Safety is top priority, say Welsh university leaders at start of new term

As universities prepare to welcome new and returning students in the coming weeks, Vice Chancellors of Wales’ higher education institutions put their names to a joint statement to students, confirming that public health is their top priority.

A joint statement from universities across Wales on the new academic term

We look forward to welcoming all students, new and returning, to our universities across Wales in the coming weeks.

We are delighted that you will soon be able to attend campus at your chosen university, either to commence or continue your studies, in one of the most vibrant and friendly countries in the world. Wales is a country where world-leading research, established industry partnerships and an innovative and supportive learning environment are at the heart of a rewarding student experience. 

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

This isn’t something we can do alone. We have a shared responsibility to keep our communities safe. Students have shown incredible solidarity and resilience in the fight against the pandemic. 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 to help tackle loneliness and isolation.

Now, as we start the new academic year, we need the whole student body to look out for each other, and the wider community, in your day-to-day interactions.

Our staff have worked hard to adapt teaching approaches and campuses to keep you safe during the new semester. You will still be able to access the expertise of our teachers, researchers and student services through a variety of accessible routes. Students’ Unions and the sabbatical teams have been valued partners in putting these plans in place and we’re very grateful for their energy and commitment.

Your university experience will look and feel a little different this term. With a blended approach to teaching, 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 technology to support Wales’ Test, Trace, Protect scheme. You can support this further by downloading the NHS contact tracing app when it is available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store on 24 September.

It is vital that we remain vigilant. Our communities are not simply our university campuses but the towns, cities and wider regions to which our universities belong. 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.

We thank you for choosing to undertake your higher education in Wales and we wish you the very best for the coming year.

With all good wishes.

Professor Julie Lydon, Vice Chancellor of the University of South Wales & Chair of Universities Wales
Professor Elizabeth Treasure, Vice Chancellor of Aberystwyth University
Professor Iwan Davies, Vice Chancellor of Bangor University
Professor Cara Aitchison, Vice Chancellor of Cardiff Metropolitan University
Professor Colin Riordan, Vice Chancellor of Cardiff University
Professor Paul Boyle, Vice Chancellor of Swansea University
Professor Medwin Hughes, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wales Trinity St David
Professor Maria Hinfelaar, Vice Chancellor of Wrexham Glyndŵr University