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Need to know – 27 July

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Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Scottish Government guidance for moving to beyond Level 0

The First Minister has confirmed the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with Scotland moving to Level 0. This aligns with central planning assumptions for learning and teaching for the 21/22 academic year.

The Scottish Government has also published further guidance specifically for the sector. You can find out more information at the below links:
Scottish Government guidance for laboratories and research facilities
Scottish Government guidance for operations in academic year 2021 to 2022 – beyond Level 0
Scottish Government guidance for universities, colleges and student accommodation providers

2. Working abroad guidance available

Any staff currently working abroad, whose work does not require them to work abroad, have been asked to return to the UK for the start of Semester 1 2021/22.

HR has since published further guidance, which also explains what support is available to staff who need to self-isolate in managed quarantine accommodation. This is applicable whether staff are relocating to Edinburgh from overseas or are required by the University to work abroad: Working abroad guidance for managers and staff.

3. In-person graduation celebrations

Bookings opened last Monday for the outdoor graduation celebrations at Edinburgh Castle in August 2021. Eligible students who graduated in Summer/Winter 2020 and Summer 2021 have been emailed with further details: Summer 2021 graduations webpage.

To help staff with responses to any enquiries from students, a briefing is available: Staff briefing

Caring for our community: a new way to support students

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The coronavirus pandemic revealed the importance of community and belonging within universities but long before Covid-19 threw a spotlight on this, the School of Economics was tackling the challenge with the appointment of a Student Welfare Manager. Bulletin speaks to Lorna Quickfall about her new role.

In 2018 the School of Economics was faced with a problem; the community reported feeling a lack of belonging and connection within the School. Their answer? A dedicated role to listen and support both students and staff in overcoming the many challenges that come with the journey through higher education.

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Life on campus

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As the University slowly prepares for a phased return to campus, it’s important to remember those who never left. Here we speak to colleagues from Estates and Accommodation, Catering and Events (ACE) about adapting to the pandemic, and how their jobs have changed over the past 17 months.

Sarah Thomson is Catering Manager for four of the Grab and Go cafes. Her job has changed a considerable amount over the past year.

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The festivals return

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In August 2020 Edinburgh was quiet for the first time in years. The pandemic meant that the city was unable to host its famous festivals last summer. The Royal Mile was devoid of tourists, and the University Central Area stood empty of the famous purple cow.

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Continuing our commitment

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In September 2017 the University signed the Technician Commitment, pledging to raise awareness of our technicians, recognise the work that they do and support their career progression. The commitment is a nationwide initiative overseen by the Science Council and the Gatsby Charitable Foundation’s Technicians Make It Happen campaign.

Sarah using liquid handling platform to normalise DNA samples to send away

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One regret one hope with David Farrier

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In this series, Professor Mona Siddiqui, Assistant Principal Religion and Society, chats to members of our community to find out more about them. Each fortnight she’ll be asking, what is the one regret that has shaped their past, and what is their one hope for the future.

This week Mona’s guest is David Farrier, Professor of Literature and the Environment in the School of Literatures, Languages & Cultures.

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When family wears thin

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Some of us have spent the past 18 months apart from our families, some of us have spent more of it with them than anticipated. Here Kitty Wheater, Mindfulness Chaplain, explores how to approach our family relationships.

In E. Nesbit’s children’s book The Phoenix and the Carpet, written in the early twentieth century, four children discover that the ordinary-looking carpet in their nursery is woven from magic thread, and can take them anywhere they please. Adventures ensue: to a deserted French tower, a Caribbean beach, and all over London. At some point, under the onslaught of exploits and muddy boots, the carpet begins to wear out. One of the girls takes to it with needle and thread, but does it quickly, and so it cannot be a perfect job. On the next trip, the children huddle tightly on the magic bits – but despite their best efforts, two of them fall straight through the dodgy patch, and land with a bump and a scrape on a London rooftop.

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New collection locations for TestED programme

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The UK Medical Research Council-funded TestEd research programme provides free Covid-19 testing for students and staff across the University.

TestEd uses saliva for PCR-based testing and has now tested more than 25,000 samples from staff and students across the University, with 10 positive results of staff or students who did not have symptoms of Covid-19 but, because they were carrying the virus, they were at risk of transmitting the infection to their contacts. Early self isolation was able to minimise this risk.

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Explaining UniForum

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The University will be taking part in the UniForum data collection again this year.

The exercise will look to understand what our professional services delivery looks like at the University, benchmarking against other similar institutions across the UK, Canada and Australia. Colleagues from around the University will be asked to get involved in coding the types of activities which staff undertake as part of their role.

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Bulletin schedule update

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Please note that Bulletin will be taking a short break over the summer.

We will return in the new academic year, with the next issue being published on Tuesday 14 September.

As always please do send any thoughts, or stories, to the bulletin team as we love to hear from you. You can reach us at

Honorary Professorships 2020/21

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Congratulations to the Honorary Professors who have been appointed by the University over this academic year.

These appointments have been made between 1 August 2020 and 31 July 2021.

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Edinburgh First phased reopening of meeting spaces

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As Scotland is now in level 0, Edinburgh First, the University’s hospitality and events team, has begun the phased reopening of University venues across the estate.

In accordance with Scottish Government guidelines, one metre physical distancing is required for indoor business events, which means St Leonard’s Hall has now reopened for meetings hosting 7 to 21 people; this also includes the option to book full catering. Perfect for teams wanting to meet face to face.

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