Imperial College London: Silver Award

Category 1C: Alumni Relations Programs – Programming for Special Constituencies
Imperial College London
International Ambassadors Scheme
Silver Award

Liz Gregson
Head of Alumni Relations and Communications
Office of Alumni and Development
Level 2 Faculty Building
South Kensington Campus
+44 207 594 6140

A. Number of support and professional staff involved in the programme

Three members of staff within the Office of Alumni and Development:

  • Liaison between the Ambassador and the overseas alumni group contacts
  • Promotion and marketing of events
  • Recording event data
  • Presentations and speech writing
  • Provision of event support materials
  • Post event write-ups
  • Production of an Annual Report and annual thank-you event

Director of Development

  • Strategic guidance
  • Attendance at certain Ambassador events

23 International Ambassadors

  • Senior College representative at events
  • Delivers presentations and speeches to alumni guests on College life

B. The programme and its impact

The Imperial College International Ambassador scheme was launched in September 2006 to enhance the way in which the College engages with its alumni who live outside of the UK. With over a third of the College’s addressable alumni resident overseas, the scheme was introduced to supplement activities and services available to this group.

The scheme works by matching up the existing business travel plans of senior officers and academics with international alumni groups around the world. This enables members of the groups to plan an event around the visit, and giving alumni in that region or country an exclusive opportunity to meet with a senior College representative.

There are currently 23 International Ambassadors who are senior representatives of the College, including the Rector, Faculty Principals and other prominent academics. The scheme provides the Ambassadors with a forum to meet former students around the world, often giving them a unique flavour of life in a particular region. Ambassadors are asked to make at least one visit per year.

The Office of Alumni and Development facilitates the link between the Ambassadors and the alumni group or contact, making the matches that will enable events to take place. We support both the Ambassador and the international alumni group in preparing for the event. This includes providing the Ambassador with a presentation or speech, which they will deliver, sometimes in addition to a talk on their own specialist subject. We also promote the event to alumni in the region and undertake event management, remotely or, if appropriate, on site.

In order to ensure that our Ambassadors are aware of the whole spectrum of activity across the scheme, an Annual Report and a thank-you event and awards ceremony are undertaken on an annual basis.

The International Ambassador scheme provides fit with the College’s mission by:

  • providing a key subset of the College’s alumni community with access to senior College figures;
  • helping to build community amongst this constituency;
  • in some cases, providing excellent regional PR in terms of reach and exposure to the College name and brand for future students; and
  • helping the Office of Alumni and Development to promote fundraising messages to alumni.

C. Programme goals and objectives

  • To give alumni overseas (c. 32,500 cf 90,200 in total) exposure to senior members of the College administration and faculty;
  • To enhance the alumni services offering to alumni overseas – College updates from those who are experiencing and influencing College life today;
  • To enable established international alumni groups to use Ambassador events as an impetus to gain new active members;
  • To assist flagging/inactive international alumni groups to revive their activities;
  • To enable senior members of staff to actively contribute towards relationship building with alumni of the university;

D. Target audience(s)

Primary audiences:

  • international alumni groups
  • all addressable alumni not resident in the UK

Subsidiary internal audiences:

  • the International Ambassadors themselves and their support staff
  • other senior College officers and faculty
  • students who intend to return or move overseas having finished their studies

E. Total number of participants

1,880 alumni attended one or more International Ambassador event in 2007.

F. Total number of living and addressable alumni in constituency

Looking at numbers of alumni resident in the countries which held events in 2007:

Country No. of events No. of alumni attendees No. of addressable alumni in country
Argentina 1 15 61
Australia* 3 188 1,293
China* 6 324 725
Cyprus 1 58 553
Germany* 2 44 1,300
Hong Kong* 3 305 1,747
India 1 180 590
Japan 1 30 539
Malaysia* 1 100 1,626
Singapore* 3 399 1,708
Thailand 1 100 558
Uganda 1 48 105
USA* 1 89 2,765


25 1,880 13,570

* Top-ten in terms of alumni population (excludes UK)

G. Programme budget

A budget of £25,000 was allocated to the scheme for its first year in operation, which was the College’s Centenary year.

Actual spend was £23,895.57 (av. £955.82 per event)

Resources were allocated in terms of the strategic importance of the region and the significance of the event.

Costs incurred included:

  • marketing and promotion;
  • promotional materials and gifts for alumni volunteers;
  • shipping of materials to events;
  • Alumni Office travel, accommodation and event expenses (seven of the 25 events were given on-site event management support);
  • event subsidies

All travel and accommodation for the International Ambassadors was paid out of the Ambassador’s own budget, this being one of the important premises of the scheme.

H. Documented results

15 International Ambassadors took part in 25 Ambassador events, spanning 13 countries and six continents;

16 alumni groups hosted an Ambassador event or meeting;

Over 150,000 business miles utilised to combine existing College business with a meeting or event with alumni;

8 international alumni groups were launched or re-launched as a result of an Ambassador visit, including groups in:

  • India
  • Australia
  • Cyprus

~14% of alumni resident in the countries in which events took place attended one or more International Ambassador event during 2007;

Ambassador events took place in seven out of the top ten countries for alumni populations outside of the UK.

Feedback about the scheme from various constituencies has been incredibly positive:

International Ambassador

Professor Mary Ritter; Pro Rector for Postgraduate and International Affairs
"I have received a very warm welcome from all of the alumni groups that I have visited in 2007. The most memorable thing for me is learning about the many different careers that a degree at Imperial can lead to and how enormously proud alumni are of being alumni of Imperial College. Their pride makes the Ambassadors very proud too!"

Alumni group volunteer

Dr Lee Hing Yan (Computing); President, Alumni Association of Singapore
"A visit by an Ambassador is definitely a welcome opportunity for alumni to get a first-hand update of progress at Imperial College and to have questions answered from a well-placed authority."