CoronavirusStaff update: 27 August

Dear Colleagues,

I have been speaking to many of you over the past week, and it is clear that we are all very much looking forward to welcoming our students and staff to the new academic year.  

Across all of our degree programmes, our academics, professional services and support staff from across the University are working tirelessly to provide input and support for what will be a new way of working and learning for everyone.

As always, but particularly given the current challenges we face, we are committed to ensuring that our students have the best possible experience this semester and to support them, whatever the circumstances, in preparing for their studies at Strathclyde.

Last week, I highlighted that our Professional Graduate Diploma in Education students are the first to experience our new online learning, designed to support them prior to moving to a blended approach. I am delighted to tell you that feedback from this large group of students has been incredibly positive, with clear appreciation for this new way of teaching.

There has been recognition for our professionalism in setting up such a high-quality suite of online learning and plenty of feedback on the enthusiasm of our academic staff in delivering the course.

As we know, this is an entirely new development on this scale and colleagues from across Strathclyde have done an incredible job, which is entirely consistent with our values.  By working collaboratively, we have provided a bold, ambitious and innovative solution that delivers for our students.

I would like to thank everyone from the School of Education and from the wider university for this excellent start to the new academic year. The School has shared many of the students’ social media posts with me and it is really encouraging to see the feedback on their positive experiences to date – well done!

Importantly, this week we achieved another key milestone with the re-opening of the Library on Monday. With significant measures in place to keep people safe, including one way systems and newly-installed safety screens, the reopening has been a very welcome success. We have strict number controls in place to meet with the Scottish Government’s two metre guidance, and social distancing is being observed by all who are using the facility.

A film has been produced giving details on how the library is operating and I would encourage you to watch it and share it.

I have been pleased to see that the Library has been used particularly by our PGR students and is a welcome addition on our journey to fully reopen our campus.

The Return and Resume Development Group has approved the reopening of the University Nursery, and the team are now making the final arrangements for the safe resumption of activity.

Ahead of our students returning or beginning their studies, there has been a major focus on our pre-arrival information this year. Our Campus Life pages to support students can be found here and we have produced a range of videos which give updates on how to get to campus safely and information about arrival and what we mean by blended learning.

Again, please share these as widely as possible. I would like to thank everyone from across the Faculties and Professional Services for their efforts to generate this range of new, informative material for students.

As part of our commitment to support the entire Strathclyde community, we are providing three re-usable face coverings for all students and staff. These are due to be delivered to campus in mid-September and will be available for collection from a number of points on campus, with details on this being made available next week.  

Additionally this week, I and other Executive Team colleagues had our latest update meeting with the University Convener of Court, along with other senior Court members, on our recent achievements and plans for the coming months. In addition to our Covid response, we also highlighted the opportunities within the funding landscape and where we are responding using our distinctive model of collaboration and partnership working.

The members were impressed by our continued focus on the delivery of Vision 2025 and the emergence of new opportunities for Strathclyde and they were reassured by our Return and Resume planning.  It is through your hard work that we were able to provide such an impressive range of opportunities in pursuit of Vision 2025 and I thank you for all your efforts. 

Similarly, I met with our Chancellor, Lord Smith of Kelvin, recently and he was very keen to learn more of what’s happening at Strathclyde, as always. He asked me to convey his warm regards and appreciation of everyone’s efforts and he has agreed to present his views on the Covid impacts in the UK by addressing our Leadership Group next month.

Finally, next week we will publish the schedule for the ‘Principal’s Engagement Meetings’ that will be organised throughout September. Following our experience earlier in the summer, we plan to increase the attendee limits and ensure all parts of the University have an opportunity to participate.

Please make the most of your Meeting Free Friday tomorrow and have an enjoyable and restful weekend.

Best wishes,