Success Story: How Imperial College London Hosted a Virtual Graduation for 50,000+ Guests

Imperial college London School

Imperial College London is among the top ten STEM universities in the entire world. STEM refers to a curriculum offering focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. 

Imperial College is one of the only schools in the UK that is STEM-focused which makes this establishment a top choice for students that are interested in building careers in the STEM field.

STEM Imperial College London

Goals: What Did Imperial College Want to Achieve?

Since Imperial College has a student body of almost 20,000 students, their graduation ceremonies must accommodate a large group of attendees. In May 2020, the school was forced to move its graduation ceremony online due to COVID-19-related lockdowns.

The school estimated that they would have 50,000 students and supporters attend their virtual ceremony, and they wanted to present a video as though it was a live stream. They also wanted a platform that included live chat functionality so that viewers could participate in this special event.

The Head of Institutional Events and Engagement knew that a virtual ceremony could be brought to life with the help of a professional video streaming solution. Hosting this sort of event would enable them to bring together and honor their graduates in a safe way. Since many students had returned to their homes in different parts of the world, global streaming support was a must.

Nationality of full time student Admission


Imperial College had used different streaming solutions in the past to share live and on-demand educational content. However, they needed a more specific solution to host their virtual graduation ceremony. Global content delivery (including delivery to China) and support for up to 50,000 viewers were their two non-negotiables. 

Ultimately, Imperial College chose Dacast for two primary reasons. First, we were able to provide a totally customized streaming solution, and second, our platform was the only one that could guarantee delivery to viewers in China.

Approach: How Did Imperial College Use Dacast to Reach Their Goals?

With the help of Dacast’s video hosting technology, Imperial College was able to host their stream and produce the code to embed the stream on their website. This made it easy for any student to log in and watch the ceremony at a time.

Although the ceremony was pre-recorded, it aired as a live stream, much like a televised program would. This allowed the university to prepare ahead of time but give graduates and their loved ones the ability to experience the ceremony together. The goal was to create a more engaging and lifelike experience.

Different departments, such as aerospace, dynamics, economics, etc., were able to submit videos to honor their students, and all of the submissions were put together to create a seamless presentation.

In order to integrate all of the moving parts of this virtual event on the Imperial College website, the school needed some customized support from the Dacast tech team. Our team was able to polish the site code so that everything worked perfectly when the graduation ceremony aired. 

Imperial college London virtual graduation

Results: What Imperial College Liked About Streaming with Dacast

With the help of Dacast, Imperial College was able to successfully stream high-quality content to each of these worldwide viewers, no matter what sort of device they were tuning in on.

Katie, Imperial College’s Head of Institutional Events and Engagement, said that using Dacast to host their event was very straightforward. Since her team used Dacast’s Kiosk mode for greater functionality and flexibility, they needed a little bit of technical support to help them with development work.

Overall, Imperial College’s Events and Engagement team was thrilled with the Dacast platform and said that it worked really well for their event. They were particularly happy with the fact that they could reach their Chinese audience with no problem at all. This was particularly important because viewers in China made up one of the largest audiences on their stream, second only to the UK.

In the end, Imperial College’s virtual graduation ceremony was a major success. They were so pleased with their results that they’ve decided to partner with Dacast for their 2021 graduation ceremony.

What’s Next for Imperial College?

On a final note, Katie suggests that educators who are new to online video streaming should “be really clear about your goals so that you know where you can and can’t make compromises.” 

She also recommends prioritizing the viewer’s experience by putting yourself in the audience’s shoes and testing things as much as possible.

One year into the pandemic, the faculty and staff of Imperial College are fully embracing their online education model as a “new normal.” Imperial College will be hosting another virtual ceremony for their 2021 graduates since the pandemic is still in full effect, but they do hope to return to in-person ceremonies as soon as possible. 

Partnering with a well-equipped streaming solution is a must for hosting events of this magnitude. If you are looking for a streaming partner to help you with your next virtual event, contact Dacast today to learn how to get started.

If you’re interested in trying Dacast for yourself, we invite you to take advantage of our 30-day free trial. Test out all the features for yourself free of charge. No credit card required.

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