Weekly update from the Vice-Chancellor - 11/09/2020

Posted in: Weekly Update

Dear colleague,

Finalising arrangements for the 2020/21 academic year

The majority of our new undergraduates arrive next week, from 17-22 September, and we are now very much in the final stages of preparing our campus, teaching and services for the start of Semester. Further detail will be contained in this week’s operational update, but the immense team effort being undertaken is coming to fruition. From the changes to signage, one-way systems, infrastructure and equipment in our buildings and on campus, and the work being done by Heads of Departments and line managers in finalising risk assessments and working patterns, to the recruitment of instructional designers to support learning and teaching, it is clear that colleagues’ dedication and hard work, on-campus and elsewhere, are helping to overcome remaining hurdles.  My sincere thanks to everyone involved.

As we enter the final push to ensure we are prepared for our new arrivals and returning students, it is heartening to see that induction and The SU’s Freshers’ Week are fully planned, having been reimagined in light of Covid-19 guidance including social distancing. I know this task has not been without difficulty, particularly in light of evolving Government rules, and this has required a great deal of agility in our planning. I have previously paid tribute to the work of our colleagues in this area, both centrally and in Faculties, the School and Departments, but I also wanted to acknowledge the huge contribution made by our student community.

Many of you will be aware of the hundreds of student volunteers who support the arrival process. ‘Freshers’ Captains’ help new students to navigate campus, make connections and also answer any of their questions. Over 900 ‘peer mentors’ will also support new students in their transition to University life. I know The SU has had a herculean task in adapting their events and activities in light of this new normal, and I would like to mark our appreciation of their work and that of all the University staff who have supported them.

Although we of course look forward to having more students and staff on campus again, I have no doubt that this will not be a straightforward Semester and that we will face a number of challenges over the coming months. We are entering a new phase where we will need to focus on delivery whilst being ever vigilant about the safety and wellbeing of our community, each of us playing our part to progress our mission whilst carefully following the guidance which will keep us Covid-secure.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion – new roles

I last updated our community in July about plans to enhance our approach to equality, diversity and inclusion through establishing a Race Equality Taskforce, and appointing a Head of this taskforce, and to invest in the leadership capacity for ED&I by creating an Executive Chair post for the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

I am pleased to say that both the Executive Chair of the Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Committee and Head of the Race Equality Taskforce posts are now being advertised and will play a key role in meeting our aspirations as a University where all can flourish. I would encourage colleagues to take a look at these important roles and, of course, apply if you are keen to make a difference in this area.

Guardian University Guide 2021

As you may have seen, our University has retained its ranking of 6th nationally in the Guardian’s University Guide 2021. Additionally, we have kept our position as the highest ranked university in the south west. Given there has been some volatility within the top ten rankings, this is a wonderful accomplishment.

I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to all our colleagues for this achievement, which reflects the hard work and talent of so many staff and students. It is a real source of pride that so many of our individual subjects are ranked so highly and I would like to express my gratitude for the work that has enabled this excellent result.

With warm good wishes,

Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President

Posted in: Weekly Update


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