CoronavirusStaff update: 26 March

Dear Strathclyde colleague,

As we near the end of another extraordinary week, where we have witnessed the UK and Scottish Governments take unprecedented steps to protect the population from COVID-19, I want to thank you once again for your continuing commitment to our University.

Please be assured that every decision that the University is taking has, at its heart, the protection of your health, your safety and the wellbeing of you, your families, our students and the wider Strathclyde community.

At the end of our first full week when most of us have transitioned to operating remotely, I know that you will share my sense of pride at how quickly we’ve all adapted. For many of us, the way we now work is quite unrecognisable from how we operated just two weeks ago. And the dedication of our staff, both at home and those who are still undertaking necessary roles on our campus, is both impressive and commendable.

Since I last wrote to you, things have changed significantly and we now have severe restrictions on movement, with many of you now caring for children or other family members. Some of you cannot be with your loved ones and are dealing with the challenges that go hand-in-hand with social distancing. Together, we are all experiencing daily lives that would have been hard to envisage only a short time ago.

I wish to reassure you that I and the rest of the Executive Team recognise the new challenges and pressures brought by the pandemic, and we are meeting on a daily basis to make sure the best possible levels of support are in place for each and every one of you. For example, we’re working with teams across the University to introduce a central hub of online employee support, which will provide guidance in a number of areas, including:

  • successful agile working
  • staying physically well
  • positive mental health and wellbeing
  • staying connected and safe online
  • key support information for managers
  • access to free online learning

Colleagues from across our faculties and professional services are collaborating to pull these resources together and we will share our implementation plans in next week’s issue of Inside Strathclyde - please look out for regular issues of this excellent new publication in the weeks to come.

We are also monitoring and responding to public health information, assessing effectiveness of our operations and making operational decisions on a daily basis. This week we decided that our Year 1 and Year 2 students will progress to the next year of their studies without the requirement of a final examination. This decision was made following the review of existing assessment data for each course module, and to ensure that academic progress decisions are made in line with our academic regulations.

The University has also decided to postpone our formal graduation ceremonies until the autumn. Eligible graduands – having had their degree award approved - will be given the option of graduating in absentia this summer or participating in a future ceremony in the Barony Hall.

While this was a difficult decision to make, it clearly supports Government plans to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus and is in the interest of everyone’s safety, health and wellbeing.

The Executive Team and a wider team of colleagues are working every day to manage how we respond to changing developments and we’re finding that Strathclyde’s track record for innovation is flourishing like never before. This innovation can be seen in the way we’re teaching remotely. It can be seen in the work that research groups are undertaking digitally. And it can be seen in the University’s efforts to support the UK’s response to this national crisis.

Colleagues are working across the sector and with Government to signpost and apply our knowledge and skills across many areas. Our manufacturing expertise is helping support critical supply chains and our people are volunteering in their community. This is Useful Learning in action, and once again makes me honoured to be a Strathclyder. I look forward to sharing these developments in greater detail over the coming weeks.

During this difficult period, it is more important than ever to be a listening organisation. Many of you are already feeding ideas and questions to your line managers and Heads of Departments and I want to encourage these critical exchanges.  Your creativity, innovation and enthusiasm are at the core of Strathclyde’s success.

Also, if you wish to feed in comments or questions to me directly, please reply to this email. I’m keen to hear your thoughts, comments or questions about how we work together to get through this exceptionally challenging time. I will continue to update you frequently through the weekly Inside Strathclyde newsletter distributed every Thursday, or additionally as the situation demands.

Finally, many of you will be taking tomorrow as the first of your rest days. This is in recognition of the additional pressures on everyone who has made the huge transition to new ways of teaching and working recently while very often caring for vulnerable relatives or children no longer attending school. I hope that you can rest and focus on your needs and those of your loved ones at this demanding time.  

Best wishes,

Jim