Update from the Vice-Chancellor, 13th January 2021

Dear all 

 

I know a lot of information has been shared with you over the last week, so I will aim to keep this email brief. Thank you for reading this email which I hope will resolve some of the more pressing concerns you have.

 

Rent rebates for University accommodation

In my email to you on Monday I said that I had submitted a paper to the Board of Governors asking them to consider offering a refund on University accommodation rental payments to those students who have been unable to return to their accommodation due to the lockdown. 

 

The Governors have carefully considered the implications of this and have decided we can offer a full rebate for the period 4 January to 14 February 2021 to students who are not living in their university-managed accommodation due to the lockdown. The University is not receiving any financial support from the Government to fund this, so it will mean that the University is spending more than its income this year, but nonetheless the Board recognised that this was the right thing to do.

 

The accommodation team will shortly be writing to students who have rental contracts with the University to provide further information about how you can confirm if you are eligible for a refund and when you will receive it. I hope this news will bring some relief to you and thank you for your patience while this important matter was considered.

 

If you live in Unite student accommodation, please contact them directly about the rebate they are offering.

 

I know many of you do not live in University accommodation and may be struggling financially as a result of paying rent for a property you are unable to live in. We cannot force private landlords to offer rent rebates or refunds, but we will work with the Students’ Union to encourage them to make similar concessions. 

 

If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are unable to meet basic or unexpected additional costs from other sources of support due to the lockdown, please apply to the Pandemic Support Fund. This new fund is open and accepting applications now. The deadline for applications is 22 January 2021 and successful applicants should receive payment by 29 January 2021. 

 

No-detriment

As has been outlined in previous emails to you, we have put in place a number of measures to ensure you do not suffer academic detriment as a result of the pandemic. Thank you to everyone who has written to me and other staff members about this, and those of you who attended the open meetings I held on Tuesday.

 

I know you are concerned about your ability to complete assessments to the best of your ability. I, and all the staff are also working hard to make sure you fulfil your individual learning outcomes and graduate with a quality degree that reflects your hard work.

 

For undergraduate students, in addition to the no-detriment measures already in place, we have decided to allow marks for this whole year to be based on your best 80 credits. You will still be required to complete 120 credits, but your overall mark for the year will be awarded based on the best 80 providing a safety net I know many of you will find reassuring.  We will check the effectiveness of this measure after the results for semester 1 come in and adapt it further if we need to.


 

Please be aware that this is subject to agreement by professional bodies for those courses that have professional accreditations.

 

We are still looking into what additional no-detriment measures we can offer postgraduate students and I will write to you again when this has been determined.


 

Please can I remind you that I have further open meetings scheduled for today and Friday and I welcome the opportunity to discuss these matters further with you. If you wish to attend you can sign up here and the times of the meetings are as follows:

 

  • Thursday 14 January 10:30-11:30

  • Friday 15 January 13:00-14:00


 

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, please complete this short questionnaire so that we can determine the demand for access to facilities and study spaces. Please can you complete the survey by 5pm this Friday 15 January, so that we can use this information in our decision making.

 

I hope you and your loved ones are well. 

 

Best wishes,

 

Sue

 

Professor Sue Rigby

Vice-Chancellor

Bath Spa University

Update from the Vice-Chancellor, 12th January 2021

Dear all

 

The University’s Health and Safety Planning Group has met to look in more detail at the restrictions in place for this new lockdown. We have moved into Stage 5 of our operating model and what that means in practice is explained in this infographic. The Department for Education has released some additional information, so I would like to update you on some key things as follows:

 

Definition of ‘critical workers’

According to the Government guidance university staff are classed as critical workers and we have also classed some staff as front-line workers who may be required to work on campus. Your Line Manager or Head of Department will be able to confirm with you individually whether you are required to work on campus or can do your work from home.The departments who we regard as having some front line staff are:

 

  • Estates

  • IT

  • Student Wellbeing Services

  • Library and Learning Services

  • Administrative and Technical Services

 

Staff deemed to be critical workers may be able to access school education for their children during this lockdown, however, this is also dependent on the number of places the school can make available. 

