With less than two weeks to go until the Christmas break, I hope you are preparing for a period where you can rest and relax with your family and friends, and take time to reflect and recharge after a very challenging year.
Throughout the pandemic we have been focused on ensuring that we emerge with confidence, strength and strategic focus and, in this spirit, I am absolutely delighted that our transformative Heart of the Campus project has been approved by Glasgow City Council.
This sustainable development will remodel Rottenrow Gardens and surrounding streets into a vibrant, climate-resilient, inclusive and inspirational city centre space that will enhance the student experience and be accessible to all. The latest phase of the University's £1 billion campus investment, it will improve our student experience, as well as connect the University with the surrounding community. We are proud that it will also be a showcase for the highest standards of environmental sustainability, resilience and biodiversity.
Following on from this investment in our campus, the Executive Team has this week approved significant investment in our people – through the next phase of our hugely impactful Global Talent Attraction Platform (GTAP).
Early in the new year, the Faculties will be looking to appoint up to a total of 20 new professors and 20 Chancellor’s Fellows to further strengthen our academic community. These posts will be across many discipline areas and will add to the 160 Chancellor’s Fellows and 58 Reader and Professorial GTAP appointments made over recent years. Our Strathclyde people are the reason we have seen such success in the delivery of our strategy and we are committed to investing for the future. I very much look forward to seeing who will join us through the latest round of this very successful scheme.
Today, I am also delighted to announce that we have formalised our long-standing collaboration with NHS Lanarkshire, working together to tackle key health and care challenges facing society. The strategic partnership will see the award of ‘University Status’ to NHS Lanarkshire, and our work in this area is being led by Health & Care Futures at Strathclyde, our new cross-University collaboration which will make an effective and sustained impact on the future of health and care in the UK and beyond.
Health & Care Futures will apply multidisciplinary expertise in medicines innovation, future technologies, data analytics, artificial intelligence, leadership and whole systems improvement to NHS Lanarkshire’s commitment to high quality and innovative health and social care. You can read more about the partnership, and Health & Care Futures, on the website.
Last Friday, it was very encouraging to see the Scottish Government launch their Manufacturing Recovery Plan – a major part of Scotland’s rebuilding efforts following the pandemic. The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) has a central role in the plan and the wider University will help to shape the future of manufacturing in Scotland. This dovetails with the efforts played by NMIS colleagues in the provision of PPE and supply chain management during the pandemic and I am delighted to see NMIS playing an ever-increasing role in the manufacturing landscape of Scotland and beyond.
Earlier this week, the First Minister confirmed that Glasgow will be moved to Level 3 Protection Level from tomorrow, a move that is very much welcomed. As part of our on-going commitment to support our students, our COVID-19 Asymptomatic Test Centre will continue operation in January in order to allow returning students to be tested. This will be operated in line with Scottish Government guidelines on the return of students, published this week. The centre has already been used for 2000 tests and it has proved to be vital to those students who want to spend time with their loved ones or in another household over the winter break.
I would once again like to thank the staff and volunteers involved in the establishment and running of the Test Centre. Their hard work will allow our students to have confidence when making arrangements for the coming weeks.
Given the on-going nature of the pandemic, the Executive Team have this week agreed to provide an additional £200,000 to the Student Hardship Fund to provide emergency support for students who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. The Hardship Fund has played an important role in our student support network since the onset of the pandemic and it is important that this support continues.
Finally this week, following the recent publication of the independent QC-led O’Gorman inquiry, I have established an Inquiry Recommendations Implementation Group. The group will ensure all the recommendations made by Craig Sandison in his report are implemented in full. I was pleased to open the first meeting yesterday and I have asked that the group go beyond the QC's recommendations where necessary, in order to identify all actions that are needed to ensure an even stronger and safer environment for all at Strathclyde.
The group will be reaching out to the entire University community to ensure that all staff and students have the opportunity to be involved. Through this forum, we will collectively contribute to our on-going commitment to safety for all.
The safety of our students, staff and visitors remains our focus in all that we do.
Thank you, as ever, for your continued efforts on behalf of our students, staff and the wider community and please enjoy your weekend.