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New report reveals Welsh universities on the frontline in the fight against COVID-19

Welsh universities have played a key role in supporting the nation in the fight against COVID-19, reveals a new report by Universities Wales.

From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year, universities have used their knowledge, expertise and experience to support the national effort – manufacturing essential medical equipment, providing much needed facilities, leading ground-breaking research and supporting those affected by the pandemic

This new report  – Universities in Wales’ civic response to Covid-19 – documents just some of the 250 examples collected since March of how institutions, their staff and students, have had a positive impact on the people in their local communities and further afield throughout the Covid-19 crisis.

The contributions universities have made include:

  • Providing medical equipment and facilities including donating personal protective equipment and ventilators, offering up accommodation for nurses and vulnerable groups, and providing space for blood donation centres.
  • Delivering training, research and expertise by ensuring more staff were trained with critical care skills including clinical respiratory care, and providing the health service with more medically trained staff to support the NHS. World-leading scientists across the sector undertook critical and essential research into the virus and have also provided insight on the impact the disease has had on people, communities, the environment and the economy.
  • Supporting communities through staff and student volunteers who donated food parcels to hospitals and helped raise funds for charities. Staff and students also organised online sports days and other activities to keep people healthy and active during lockdown.

Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said:

“I’m very pleased Universities Wales has produced this report, which includes a wide range of recent examples which highlight how valuable our universities are to our communities.

“As the report shows, Welsh universities have risen to the challenge of the coronavirus, acting quickly to lend their expertise to help fight the virus in a variety of ways. Much of universities’ work – partnerships with schools, widening access, research and innovation – represents the best of their commitment to their civic mission.

“Our universities have already done so much to meet the needs of the moment and will continue to be a critical actor in our recovery through their teaching, research and innovation.”

Lynnette Thomas, Chair of the Civic Mission Network, said:

“In an extremely challenging environment, universities have prioritised the health and well-being of not only their students and staff, but also the people in their local communities and across the world.

“Longer term plans are now being put in place to support our local communities in much needed areas to help create a more resilient Wales.”

Professor Julie Lydon, Chair of Universities Wales, added:

“This report demonstrates the positive civic impact universities have had on their local communities and the nation during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“As we emerge from lockdown and start adapting to the ‘new normal’, the work our universities do will be more important than ever. From research activity, and social and cultural opportunities, to education and skills delivery, universities will continue to make a vital social and economic contribution to Wales and its communities.”