An open letter to our communities from the Vice Chancellor of ARU

Professor Roderick Watkins

September 2020 is like no other. We are looking forward to having our ARU community back together, undertaking our vital work in education and research, and supporting each other to meet the challenges ahead.

Our priority is making sure that everyone remains safe and well. As you would expect, we have been working hard to prepare our campuses for students and staff to return.

And, as the global coronavirus pandemic continues, now more than ever we need everyone to support each other and to work together to keep our community safe.

At ARU many of our students live locally and are already part of the communities and cities in which we have campuses. Others are travelling from elsewhere in the UK or overseas, to join us. For all our students, we have put in place an extensive package of measures to make their time with us as safe as possible – for them, for our staff, and for the wider communities in our host cities, Cambridge, Chelmsford and Peterborough.

Here are details of what we've done.

Created Covid-19 secure campuses

In line with Government, Public Health England and Universities UK guidelines, we've put comprehensive social distancing measures in place and are doing everything possible to manage the risk of transmission. This includes one-way systems in buildings, increased cleaning regimes, hand sanitiser stations around campus and restructuring the timetable to teach in smaller groups, stagger break times and prevent crowds from forming.

We have made wearing face coverings mandatory in all our campus buildings (apart from a small number of exceptions) and our lecturers will be issued with protective visors.

We have worked closely with local public health officials to develop protocols for managing any positive cases, aligned with national and local test and trace arrangements.

Most of our staff will continue to work from home where possible, reducing the number of people on campus and helping to ensure social distancing.

To see what changes we’ve put in place please watch our Returning to a Covid-19 secure campus video.

Given students the choice to study online only or on campus

We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different due to the pandemic and have therefore offered all new and returning students the choice to study Trimesters 1 and 2 (September–December 2020; January–April 2021) either online only, or on campus with teaching provided in socially distanced classrooms, supported by educational technologies.

Implemented a Covid-19 Safe Behaviours Community Pledge

We ask all members of the ARU community – our staff, students, visitors and businesses – to commit to the following pledge:

Covid-19 Safe Behaviours Community Pledge

ARU’s response to the pandemic so far has shown us at our very best. Our care for our students and each other, our ability to respond quickly and imaginatively to find new ways of working, and our determination to uphold our values, have been outstanding and are something we can all be very proud of.

We will preserve all these strengths, and more, as we move into the coming academic year. No one fails to appreciate that the next few months will bring their own, new challenges that we will need to navigate. But I am very confident that, working together, we will succeed.

The safety of our community has been, and always will be, our top priority. It is up to each of us to take responsibility for our own safety and the safety of our community, and to play our part in helping to stop the spread of Covid-19.

We will continue to do everything we can to support our local communities throughout this pandemic and will play a full part in driving the post-Covid recovery. If you have any queries or concerns, please do get in touch. Email

Professor Roderick Watkins, Vice Chancellor
September 2020