I hope you enjoyed the long bank holiday weekend and were able to make the most of your time with family and friends following the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Scotland.
As cases of coronavirus continue to fall in the UK, and the number of people who have been vaccinated continues to rise, we are working through our careful planning for the safe return to campus of greater numbers of students and staff. The Executive Team discussed the process this week and we will update you in the coming weeks as our plans develop. Throughout, the safety of our staff and students remains our first priority.
In addition to the re-opening of Strathclyde Sport, the golf course and catering facilities at Ross Priory are now open for bookings. We have also been able to open the Aura Café in the Lord Hope building, and the Flava Café in the Library foyer as a drop-in space for students to enjoy their own food. This is welcome news, particularly for the small numbers of students and staff who are currently working and studying on campus.
While we are planning for the future, it is important to be aware that, in line with national guidance for higher education, working and studying from home will remain the default position for the vast majority of students and staff for some time to come. We will keep you updated on the latest guidance, and please rest assured that the health, safety and wellbeing of our University community will remain at the heart of all our decision-making.
As an international university, we are also acutely aware that while the picture in Scotland and the UK is much-improved, many countries are seeing an unfortunate surge in COVID-19 cases and a deepening health crisis. The latest figures from countries including India and Brazil are a stark reminder of the global effort that is required to combat the pandemic. We know this remains a worrying time for many of our staff, students and partners who have relatives, friends and colleagues in countries facing the devastating consequences of a second wave. I would like to thank you for your efforts in continuing to support those around you during this challenging period.
This week, I was pleased to see the launch of Engage with Strathclyde – our flagship programme of events for the public, business, industry and other organisations. More than sixty events are running online throughout May with representation from each of the faculties and professional services. The programme is a great opportunity for colleagues to communicate their research and showcase innovation to develop new external partnerships and strengthen existing ones.
A particular highlight for me is always the Images of Research competition, now in its 10th year, which throws light on the work of Strathclyde academics, researchers and students. This year’s theme – Forging Sustainable Futures – reflects our position among the top universities in the world whose work is contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, according to the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021. I was delighted to announce the category winners and open the public vote at the launch event on Tuesday – a real celebration of the value and impact of our research. The standard this year is very high and includes a fantastic array of images. I am sure you will join me in congratulating all the entrants and the category winners. You can read more about Images of Research, and view the full Engage with Strathclyde calendar of events, on the website.
Finally, I am pleased to tell you that we have been selected as one of four universities and colleges to pilot a charter with the aim of improving gender-based violence prevention, intervention and support among students. The project is being run by EmilyTest, a charity set up in Scotland in memory of Aberdeen law student Emily Drouet, who experienced abuse from a fellow student.
As a socially-progressive university, we believe the higher education sector has an important role to play in helping to tackle gender-based violence wherever it may occur, through teaching and research, and by ensuring our campuses are safe. Our successful application to pilot the charter builds on our work launching the national Equally Safe in Higher Education toolkit on behalf of Scotland’s universities, and our investment in training and support. We are determined to play our part in driving the change that is needed in society more generally.
Please enjoy your weekend and many thanks for your continued efforts.