This week saw a major milestone in the fight against Coronavirus, with more than 20 million people in the UK receiving their first dose of the vaccine. It brought with it a growing sense of optimism for the rest of the year – and welcome news from Scotland’s First Minister that the lockdown exit plan may move more quickly than previously thought.
For the children and young people in our extended University community, there was good news too, with all primary school pupils in Scotland being allowed to return to school from 15 March, and all secondary pupils part-time from the same date.
The successful development of the vaccination programme again underlines the power of partnership between universities, industry and government, and the critical importance of research and innovation to our national resilience and capability. We can rightly feel proud of the work our sector – and our University – has contributed to the UK’s pandemic response.
We can expect further decisions about Covid restrictions from the Scottish Government in the coming weeks, and we will continue to keep you abreast of the latest information and how this will impact on our institutional activities. All of our decision-making for Strathclyde will continue to be driven by prioritising your health, safety and wellbeing.
Importantly, this week marks the beginning of our Wellbeing Month, named ‘Hello March!’, and I would warmly encourage you to take a look at the wealth of activities colleagues have put in place to help us stay connected and to look after our mental and physical health. You can find details in Tuesday’s Inside Strathclyde.
I would also like to thank all of you who completed our first University-wide Wellbeing Survey. Nearly 700 colleagues responded, which shows a terrific level of engagement in this area. We are in the process of analysing the results and we will report more soon.
As a reminder, a series of events is also running throughout this month to mark International Women’s Day on Monday. The day is a celebration of the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.
Today I had the pleasure of discussing developments at Strathclyde and our latest progress towards Vision 2025 with colleagues in the Professional Services, as I began my third series of staff engagement sessions. It was very encouraging for me and Executive Team members to hear colleagues’ questions and feedback, and I am looking forward to seeing more of you in the fortnight ahead. Please remember that you can submit your questions ahead of time by replying to this message.
We have made a huge amount of progress since our last engagement sessions in September, not least in the launch of our latest academic recruitment drive to appoint up to 40 academic staff across all four Faculties as part of our Global Attraction Programme. The extended campaign closing date was on Sunday and I am pleased to note we have had almost 1,400 applications which is a strong indicator of the growing international reputation we have built together over recent years. The hard work begins now in turning this interest into great appointments.
We also continue to make excellent progress on our £1 Billion campus redevelopment. While most of us have been working remotely, the improvements to our campus have been developing at pace. The latest milestone is the transformation of the Wolfson building, home to our UK-leading Department of Biomedical Engineering. The £15.5 million development has created leading-edge research and teaching labs, flexible learning spaces, and new social spaces for students. Many thanks to everyone who was involved in this highly aspirational and exciting project.
Our Court members have warmly welcomed our progress and, at their most recent meeting earlier this week, they also heard about our developing plans to welcome the global COP26 conference to Glasgow in November. There is an enormous amount of sustainability activity underway across the University, from research, teaching and operations, to sustainable procurement, active travel, community engagement and major campus projects. The level of action reflects our ambitious plans to reduce carbon emissions by 70% by 2025 on our journey to net zero by 2040 or earlier. Thank you to all of you who are already involved, and I look forward to sharing further news on our plans in the coming weeks.
We are also making great progress in the development of our apprenticeship programmes, from graduate and degree programmes to modern apprenticeships. This week marks Scottish Apprenticeship Week, which celebrates the benefits apprenticeships bring to businesses, individuals and the economy. You can read about the experiences of some of our talented people on our website, including Samir Khan-Young, who is set to be among the first graduates of the Graduate Apprenticeship Engineering Design and Manufacture programme in November.
Finally, many congratulations to our University Challenge team who secured their third win after defeating Birkbeck, University of London, this week by 135-105. This talented and multidisciplinary team will have a further round to win a chance at competing in the semi-finals – a tremendous achievement. I know you will join me in cheering them on and wishing them well.
With best wishes for the rest of your week, and please make the most of the Friday Rest Day.