Latest updates

Update to staff - 2 June at 5.45pm

Dear Colleagues,

I know all my recent messages have started this way, but I say so genuinely again – thank you for all you continue to do to support each other and our students.

As the Vice-Chancellor indicated in his message on 29th May, there is clear progress as we begin to resume operations at our campuses. We do so in a gradual, measured and safe way, with risk assessments in place for each facility. Whilst the norm remains to work from home wherever you can, there are now protocols for those who can't effectively work from home, or need to come to campus for a period to work, to do so. Please discuss with your Operations Manager or Director of Service if you need to do this. You will need to complete the social distancing training session on Learn before returning. The University’s FAQs are still being regularly updated and can be found here:

We are writing to students and applicants today to give them a realistic but positive message of our plans for the new academic year. We will be open in the autumn and we will admit new cohorts to both our campuses. We will say that we plan for there to be some face-to-face tuition at the heart of delivery, laboratory practical work (where relevant) and a stimulating learning environment. Where there are large groups of students in a lecture, it is likely though that these will need to be delivered online in the first instance. Learning facilities will be open – but with social distancing measures in place. We are exploring and are likely to have in place additional health and safety measures, such as temperature testing. Things will not be normal. But we will and are planning to deliver a positive experience on campus for students. There is still much detail to work through with care, and I and the Vice-Chancellor will write to keep you informed of those developing plans over the coming weeks.

All colleagues have been vital to the challenges we have contended with as a University. Today I did in particular want to thank and acknowledge the contribution of facilities and technical colleagues, in the Schools and Professional Services, who have been fundamental to the resumption of operations and our laboratory work, and will be equally fundamental when teaching ultimately resumes on our campuses.

The Pro Vice-Chancellor (Teaching), Rachel Thomson, has been working with colleagues to look ahead to the start of the next academic year, and has asked me to share the following update with you:

I know that many academic staff are currently engaged in marking, and thank you for all the hard work that you continue to do to support the remote assessment process which is really appreciated.

Looking ahead to the next academic year, I would like to thank all staff who have responded to the survey we launched recently on remote teaching delivery. We had received over 250 responses at the end of last week, and these comments have been very helpful in informing our future plans.

I am writing to share with you the process which we are going through, and the associated timeline, in order to provide reassurance to staff that we will have the necessary guidance and support in place, both with the pedagogy to support online learning and how to use the technology to best effect.

You will be aware that we have also been running a student survey over the last few weeks. It is interesting to note that in answer to the question ‘what have you missed most from face-to-face teaching’, both staff and students have said the same things – the connection and engagement between staff and students, the ability to ask/answer questions instantly, casual informal discussions, and the general energy and enthusiasm from in class teaching.

We have also undertaken a review of our digital teaching tools. The initial results from the survey indicate that many staff found Adobe Connect more challenging to use, and that Microsoft Teams was the most useful interactive package. I am grateful to IT Services who are currently undertaking a project to be able to allow us to use many more features of Microsoft Teams moving forwards. Therefore, we will be recommending the combination of Teams, Panopto (ReVIEW) in conjunction with continuing use of Learn and other existing tools, such as Veevox for polling, moving forwards.

Many of you have also requested support with the pedagogy of online learning, as well as with the technology. To this end, we continue to gather feedback from across the University using a number of channels to harness and share good practice. Thank you to those who have provided insights and expertise.

We are currently putting together a set of ‘blueprints’ for flexible module delivery to cover all different types of teaching situations. These will be in the form of ‘how to’ guides (or ‘recipe cards’) supported by a training package focused on practical ‘top tips’ covering both pedagogy and the use of technology which staff will be able to use for future teaching delivery as appropriate. We plan to have these available over the next two to three weeks, and will continue to evolve support and resources, responding to the needs of the community.

I hope that this will provide appropriate reassurance for staff about the support available for any flexible delivery modes that we may require in the future. I would be very happy to receive any additional feedback at any time. Thank you for all that you continue to do to support our students.

Please continue to take care and thank you again for all your kind contributions at this challenging time.


Richard Taylor
Chief Operating Officer