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Top 10 highlights from the University of Westminster in 2016

23 December 2016

Students and academics lined up at graduation

2016 was a year full of surprises. What did not surprise was the continuing achievements of our students, staff and alumni communities and that the University remains a global institution in the heart of London that leads the way in global engagement, sustainability and commitment to making our students employable. Enjoy our top 10 highlights in 2016 in no particular order and we wish you all a similarly successful year in 2017! 

1.  Westminster named the most internationally diverse university

The University of Westminster was named the most internationally diverse university in the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand in the Hotcourses Diversity Index (HDI). According to the Index, the University of Westminster represents 169 nationalities and has a total of 8,429 international students. Also, 30 per cent of our staff members come from outside the UK. Hotcourses says that many students see access to a multicultural community as a vital part of studying abroad. To top it all, the University was also ranked at the impressive 118th place for International Outlook across all universities worldwide by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

2. Oscars went to University of Westminster talents

Asif Kapadia and Shan Christopher Ogilvie win an Academy Award.

University of Westminster’s graduate, Asif Kapadia, won best Documentary Feature for the film Amy. The Oscar came just after Kapadia won a BAFTA for Best Documentary, as well as a Grammy for the Best Music Film. Kapadia was also listed as one of Britain’s top 20 influential Asian people in 2016.

Beside, the short film Stutterer, produced by film graduate Shan Christopher Ogilvie, won the best Live Action Short Film category at the Academy Awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Westminster academic Dr Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary The Look of Silence was also nominated for the Oscars’ Best Documentary Feature award.

In India, Westminster graduate Rohit Pradhan was presented with a Filmfare Award for Sound Design at a star-studded ceremony that is coined the ’Hindi Oscars’.

3. Westminster marketing students won UK’s best student Mannequin Challenge

Our first year undergraduate marketing students and Lecturer Darrell Kofkin from the Westminster Business School won the nationwide student paper The University Paper’s Mannequin Challenge scooping the most votes with their impressive performance. The Mannequin Challenge has been a viral internet craze where participants remain frozen while a moving camera films them. Watch the video to see them in ’action’!

4. New Harry Potter book released illustrated by our graduate Jim Kay

The new Harry Potter and Chamber of Secrets book is illustrated by our Illustration BA Honours alumnus Jim Kay. Kay conjures up the wizarding world using paint, pencil and pixels as we have never seen before. The book features dazzling full-colour illustrations of breath-taking scenes, dark themes and unforgettable characters, including Dobby and Gilderoy Lockhart. Kay has previously illustrated the cover and made four illustrations of Ron Weasley, Hermione Granger, Draco Malfoy, and Hagrid for the Harry Potter and Philosopher’s Stone. The talented illustrator was chosen in 2013 to illustrate the Harry Potter books with J.K. Rolling personally involved in the decision.

Jim Kay and Harry Potter and chamber of secrets

5. Westminster staff and alumni invited to our Patron the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations

On Sunday 12 June, The Mall outside Buckingham Palace was transformed for its largest ever street party to celebrate The Queen’s patronage of over 600 charities and organisations for her 90th birthday. The University of Westminster being one of only 23 universities in her patronage, at the Patron’s Lunch our delegation enjoyed a day of festivities, including a hamper lunch, a parade consisting of teams representing different decades, and meeting the members of the Royal family. The Queen drove down along The Mall with Prince Philip, after Prince William and Kate, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, as well as Prince Harry walked down to shake hands and chat with guests at the lunch.

The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh waving from a car

6. Westminster lecturer helped charity single The Living Years to compete for Christmas Number One spot

The University of Westminster’s Michaela O’Brien, Course Leader for the Media, Campaigning and Social Change MA and Senior Lecturer for the Public Relations MA course, was invited to participate in recording the Christmas fundraiser single The Living Years as part of the London Hospices Choir. The song, featuring Paul Carrack on lead vocals, was listed as one of the main contenders for the Christmas Number One spot. The new take on the classic track was recorded by a newly-formed choir of 300 patients, families, staff and volunteers from 18 hospices alongside Paul Carrack who was a lead vocalist on the original 1991 hit, to raise awareness of the hospice movement.

7. Puppies and bunnies helped University of Westminster students de-stress during exam period

A puppy and bunny room helped University of Westminster students get their minds off the pressures of the exam and deadline period in April as part of the University of Westminster Students' Union Destress Week. Twelve puppies and eight bunnies were available for students to pet and play on campus which was unsurprisingly extremely popular with students.

8. Construction began on our new University Technical College

Construction of the Sir Simon Milton Westminster University Technical College (UTC) began near Victoria station to offer ambitious, high achieving 14 to 18-year-olds an entirely new educational opportunity from September 2017. This world-class facility will uniquely integrate excellent academic, technical and practical learning in a state-of-the-art environment where students can work directly with industry giants such as Network Rail, Transport for London, Crossrail, Alstom, BT Fleet, Land Securities and Sir Robert McAlpine. 

9. Westminster music student took on the ITV X Factor live shows

Last year’s Emmanuel Nwamadi star performances on BBC’s The Voice were followed this year by Commercial Music BA Honours student Caroline Alvares making it to the live finals of the ITV talent show X Factor with her girl group Four of Diamonds. The group repeatedly wowed the judges, including their couch Louis Walsh, and gained a massive fan base.

Four of Diamonds including Westminster student with Louis Walsch

10. University celebrated 125th anniversary of its predecessor the Regent Street Polytechnic

23 June 1891 saw the founding of the Regent Street Polytechnic, endowed with public money. To mark this historic moment, a celebration dinner took place welcoming University alumni, honorary doctorates such as Sandi Toksvig OBE and friends of the University for an evening of celebration. The event featured music performances by Billy Ocean, an honorary doctor of the University, and Emmanuel Nwamadi, Westminster graduate and finalist on BBC’s The Voice UK 2015.

Sandi Toksvig OBE, Simon Wood

For the anniversary, The 125 Fund was also launched which enables all current students to apply for grants between £150 and £2,000 to help them purchase new equipment, develop a project, or to support their personal and professional development. The Fund is also supported by Booking.com. For all finalised bookings made via Booking.com/UniversityofWestminster, they will donate a considerable part of the total cost directly to The 125 Fund and every pound donated is then matched by the Quintin Hogg Trust.

Explore the University of Westminster’s top 10 highlights in 2014 and 2015.


About the University of Westminster:

The University of Westminster boasts a vibrant learning environment attracting more than 20,000 students from over 150 nations and we continue to invest in our future with new developments, research projects and new ideas.

We offer highly attractive practice-based courses that are independently rated as excellent, many with international recognition. Our distinguished 175-year history has meant we lead the way in many areas of research, particularly politics, media, art and design, architecture and biomedical sciences, and our position in the city of London allows us to continue to build on our close connections with leading figures and organisations in these areas as well as in the worlds of business, information technology, politics and law.

Our commitment to educating graduates for the needs of professional life attracts high quality students from within the UK and around the globe.

Internationalisation, employability and sustainability are key elements in the University of Westminster’s vision for the future and we strive to ensure the very highest standards are met and maintained.


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