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Community update from Vice-Chancellor Stuart Croft (30 March)

"I just wanted to send a message, hopefully everyone is well, looking after yourself, family and friends. Just a message of update on where we are to get through this period of crisis that we in this country, and the world are facing.

If you remember, our four main points around this are:

  • Safe guarding health
  • Graduating our students
  • Protecting jobs
  • Being a good neighbour, volunteering and supporting

On safeguarding health we now have instituted for most people, working away from campus. We have three groups of our staff: we have critical workers working on campus, we still need work on campus because we have several hundred students who still need supporting so the Residential Life Team, Wellbeing, the grocery store are still working to provide support as well as Security and our Health and Safety Staff. We've got a group of you working at home, thank you to you, I know how difficult that is working in kitchens, bedrooms, often with kids running around you, often with a laptop on your knee. And we've got a group of staff who are at home without much to do at the moment because that's the nature of those jobs.

To all of you, please stay in touch, it's a difficult time for us but we can work through this together. We are also of course staying in touch with our students and giving them as much information as we possibly can because the second priority, graduating our students is really, really important and we now know it is clear and we told our students that there can be no physical summer term this year. That means no sat examinations, we will have alternative arrangements and what we said to our students is we will provide a safety net. So, if students do not perform well in those alternative assessments this summer because of the virus and the circumstances all around us, we will provide a safety net so you cannot do worse than your position going into those assessments from your assessed work so far.

Third, protected jobs, vitally important and here the Government have made an enormous, enormous contribution. They have said that they will fund wages for those who are unable to work and we need to be in touch with you about how this will work. But essentially Government will fund a large proportion of the wages of those who are unable to work at the moment in order to protect the financial basis of the University. So more on that to follow... But the point of this scheme is to protect jobs, it is not anything else. They have also said, the Government, that they can loan us some money and we're going to look into that as well to see if there is a way of funding some of the University should we need to go down that position.

Fourthly, community, volunteering - everything that people have been doing, an absolute avalanche of enormously important contributions. From working in food banks, from working with kids, from working with neighbours. From getting food for people who are still isolating, tremendous number of things going on. I went out on Wednesday and was delivering medicines around where I live and it was fantastic just to get out and to do something. But as a University there are lots of really important things that we are doing as well. All of the protective equipment everywhere on campus has now come out and been given to the NHS through our hospital. We have an enormous amount of contribution being made to the research into how we get a vaccine for COVID-19. We have our Medical School staff and our students heavily involved in finding ways to help support people as this crisis in health will get worse over the next couple of weeks.

I'm going to try and stay in touch. Please watch out for all the materials we're putting online to help support with wellbeing, to help support with physical activity.

In the meantime, stay healthy, stay in touch and enjoy this sunshine.

Best wishes to all."

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Croft.