I hope this message finds you and yours well.
With the approach of the new term, this week saw the Executive Team hold two key meetings. On Tuesday, the core Executive Team met to review our progress against our Vision 2025 targets, before a wider group, including Deputy Associate Principals, Professional Services Directors and Special Advisors gathered on Wednesday to plan for the year ahead and beyond. In particular, we reviewed the outputs and recommendations of the Strathclyde Acceleration Teams in order to move to implementation in the coming months across areas including learner journey, research & innovation districts, global context & distinctiveness, financial sustainability & optimal diversification and our culture & values. Much of what we agreed to prioritise had been informed by the inputs from the Strathclyde Innovation Forum; thanks to those of you who have contributed in that way.
It is 18 months since the launch of Vision 2025 and having shaped and maintained the Vision through the global pandemic, the focus is now firmly on priorities, delivery and outcomes. The sessions provided a timely opportunity to highlight progress and identify the optimal way ahead for the entire University community through the contributions of our four Faculties and the Professional Services.
We remain in a strong position for the coming years of the plan and our recent successes – not least our performance in the National Student Survey – show that we are delivering on the commitments we made at the launch in February 2020, despite the challenges brought by the pandemic. I am proud of how the University has forged ahead since Vision 2025 was launched and these sessions provided a fresh reminder of how well we are placed to capitalise on our strong performance.
I have encouraged all who attended to ensure that teams across the University are updated on the sessions and presentations made by the end of this month, and you will hear more about this over the coming weeks.
This week there has been an important development in the ongoing discussions nationally regarding the future pension provision provided through the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS). Members will be aware that following the recent scheme valuation, that was published in March 2021, the USS Trustees indicated that the Scheme has a substantial deficit and action needed to be taken to address this to ensure its future sustainability.
Earlier this week, the USS Joint Negotiating Committee (JNC) decided in favour of a package of changes proposed by Universities UK to address these concerns. We recognise that UCU who are represented on the JNC did not support these proposals. Following approval by the USS Trustees the potential changes will be subject to a 60-day consultation period with affected staff before any changes would take place. Further details on this will be communicated when they become available.
Earlier this week I was delighted to learn that our Organisational and Staff Development Unit within HR have won the Best Employer Learning & Development Initiative at the s1 Recruitment Awards. The award was for their 2020 entry but was only recognised last week as the ceremony had to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
The entry was based on the breadth and depth of our learning and development offering, particularly our leadership development programmes and their alignment with the University's ethos, vision and values. This is fantastic recognition for the entire OSDU team and I am sure you will join me in congratulating them.
Across Scotland, as we see the number of positive COVID-19 cases rising I’d like to remind you of the importance of doing our part to reduce transmission and to keep everyone safe. This includes ensuring you have had both doses of the vaccine and to follow Scottish Government guidance.
Please also remember not to attend work if you feel unwell and to use lateral flow and PCR tests as appropriate. I would also like to remind you that if you receive a positive COVID-19 test result or have been asked by the NHS to self-isolate, or you are displaying symptoms, please let your line manager know and notify the University via the COVID-19 Notifications web form.
I was delighted to see StrathUnion playing their part in our safety drive by creating a new campaign called Community Immunity. Created and delivered entirely by our students, this push is encouraging all students to ensure they have received their vaccination to help protect themselves and others.
As well as new and returning students, it is a reminder to us all of our responsibilities to each other and the wider community. This includes wearing a face covering in indoor spaces, being conscious of the personal space of others, the importance of regular testing and to install the Protect Scotland and Check In Scotland apps.
I fully endorse the Community Immunity initiative and congratulate our Student Executive members for their excellent work which is in keeping with the socially responsible approach taken by StrathUnion throughout the pandemic.
Thank you again for all your efforts on behalf of Strathclyde and please enjoy your weekend when it comes.