A word from our Interim FVP – July 2021

Earlier this week I was honoured to lead the online Graduation Ceremony for our undergraduate students in Dentistry and the Health Sciences School. Graduation for our medical students had taken place the week before, and we hope to welcome these students back to campus in 2022 for a full ceremony. Graduation is always a wonderful opportunity to pause and reflect as we see our students venture out into the world. Very many of our students will be going straight into clinical work with the NHS, equipped with the skills that they need to start their professional lives. We know that we train very high quality graduates across all of our programmes in the Faculty, and we can all be proud of the impact our students make.  

As one set of students leave us, another group begins and plans for the next academic year are in full swing. I know that August is a busy time for our admissions tutors and for professional services staff supporting the confirmation and clearing process. This is expected to be another challenging year for undergraduate admissions, with high demand for places in Medicine and Dentistry especially. We are confident of meeting our undergraduate targets across all departments, which is an excellent position. 

With the end of social distancing requirements, the experience of students joining us in the autumn will hopefully be much more consistent with our standard student offer. You will be aware that the University is now planning to operate without social distancing in University teaching spaces. This means that departments across the Faculty are now planning for teaching as normal in the autumn, with classes moving back into physical spaces, including large lecture theatres. This gives us an opportunity to get all our students back onto campus in the autumn and recreate the learning communities that were so sorely missed last year. I appreciate that this change is inevitably creating additional work for timetablers and other staff supporting learning and teaching across the Faculty, and I’d like to recognise the huge efforts being made. 

Over the summer months, as we prepare for the next academic year, we are continuing with a gradual return to campus. You will have seen the email to all staff from the Vice Chancellor on 23rd July, setting out the steps that the University is taking to support this process. Until at least 16th August, this includes maintaining a 2m social distancing and the wearing of face coverings in confined spaces. Departments in our Faculty are following the latest guidance issued by the University, with those colleagues based in NHS buildings continuing to adhere to the NHS guidance until further notice. To support the successful return to campus, all University staff are asked to ensure that their mandatory training is all up to date. 

It is wonderful each month to see the range of stories shared across departments as we share and celebrate our successes. It’s especially pleasing to see many years of hard work being recognised and rewarded – with the renewal of our DiMEN DTP and the individual achievements of  Professor Martin Thornhill from the Dental School, and those acknowledged through the VC’s Learning and Teaching awards. The Pulse also gives us an important opportunity to recognise the successes of our early career researchers. It is great to see the high quality of talent coming through the Faculty. 

I hope you have an enjoyable holiday season.