A word from our Interim FVP – September 2020

Dear all, 

Over the last few weeks, we have seen our students arriving back on campus to start or continue their studies. I am pleased to say that despite all expectations to the contrary, all of our departments achieved their ambitions for undergraduate student recruitment this year, and I would like to acknowledge the huge efforts that I know are taking place across departments to deliver high quality, blended teaching to our undergraduate students remotely and face to face. In a few weeks’ time, we will see the arrival of our PGT students and I know that huge efforts are being made by our colleagues in Global Engagement to work with other northern universities to charter flights from China, India and other countries to support those who want to study in Sheffield to travel here safely.

In many respects, our core business of teaching, research and knowledge exchange therefore remains unchanged – and yet so much has changed and continues to change around us. We are all operating with significantly different ways of working, whether that be continued working from home, wearing masks and visors in the workplace, following newly installed one way systems or booking slots to work in labs and offices. It is clear that the need for social distancing and other additional measures will be here for some time yet. To help us keep on top of the information being provided by the University, our FDO Michelle Nuttall has provided an operational update on some key points in our ‘Spotlight’ this month. 

At a strategic level, our summary of media reports shows the breadth of contribution that our Faculty is making to the national effort. In Sheffield, we see the translational aspect of our work, and the strength of our collaborations with our partners in health and social care, as one of the things that makes Sheffield special. The media stories show that we are involved in this effort both in terms of our lab-based research via the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium (UK-CIC) and also through our qualitative research, as colleagues in ScHARR examine how different homes dealt with the crisis. These are only two examples of the research that is taking place in response to Covid-19 and through research like this, we are directly contributing to scientific knowledge of the disease, informing government policy and helping to improve clinical practice. Our teaching is contributing too, with one example in the Health Sciences School showing how we have moved in-house speech and language clinics online to support patients with dementia, Parkinson’s and aphasia. This remote therapy has become an increasingly important tool to connect with patients, at the same time as providing students with a way to develop the clinical skills they need in a different way. 

I am proud of what we have done and continue to do in response to the pandemic and I continue to say a huge thanks for everything you do. 

As the national picture changes, we will continue to keep you updated of any changes to how we work. A good example of this is the update sent to all staff by Heidi Frazer-Krauss yesterday and the weekly Staff Updates. Michelle has pulled out the key operational points for you in the ‘Spotlight’ section.