 

Access to offices and facilities on campus

I know that some staff may be unable to work from home, or may need to collect work and equipment from campus to work on from home. Please can you speak to your line manager if you are unable to work from home and discuss your circumstances with them in the first instance. Requests to work on campus during this lockdown should be for exceptional circumstances. Line managers should speak to their Head of Department/School about any requests from staff to work on campus who will then raise these requests with the Estates Department by emailing Fiona Munn f.munn@bathspa.ac.uk

 

Health and safety on campus

The new strain of COVID-19 has a far greater transmission rate, so it is more important than ever that if you are on campus you observe the health and safety rules and remind others to do the same:

 

  1. Keep a distance: Please maintain a 2 meter social distance, both inside and outside on campus.

  2. Wear a face covering: We require you to wear a face covering when you are inside buildings on campus, unless you are unable to because of a medical condition, disability or trauma. You are only not required to wear a face covering if you are outside at a distance of two meters or more, inside working alone behind a Perspex screen or inside working alone in a single occupancy office.

  3. Clean your hands: Please wash your hands regularly and make use of the hand sanitiser stations at the entrances and inside buildings on campus.

 

Risk Assessments

We are reviewing all risk assessments in light of the new guidelines to make sure they are correct and fit for purpose.

 

Wellbeing and support

I know that many of you will now be juggling working from home with childcare, home schooling and other caring responsibilities. Please let me stress again that you should be as flexible as you can be in balancing your work or study with parenting. We encourage you to focus on the outcome of your work, rather than working hours and if you have concerns, please speak to your line manager. It appears that schools are being more prescribed in the work they are setting children on a daily basis which is putting additional pressure on parents, so please can line managers be aware of this when helping staff to manage their workload at this time. There is support and guidance available on Sulis which you may find useful.

 

Some of you will be required to work on campus and as I said above, we are reviewing all risk assessments and will make any adjustments we need to ensure your health and safety while working on campus. If you have any concerns please discuss this with your line manager.

 

Many of our students are unsettled and upset by the further changes to their university experience that this new lockdown brings. Please do all you can to reassure them and if they need additional support at this time, please let them know they can contact Student Wellbeing Services or our Students’ Union Advice Centre.

 

If you, or someone you know is struggling with the new lockdown, please consider making 15 minutes to take the ZSA (Zero Suicide Alliance) Step Up module today.

 

COVID-19 tests

The test centre at Newton Park remains open two days a week and is offering Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) to students on teacher education placements and staff who are required to work on campus. If you booked a test that you no longer need, please can you cancel your booking so we can release the test slot to another person. 


 

I hope this is a useful update and answers some questions you may have. We have updated the COVID-19 pages on the University website with some additional information and FAQs. 

 

Best wishes,

 

Sue

 

Professor Sue Rigby

Vice-Chancellor 

Bath Spa University

Update from the Deputy Vice-Chancellor re: Lockdown - Friday, 8th Jan 2021

 

Dear all

 

I know we are sharing a lot of information with you at the moment, but I want to make sure you are kept well informed. The University’s Health and Safety Planning Group has met to look in more detail at the restrictions in place for this new lockdown. We have moved into Stage 5 of our operating model and what that means in practice is explained in this infographic. The Department for Education has released some additional information, so I would like to update you on some key things as follows:

 

Returning to university and access to study spaces and facilities on campus

We received the Government guidance yesterday and are currently considering what this means for you. According to the rules of lockdown you must stay at home and not travel. However, in exceptional circumstances you may be allowed to return to your term-time accommodation, for instance for health and safety reasons, or when it is impossible for you to continue your studies without access to some University facilities.  We will update you as soon as we can with more details on how we can help in these exceptional circumstances. 

