The start of this new academic year is like no other, and more than ever we need to be conscious of our place and role in the communities in which we work, live and study.
Over the last few months, many of our staff and students have worked hard to support the fight against Covid-19. Some contributed through their research or through the production of essential PPE. Others, including those students who remained living locally, were on the frontline of support for the nation as healthcare workers, delivery drivers, supermarket staff or as volunteers in the community helping those who were shielding. I cannot thank you all enough for your efforts and I am particularly proud of the work done by our students.
As new and returning students join our community, Rama Thirunamachandran, the Vice-Chancellor of Canterbury Christ Church University, and I have written a joint letter to the local press and residents’ associations to stress our ongoing commitment to responding to Covid-19 and keeping our communities safe. Both universities have introduced specific measures in support of our pledge, including starting our Street Marshal scheme earlier than usual to provide additional reassurance to students and to the wider community.
Here at Kent, we are running information campaigns to remind our students of their responsibilities in helping to reduce the transmission of the virus in our region and in acting as our ambassadors in the areas in which they live. We will let them know of any changes to government guidance and legislation as well bringing to their attention our Code of Conduct and Student Disciplinary Procedures.
We are also working with local public health authorities to support the NHS Test and Trace, including hosting local testing sites on our Canterbury and Medway campuses for students, staff and the local community. This is a key part of the strategy of early identification of cases, to enable the prevention of onward transmission.
As well as the public health authorities, we are working with the NHS, and regional and national government to ensure we have appropriate safety measures, guidance and regulations in place across our universities. We will continue to work with other community partners through the HE/FE Community (strategic) Group, which includes representatives from local authorities, the Police and landlords. We will also continue to liaise with our local residents’ associations on a regular basis to ensure we understand their concerns and respond appropriately. Both Rama and I are confident that the steps we are taking will support the health and wellbeing of our student, staff and local communities as we continue to work together to minimise the impact of Covid-19.
I hope you and your families are keeping well and I wish you an enjoyable start to the beginning of term.
Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President