As you know, we have now entered a new period of Covid-19 restrictions in England, which will last until 2 December. In addition to my earlier messages, we have now published a summary of how we will be operating over the next four weeks. I am very grateful to everyone who has worked so rapidly to respond. We will continue to monitor the situation very carefully, including at the daily Silver EMT meetings.
Staff and student surveys
As we navigate through this year, under difficult circumstances, finding mechanisms for listening effectively to members of our community is more important than ever.
I appreciate that many of us miss the opportunity to have informal chats in the queue for coffee at 4 West café or in the Claverton Rooms, to have a chance conversation on the Parade, or to exchange ideas and opportunities over lunch at the Lime Tree. I very much look forward to the time when that is possible for us all again, but in the meantime our virtual monthly town halls and frequent Teams meetings with Heads of Department and other colleagues have been really important ways to continue engaging with one another.
We have also been conducting surveys to better understand how colleagues and our students are feeling and some of the issues we might address.
Although we are still analysing the wide range of views expressed in the recent staff survey, some interesting themes are coming through. These include reflections on how our communication has changed and improved during the pandemic, how we are adapting to different working patterns and how we have enhanced the way the University supports these, and the desire of many to have more time working with colleagues in person on campus. As the impacts of the pandemic and the timescales needed to tackle it become clearer, the type of issues we are all facing are changing. We are considering your feedback in more detail to ensure that we respond in ways which meet those needs and look forward to communicating further on this soon.
I know that many were heartened by the positive messages in our recent student survey, reinforcing the hard work of so many of our colleagues across the University in creating a positive student experience in exceptional circumstances. We have also identified some areas for improvement, which we are working on with departments currently. Themes including student workload, variable attendance at in-person sessions and feedback on digital platforms have given us useful and timely insight as we plan in earnest for our second Semester.
As you will be aware, it is Remembrance Day on Wednesday 11 November, next week. I know we cannot be together in person to mark this day, but I am very grateful that Nigel Rawlinson has organised a virtual broadcast. Those of you who wish to join in the two minute silence as a University community next week can find further information on our webpages.
Finally, I wanted to wholeheartedly thank everyone involved in organising the virtual Gold Scholars event earlier this week. It was such a joy to hear directly from our Gold Scholars about their recent experiences and the virtual format enabled real insight from personal reflection. I’d like to thank the Audio-Visual team for supporting these virtual events; their work is often behind the scenes but invaluable for enabling such engagement. I know that many teams are involved in supporting our Gold Scholars, and our widening participation activities more broadly. I would like to warmly thank Student Services, Undergraduate Admissions and Outreach and the Department for Development and Alumni Relations for all they do to support this special cohort of students.
With warm good wishes,
Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President