14 September 2020

Scottish Principals put safety first as students welcomed back

Scottish Principals put safety first as students welcomed back

Student on campus


Abertay is extending a warm welcome to new students today as online Freshers' Week activities begin and the final preparations are made for the start of the new term.

The health and safety of students, staff and the wider Dundee community is the University's number one priority this year, with Abertay and all other Scottish institutions embarking on a new 'blended learning' approach, supported by clear guidance from the Scottish Government.

Abertay Principal, Professor Nigel Seaton, today joins the 18 other Principals of Scotland's universities in signing a statement (see  in full below) welcoming new and returning students back, while reassuring them and the wider public of the seriousness with which the responsibility to protect public health is being taken.

Professor Seaton has also recorded the video below welcoming Freshers to Abertay

The joint Principals' statement calls on every member of the university community to continue to act with personal responsibility and to continue to look out for both one another and the wider community, as universities start their “new normal” this academic year.

At Abertay, this highly cautious new model of delivery follows months of careful planning, the rigorous following of all public health guidance and important input from Abertay Students' Association, who have played an integral role in co-creating a safe structure for University life.

Starting with significantly reduced numbers across campus, physical distancing at all times and face coverings, and extending through to enhanced hygiene protocols, new attendance monitoring apps and strict self-isolation/quarantine requirements, Abertay has introduced a host of new measures to keep students, staff and the local community safe.

Joint Principals' statement:

We are so pleased to be able to welcome every student, new or returning, to our universities. It is so important that you have the chance to continue your education and to take the next positive step into your future. We want you to receive the best possible education and to offer you a supportive and engaging student experience this year but our top priority as universities, in the midst of a pandemic, is to keep you and our staff safe and to contribute to keeping everyone else in our towns and cities, across Scotland as safe as possible.

This is a shared responsibility. We’re still battling a pandemic. We all have an important part to play in supressing transmission of the virus. Students have shown incredible solidarity in fight against the pandemic and support for the most vulnerable. Students in health disciplines were amongst the first to offer to work on the NHS frontline, students made PPE when stocks were in short supply and volunteered in many community settings.

We need the whole university community to continue to look out for each other, and for the wider community, in the every-day actions we take as we start a new academic year.

Staff in universities have worked incredibly hard from the early summer to plan for the new semester and adapt our approaches to teaching and our campuses to keep you safe. We will offer you the expertise of our teachers, researchers and student services through a mix of flexible and accessible routes. Student Associations and the sabbatical teams have been a valued partner in putting these plans in place and we’re very grateful for their energy and commitment.

Campuses will look and feel different this term. With a blended approach to teaching in the first semester there will be fewer people on campus than usual and our spaces will be reconfigured to support physical distancing, enhanced hygiene protocols and the use of tech to support NHS Scotland’s Test and Protect contact tracing system. Students can support this further by downloading the NHS Scotland Protect Scotland contact tracing app.

As universities, we will continue to work tirelessly to deliver on our responsibilities to you, as our students, and to the wider communities we are proud to be a part of. We will continue to work closely with the Scottish Government and public health bodies to ensure we adhere to the latest guidance as needed.

As students, we ask you to recognise the important role and responsibility that you have, on and off campus, to keep yourself, and the wider communities around you, safe from coronavirus. Please prioritise public health so we can ensure that the new academic year is a safe and satisfying experience for everyone.

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