Dear Colleagues,

Following the announcement last week of the government’s roadmap out of lockdown we are working on our own approach to ramping up campus activity as national restrictions are relaxed. It was this time last year that our experts Professor Neil Ferguson and Professor Peter Openshaw spoke to Heads of Department and we first understood the gravity of the pandemic. Throughout this pandemic we have relied on the advice of our own experts and we will continue to consult with them as we come out of lockdown.

Roadmap out of lockdown

The first step in the national roadmap the government has laid out starts on Monday 8 March when many Departments will invite students taking practical or practical-based subjects who need access to specialist equipment or facilities to return to campus. The government will review the return of all other students by the end of the Easter holidays.

This means that staff needed to support this teaching will need to return to campus also. Of course, some of our staff are working diligently to serve those who are already on campus and have been for the duration of the pandemic. We expect that all staff and students who are currently coming onto campus or halls of residence to have regular tests. As always, the safety of our students and staff is of primary importance.

Even as the number of students on campus increases, government guidance for most of us remains to work from home whenever possible. This will continue until at least June, and we are working on how best to bring more of our community back to campus safely, flexibly and with the right support after that. We have formed a Return to Campus Working Group to facilitate and support departmental plans to increase the on-campus presence and establish new ways of working following the pandemic. The group is co-Chaired by Harbhajan Brar, Director of HR and Professor Neil Alford, Associate-Provost (Academic Planning). They will consider the results of the latest wellbeing survey and the input that was sent in by departments last week. 

Update on USS Valuation

We have been working on our pay and benefits packages to ensure that we can continue to attract and support our high-calibre staff. Part of this has involved working with trustees of the pension schemes to which we belong. This week we are expecting the valuation report from USS. We will look carefully at the options it proposes and work closely with you to give our views to the Joint Negotiating Committee and the employer forums in order to make sure that we provide a fair and sustainable pension as part of our total remuneration package. We will keep you updated with regular communications and encourage you to visit our pensions webpages for more information.

As we look back on an extraordinary year, we are thankful for all of your dedication, innovation and ingenuity that has made our mission a success, despite the very real personal challenges and uncertainties we have faced. The stories of service and support are heart-warming and inspiring. We look forward to taking the best of what we did and ensuring that it contributes to our steady progress into a new era of life and work together.

Best wishes,

Alice and Ian

Professor Alice P. Gast, President

Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost