A letter from our Vice-Chancellor
University of Derby ready to safely welcome back students to our city
As we begin to welcome new and existing students to the University of Derby, it is understandable that the community of which we are proud to be a part may have questions about the phased return of activity to our city and wider county.
We are one of the area’s largest employers, with over 3,000 staff and around 24,000 students, and we very much recognise the responsibility that brings after such a challenging six months for us all.
Throughout the pandemic, assuring the safety of our students, staff and the communities around us has always been our main priority. This core principle will not change as we move into the next important period.
I can reassure you that we have done everything possible to enable the safe resumption of more activity at our University, developing plans that enable our students to have the best possible experience, and our city to regain some of the vibrancy and economic benefits that they bring, while not compromising on our commitment to public health and individual wellbeing
Adherence to government guidelines has always been the minimum standard to which we work, supported by our close working and communication with Public Health England, local authorities, the police and key stakeholders to ensure a collaborative approach and response to the challenges presented by Covid-19.
A huge amount of work has gone into getting our University, staff and students to this point and I want to use this opportunity to give you an insight into our plans.
- Social distancing measures will be in place across our campuses, and in communal areas of student accommodation, in line with government guidelines
- Significant safety measures have been introduced, including: queue management systems to limit crowds gathering; monitoring the number of people on site and limiting access where necessary; floor markings and one way systems; hand sanitiser across all locations, and regular deep cleaning across the University
- Face coverings are mandated in all areas of our University apart from classrooms and offices, where one metre plus controls are in operation
- We have significantly added to the capacity of our teaching space by converting office areas to ensure our students have safe and socially-distanced access to our campus each week. This means that only around 30% of staff will be working onsite at any one time
- Our students clearly have a role to play and we have developed a ‘Together Pledge’, that asks them to commit to certain behaviours, including our expectations around health and safety and the importance of them following clear University and government advice on all aspects relating to Covid-19
- We have responded to the government’s most recent announcements by making immediate revisions to our Freshers’ Week plans. Changes include cancelling some events, shifting others to virtual platforms and ensuring our main on campus activity – already scheduled, very deliberately, as an outdoor event – ensures group interactions of no more than six people
- We are working closely with local stakeholders including the city and county councils, public health professionals, police, NHS and other agencies as part of the Local Resilience Forum which will ensure we are well placed to respond quickly to emerging circumstances
- We continue to closely observe government guidance and will respond as required
We are proud to be the only university in Derby and Derbyshire and we take the civic role we have to play incredibly seriously, something we have demonstrated through the significant support we have offered to our community and external partners throughout this pandemic.
Our widely respected College of Health and Social Care has been instrumental in our support for the community, from making extensive donations of PPE in early spring to providing hundreds of nursing students and staff to support the frontline work in our local hospitals throughout the crisis. Their expertise, and that of our health and safety team and student support staff, should give you confidence that we are in a strong position to deal with any situation that may arise linked to Covid-19.
The start of university is, for many, one of the most important times of people’s lives – a defining moment for them and their families. I hope that you will join me in offering newcomers and returning students the warmest welcome.
Professor Kathryn Mitchell DL
University of Derby Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive
Watch this report from ITV Central News on how the University of Derby has prepared for the new academic year and to welcome our new students.
How we are helping the local community
As a university, we take the civic role we play seriously and are committed to supporting our local communities through these challenging times. We are in the fortunate position of having a wealth of expertise and knowledge to share.
We are already working with, and providing a wide range of support to, the NHS, local councils, organisations and communities across the city and county. Here are some examples of how we are responding to the crisis.
Below are some resources you may find helpful.
Whether you are facing the challenge of home schooling, or worried about your mental health during the crisis, our expert blogs offer sound advice and helpful tips to make life at home a little easier.
Our academics have been featuring regularly in the news, providing their expert perspective and advice on various issues related to Covid-19, ranging from its impact on BAME communities to effect of lockdown on the environment. For more information contact email@example.com
At this challenging time, we wish to highlight that we remain as committed as ever to working with you and supporting our business community. We are using technology to ensure we can continue to collaborate and are committed to doing all we can to make sure any restrictions we face do not impact on the projects and activities we deliver.
If you would like to find out more about how we can support your business, please speak to your usual contact person or our Business Enquiry Team via firstname.lastname@example.org.
During this challenging time, support is available from a variety of expert sources. In addition to contacting us, excellent advice and guidance is also provided by the Government, D2N2 Growth Hub, CBI and East Midlands Chamber of Commerce.
Find out more about how local stakeholders are supporting the recovery efforts across the city:
Online learning resources
The University of Derby has seen a steep rise in the number of people accessing its free online courses at this time. These short online courses, also known as MOOCs (massive open online courses) are free to take part in and are open to everyone regardless of age, education level and location.
Mental Health Toolkit for businesses
The current coronavirus (COVID-19) has created a time of uncertainty and concern that is affecting people’s mental health. It is essential that individuals have the tools to manage their mental health and wellbeing and to feel able to support others too. The University has developed webinars and short courses as a mental health toolkit, to assist employers and employees to look after their mental health during this difficult time.