Imperial College London warns staff about possible pay cuts

Britain’s highest-paid university boss on £554,000 a year takes 20 per cent pay cut as staff are furloughed at Imperial College London whose experts prompted Boris Johnson to start coronavirus lockdown

  • Prof Alice Gast and Prof Ian Walmsley have written to staff at Imperial College 
  • Prof Gast and Prof Walmsley have both agreed to reduce their salary by 20%
  • Members of the President’s Board at the college have agreed a 10 per cent cut
  • The college faces a funding shortage if foreign students do not enrol next year 
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Imperial College London has emailed its staff warning the Covid-19 lockdown has forced the institution to suspend new building projects, limit staff recruitment and identify roles eligible for furloughing. 

The letter, from Prof Alice Gast and Prof Ian Walmsley warned that further measures would be needed now the lockdown has been extended. 

Prof Gast, who earned £554,000, and Prof Walmsley have agreed to cut their pay by 20 per cent, while members of the college’s President’s Board have agreed a voluntary 10 per cent cut for six months. 

Prof Alice Gast, who last year earned £554,000 as President of Imperial College, London, has written to staff warning them about possible changes resulting from the extended Covid-19 lockdown. Her colleague, Prof Neil Ferguson, right, has been one of the government’s chief advisers concerning the nation’s response to the killer virus

Staff at Imperial College London have been warned about potential cuts as the university considers its response to the coronavirus lockdown 

A number of senior staff at the college have also indicated a willingness to reduce their salaries during the crisis period. 

Prof Neil Ferguson, who is one of the government’s chief Coronavirus advisers is based at Imperial. 

In the letter, staff are warned: ‘There will be many changes for us to work through over the coming months, and we will outline these in more detail in the next two weeks.

‘We realise that these are very difficult times and you are working harder than ever before. We thank you for being such a positive and supportive community.’ 

Imperial and other British universities face a massive funding shortfall, especially with the possible reduction in the number of foreign students studying in the UK. 

Many British universities have significant numbers of students from countries such as China, who pay full fees for their courses, which at Imperial cost £44,000 a year. 

According to The Guardian, some 64 per cent of the student body at Imperial come from outside the UK with China providing the greatest number of non-EU students.  

Letter to Imperial College staff outlining Covid-19 cutbacks 

Dear Colleagues,

We hope that you had a chance to rest and enjoy the holiday weekend.

Yesterday the government announced that the lockdown will continue for three more weeks. Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones and others who are suffering from the coronavirus or other illnesses. While we hope that we are coming out of the peak, clearly the situation remains serious.

We have accomplished a lot by working together to implement government measures to deal with the health emergency. Now we have more we need to do to mitigate the consequences of the pandemic.

The crisis has caused us to make a number of rapid and profound changes in the ways we work together to deliver our academic mission. We are grateful to all for the hard work to move to online and remote learning and assessment, for rallying to support current students and to reach out to potential new students in new ways, and for supporting one another to continue our work remotely. We are proud of the significant impact of our research, clinical care, and public outreach on the pandemic.

Although we do not yet know the full impact of the challenges we face as a university, we are moving swiftly to ensure that we are able to emerge successfully from this crisis in a strong position to further our ever more important mission of excellence in education and research.

The immediate need, as we face threats to enrolments and the financial burden of the shutdown, is to look for ways to conserve cash in the coming year. We have already taken important decisions to suspend starting or approving new capital projects, limiting ongoing staff recruitment and identifying roles eligible for the furloughing scheme. We need to consider further measures.

The two of us will take a voluntary reduction in our pay of 20% and the President’s Board has volunteered for a pay reduction of 10% over the next 6 months. Our intention is to share some of the many sacrifices our community is making by volunteering, working on the front line or having their laboratory or workplace closed. This money will be used to help our students and staff in hardship.

Other senior staff have indicated an interest in taking a pay reduction to support students and staff in hardship, and they should contact [name and email address redacted]. You can also support our community through gift aid donations to our COVID19 Response Fund.

There will be many changes for us to work through over the coming months, and we will outline these in more detail in the next two weeks.

We realise that these are very difficult times and you are working harder than ever before. We thank you for being such a positive and supportive community.


Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost


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