I would like to begin this week by focusing on an issue that has been on everyone’s mind in recent weeks. The University of Strathclyde is committed to achieving equality of opportunity in our learning, teaching, research and working environments.
As with many elements of UK and Scottish society and institutions, we know there is work to be done.
We are committed to taking this work forward and I am pleased to share with you that the University has committed to the establishment of a Race Equality Working Group. It will draw membership from students and staff across the university and will centre on the voices and views of those with lived experience.
The role of the Race Equality Working Group is to ensure we support an inclusive environment for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students and staff, promote racial diversity across the University and, where required, improve educational and employment outcomes for BME students and staff. I am sure you will join me in welcoming this development.
With regard to key elements of our Return and Resume work, and in preparation for teaching next year, the University is currently working towards the start of the 2020/21 academic year, commencing 21 September, with the overarching principle of ensuring the health, wellbeing and safety of all of our staff and students, as we return to the campus.
Subject to the University’s priorities within the Scottish Government Covid-19 Route Map, the planned approach is that the first 2-3 weeks will be presented predominantly online, including the student induction sessions and early stages of teaching activity.
Following this initial stage, the expectation is that we will then transition to a blended learning mode of delivery, over a 3-5 week period, with degree programme timing and arrangements made depending upon priorities, discipline, level of study and requirements. This may include a combination of face-to-face teaching, group working, project supervision and appropriate lab work, online sessions/workshops, tutorials and on-campus learning activities.
Over the coming period, the quality of our provision, the student learner journey and experience will remain at the forefront of our planning, decision making and commitment, while prioritising the essential health and safety issues for our staff and students on campus. I would like to thank all of those from across the University who are working hard to put these arrangements in place.
It is at this time that we traditionally have our graduation ceremonies – the highlight of the academic year.
Clearly, given the circumstances we are faced with, this will not be possible but it is essential that we celebrate the achievements of our students. I am delighted to announce that this year we will be holding a Conferment Day Celebration on Friday, July 3.
All of our eligible students will receive a video message from me, their Dean and the Student President congratulating them on the conferment of their degree and welcoming them into the family of Strathclyde graduates. They will have access to an online portal where they can print their degree certificate to use for employment or further study.
We will use our social media channels to build awareness and excitement of the celebrations in the weeks leading up to the event and will be sharing students’ stories and success before, during and after the day.
As we are entering the close of the summer term, can I urge those of you who have not yet booked annual leave over the summer to do so as soon as possible.
Everyone has had an incredibly busy and challenging few months and it’s important that we properly rest and recuperate before we gear up for the next academic year. The vast majority of annual leave is taken in July and August each year and we are encouraging those who can take leave to do so as they normally would. Further information on annual leave can be found on our FAQs annual leave web page.
Finally this week, we received the great news that Strathclyde has risen four places in the Complete University Guide. We are now sitting at 35th in the UK and are top in three subject table rankings and in the top 10 for a further 17 subjects.
While we do not target league table success, it is clear that when you have a successful, confident, well-defined strategy, positive movements tend to follow. Again, it is testament to the hard work of colleagues who have contributed and achieved so much.
Please enjoy your next rest day tomorrow, and have a good weekend.