I hope this finds you well as we prepare for a safe and successful start to the new academic year.
This week, the COVID-19 vaccination programme in Scotland reached another important milestone, with around 80% of over 18s now having received both doses. Since vaccinations began for 16 and 17-year-olds a fortnight ago, around 40% have received their first dose. It is encouraging to see the positive uptake across age groups.
However, Tuesday’s news that positive cases of COVID-19 in Scotland are now slightly higher than the exceptional levels we saw in early July is a sobering reminder of the need for continued vigilance. While the link between new cases and serious health harms has been weakened, it has not been completely broken – and we cannot be complacent.
As a University community, we have always prioritised each other’s health and wellbeing and I would like to thank you for your continued support in following the national guidance on staying safe and protecting others. As a reminder, you can find information about physical distancing on campus, face masks and other safety measures on our website.
Preparations continue for a safe return to our enhanced campus environment, with colleagues in Information Services undertaking the installation of infrastructure to support hybrid teaching across a significant number of teaching rooms on campus. This work is well underway and should be concluded for the new Semester. All standard central pool teaching rooms with a distanced capacity of 30 people or more are included.
Our Education Enhancement and OSDU teams are developing targeted support for staff on the use of these rooms. Additionally, University guidance on the role of hybrid teaching within programmes has been developed and support is being offered to staff through Hybrid Teaching staff development sessions, Hybrid learning drop-in sessions and the Micro-CPD programme.
This week, news of our Student Union’s imminent move to our new Learning and Teaching building prompted an outpouring of stories and memories from Strathclyders across generations. It has been wonderful to hear the many stories of life-long friendships forged through the Union’s clubs and societies, in the debating chamber, on the dance floor and in the bars too! I have my own happy memories of the Student Union from my time as a Strathclyde undergraduate.
The warm affection for our Union is very much in evidence not just from our own students and graduates, but from those across the city’s universities. The investment in our new building will ensure that in its next chapter, the Union remains a prominent feature in the lives of current and future students, as a meeting place, a support hub, a place of debate, and a beacon for diverse social, cultural and sporting opportunities for all.
Finally, I am pleased to tell you that this week, one of our most successful spin-out companies to date, Smarter Grid Solutions, has been acquired by Mitsubishi Electric Power Products Inc. The news will enable the company to continue to scale up its contribution to tackling the climate emergency by helping more grid operators across the globe to connect more renewables to their networks and energy developers to build more clean energy assets.
It is a company I have taken a keen interest in since it spun-out from our Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering when I was Head of Department in 2008. Described as ‘one of the brightest stars in the fight against climate change’ by its long-term investors, it is a great example of Strathclyde talent, innovation and experience making a major impact in the UK and internationally. I had the opportunity to meet with senior representatives of Mitsubishi in the Technology and Innovation Centre earlier this week, to discuss ongoing collaboration with the University, and I am delighted to see their plans for the growth of the company here in Glasgow.
I hope you can enjoy the latest spell of good weather, please have a great weekend when it comes.