On the day the Scottish Government has provided further details of Phase Two of their Route Map Through and Out of Lockdown, I want to update you on a number of aspects of Strathclyde’s preparations for this and subsequent phases.
Firstly, it is important for us to be clear that Phase 2 is not the stage at which we all return to campus. Phase 2 is when our laboratory research can restart – subject to physical distancing – while remote working remains the default position for most of us.
The Government has not yet announced dates for subsequent phases, other than that schools will reopen on 11 August in Phase 3. This is also the phase when a blended model of remote and limited on-campus learning will be possible, subject to public health measures, including physical distancing. It will be Phase 4 before all workplaces will be open, with public health measures in place. Even then, remote and flexible working will still be encouraged.
Significant numbers of our colleagues from Faculties, Departments and Schools and Professional Services are involved in the preparations for our gradual return to campus, with a wide range of work streams now active. I am both impressed by and pleased with the significant developments through our collective efforts this week.
Last week, I announced that the University is working towards the start of the 2020/21 academic year, which will begin on 19 August with the PGDE and Year 4 of the undergraduate Education degree programmes. For all other courses, learning and teaching will commence on 21 September.
To prepare for teaching with social distancing restrictions, a Start of the Academic Year Framework has been developed. Teaching preparations will inevitably call for a mixture of University-wide decisions and departmental arrangements, and the Framework will help shape this. I am sure that as plans develop further, effective and innovative approaches to meet the needs of our learners will emerge.
On Monday, the University’s Leadership Group focused its collective efforts on our return to campus. Made up of the Executive Team, Vice and Associate Deans, Heads of Departments/Schools and Professional Services Directors, the members took part in break-out sessions covering the readiness of the campus, safe travel, ways of working, research lab preparation, our IT systems, video capability, and communications.
Each session generated excellent ideas which I intend to share in more detail within Inside Strathclyde on Monday. Please look out for this.
Two weeks ago, I announced the launch of the Strathclyde Innovation Forum. The forum has already generated more than 60 creative ideas on how we deliver a safe and effective phased return over the months ahead. I would encourage you to continue to engage so positively with the Innovation Forum and contribute your thoughts and suggestions.
Through the strong engagement of many colleagues, major progress has already been made in our return to campus planning. Together we will add more detail to our planning over the weeks ahead, and I know we will do so as a collaborative community, and with the safety of our students and colleagues very much as our shared priority.
In addition to planning the return to campus, we maintain a firm focus on delivering our Vision 2025 ambitions. On Monday, the Executive Team’s Visioning & Positive Response Group held a constructive session which saw contributions from all members of the Executive Team, the Principal's Special Advisors group, and student executive representatives. The group focused on the longer-term context in which our University will operate and considered how we can leverage Strathclyde’s distinctiveness, our research and innovation districts, the Strathclyde learner journey and our culture to create renewed value in the months and years to come.
Finally for this week, I am delighted to tell you that Professor Krishna Paudyal, Strathclyde Business School Vice Dean (Research), will chair our new Race Equality Working Group, which I announced last week. The working group will draw membership from students and staff across the university and will centre on the voices and views of those with lived experience. In addition, we are organising a Racial Equality Workshop to gather inputs to this crucial area of activity. Full details on how to sign up for this will be available in Inside Strathclyde next week.
These activities will make significant contributions in our aim of promoting and supporting an inclusive environment for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students and staff, promoting racial diversity across the University and, where required, improving educational and employment outcomes for BME students and staff. The University of Strathclyde is committed to achieving equality of opportunity in our learning, teaching, research and working environments.
Once again, thank you for your efforts on behalf of Strathclyde and please have a good rest day and relaxed weekend.