CoronavirusStaff update 2 December 2021

Dear colleagues,

Last week, I wrote to you with the news that the University has been awarded the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for our work in Advanced Manufacturing. This is yet another significant milestone on our journey achieved through the hard work and dedication of our people from across the University and is further independent recognition of our status as a socially progressive, leading international technological university.

It caps a year when, despite the continuing backdrop of the global pandemic, colleagues from across the University have stepped up and continued to deliver on our Vision 2025 strategy.

2021 has also seen an incredible achievement in NSS where, on the THE magazine measurement, we have risen to fourth in the UK.  We have also continued to support our Widening Access ambitions and this year have accepted more applicants in these categories than ever before. This means we now welcome more SIMD 0-40 students – those from some of the most challenged areas of the country – than any other Scottish university, a first for Strathclyde.

We have also continued our strong track record in attracting research income, with this year seeing a continuation of our growth.  In this area over the past ten years, our total competitively won research income has tripled – this is a truly spectacular performance.

In recognition of these and many other achievements, I am delighted to tell you that the University will be adding an additional three days to our annual leave allocation over the Christmas break.

For the majority of staff, this will be taken on January 5th, 6th and 7th, with a return on Monday, January 10th. This means that the festive break will be just over two weeks long as a demonstration of our appreciation to all Strathclyders from across the institution who continue to work so hard and contribute so well to making our University a success – many thanks indeed!

We do recognise that, for operational reasons, not all colleagues will be able to take these specific days, however alternative arrangements can be made in discussion with your line manager.

As a people-orientated employer, I am also pleased to tell you that as of 1 December, we will be ensuring all staff are paid in line with, or above, the newly announced Voluntary Living Wage of £9.90 per hour. This means that those colleagues who are on the University pay scale at a rate that is lower than the new Voluntary Living Wage (announced on 15 November) will be paid a supplement in addition to their salary.

Strathclyde was delighted to voluntarily become a Living Wage accredited employer in October 2015. As a socially progressive university, we are pleased to reaffirm our commitment to the Living Wage today.

In other news this week, many of you will have been following the latest news in relation to the recently detected Omicron variant of COVID-19. At this stage, scientists are still working to help us understand the impact and implications of the variant. However, there are some very early-stage indications that it may be more transmissible than the Delta variant.

We are continuing to monitor the latest research and government guidance closely and, as has been the case throughout the pandemic, we will take a measured and proportionate approach, with the health, safety and wellbeing of our University community guiding all our decisions. Our internal COVID-19 mitigation measures already go beyond the Scottish Government’s guidance for the Higher Education sector.

At this stage, there are no plans to make changes to the existing COVID measures in Scotland, but in her statement to Parliament on Tuesday, the First Minister asked everyone to ‘significantly step up and increase compliance’ with existing protections. This includes taking Lateral Flow Tests on any and all occasions before mixing with people from other households, now and throughout the festive season, whether for work or social purposes.

As a reminder, you can pick up lateral flow tests, free of charge, from our collection centre in the Livingstone Tower, which is open midday to 4pm Monday to Friday. If you are off campus, lateral flow tests are widely available from pharmacies, or by home delivery from the UK Government website.

Please also be aware that the vaccine booster programme has now been widened and accelerated. This includes offering boosters to over-18s and reducing the wait for a booster after a second dose from six to three months. You can read the latest information about boosters, and book your appointment online, via the NHS Inform website.

Finally, an update from our Strathclyde Innovation Forum. You will remember that our Third Grand Challenge resulted in colleagues submitting more than 70 ideas on the three themes of: key COVID-19 lessons learned; tackling climate change; and, our role as a caring and compassionate employer. You can now read more about how some of these ideas are being implemented – and the impact they are having – on the Strathclyde Innovation Forum web pages. Your ideas really do make a difference and I appreciate you taking time to share these with us. Please look out for our Fourth Grand Challenge in the New Year.

Best wishes for a restful and enjoyable weekend.