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Responding to the Covid-19 crisis: our reunite and respond promise to all staff and students

Date 27.05.2020

Vice Chancellor, Professor Nick Petford describes the University of Northampton’s plans for the academic year 2020 / 21.

The University of Northampton is a place dedicated to the realisation of promise and affirmation of purpose. Our commitment and mission to transform lives for the better and inspire positive change is absolute.

Despite these challenging times our dedication to this cause is unwavering. The three strategic pillars that guide us: Super Supportive, Social Impact and Future Focused, are more important than ever and remain core principles as we begin adapting to a post Covid-19 world.

For example, our Future Focused active blended learning model enabled us to move swiftly to support our students through remote teaching, drawing on planning, design and learning practice, developed in tandem with our move to Waterside. Our Super Supportive policy of agile working helped us cope effectively with lockdown while staying on top of developments in an uncertain and complex environment. Our work with local NHS partners and other collaborations in the face of these unprecedented events is world-leading Social Impact.

This pandemic will end – already the strict lockdown measures of the last few weeks are being eased – so it is vital the University is prepared for learning and teaching to resume where possible on campus from September 2020. For this to happen, we will be guided by the fundamental need to keep all students and staff safe and well. On that point I wish to assure you that, as part of our “reunite and respond” agenda, we are working tirelessly to deliver our courses and utilise our estate and facilities to the fullest extent, while adhering to the Government’s Covid Secure Guidelines.

We will be able to share the specific detail with you very soon so please keep an eye on your email and the university website for updates. But ahead of that, I wanted to affirm our pledges to you – a new set of promises – that will form the bedrock of our return to Campus in the next academic year.

1) We will protect you and your loved ones.

  • Working remotely will remain the default position for the majority of staff where duties allow.
  • Remote learning will continue to be the primary delivery model in the immediate future (subject to on-going review), unless your course specifically requires estate-based teaching.
  • We will continue with our Super Supportive approach while recognising the difficulties faced by those with caring responsibilities.
  • We will provide colleagues with the tools and technology required to work safely and productively from home where necessary.

2) We will create a safe as possible University estate.   

  • We are installing controlled entry points and creating one-way systems around buildings.
  • We will have physical shields and barriers at reception points and helpdesk locations.
  • We will use the best virtual meeting platforms and digital tools available.
  • We will reduce occupancy levels and reconfigure social, teaching, lobby and work areas to maintain safe social distancing.

3) We will give you confidence.

  • We will maintain the enhanced cleaning and disinfection practices that have been in place since the outbreak of the virus.
  • We will provide hand sanitisation stations in all buildings.
  • There will be increased and regular 24-hour hygiene guidance throughout the estate.

4) We are with you.

  • At every step we will consult with staff and students through official representatives as part of our decision-making process.
  • We will conduct a full Equality Impact Assessment – and liaise with staff networks – to ensure all needs are considered regarding equality and inclusion in relation to Covid-19 safety preparedness.
  • We will provide regular updates and information needed to study and work safely.
  • We welcome honest feedback regarding our plans and where concerns are raised move swiftly to resolve problems.

The world right now feels different for all of us. What comes next is uncertain. At one end it could be a return to near normality. Others think the pandemic will be a game-changer. However, something I know to be true – and I hope you do too – is that the University of Northampton is in a strong position to respond. That means continuing to deliver the highest quality learning and student support; impactful research; Changemaking graduate employability and a flexible and rewarding work environment. One thing is sure – we will do whatever it takes to keep on transforming lives and inspiring positive change.

Kind Regards

Professor Nick Petford

Vice Chancellor and CEO