I hope this update finds you well. I do hope the assessment period went smoothly for all those colleagues involved, and warmly thank everyone for their efforts in completing online assessments in such challenging circumstances and for all the ongoing marking work.
Our plans for completing this academic year
We have not yet received details from Government about changes in guidance to the Higher Education sector. However, we understand from the Department for Education that we will not be able to resume any in-person learning and teaching, aside from the MPharm course, ahead of 8 March at the earliest.
In advance of any forthcoming guidance, we have been carefully planning for different eventualities. Our goal is to provide the best possible education and experience for our students, and to continue essential research activity, whilst trying our utmost to support and reduce pressures on colleagues.
We are taking a practical approach to planning to allow us to successfully complete the rest of this academic year. Professor Peter Lambert and Professor Tim Ibell have been working closely with departments, through the Resilient Curriculum Project. We are very grateful for the hard work taking place to plan scenarios including the reintroduction of blended delivery if and when this becomes possible, fully online if it is not, and making contingency plans for June and September in terms of lab-based and practical teaching elements that will need to be completed for some students ahead of the 2021/22 academic year. We are also exploring, alongside the SU, what extra-curricular activities we might put on in June, in case restrictions enable us to open up events and experiences more widely.
As we have previously communicated, we are reviewing risk assessments for on-campus activity to ensure our measures are in line with the latest guidance; and cases of Covid among our community, and particularly amongst our students, remain very low.
As previously, we will consider any new Government guidance at pace, and communicate with you about the implications for our community as soon as we can.
Supporting staff between now and 8 March
At our Gold Emergency Management Team meeting earlier today, we discussed not only how to complete this academic year successfully, but the current pressures on parents of school aged children. We understand that, even though we all fully appreciate the public health situation, the Government announcement that schools will not open more widely until 8 March will have put additional stresses on parents in particular.
In the near future, we will be discussing with Heads of Department and managers what actions we might take to try and ease this pressure and will update you on developments as soon as possible.
Target Bath scheme launched
In the last week the University has launched ‘Target Bath’, a new partnership with Rare recruitment, aimed at supporting Black British students of African, Caribbean or any other heritage to gain places at our University.
My congratulations to all those involved in developing this initiative, in particular our Widening Participation team, which will provide a range of support to 50 students annually through both Year 12 and 13. After Oxford and Cambridge, we are the first UK university to launch this scheme and this innovation is to be applauded.
Impact report on philanthropic gifts to the University
It is a testament to the generosity of our donors and the hard work of our Alumni and Development department that, despite the difficult circumstances, significant funds continue to be raised for critical activity at our University. The impact of these philanthropic gifts this year in supporting student hardship, the production of personal protective equipment (PPE) and in funding vital research and valued scholarships has been set out in this year’s Impact Report. My congratulations and thanks to all those involved.
Finally, although we have a significant challenge ahead to achieve all we have set out in our ambitious Climate Action Framework principles, I was pleased to see the progress we are making in this area being recognised externally. In the Carbon Targets ranking, Bath is placed in the ‘Leading the Way’ tier alongside 26 other Higher Education institutions. My thanks to colleagues who have been progressing this important initiative over the last year, specifically Professor Pete Walker, Peter Phelps and Shannon Carr-Shand but also the much wider group of colleagues who have volunteered time to develop our thinking and plans. More information is available about our work on climate change across the University on our webpages.
With warm good wishes,
Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President