Weekly update from the Vice-Chancellor - 25/06/2020

Posted in: Weekly Update

Dear colleague,

I hope this e-mail finds you well and that many of you were able to take some rest last Friday.

The 2020/21 Academic Year

As the momentum of the Project Teams is building up, there will be more planning and operational updates over the next few weeks.

Highlights from their recent work include:

  • Staff health and wellbeing: you will have seen the UK Government announcement earlier this week about plans for 4 July onwards, including changes to lockdown measures and social distancing rules. Much work has been undertaken to ensure we can start up activity on campus safely, with the wellbeing of staff and students of vital importance. Given the need to future-proof our arrangements for the whole academic year, we will continue to ensure our plans work on the basis of two-metre distancing. However, we are exploring the opportunities that the new ‘one metre plus’ rule will allow us, where it is not possible to stay two metres apart, and we can conduct activity safely. Filming is taking place on campus this week to share with you examples of our work to date, including one-way systems, current signage, and ‘maximum occupancy’ information.
  • Education: the Resilient Bath Curriculum Project Group has made significant progress and is now liaising with each Academic Department on details for delivering learning and teaching next year, from space needs and timetabling, to software requirements and resources. Plans now exist to provide in-person, peer-to-peer learning as well as small-group activities. Our new pairing system will also give students opportunities to work on exciting, challenging and globally-important topics. More information will follow on this.
  • Student experience: our colleagues in Ahs have now fully mapped out how to house our new student intake in University residential accommodation, with reduced occupancy to support safety and wellbeing. They are also developing detailed plans for each University catering outlet, with arrangements for take away and ‘click and collect’ services being put in place.

Please look out for additional updates from colleagues leading these groups.

University finances

Last month, I outlined the financial challenges we face in the coming months and years. I’m aware that, whilst some colleagues want more information about what this may mean for the University, others feel uncomfortable talking about cost cutting measures during an already-stressful time for us all.

I recognise that this is a difficult topic to address, and fully appreciate the sensitivities surrounding it. However, I have committed to being open with you about our finances and it is only right that I give you an accurate picture about the challenge that lies ahead of us. On the basis of the most up to date financial forecasts we have, we currently project the need to make £30M savings next year and we would still have a deficit.

It remains the case that our best collective response to the financial challenge is to recruit well and to prepare to deliver high quality education, student experience and research next year. This is why our main focus must continue to be on our operational priorities.

It also remains the case that we will face a tough few years even if we do recruit well, and we must find recurrent savings in our expenditure. In addition to the staff recruitment chill, we are reviewing projects and reducing expenditure on non-essential items. Most recently, we have agreed to end our lease of the offices at 83 Pall Mall in London and will be terminating this arrangement by 27 July. The Voluntary Exit (VE) Scheme is also important as it provides an opportunity for those who may be considering leaving the University the choice to do so now with significant benefits.

Our plans for final year students

At this time of year, we would usually be finalising plans for our summer graduation ceremonies. All students eligible to graduate in the summer of 2020 will have the opportunity to participate in a future degree congregation and degree certificates will be posted to graduating students once the University has approved the awards. We do, of course, want to support the Class of 2020 to celebrate their achievements this year. On Wednesday 29 July, all members of the University community are invited to join a virtual event to celebrate and congratulate our graduating students. I am very grateful to the Events team for leading this work alongside other colleagues, and they will be providing additional information shortly.

With warm good wishes,

Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President

Posted in: Weekly Update


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