Case studies – universities supporting the national response
Universities across Wales are providing resources, equipment and expertise to support the NHS and local communities in the fight against Covid-19.
Here is just a selection of the important work currently being undertaken by Welsh universities:
- Cardiff Metropolitan University have established a Blood Centre at their Llandaff campus in partnership with the Welsh Blood Service and loaned two Thermo Fisher 7500 ABI Fast platform machines to support enhanced testing of COVID-19.
- Swansea University’s on-campus clinical skills training suite and clinical skills lab at Morriston Hospital have both been freed up for NHS use. In addition, 3D facilities at the University are being used to print ventilator parts, while midwifery and paramedic students are to support frontline NHS colleagues in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. .
- The University of Wales Trinity Saint David’s Assistive Technologies Innovation Centre (ATiC) and the Wales Centre for Batch Manufacture are contributing to projects providing support for NHS Wales’ COVID-19 response. This includes the development of a non-invasive ventilation mask and creating an emergency pandemic ventilator that can be manufactured locally.
- Bangor University has made available facilities for blood donation and specialist laboratory equipment for sample analysis.
- Aberystwyth University and Cardiff University are providing building space to local health boards in order to increase their emergency case handling capacity. An Aberystwyth University building has also been converted to a key worker screening centre and clinical space for local GP use.
- In consultation with NHS Wales, Cardiff University is fast-tracking final-year medical and healthcare students to be available to support front-line NHS teams, and 300 Year 3 and Year 4 year medical students have signed up for a ‘volunteering bank’ to support the NHS.
- Engineering staff at the University of South Wales are designing and producing visors to protect frontline health workers in the fight against COVID-19, using 3D printing and laser cutting.
- Cardiff Metropolitan University, Swansea University, Bangor University, and the University of South Wales have all donated Personal Protective Equipment, such as aprons, masks and goggles, for use by frontline NHS staff.
- A rapid test for detecting COVID-19 has been developed by scientists at the University of South Wales. The team has also created a portable device which can produce an accurate result in 20-30 minutes without having to return a sample to the laboratory. The test and device are already being evaluated by the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board and could be in use at its care homes within weeks.
- Staff from Wrexham Glyndŵr University, Swansea University, the University of South Wales and Bangor University are working with health boards to deliver critical care training to NHS staff. Cardiff University School of Healthcare Sciences is also providing training/skill refresh sessions to staff who are being drafted back into the health service.
- Cardiff University is one of a number of academic institutions supporting a new genome sequencing consortium to map the spread of COVID-19. By looking at the whole virus genome in people who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19, scientists can monitor changes in the virus at a national scale to understand how the virus is spreading and whether different strains are emerging.
- Swansea University scientists have developed an innovative system to speed-clean ambulances used to transport patients with coronavirus. The system could be in use on the front line within months, and could eventually be used for decontaminating hospitals and buses and trains.
- Scientists at Bangor University are joining the global fight against the current pandemic where they will pool their expertise to develop new ways of mass-monitoring levels of the virus in wastewater.
- Researchers at Cardiff Metropolitan University’s School of Technologies are investigating how #COVID-19 is spreading. The team is using weather data, for example, from 6 countries in an attempt to model and predict the future spread of the virus.
- The University of Wales Trinity Saint David is providing ongoing advice and support to businesses involved with a wide range of healthcare projects through Manufacture for Advances Design Engineering and ATiC
- The Open University in Wales is working with Cardiff Council Schools’ Service to identify resources that can help teachers to support learners at home online. the University has also been working with the Welsh Government to provide new e-learning for workers furloughed as a result of COVID-19.
- Universities in Wales have been working with Welsh Government to create online learning experiences and events for learners in Year 13. The post-16 distance learning resources are accessible via the Hwb. These resources are being made available early to enable learners to carry on with their learning and prepare to transition to higher education. The vast amount of resources have been developed by universities, colleges and other organisations, and include online lectures, master classes and tutorials. They also include information about university life, wellbeing, and information for parents and carers.
- A group of 30 ITE students at Cardiff Metropolitan University have created a free weekly home-school resource programme for parents, and the University’s health and fitness arm Met Active, together with the professional sports teams, have been using social media to keep people active with daily videos and home work-out tutorials for all abilities.
- Wrexham Glyndŵr University has created a free online module called ‘The Confident Learner’ to help students prepare for life at University after missing their last term in school or college. The University has also joined businesses from across the UK and pledged to help Britain and its most vulnerable citizens to pull through the coronavirus crisis. It is among universities, businesses and other institutions across the UK to put its backing behind the C-19 Business Pledge, an initiative launched by former Cabinet minister, Rt Hon Justine Greening, and entrepreneur David Harrison.
- Bangor University Students’ Union has set up a Facebook support group to help tackle feelings of isolation and loneliness.
- A UK-wide promotion of the Open University’s free OpenLearn resources will shortly launch; this will include specific promotions in Wales of bilingual OpenLearn Cymru content. These are free, open educational resources that provide more than 12,000 hours of online study material. OpenLearn has also pulled together a range of content specifically relating to the coronavirus and how to cope during these challenging times.
- Cardiff University has launched a virtual call centre in which more than 120 staff have volunteered to check on students who are staying in Cardiff to ensure that they are receiving all the support they need.
- A research project based at Aberystwyth University is offering free online training to frontline practitioners across the United Kingdom dealing with cases of domestic abuse among older people during the current coronavirus lockdown.
Accommodation and services
- Graduate Entry Medicine students at Swansea University are offering emergency childcare for NHS staff which will allow them to continue to offer frontline care.
- NHS staff are being offered accommodation at some of Aberystwyth University and Bangor University residences, and Wrexham Glyndŵr University has been in contact with the Maelor Hospital about potential short-term accommodation needs for key workers.
We are continuing to collect examples of the valuable civic mission work being carried out by Welsh universities in response to COVID-19 and will be making this information available on this page.