CoronavirusStaff update: 28 January

Dear colleagues,

Over the last few weeks, I have been really impressed by how positive Strathclyde colleagues have remained over the latest lockdown. As we all abide by the tightened rules and work within the limitations they bring, the many meetings I attend each week continue to show the professionalism, focus and dedication of ‘Strathclyders’.

Naturally, we are all keen for the restrictions to ease in due course, but I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your continued commitment to our University.

At Executive Team this week, members discussed how to best ensure that those who have caring responsibilities during lockdown are given as much capacity as possible to balance professional and personal commitments. It is also important that we recognise that everyone’s circumstances are different.  

I would encourage us all to show understanding and support for each other and ensure we make time to maintain our positive mental health and wellbeing. 

Some things to consider include:

  • All colleagues reviewing whether work can be carried out more efficiently;
  • Ask if every meeting we arrange is absolutely necessary and consider if time spent in meetings can be reduced;
  • Can we reduce the number of emails we send to colleagues?;
  • Make sure you are clear on expectations on outcomes and timescales for delivery – and be prepared to be flexible.

The full guide on innovative and creative ideas can be found on our Wellbeing and Working from Home Hub.

In addition, the Organisational and Staff Development Unit (OSDU) has been working with the School of Education to arrange sessions to support those who are home schooling. If you are interested in being kept up to date as this develops, please register your interest here.

We have also launched a suite of online courses to support colleagues in making the most of Agile Working. This can be found here and they are aimed at all staff and managers to ensure Agile Working and its application is understood by anyone who is interested in exploring their options.

Also, in support of our work at home, this week StrathclydeSport have launched ExHALE - Exercise for Health Achievement, Lifestyle and Energy, an expansion of their support for the entire community in improving and maintaining wellbeing.

ExHALE will provide resources and expertise to support the development of lifelong positive habits and it gives practical advice to help colleagues find manageable and sustainable methods to add more activity into our weekly routine – something which is incredibly important at this time.

Senate met yesterday and in a very productive session we spent a significant amount of time focusing on the wellbeing of students and of staff. Senators all noted the particular challenges for the entire Strathclyde community and we discussed some of the measures above and a variety of other steps to take forward in the support everyone through the coming months.

This week the University held an extraordinary meeting of our Court. This meeting was organised to allow members to perform two very important tasks.

Firstly, Court approved the financial reporting of our 2019/20 performance. Court must do this each year to signify that they have confidence in the University’s financial position and this year – given the pandemic – the Executive Team provided assurance of the relative strength of our position, despite the challenges we have faced. Thanks to our strategy, careful planning and significant work by all colleagues, we are in a good financial position and this was recognised and welcomed by Court.

Secondly, Court was provided with a final update on our preparations for the Research Excellence Framework exercise – the UK-wide assessment of the quality of all university research. With just two months until submission, Court welcomed the significant progress made in this critically important programme. Taking place every seven years or so, the process involves huge amounts of work by academics, coordinated by colleagues in RKES and others in the four Faculties, as we prepare for submission. Like so many other parts of life at the moment, submission has been delayed by a year which has added complications to the past months.

I take a very close interest in the details and data, and have been kept informed at every step of the process. Court was updated on our positive state of readiness and members noted the collegiate nature of our preparations across the University as we work towards the submission at the end of March. There is still plenty of work to be done in the final stretch, but it was clear from the update that we are in a strong position for a confident submission.

I am also delighted to tell you that the University this week joined the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) as part of our drive on climate change action. Founded in 2007, the ISCN is an international network of leading universities.

Members of the Network use their shared experiences, capacity, passion, and intellectual capital to take meaningful action to contribute to sustainable development.

In granting membership to Strathclyde, the ISCN has recognised: our research and teaching; our partnerships with Glasgow City Council, industry, third sector and Government organisations on sustainable development; and, our strategic initiatives including active travel plans and the work of the Sustainable Strathclyde team.

Membership will also help us on our journey to Net Zero emissions by 2040 or earlier as set out in our Strategic Plan and it will support activities of our Centre for Sustainable Development and other actions on climate change.

You may also be aware that Glasgow City Council launched its recruitment campaign for volunteers this week ahead of the global COP26 conference.

We know colleagues may want to play a role in representing Glasgow and the UK to delegates from around the world at this important event.  If you are thinking about applying, please speak to your line manager in the first instance, and remember that our Volunteering Policy supports staff with up to two days annually for volunteering opportunities.

Finally, this week our University Challenge team was in action again on BBC2 on Monday in the first of their quarter final ties. Unfortunately, they lost to the University of Durham by 155 to 115 points, having come back very strongly in the closing stages. However, they still have two further opportunities to win a place in the semi-final and I am sure you join me in wishing them well and cheering them on during their future appearances.

Thank you once again for all your work on behalf of Strathclyde and please make the most of your rest day this week; enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes,