Strathclyde update: a joint message from the Principal and Student President
Thanks to the breakthroughs in vaccine developments and the imminent programme of vaccination, the prospects for 2021 are looking brighter, and we are all looking forward to a time when we can get together again on campus. The students and staff of Strathclyde have made great sacrifices throughout 2020 and we will not forget what we have learned - and achieved - together in these very difficult circumstances. Looking at the role universities have played in responding to this pandemic, we are sure you share our pride in what academic research, innovation and education continues to achieve for society.
The Scottish Government has announced that we will move down a Protection Level, to Level 3 from today, Friday 11 December 2020. While this is encouraging news, and we look forward to further progress in 2021, the virus continues to affect us all, and we all have our part to play in ensuring that we continue to adhere to the guidelines. To this end, we are delighted that so many of you have taken up the opportunity to use the Strathclyde Covid-19 Test Centre facility before you travel home for the festive season. Thank you: taking the test will allow you to know that you are helping keep your families, friends and home communities as safe as possible.
The Government has also announced that universities will offer COVID-19 testing in Semester 2 as part of a staggered return of students to campus. We are planning how we will manage this process and will share the details with you as soon as we can. You can read what Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, said in his statement to parliament.
We also know you’ll be keen to understand what Semester 2 will mean for you, your studies and life on campus. Staff across the University are continuing to work incredibly hard to plan for this and provide you with the best possible experience. In the Principal’s update of 13 November, we shared with you the plans for the start of Semester 2. The first 2-3 weeks, including Consolidation and Development week, will be presented online from week beginning 11 January. You will be supported throughout this period, through your module/programme leaders and the University student support services and StrathUnion. When we are able to commence blended learning, in line with Scottish Government guidance, your Department or School will contact you to support and guide you through this process.
Throughout this period we have recognised that there may be occasions where you aren’t able to attend due to personal circumstances; we understand this and if you are experiencing any challenges then get in touch with your Module or Programme Leader – it is really important that you let them know. We will be flexible in how you are supported to engage in your studies, subject to the requirements of your programme of study.
We will continue to operate a flexible start to the semester, so if you’re not able to join us in Glasgow from 11 January, please get in contact with your Programme or Module leader to discuss your circumstances. As mentioned, for the majority, the Semester will commence with online learning, with only essential on-campus activities taking place within a small number of programmes. We are expecting that as we move through the Scottish Government Levels, we will see an increase in the number of programmes offering blended learning on campus. We all miss the life and energy which you as students bring to our campus and are looking forward to supporting you thrive in this new learning environment. Support will be available for you, whatever the new Semester has to bring.
As we enter the formal assessment period, we would like to wish you every success in your assessments. This has been a challenging year, which has impacted us all in different ways – we recognise this and have been impressed by the tremendous resilience shown throughout this period. We know assessments can normally be a time of increased worry or concern, and that the current circumstances may add to this, but please remember that assessments have been planned and developed to take account of the online and blended learning approaches that you have experienced throughout the course of the Semester.
The University remains committed to ensuring that these circumstances do not detrimentally affect your academic performance at module or programme level. If you need help with revision planning or some reassurance or wellbeing support, remember our student services are here to support you. Our StrathUnion Advice Hub is also here to provide confidential advice and guidance.
Given the on-going nature of the pandemic, the University’s Executive Team has this week agreed to provide an additional £200,000 to the Student Hardship Fund to provide emergency support for those of you who are struggling financially as a result of the pandemic. The Hardship Fund has played an important role in our student support network since the onset of the pandemic and it is important that this support continues.
We’re also pleased to tell you that the University is now a member of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme. Students, colleagues and visitors who are exempt from wearing face coverings can wear a sunflower lanyard to indicate their exemption. The sunflower symbol also signals that the wearer has a hidden disability and may need additional support, help or more time.
Our membership is another important step to further enhance our status as an inclusive organisation, in line with our socially progressive ethos. More information on the scheme and details of where you can collect a free lanyard are available on the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme web pages.
Finally, we would like to take this opportunity to wish you all a restful and relaxing festive season. We are currently finalising our student support for over the winter break and we will share this with you shortly. StrathUnion has already unveiled its Festive Calendar which you can find now on the StrathUnion website. We won’t forget Christmas 2020!
Safe travels and good health to you all, we are looking forward to a brighter 2021 where we will tackle any challenges together.
All best wishes,