A College-wide action plan and a local action plan for your department will be shared with you in August 2017. The College and departments are committed to implementing these action plans by February 2018. 

The survey process has been reviewed, and the 2017 Staff Survey will be shorter and quicker to fill in. The College has appointed a leading third party provider (ORC International) to deliver the survey and provide analysis of the results. All staff responses will be confidential and no one at Imperial will have access to individual answers.

All eligible staff will receive an email with a personal link inviting them to take part on Monday 27 February. More information on the survey is available online

San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment
The College has decided to sign the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA). This is part of a determined move to no longer rely unduly on journal impact factors in assessing the research achievements of our staff. The move is a natural follow-on from the 2015 review on the Application and Consistency of Approach in the Use of Performance Metrics at Imperial, which set out principles for ensuring that a broad profile of activities (research, teaching, citizenship etc) are recognised in an evidence-based way in hiring and promotion decisions at Imperial.

In practical terms, signing up to DORA means that journal impact factors will no longer be promoted, directly or indirectly, in the assessment of our staff. This may involve careful re-wording of job adverts and person specifications, and clarification of the guidance given to candidates for promotion or hiring. The move should in no way inhibit the choices made by staff on where to publish their research work. Rather, it is intended to give them confidence that their work will be judged for what it is – not where it has been published – alongside their other contributions to College’s educational and societal mission. In addition, staff should feel empowered to challenge any instances of practice that deviates from the goal of ensuring that research assessment practices are as rigorous as possible. 

Further information on DORA will be available shortly on the Research Integrity website.

Apprenticeship Levy
From April 2017, Imperial will be required to pay the Apprenticeship Levy. The Levy is a Government initiative to increase the level of investment in skills and training. The College will be able to draw on its Levy payments to fund training for apprentices, who may be new staff or existing employees who are doing job roles that might meet apprenticeship criteria.

A project team has been established to support departments who would like to set up apprenticeships and identify areas where apprenticeships might help to address skills gaps. The project team will also engage with other Higher Education Institutions to identify suitable existing apprenticeship standards, and to develop specific apprenticeship training standards for the sector.

More information will be communicated in the weeks and months ahead, but in the meantime, staff are encouraged to consider whether there are opportunities in their areas that would be suitable for an apprentice. The project team can be contacted at

Enterprise Week, 20 – 24 March 2017: Call to participate
Staff are encouraged to participate in Enterprise Week 2017, a week of events to showcase the outcomes of enterprising student initiatives across the College led by Imperial Enterprise Lab. The Imperial College Advanced Hackspace will be exhibiting in the Main Entrance all week and staff can register or volunteer for two major events taking place as part of the week: the Althea-Imperial Final (21 March 2017) and the Venture Catalyst Challenge Final (23 March 2017). Staff with questions should contact Liz Choonara.

Central Library building works
Staff are advised that initial building works on the air conditioning have begun in the Central Library at the South Kensington Campus. These works will enable, subject to final approval, a full programme of works to take place in the Summer to improve the climate control, following student feedback. The works have been planned to minimise disruption to services. Find out more

Open session with BBSRC Interim Chief Executive
All staff are welcome to attend an open discussion with Professor Melanie Welham, the interim Chief Executive of the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), on 27 February 10.30-13.00 in RSM 1.31. The session will comprise a BBSRC presentation and Q&A session, followed by presentations from Imperial’s Vice-Provost (Research) and staff working in BBSRC’s remit. Registration and submission of any questions for the Q&A session is required by emailing Research Office Funding Strategy.

The Francis Crick Institute Microbiota Symposium
Imperial staff from relevant disciplines are invited to register for a symposium organised by the Francis Crick Institute on the role of microbiota. The symposium will take place on 22 May 2017 and is free to attend. Find out more and register to attend


News you can use

Maths helpdesk: The Maths Helpdesk has been launched to aid researchers with maths-related queries by matching them with Imperial mathematicians who have the required expertise. Find out more


Forward look

A selection of College events in the New Year

Tuesday 7 February • Paviors Lecture • Dana Skelley OBE • The streets of London: safe, reliable and cared for • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Tuesday 7 February • Bauerman Lecture • Professor Sir Richard Friend • Electronic Excitations in Molecular Semiconductors • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Wednesday 8 February • Public talk • Tobias Mayer • Airbus: future cabin design concepts • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Thursday 9 February • Lunchtime Concert • Primrose Piano Quartet • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Monday 13 February • Public talk • Professor Paul Cohen • Beyond Big Data • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Monday 13 February • President’s Board • South Kensington Campus

Tuesday 14 February • Evening Concert • I Musicanti • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Wednesday 15 February • Peter Lindsay lecture • Professor Sir Paul Nurse • Great ideas of biology • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Thursday 16 February • Imperial Fringe • Money Matters • South Kensington Campus • Event details

Friday 17 February • Council

Many lectures are now streamed live online. Watch or find out more


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