CoronavirusStaff update: 19 November

Dear Colleagues,

While this week has seen Glasgow and the surrounding area placed into the stricter Level 4 Protection Level in order to push down Covid-19 transmission levels, there has been further encouraging news of another candidate vaccine which is showing promise in clinical trials.

Thanks to the breakthroughs in vaccine developments, the prospects for 2021 are looking much better and it is worth pausing to reflect on the role that science and innovation have played in helping to plot a route to suppressing this pandemic.  

Colleagues in SIPBS are well engaged in the vaccine production efforts by manufacturing COVID-19 lipid nanoparticles for clinical trials and in support of work underway in the UK’s Vaccine Taskforce. The importance of research and development is always forefront in the minds of those who work in the HE sector, but it is pleasing to see the recognition that wider society is affording to research in the wake of this news.  

It is good to remind ourselves that this is what universities do – we are the engine rooms of innovation. Indeed, with Strathclyde researchers directly involved in the manufacture of these candidate vaccines, and the array of pandemic related research work underway across the campus with support from the Chief Scientist Office, this demonstrates our close links with the international effort against Covid-19.

I have always been proud to be part of a research community such as ours and I’m sure you share my pride in what academic progress continues to achieve for society.

Nonetheless, the new restrictions that come into force tomorrow are a reminder that the virus is still a significant threat, and we all must play our part in keeping ourselves and each other safe. Following the First Minister’s announcement on Tuesday, I received a letter from the Minister for Further Education Higher Education and Science, Richard Lochhead, in which he drew attention to the updated Coronavirus guidance on the Scottish Government website.

He also explained that decisions on the Levels were taken to protect the NHS and open the prospect of us all being able to see loved ones at Christmas. The new Level 4 restrictions will be in place from 6pm on Friday 20 November for three weeks, until Friday 11 December, and I am confident we will all play our part to achieve the objective of reducing the spread of the virus.

During this period only critical and time-sensitive on-campus learning, teaching and placements will take place. Only essential research work will be carried out in laboratories and research facilities. Student wellbeing and support services will continue as now and the library will remain open. I would like to thank those colleagues who continue to work on campus providing an excellent service to our students and staff. Their efforts remain vital in delivering the Strathclyde student experience and we are all extremely appreciative of their commitment.

In preparation for the Level 4 restrictions, we will add further guidance to the Hub shortly. This information will continue to be reviewed and updated as further Scottish Government guidance on Level 4 is released and we learn more about what the new level means for our Strathclyde community. Please see Tuesday’s Inside Strathclyde for more details.

In preparation of the Christmas break, this week colleagues across the University have continued to work with the Scottish and UK governments on their ambitious plans to provide lateral flow asymptomatic Covid-19 tests for those students who plan to travel home over the festive period.

I am pleased to let you know that our campus test centre will be located in the Barony Hall and will help students who want to be tested before they travel to a different household within the UK by ensuring that anyone who tests positive can complete their period of isolation before they travel. We will share more details as our plans develop.  

Whether students leave Glasgow over Christmas, or remain here, we will continue to support them as part of the Strathclyde family. Colleagues are finalising our calendar of activities which we expect to be a mix of online and on-campus arrangements, depending on the Scottish Government Protection Level in place in our area at that time. More details will be shared in Inside Strathclyde and on our website.

Earlier this week, I reviewed three new videos that have been prepared to provide further helpful support and guidance for our staff and students during the ongoing pandemic. The videos have now been added to the Return and Resume Hub. Their clear and engaging content will help us all understand our responsibilities and the changes across campus that are there to protect our health, safety and wellbeing.

Today, as we celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week, I am delighted to announce the publication of our new sector-leading Entrepreneurship Strategy to 2025, which maps out a significant scaling up of our activities and opportunities for staff, students and alumni. The strategy outlines our commitment to providing ‘Entrepreneurship for All’ by challenging staff and students to grab opportunities and develop an entrepreneurial mindset, whatever their situation or ambition.

Our new flagship entrepreneurship programme, Strathclyde Inspire, will see the development of a state-of-the-art Entrepreneurship Hub in the heart of Glasgow City Innovation District, investment opportunities for companies started by students, staff, alumni and partners, and the introduction of Senior Enterprise Fellows from business and industry to encourage and support the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Strathclyde is home to many extraordinary people whose innovation and ambition makes a positive impact on the world around them. Our new Strathclyde Inspire programme builds on our strong track record for entrepreneurship education, research and practice, and is designed to foster and support an entrepreneurial mindset across the University.

Our strategy represents a catalyst for positive change, bringing economic benefit and social impact to communities as we move through the Coronavirus pandemic and into the recovery phase.

Strathclyde Inspire has four key areas of activity: Developing Entrepreneurial Mindsets; Identifying and Supporting Entrepreneurial Talent; Empowering Entrepreneurs; and, Scaling Innovation-Driven Enterprises. It will offer a diverse and exciting programme of events providing opportunities for learning, networking and collaborating, and I would warmly encourage you to get involved. You can read more about the strategy on our website and sign up to our first event on Wednesday 2 December here.

Finally, I am delighted to share with you that the past two days have seen a ground-breaking new initiative run for and by our alumni – Giving Day. Titled ‘1796 Minutes to Give’, it is engaging our global graduate community through a new focused fundraising campaign which concentrates activity into 1796 minutes – almost 30 hours.

All money raised from Giving Day will support the current students through the University's Alumni Fund. Projects include: scholarships for disadvantaged young people; international experience opportunities; and, student-led international development and community projects. The campaign is already shaping up to be a big success thanks to the involvement of alumni, staff, students and friends of the University and I would encourage you to get involved here

Thank you, as ever, for your continued efforts on behalf of our students, staff and the wider community and please enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes,
Jim