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Kingston University marks key milestones and successes of 2021

Posted Tuesday 21 December 2021

Kingston University marks key milestones and successes of 2021 Kingston University's landmark Town House was named winner of the RIBA Stirling Prize in October

From welcoming students back on to campus following restrictions imposed during the coronavirus pandemic to celebrating its flagship Town House being named Britain's best new building and winner of the 2021 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize, 2021 has been another year of major milestones for Kingston University.

In January, the University celebrated the 15th anniversary of its KU Cares programme, which supports care leavers, estranged students, carers and sanctuary scholars to access higher education. Elsewhere, the Queen's New Year's Honours list brought accolades for graduates, including eminent architect David Chipperfield who was appointed to the Order of the Companions of Honour for his services to the profession.

In February, fashion graduate Lucy Saunders won the global MTV Music Meets Fashion Competition with a sustainable, gender-neutral and size-inclusive range for River Island, unveiled during London Fashion Week.Fashion graduate Lucy Saunders won the MTV Music Meets Fashion Competition with a sustainable, gender neutral and size inclusive range for River Island.Fashion graduate Lucy Saunders won the global MTV Music Meets Fashion Competition with a sustainable, gender-neutral and size-inclusive range for River Island.

The Bright Ideas Grand Final took place virtually for the first time, with almost 700 Kingston students pitching ideas to expert panels of Kingston alumni and local entrepreneurs.

Women's History Month and International Women's Day were marked around the University in March, with management graduate and former Bupa CEO Val Gooding and honorary graduate and founder of The Female Lead Edwina Dunn sharing career insights and advice with current students. Kingston Business School also launched the Kingston University Women in Enterprise Network (KUWEN), offering members an opportunity to connect, support each other and access expert advice.

In April, business management graduate Christian Facey, co-founder of tech start-up AudioMob, an audio advertising company for mobile gaming, was listed in the Forbes 30 Under 30 media and marketing category. University experts teamed up with Salutem Care and Education for a £220,000 technology project to improve care for people with autism and learning difficulties, supported with additional funding from UK Research and Innovation's Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Meanwhile, student and graduate entrepreneurs received a £40,000 boost from the University's partnership with Santander Universities to launch and develop their start-ups through the University's FastTrack and Nest enterprise programmes.

In May, new research by psychology expert Professor Ana Nikcevic, from the Faculty of Business and Social Sciences, into Covid-19 anxiety syndrome received widespread interest from national and international media outlets. Back in the borough, the Union of Kingston Students and Studio KT1, a creative agency run by Kingston School of Art, celebrated the grand opening of Not My Beautiful House, a multi-purpose venue and store showcasing the creative talents of students and alumni.

June saw the launch of Kingston University's Future Skills Campaign, with Vice-Chancellor Professor Steven Spier highlighting the importance of a creative education and graduates' entrepreneurial innovation for a thriving national economy. A team from the Faculty of Health Social Care and Education was honoured with a University Alliance award for producing a popular webinar series to support people with learning disabilities during the pandemic. 

Final year fashion students from Kingston School of Art showcased their collections on the catwalk by live stream during Graduate Fashion Week. They scooped a clutch of accolades, including Joy Julius, who was awarded the inaugural Black Excellence Prize for her collection inspired by the anti-SARS (Special Anti-Robbery Squad) movement in Nigeria.

In July, a team from the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing took to the track at Silverstone in the annual Formula Student competition. They secured seventh place overall and fourth for first-year cars – the best result yet for the University.

Elsewhere, a new strategic partnership was forged by Kingston University and South Thames Colleges Group to improve access to higher education for students and develop joint activities that will benefit students, employers and the community. The work of emerging artists, performers and designers from Kingston School of Art was showcased through a new online platform. The custom-built website hosted final-year project work of students from a wide range of creative disciplines.

Oliver Lam-Watson and Asha Philip among Kingston alumna to enjoy sporting success in 2021 Oliver Lam-Watson and Asha Philip were among Kingston University alumni to enjoy sporting success in 2021.

Kingston alumni celebrated sporting success in the international arena in August. Drama graduate Asha Philip claimed a bronze medal in the women's 4x100m relay at the Tokyo Olympics, while architecture alumnus Oliver Lam-Watson scooped two medals in the men's wheelchair fencing at the Paralympics.

New and returning students were welcomed back to campus in September with news that the Guardian University Guide had ranked Kingston University as one of the top 50 universities in the United Kingdom. In another noteworthy success, postgraduate engineering student Ana Pavlovic won the Vitae Three Minute Thesis national competition, impressing judges with a presentation that demonstrated her passion for concrete and featured the clever use of a toy giraffe from her childhood.

As part of an ongoing collaboration to help minimise the impact of the coronavirus pandemic in the borough, the University worked with Kingston Primary Care Network to host a pop-up vaccination clinic on campus, offering students a first dose of the Pfizer vaccine for the start of the academic year.

October brought celebrations for the University and wider community when Kingston University's Town House was named the winner of the 2021 Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Stirling Prize – confirming it as Britain's best new building. Designed by RIBA Gold Medal-winning Grafton Architects, the landmark building on Penrhyn Road campus received the highest accolade in United Kingdom architecture at a ceremony at Coventry Cathedral.

It came as the culmination of a series of prestigious commendations for the University's ambitious estates projects, which also included regional RIBA awards for Town House and the revamped Mill Street Building at Knights Park and RIBA London Client of the Year for the University. Town House was also among the winners of a 2021 Civic Trust Award. Meanwhile the University's commitment to sustainability was recognised when Kingston School of Art's Mill Street Building won a 2021 BREEAM Award for the best Public Sector Project – Post Construction. 

Other additions on campus saw nursing students and staff who worked on the frontline during Covid-19 honoured with striking murals unveiled as part of the refurbishment of Nursing Simulated Learning and Clinical Skills Centre at the Kingston Hill campus. Mural created at Kingston Hill campus to celebrate student nursesMural created at Kingston Hill campus to celebrate student nurses.

In November, two engineering solutions designed by school pupils and brought to life by University technicians and students were awarded Primary Engineer MacRobert Medals at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow. Back on campus, the Bernie Hub, a new learning social space named after aerospace engineering graduate Anita Bernie, now strategy and execution lead at KISPE Space Systems, was officially opened at Roehampton Vale.

Big Read author Okechukwu Nzelu met students and staff on campus and online in December for a talk about his debut novel, The Private Joys of Nnenna Maloney  the latest title chosen for the annual campus-wide shared reading initiative.

The year ended on another high note, with a report produced by the Institute for Fiscal Studies in partnership with the Sutton Trust and the Department for Education ranking Kingston University in the top 10 universities in the United Kingdom for social mobility.

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