Working to ensure a safe academic year 2020/21

Working to ensure a safe academic year 2020/21

Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, Professor George Boyne, says staff, student and the wider community's safety is the priority ahead of the start of the new term.

In response to a shared statement issued by Universities Scotland from Scotland’s 19 University Principals and Directors, Professor Boyne added:

“The health and safety of our staff, students and wider community are central to the extensive planning and preparation underway for our new academic year which starts on September 21.

“Campus will look and feel very different and our blended learning approach – a mix of online learning and some face to face teaching – will see a greatly reduced number of students and staff on campus at any one time.  

“Scottish Government guidance is steering the robust measures we are taking which include ensuring physical distancing, installing one-way systems and enhancing our hygiene procedures to make our campus as safe as possible.

“All staff and students are being urged to support our Covid Campus Pledge and follow our Covid Campus Guidelines. We are also encouraging our community to download the Protect Scotland app from NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing system to help curb the spread of the virus.

“We have been able to test some of our measures so far as around half of our staff have been on campus already at different times, either doing lab-based research or as part of their preparations for the new term.

“Hundreds of students have also been in our halls over the summer and many new arrivals are already here and are now quarantining with us.

“Our priorities must be ensuring our students and staff have a safe, supported and successful new term while also meeting our collective responsibilities to protect our wider community.”

Shared statement to students from the Principals and Directors of Scotland's universities

and higher education institutions:

We are so pleased to be able to welcome every student, new or returning, to our universities. It is so important that you have the chance to continue your education, and to take the next positive step
into your future. We want you to receive the best possible education and to offer you a supportive and engaging student experience this year but our top priority as universities, in the midst of a pandemic, is to keep you, and our staff, safe and to contribute to keeping everyone else in our towns and cities, across Scotland as safe as possible.

This is a shared responsibility. We’re still battling a pandemic. We all have an important part to play in suppressing transmission of the virus. Students have shown incredible solidarity in the fight against the pandemic and support for the most vulnerable. Students in health disciplines were amongst the first to offer to work on the NHS frontline, students made PPE when stocks were in short supply and volunteered in many community settings.

We need the whole university community to continue to look out for each other, and for the wider community, in the every-day actions we take as we start a new academic year.

Staff in universities have worked incredibly hard from the early summer to plan for the new semester and adapt our approaches to teaching and our campuses to keep you safe. We will offer you the expertise of our teachers, researchers, and student services, through a mix of flexible and accessible routes. Student Associations and the sabbatical teams are a valued partner in putting these plans in place and we’re grateful for their energy and commitment.

Campuses will look and feel different this term. With a blended approach to teaching in the first semester there will be fewer people on campus than usual and our spaces will be reconfigured to support physical distancing, enhanced hygiene protocols and the use of tech to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing system. Students can support this further by downloading the NHS Scotland Protect Scotland contact tracing app.

As universities, we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver on our responsibilities to you, as our students, and to the wider communities we are proud to be a part of. We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and public health bodies to ensure we adhere to the latest guidance as needed.

As students, we ask you to recognise the important role and responsibility that you have, on and off campus, to keep yourself, and the wider communities around you, safe from coronavirus. Please prioritise public health so we can ensure that the new academic year is a safe and satisfying experience for everyone.

Supported by:
Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal of the University of Stirling & Convener of Universities Scotland Professor Sally Mapstone, Principal of the University of St Andrews & Vice Convener of Universities Scotland
Professor George Boyne, Principal of the University of Aberdeen
Professor Nigel Seaton, Principal of Abertay University
Professor David Maguire, Interim Principal of the University of Dundee
Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal of the University of Edinburgh
Professor Andrea Nolan, Principal of Edinburgh Napier University
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, Principal of the University of Glasgow
Professor Pamela Gillies, Principal of Glasgow Caledonian University
Ms Penny McBeth, Director of the Glasgow School of Art
Professor Richard A Williams, Principal of Heriot-Watt University
Professor Crichton Lang, Principal of the University of the Highlands and Islands
Ms Susan Stewart, Director of the Open University in Scotland
Sir Paul Grice, Principal of Queen Margaret University Edinburgh
Professor Steve Olivier, Principal of Robert Gordon University
Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
Professor Wayne Powell, Principal of Scotland’s Rural College
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde Glasgow
Professor Craig Mahoney, Principal of the University of the West of Scotland

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