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

Professor Roderick Watkins

The start of the new academic year this September will be like no other: some students will be returning to campus for the first time since the pandemic began, others have been on campus for most of the past year studying medicine. health and other practical courses, and of course we will also be welcoming our cohort of new students – eager to experience university life for the first time.

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.

COVID-19 will be a feature of our lives for the foreseeable future, and it is critical that our university community continues to act with great care and keeps our COVID numbers low. We need everyone to continue to support each other and work together to keep our community safe and well.

At ARU many of our students live locally and are already part of the communities and cities in which we are based. Others will be travelling to join us from elsewhere in the UK or overseas. 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.

Managing the risk of transmission

In line with Government, Public Health England and Universities UK guidelines, we are doing everything possible to manage the risk of transmission. This includes enhanced cleaning regimes, hand sanitiser stations around campus and teaching in smaller groups.

We are asking all our staff, students and visitors to continue to wear face coverings in our campus buildings (unless they are exempt). And we are strongly encouraging all our students and staff to be fully vaccinated as soon as possible, and to undertake twice weekly asymptomatic testing.

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

Giving students the choice to study on campus or online only

We understand that everyone’s circumstances are different due to the pandemic and will therefore be offering new and returning students, studying non-practical courses, the option to study the first trimester (September–December 2021) online only, if they prefer.

Asking all students and staff to commit to our COVID-19 Safe Behaviours Community Pledge

We are asking all members of the ARU community – our staff, students and visitors – to commit to our Safe Behaviours Community Pledge:

  • I will act responsibly, taking due care to ensure I protect my health and the health of those around me, and making sure that the areas where we live, work, and study are as safe as they can be
  • I will follow all University and Government guidance around reducing the spread of COVID-19 and ensure that I keep up to date with the latest information
  • I will show empathy, respect, and consideration to others, acknowledging that I may not know their personal circumstances and being respectful of their wishes.

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.

If you have any queries or concerns, please do get in touch. Email vc@aru.ac.uk.

Professor Roderick Watkins
Vice Chancellor, Anglia Ruskin University