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Vice-Chancellor's April 2020 report to Senate

Vice-Chancellor Robert van der Noort

The University's response to the COVID-19 pandemic was the main focus of Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort's report to the University Senate in April.

The report echoed many of the themes communicated in the Vice-Chancellor's Summer Term briefing and recent messages to all colleagues. "I am enormously proud of how as an organisation we have responded, and how agile we have been in responding, to the crisis", writes Professor Van de Noort.

The report summarises the role of the Major Incident Team (now Major Recovery Team) and how they have managed the University's response so far. It touches on our plan for a phased return to campus, with Professor Van de Noort explaining that:

"A phased return will be based on resumption of key activities rather than on access to buildings. Any return will need to take ongoing social distancing into account, and consider protection of vulnerable individuals and those with underlying conditions. