CoronavirusStaff update 25 November 2021

Dear colleagues,

This week, I am writing to you at the beginning of our two-day Court Strategy Sessions – our annual review of the last 12 months and planning discussions for the year ahead.  As with previous years, it will be a pleasure and a privilege to update Court on our progress during a year of both global challenge and opportunity.

While the pandemic has led to unprecedented change, Strathclyders have continued to respond and contribute with confidence, commitment and resilience, and to advance our ambitious strategic plan, Vision 2025.

This has included redoubling our efforts in education, research, knowledge exchange and innovation to build a cleaner, greener and more sustainable society – an area which was in sharp focus as we welcomed COP26 to our city earlier this month.

Together we have taken huge strides towards delivery of our KPIs, from overall student satisfaction – where we are now ranked fourth in the UK according to the Times Higher Education’s analysis of the National Student Survey - to widening access to higher education, where we achieved our Scottish Government target of recruiting 20% of our new students from the 20% most-challenged communities in Scotland a full decade early.

Significant progress has been made with our latest developments on campus and with business, industry and government, not least within our two ever-growing Innovation Districts in the city centre and adjacent to Glasgow International Airport. Both Glasgow City Innovation District and the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District Scotland are already attracting forward-thinking organisations looking to improve productivity and competitiveness, accelerate growth, and access our world-class research, technology and talent.

There is no doubting that our people are our greatest strength, and I am particularly pleased and proud that four of our newest Strathclyders, appointed through our Global Talent Programme, will join us later today to tell Court about their own experiences at the University. Each of them has been attracted to Strathclyde not only by our reputation for excellence, but for our socially progressive ethos, values and culture.

We are clearly making good progress, but there is still more to do.  In the year ahead, we will approach the mid-point of our five-year Strategic Plan, and I am looking forward to talking to you about the road to delivering the next stage of Vision 2025 in due course.

At my pre-Court meeting with staff and student Court members this week, wellbeing and working from home was discussed.  This remains our number one priority, particularly while large numbers of colleagues are working from home, and we must continue our focus on positive mental health and wellbeing particularly as we move into winter.

It is especially important that line managers continue to keep regular contact with their team members, and I ask all of you to continue to look out for one another in the months ahead. A wide range of resources are available on the Wellbeing & Working from Home Hub, in addition to our employee counselling provision and the range of activities provided by Strathclyde Sport, as outlined in this week’s Inside Strathclyde. Please do take time to look at what is available for you and your team and if you do have concerns about your health and wellbeing, please raise these with your manager.

In other news, I am pleased to tell you that Strathclyde alumnus Jack Sim, a leading advocate for social justice, equality and health, has accepted our offer of the award of an honorary degree. Jack is the founder of the World Toilet Organisation (WTO), a non-profit entity committed to improving sanitation conditions and access to clean and safe toilets worldwide.

With 40% of the world’s population lacking access to toilets, Jack’s work is playing a pivotal role in improving lives and health for people around the globe. It was fitting that the announcement was made on Friday 19 November – the 20th anniversary of the UN designating the date as World Toilet Day as a result of Jack and the WTO’s efforts.

Finally, I know you will join me in sending best wishes to colleagues who are attending the Times Higher Education awards in London tonight. Known as the ‘Oscars of Higher Education’, this year’s awards have attracted a record number of entries from across the UK.

Strathclyde has been shortlisted in three categories: Outstanding Contribution to Equality, Diversity & Inclusion for our COVID-19 staff wellbeing response and rest days; Research Project of the Year – Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences for our COVID-19 modelling with NHS Lanarkshire; and, in the same category, we are shortlisted for a toolkit for journalists to support responsible reporting of suicide.

The awards are a terrific celebration of the fantastic impact of our sector and I send my warmest congratulations to all the shortlisted entrants.

Best wishes,
Jim