Can I begin by once again thanking you all for the incredible work you have been doing under truly extraordinary and rapidly changing circumstances.
In this edition of The Pulse, we give a special thanks to our technical staff across the Faculty, who do a crucially important job in ordinary times, but whose expertise and dedication have really been invaluable in supporting essential research into Covid-19 throughout the pandemic. Their expertise has also been essential in supporting the limited, safe return to lab based research across our Faculty. You can read more in the Spotlight section from Mark Ariaans, Lead Technician in IICD about how our technical staff have supported research into Covid-19, and the clinical trials for the Oxford Vaccine, which we have been thrilled to support in partnership with Sheffield Teaching Hospitals. Initial findings that the vaccine is safe and induces immune reaction is a huge step forward and very encouraging. Congratulations to everyone in Sheffield involved in this nationally and internationally critical work.
Over the last few weeks you will have seen the detailed and candid updates from our Vice Chancellor about the financial challenges faced by our University and by the wider sector. You may also have seen media coverage in the regional press about a consultation exercise with campus trade unions to discuss a wide range of additional voluntary and temporary measures that may be necessary depending on how the financial situation develops in the coming months. Whatever measures are ultimately adopted to ensure financial sustainability, any decisions will be made with the overarching aim of preserving the quality of the University’s educational offering and areas of true research excellence and critical mass. We fully recognise that these things are only possible by also retaining a workforce of talented, capable and high performing academic and professional services staff. We will do all that we can over this period to keep you informed of changes, and how University-level decisions will be implemented across FMDH.
At the same time as managing a significant amount of change and uncertainty, the content of The Pulse is always a timely reminder of the important work that continues across our Faculty, even in these strange times. I’m aware of the huge efforts being made right across the Faculty to prepare for confirmation and clearing, and for delivering a high quality student experience next year. Our departments have proved over the last four months that we can delivery didactic teaching online very successfully – and departments have been trialling new ways to deliver practical teaching and assessment, such as OSCEs and clinical skills teaching in a safe, socially distant way. As ever, I am hugely proud of what staff across the Faculty have achieved, and the innovative approaches being taken to doing things differently.
Finally, I would like to close by recognising the huge contribution made across the Faculty by staff who will be leaving us over the next six weeks via the Voluntary Severance Scheme. I know that staff have taken the decision to apply for voluntary severance for a wide range of reasons, reflecting their own personal circumstances. Whilst it may not be possible to wish you well in person, I would like to thank you for your service to the University and wish you all the very best for the future.
With very best wishes,