CoronavirusStaff update 18 June

Dear colleagues,

I hope this finds you and yours well as we approach the end of this academic year and look towards the coming summer months.

You will recall that, last year, we launched the Strathclyde Innovation Forum, which aims to encourage all University colleagues to share their innovative ideas to help make our work more effective, our jobs more enjoyable and, ultimately, our University more successful.

The Forum provides support for colleagues to innovate within their teams as well as periodically calling for ideas on Grand Challenges; addressing issues facing the University which staff innovation can help to solve.  So far, we have asked for your ideas on two Grand Challenges, which are already making an impact.

Importantly, I am now seeking your ideas on three challenges which will be of strategic relevance over the coming months as we press on with delivering Vision 2025:

  • Challenge Theme 1 - As we think about a post pandemic Strathclyde, it is essential that we reflect on the valuable lessons - as well as the challenges - that COVID-19 has presented us with. Consequently, we are asking staff to reflect on their experiences over the last year and to provide input on the key lessons we should learn as we develop our COVID-19 recovery plan and consider a careful and safe return to campus.
  • Challenge Theme 2 - The University is committed to sustainability, to climate action and to achieving a net zero carbon campus by 2040 at the latest.  More information on our sustainability action plans can be found on our website.  To help accelerate this work, we are seeking ideas from individual staff members, or groups of staff, on what else the University can do to address the challenges brought by climate change. 
  • Challenge Theme 3 - A Wellbeing Organisation is one which makes looking after its staff one of its highest priorities.  The University works hard to be a caring and compassionate employer, nonetheless, we would like your ideas on how we could be more so.

All ideas submitted on these themes will be considered seriously and we will start to implement the best suggestions at the beginning of academic year 2021/22.  I warmly encourage you to submit your ideas by visiting the Strathclyde Innovation Forum on our website.

This week, in her address to Parliament, the First Minister outlined the excellent progress of the COVID-19 vaccination programme, thanks to healthcare workers across the country.  While the programme is moving as quickly as supplies allow, it is likely that restrictions will be maintained for a further three weeks from 28th June – the date it was hoped Scotland would move to Level 0.  This is intended to allow as many people as possible to be vaccinated with both doses before a further easing of restrictions.  A further announcement to confirm timings is expected next week.

With the race between the vaccine roll-out and the virus ongoing, it is heartening to see Strathclyders are continuing to support the national response to the pandemic.  A number of developments have been announced in the last week alone: Professor Chris Robertson, Mathematics & Statistics, has supported a nationwide study of the Delta variant with the University of Edinburgh; Dr Damion Corrigan, Biomedical Engineering, and colleagues have developed a low-cost, saliva-based COVID-19 test inspired by glucose test strips for diabetes and,  Dr Andy Ward, Civil & Environmental Engineering, and colleagues have partnered with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) to demonstrate a low-cost sensor for detecting COVID-19 in waste water – a technique which could enable widespread monitoring of the virus in countries which struggle to conduct mass human testing.

These projects are a great illustration of the important work of universities and research in the global recovery from the pandemic, and the international effort that is required.

At the same time, we are continuing to work closely with colleagues across the higher education sector and the Scottish Government on plans for the new Semester.  Please remember that working from home continues to be the default position for the vast majority of our staff and students, and your health, safety and wellbeing will remain our first priority as we plan for the academic year ahead.

Earlier today, the University Court had a successful and productive meeting and approved our budget for the year ahead.  With careful and detailed financial planning, we are continuing to invest in our people, our campus and our programmes.  At today’s meeting, it was agreed that we will move to the next design phase of expanding our Technology and Innovation Zone to help meet industry demand with the development of a major new building near the Technology and Innovation Centre and the Inovo building.  Known as ‘TIC East’, the building will enable us to enhance the impact of our world-class research by working more closely with innovative businesses and public sector agencies and will also connect our campus into the High Street area.  This decision is an important milestone in the development of Glasgow City Innovation District, of which we are a founder partner.

Finally, I know you will join me in wishing our Netball Scotland partners, the Strathclyde Sirens, all the very best for their final match of the season against Manchester Thunder in the Vitality Superleague this weekend after an incredible season where they came so close to achieving a place in the playoff finals.  Their final game is free to view on Sky Sports YouTube channel on Sunday at 2pm. 

Best wishes,