I hope you enjoyed the long weekend holiday, and were able to make the most of the better weather.
Over recent days, you may have seen media coverage relating to how the pandemic is affecting universities in Scotland and the UK, and in particular, our student communities. As always, the health and wellbeing of all our students, and particularly those who have to self-isolate, is at the forefront of our minds.
We know the rapidly-changing situation has been worrying for students and their loved ones, and we have been working closely with our Students’ Association and the wider student body over the weekend to ensure they were kept up-to-date with the latest government advice.
It is enormously encouraging that so many of you have responded positively to the call for volunteers for the ‘buddy-system’, which will see colleagues pairing with self-isolating students to make daily contact by phone or Zoom. Within the first 20 minutes of the call being issued, we had 26 responses – and colleagues are continuing to sign up each day. We now have 70 buddy volunteers.
Many students in residences are living away from home for the first time, and we know that for some, student accommodation is their main home. The buddy system will help us to ensure each student’s wellbeing, discuss any concerns or worries they may have, and identify any further practical support we can provide. If you would like to help, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over the weekend, students across Scotland were asked to go the extra mile to break the chain of coronavirus transmission by avoiding bars, cafes and other hospitality settings. I have written to all Strathclyde students to thank them for the positive way in which they adopted the government guidelines. Strathclyders are renowned for helping and supporting others, and this weekend, our students demonstrated our people-orientated values clearly by helping to keep each other safe.
As of today, we have 49 confirmed cases on campus. These confirmed cases include small, household clusters within our halls of residences. We are working closely with colleagues at Public Health Scotland to trace the contacts of those affected, and minimise the risk of further transmission.
Although our number of confirmed cases remain low overall, cases across Scotland and the UK are rising, and it is important that we all continue to follow the latest Scottish Government guidance.
This week will see the launch of our new Centre for Sustainable Development, in support of the United Nations’ (UN) Sustainable Development Goals. The new Centre, which will launch formally today, brings together the University’s long-standing research and education activity on sustainable development within a single strategic approach.
Sustainability is at the very heart of our Strategic Plan, and the new Centre will provide a platform to address global challenges. Notably, it will build on our exceptional relationship with industry and public sector partners to take our work beyond the boundaries of academia, and accelerate the practical impacts of our projects. Next week’s Inside Strathclyde will have more information on the launch and the Centre. At the same time, I am pleased to say the University has committed to implementing a responsible investment plan and cutting carbon emissions by 70% by 2025 as part of our efforts to address climate change.
A University Climate Change and Social Responsibility Plan will be published in the coming months detailing how this reduction in emissions will be achieved and how you can help contribute to Net Zero. The strategy is being developed with staff and students, in line with our socially-progressive values.
Importantly, today sees the beginning of this year’s Black History Month. As a University we are committed to ensuring we support an inclusive environment for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) students and staff and promoting racial diversity across the University. I am delighted to tell you that there will be a number of events hosted – virtually – by the University and StrathUnion as part of this important month. Next week’s Inside Strathclyde will carry more details, as well as information on research that’s being carried out across the University, and an introduction to our Race Equality Working Group members.
Have a good week, and stay safe and well.