I hope this update finds you well.
Priorities for our University – a reminder
Following lockdown earlier this year, I outlined four objectives for our University community, which are in line with our emerging strategic priorities. In our town hall meetings and in my updates to you, I said that it would be important to:
- work together with colleagues across our University to recruit the strongest possible intake in 2020/21,
- ensure that we’re well prepared to deliver quality learning from September,
- maximise income from other areas, particularly in research,
- have a strong funnel of new courses which will attract the best students in the future, using the more flexible approach that the revised CT will allow.
I will say a little more about these and our current position over the next few weeks, although it is too early to say much about new courses in detail.
This week, I particularly want to focus on our goal relating to delivering quality learning.
Delivering quality learning
It is vital that we give the best education, and in particular campus experience, this year for the benefit of our current students and for the University’s future. That is why I am deeply grateful to our teaching staff for working so very hard to deliver both in-person and online teaching. Thank you.
I have heard of some most innovative uses for the 4 hour in person teaching sessions, and have had emails from students stressing how important these are for them. For overseas students it has been a clear factor in why they came to Bath.
It is also clear that structure for our students is really important in terms of mental health and wellbeing. Indeed, one of the things we learnt from students during the summer was the need for clear structures for their days, with time spent away from their rooms.
So, it is not only the fact that we committed to in-person teaching whilst Government regulations allowed, nor its importance in respect of the sustainability of our organisation, though both of these are very serious matters; it is also that, whilst we can do so safely and in line with public health advice, delivering in-person teaching gives a richer experience and enhances the wellbeing of our students. This message has been reinforced recently to me by the Students’ Union.
In saying this, I am in no way detracting from the concerns some staff have had about in person teaching. While positive feedback concerning IPT is being received across many areas of the University, there are clearly challenges in some other areas. We are working hard to address these, including solving inevitable teething issues. The importance of this mode of delivery is why we have worked for months to transform campus to create Covid-secure teaching and learning spaces. Building on our learning from the successful safe support of students during the lockdown period, our Estates team, especially our cleaners and porters, continue to work tirelessly to ensure the safety of our buildings and we owe them much thanks.
May I also stress that we are keeping our activities under review, and are closely monitoring both the situation on campus and national and local guidance. We do take our commitments to both staff and students seriously and we are enormously grateful for everything you do.
Supporting self-isolating students
Last night, I had the privilege of meeting some of the team supporting self-isolating students. I am pleased to report that those students who are self-isolating have been acting very responsibly thus far. I outlined last week the support our colleagues in Ahs have been giving to students in University managed accommodation, including provision of food and cleaning supplies, support with delivery of post as well as a Covid-secure laundry service and entertainment options. This weekend, these students will be getting a ‘Feelgood Friday’ box with fruit and snacks, pizza delivered on Saturday night and a hot roast meal on Sunday. This operation to support our students when they need it the most and the dedication of this team, and those from other departments who have provided additional support, is extraordinary and I pay very great tribute to them.
Town halls and staff survey
I appreciate it is a strange time for us all at the moment, with many of us following the news headlines which evolve hourly with new Government announcements. Whilst there is much uncertainty about the months to come, the way our community has come together has been a real source of pride.
Thank you to everyone who has so far joined a virtual town hall or completed our staff survey. We have another town hall meeting next week and the survey is open for your feedback until 20 October. Please do keep engaging with us so we can navigate the months ahead safely and effectively, together.
With warm good wishes,
Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President