Need to know – 20 October

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Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Update from the Principal

The Principal wrote to all staff members yesterday to provide an update on the University’s response to the pandemic, the financial situation and hybrid teaching. You can read the full text here.

2. Covid-19 cases at the University

The University continues to work closely with the NHS and in the spirit of transparency continues to report live cases on our website, and all the information you need to know about reporting cases can be found here.

3. The Good Citizen Guide

University staff members have had to deal with a small number of cases of inappropriate behaviour from some students, and where appropriate these have been dealt with through our disciplinary processes. The University’s Good Citizen Guide sets out the steps that everyone must follow to protect the health and safety of the entire University community: you can share the Guide with your students.

Adapting to hybrid teaching

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Providing a world-class university education to more than 40,000 students has never been simple. This year, that challenge has of course taken on the extra complication of adapting life on campus to meet both the needs of our students and complex coronavirus prevention precautions.

A student in a lecture with his laptopSocial distancing means packed lecture theatres are, for now, a thing of the past. However, the University decided early on that it was important to still offer students as much of the Edinburgh experience as possible. That meant trying to do something more than moving all teaching online.

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Spotlight on: EDMaker Space

Reading Time: 6 minutes

At the end of a long, difficult week at work, do you put away your laptop, stretch out on the sofa and pick up your knitting needles? Do you spread out your pencils and sketchbooks? Do you fire up the sewing machine? Or do you switch on the TV and tell yourself you’ll try it tomorrow instead? You’re just not feeling inspired tonight.

One thing we’ve seen from this pandemic is that with all this extra time on their hands, people are reconnecting with their creativity. As we prepare to go into another kind of lockdown, and the long, cold winter months stretch out ahead of us, tapping into your creative side could be hugely beneficial. But being ‘creative’ can come with pressures, and it can be daunting to take the first step. So where to start?

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Phenomenal Women: Portraits of UK Black Female Professors

Reading Time: 4 minutes

Fewer than one per cent of university professors in the UK are black. Even fewer are black women. After the events that took place earlier this year, it’s clear that changes need to be made.

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Our community in action

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With September 2020 came the start of a new academic year, which meant thousands of students moving into University of Edinburgh accommodation across the city. In a year that has been dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, this was always going to be a big challenge.

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But they said we wouldn’t find it here: Racism, discrimination and Covid-19

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Dr Gwenetta D Curry is a Lecturer in Race, Ethnicity and Health at the University. Her research interests are racial and ethnic health disparities, critical race theory, and Black family studies. Here she talks a little more about her present research which analyses racial disparities in treatment and infection rates of Covid-19.

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Microsoft screams: when information overloads

Reading Time: 6 minutes

This week, Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain, helps us recognise information overload, and shares ways to deal with it.

Your inbox is full of emails. All the emails contain links. You are supposed to follow the links, which will take you to webpages. You have to read, and sometimes watch, the webpages. There is stuff in them that you are meant to know. There is even some stuff that you could be quite interested in, were it not Week 1 of semester, in the brave new world of education in a pandemic. Then there are more links, and you have to go to your third meeting or class of the day with some disembodied faces. They are pixels, with little capital letters that spell out their names. In real life, they might actually be people. But for several months, ‘people’ have been moving blobs of light on this flat surface in front of your face. You don’t feel much when you look at them apart from boredom, although sometimes, you want to cry. Now your phone screen lights up. Someone has sent you a news article. Another news article. You are supposed to read it and think about it and Whatsapp your thoughts back. You don’t want to do this, yet you also very much want to swipe and look at the news article, and maybe check Twitter. You pick up your phone. No-one will notice. They’re probably looking at their phones too. You swipe to open, and it’s a coronavirus update. Suddenly, overwhelmingly, you want to scream.

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Thought for the week – 20 October

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This week Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, reflects on the the changing seasons and the chance to check in on how we’re feeling.A view of Autumn trees

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New complaints process in place

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As the pandemic continues and the University navigates the ongoing announcements and restrictions from the Scottish Government, daily activities and policies are changing quickly to align with the latest guidelines.

As a result of this the University is receiving enquiries and complaints through a range of routes. Some concerns are landing with individual staff members across the Schools and Colleges.

New guidance is now available on how to route any concerns, queries and complaints that come to you from students, parents or the public. The Adaptation and Renewal staff SharePoint site contains detailed information about how to handle these complaints, and where to send them onwards for quick resolutions.

It also includes these process maps for queries, concerns or suggestions (also known as pre-complaints) and full complaints.

Get funding for your collaborative staff-student projects

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Have you been mulling over a new project idea? Would it enhance students’ social, academic, sporting or cultural development? Apply for a Student Experience Grant and you could receive funding of up to £5,000.

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Tracey Slaven to take up new post at Aberdeen University

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Tracey Slaven, currently Deputy Secretary, Strategic Planning, is leaving the University to take up a new role as the University of Aberdeen’s University Secretary and Chief Operating Officer.

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Need to know – 6 October

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Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Covid-19 cases on campus

The University is reporting regularly on the live number of positive Covid-19 cases among our entire staff and student community. The University is continuing to work with NHS Lothian’s Health Protection team to ensure that these students and staff, and those around them, are provided with the support they need. You can find all the latest Covid-19 updates here.

2. Covid-19 reporting and recording

This SharePoint site displays the processes and guidance on what staff, line managers and students should do if they are self-isolating, displaying symptoms or have tested positive for Covid-19. Please note this guidance may be updated, so wherever possible link to the SharePoint site, rather than taking a snapshot download. A new Covid-19 telephone hotline is now in place for students and their families to speak directly to a member of staff.

3. Ongoing student support

Last week Professor Peter Mathieson, Principal and Vice-Chancellor, wrote to our students in University accommodation, acknowledging the challenges those in self-isolation are facing, and the additional measures we are putting in place to support them including mental health and wellbeing. You can read the letter here.

Embracing technology and data-driven methods in academic research

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The pandemic has changed how a lot of people work. More than ever we’re relying on technology and data-driven methods to help with out day-to-day roles. In this issue Edd McCracken, Head of News, speaks to a number of our academics about how they have embraced this new way of working.

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