 

I also know that some of you may need to collect work or equipment from campus to work with at home, so we will open spaces on request to allow you to do so. If you need to collect your work, please contact your course tutor who will organise a time with the Estates Department for you to collect your work. Please do not come to any campus unless you have previously agreed a time to do so.

 

New Pandemic Support Fund

The Government has awarded us some additional funds for students who may be experiencing financial difficulty and are unable to meet basic or unexpected additional costs from other sources of support. We have put these funds into a new scheme called the Pandemic Support Fund. This new fund will be launched on Monday when you will get an email telling you how you can apply. 

 

Library and learning services

Click and collect is available at Newton Park only. The library spaces are closed, so you cannot book a study space or browse books, however all digital library resources are available for all students.

 

Wellbeing and support

You can access 1 to 1 appointments with a mental health practitioner, disability advisor or speak with a wellbeing advisor about general concerns studentwellbeing@bathspa.ac.uk.

 

If you, or someone you know is struggling with the new lockdown, please consider making 15 minutes to take the ZSA (Zero Suicide Alliance) Step Up module today.

 

The University Medical Service continues to offer the full range of Doctor and Nurse led surgeries and appointments

 

All Bath Spa students have free access to the following 24/7 digital platforms and services, Just sign in with your University email address (@bathspa.ac.uk):

 

  • Togetherall - a confidential peer and professional led support network, offering creative tools, short courses and useful resources. This platform is web-based.

  • TalkCampus - peer support network for mental health, connecting you with students and others when you want to speak about how you’re feeling in a safe and supportive way, or when you’re feeling isolated or alone. This platform is app-based.

  • UniWellbeing - using the five ways to wellbeing enables you to track your mood, thoughts and habits, to make positive changes. Contains short self-help courses and signposting to useful University services. This platform is app-based, downloadable by searching ‘Bath Spa UniWellbeing’ in the Apple or Google Play stores

  • Shout - a free 24/7 text messaging service for anyone in crisis, anytime, anywhere. It’s a place to go if you’re struggling to cope and you need immediate help. To use the service just text BSU to 85258.

  • Student Space (led by Student Minds, the UK’s student mental health charity) - this service aims to make it easier for you to find the support you need during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Report and Support - an online reporting tool for when you see or experience something that is not OK. You can submit a report anonymously, or request a call back from an advisor.

 

You can also contact the Students’ Union Advice Centre for guidance on housing, academic procedure and policy, as well as wellbeing support and catch-ups. 

 

Health and safety on campus

The new strain of COVID-19 has a far greater transmission rate, so it is more important than ever that if you are on campus you observe the health and safety rules and remind others to do the same:

 

  1. Keep a distance: Please maintain a 2 meter social distance, both inside and outside on campus.

  2. Wear a face covering: We require you to wear a face covering when you are inside buildings on campus, unless you are unable to because of a medical condition, disability or trauma.

  3. Clean your hands: Please wash your hands regularly and make use of the hand sanitiser stations at the entrances and inside buildings on campus.

 

COVID-19 tests

The test centre at Newton Park remains open two days a week and is offering Lateral Flow Tests (LFTs) to students on teacher education placements, students who remain in University accommodation, and staff who are required to work on campus. If you booked a test that you no longer need, please can you cancel your booking so we can release the test slot to another person. 

 

If a member of your household has tested positive you must self-isolate and do not leave your home until they have received the results of their confirmatory PCR test. You should not book an LFT or visit the test centre if you are self-isolating in these circumstances.


 

Thank you to those of you who have written to me, the Vice-Chancellor and other members of staff over the last few days. I know this is a difficult, stressful and frustrating time, and it is not a situation any of us wanted to be in. Please know that we are listening to your concerns and discussing them at the most senior level. We will be holding a series of open meetings next week which you can attend if you want to join our discussions. The dates are currently being confirmed and will be shared with you next week along with details of how you can join.

 

To help us better understand your current circumstances please can you complete this short questionnaire so that we can be in the best position to provide practical assistance and support for you during the lockdown.

 

We have updated the COVID-19 pages on the University website with some additional information and FAQs.