A message from the Principal, 29 May
Published on 29 May 2019
Latest staff announcement fro Professor David Maguire, Interim Principal
What a super week it has been in Dundee: the weather has been fantastic, which certainly goes some way to making lockdown life a little easier. There is also good news to share about the great things happening at our University, as well as some important updates.
Lockdown and planned return to campus life
On Thursday the First Minister gave an update on the plans for moving out of lockdown in a controlled phased approach. We are now in Phase One of the Scottish Government’s four stage plan. This allows only for a very small relaxation of some of the lockdown rules.
In keeping with the University’s business recovery plan the vast majority of us must continue to work from home. We know some of you are anxious to get back into spaces such as laboratories, workshops and studios, as well as offices. I can assure you every step is being taken to find the most efficient and safest way to bring staff back to campus.
We are planning only for a very select number of essential staff to return to campus in this phase to begin the preparations for the rest of us to return in the later stages. There is a little light at the end of the tunnel, but we must continue to observe the restrictions in the national interest.
I do know from personal experience that working from home isn’t always easy and that some people are a little anxious about not being able to reach their normal standards of contribution due to home circumstances that for whatever reason may prove taxing. As I have said in the past, we thank you for what you have been able to contribute and greatly appreciate that you are doing your best.
In recognition of the longer-term challenges of working from home, UEG has agreed a budget and package of measures to provide essential equipment for staff who really need it to continue to be fully productive. We will be contacting staff next week to ascertain what work equipment may be needed for reasons of health and wellbeing.
Eden Project Scotland
This week the very exciting Eden Project Scotland was announced with the launch of a feasibility study for the project to be located in Dundee. The University is proud to be a core member of the consortium assembled to lead this on behalf of the city. If this comes to fruition this will be very exciting for the University and city alike.
University Finance and planning towards 20/21
Earlier in the week I attended two Court committees, dealing with Governance and Nominations, and Finance and Policy.
The main item to report is the proposed budget for next year, which was approved by the Finance and Policy Committee. Largely as a result of the impact of Covid-19 we are presently forecasting a substantial deficit for next year. Although serious, there are many things under our control that we can use to mitigate the expected financial losses.
We have already reduced spending, held back non-essential staff appointments, and moved over 480 staff onto the government furlough scheme. Together, these are helping our overall position. However, Finance and Policy Committee has asked the University Executive Group (UEG) to look into how we can reduce the deficit further. We are evaluating options and will be consulting with relevant groups on any measures that we feel we need to introduce.
Another consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic is that some students might not be able to come to Dundee for the start of semester one in 20/21. It is also highly likely that those who are present will have to observe some type of government-imposed social distancing measures. We are therefore planning to operate a blended learning approach in semester one with a mixture of online and on campus teaching.
This week there was a really impressive presentation from the Towards 20/21 project team who are overseeing this work. As several people commented during the Q&A session there was a real depth of planning and expertise on show. It is another wonderful example of how the Dundee community has come together to pool talent in the interests of maintaining the incredible student experience and high standards of academic quality.
Graduation, celebration and donation
This week we also announced that graduations this summer will replaced by a series of online degree celebrations. Although there is no real substitute for the thrill of a real graduation event, hopefully these will be the next best thing. Thank you to our Development and Alumni Relations team, who have developed this innovative idea. I am looking forward to playing my virtual part on such important occasions, another of which will be the Graduate Showcase which for now replaces the DJCAD and Architecture Degree Show.
I am very pleased to report further good news: the Development and Alumni fundraising effort for the Student Financial Aid Fund has now passed the impressive target of £20,000 thanks to the generosity of many members of staff, our alumni and the wider community. If you would like to join me in contributing there is still time to do so at the donation page.
Press Office, University of Dundeepress@dundee.ac.uk