Deputy Vice-Chancellor’s blog: The Recovery Group

May 18th, 2020

Following the Vice-Chancellor’s blog last week, I am writing to provide our community with further details on the University’s approach to recovery and making preparations for a safe return to the UK campus when national restrictions allow.

It is important to say from the outset that staff should continue to work from home until advised otherwise, and students should continue with their studies and examinations online for the remainder of this term.  I remain immensely grateful to all colleagues for continuing their work in these difficult circumstances and for providing our students with their education and support online.

While some staff have remained on campus to support students, support the national effort and provide essential services, I know that many more colleagues are anxious to return to campus as soon as possible.  Students will want to know what the new academic year in September will look like, and  everyone will want reassurance that our environment will be as safe as possible.

When the time comes, a phased return to campus will present a greater challenge than we faced in suspending many of our campus operations in March. There are many complexities and interdependencies to consider, however, our single over-riding concern will be that of the health and safety of our people.

The Recovery Group
To ensure we can navigate these complexities and plan a safe return, I am chairing the Recovery Group to co-ordinate recovery activity across the University through seven connected workstreams, each of them developing detailed plans to conduct our research, teaching and services as follows:

  • Health and safety, including campus social distancing guidelines
  • Education, including recruitment and admissions
  • Campus life and the student experience
  • Research and innovation
  • Physical facilities and infrastructure
  • Digital facilities and infrastructure
  • Community and commercial partners

The work of each of the team will be guided by three overarching principles: to ensure the health and safety of our community, including social distancing and, where appropriate, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE); to ascertain the business and operational needs for activity to take place on campus; and to consider the broader impact on our people, particularly those who are vulnerable or have shielding or caring responsibilities.

Central co-ordination of local expertise
I am grateful to the many colleagues who have already contributed to the work of the Recovery Group in thinking about the start of session in September, working across Schools and Departments to develop plans for teaching and assessment in the new academic year. A considerable amount of thought is also going into defining our research priorities, as well as how and when different facilities can be re-opened and the additional health and safety measures that will be required to do so.

Of course, many of the issues we will face will be interconnected. For example, we may well need to use the buildings and spaces that we all share quite differently for a while to achieve social distancing. It is therefore important that we continue the collective approach to planning our recovery – local expertise combined with central co-ordination – to ensure we are consistent, fair and recognise the need to prioritise our plans to achieve maximum effect.

Our work is progressing as quickly as possible, with the minimum of bureaucracy, and drawing on the best advice of our own people and our experience in China, as well as our peers in higher education, industry bodies and trades unions, and of course guidance from the UK government and health authorities.

I will keep our community engaged in our discussions and informed of the decisions that are made through regular updates and communications. However, I appreciate that at times there will be frustrations or concerns and I ask for your continued patience, commitment and support so that our return to campus is safe, orderly and indeed a cause for celebration when it does take place.

I will write again soon with further news on progress. In the meantime, should you have any reflections and thoughts on our recovery planning, please get in touch at

Professor Andy Long
Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor

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