Weekly update from the Vice-Chancellor - 07/05/21

Posted in: Weekly Update

Dear colleague,

The completion of the teaching year

Looking back to this point last year, we faced – and overcame – enormous challenges as a community. We have now successfully completed teaching for this year and I am immensely proud of our response, the dedication and care you have shown to our students, their learning and wellbeing, and to each other. Thank you so much.

Our teaching colleagues’ exceptional work now provides an opportunity to keep the best of what has been put in place over the last academic year while building on teaching from previous years.

Our approach to learning and teaching in 2021-22

As restrictions continue to ease in line with the UK Government’s roadmap, we have been carefully developing our plans about the shape of next academic year.

Our overriding aim will be to provide high-quality learning and teaching in an environment that is safe for our staff and students.

Colleagues across the University have been working hard and planning for different scenarios in preparation for 2021-22, for which I am very grateful. The testing systems we have in place, coupled with the excellent progress of the national vaccination programme, give us cause to put in place flexible but optimistic plans for a return to a more normal year ahead. We therefore look forward to seeing our students in person for the start of the next academic year.

The precise make up of delivery will vary, reflecting the specific needs of each course, but we are planning to deliver as much in-person learning – including lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, peer-to-peer learning and group discussions – as we safely can. Many courses will also have blended elements of delivery.

Of course, we have learned a great deal about adapting our plans, and know that we can move most of our provision online, should circumstances change and require it in the next year.

Whilst we expect new and returning students to come to Bath in person as soon as they are able, there may be some, for example students living in countries subject to travel restrictions, for whom this is not possible. Therefore, we will be seeking to support them in the best possible way to help them to achieve good learning outcomes ahead of arriving in Bath later in 2021 or early in 2022. Until that time, these students will need access to the available online course content and academic and pastoral support.

I am very grateful to our academic departments, members of the Resilient Curriculum Project Team, CLT, Admissions, Academic Registry and many other colleagues for their hard work behind the scenes in developing detailed plans about course delivery and timetabling, so we can communicate in an accurate and timely way both to colleagues and to applicants and returning students.

Health and wellbeing

The health, wellbeing and safety of our community continue to be a priority in all our plans.

We have had very few cases of Covid since the start of 2021, our testing programme has played an important role in keeping us safe and we expect regular testing will continue to be an important measure in the next academic year. We are also actively engaging with the local Council and public health officials on the roll out of the UK vaccination programme.

As we move into the next academic year, we will continue to implement any measures needed for a Covid-secure environment. We will be discussing this with our campus trade unions and guidance will be available for staff and students about what we can all do to keep each other safe.

We will be liaising with staff over the coming months to support them in the return to campus activities, including in-person teaching, whilst continuing to carefully monitor the public health situation as it evolves.

Professor Jeremy Bradshaw

Professor Jeremy Bradshaw, Pro Vice Chancellor (International and Doctoral) will be leaving his post at the University at the end of this academic year and I would like to warmly thank him for his service. Jeremy joined us in early 2018 from the University of Edinburgh and has been instrumental in leading developments in the Doctoral College, taking forward our international aspirations, and latterly overseeing the alumni relations team to improve our external profile. I am extremely grateful for his efforts and for how he has championed change over his time with us. Although leaving the University, I am hopeful that Jeremy will still find ways to contribute his expertise to our community.

Of course, those reporting into Professor Bradshaw have been informed and we will work to ensure a smooth transition process. The areas of international profile and partnerships, alumni and development and postgraduate research remain clear priorities for the University and will be important elements of our University strategy in the future.

As you will be aware, we are well progressed in recruiting for the roles of Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education) and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research). We now have very strong longlists for both roles, with excellent candidates from both within the University and externally. We will continue to update you as these appointments progress.

The pandemic and its global impact

Although we may now be seeing restrictions ease here in the UK, I did not want to let the news about the terrible impact of the pandemic in countries such as India and Brazil go unmentioned. This cruel pandemic has had devastating consequences for communities around the globe and it has been awful to see the particularly acute impact it is currently having in India, Brazil and a number of other countries.

Of course, we have many staff, students and alumni from India and Brazil, or with family links to these countries, and they have been very much in my heart and in my thoughts over the last few weeks. We have published sources of support on our webpages, and I know our community will look out for students and staff who may be struggling themselves or have family and friends who have been affected by current events.

Finally, I would like to warmly congratulate Professor Carole Mundell on being appointed as President of the Science Council, which is a wonderful achievement and I know she will bring her talent, expertise and energy to great effect.

I was also really pleased to hear this week that our University has been shortlisted by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations for their best in-house Covid response award, alongside organisations such as the University of Oxford and King’s College London. This is another example commending the whole-community approach that we adopted in engaging with, and supporting, our students and each other. Congratulations are due to all.

With very best wishes,

Professor Ian White
Vice-Chancellor and President

Posted in: Weekly Update


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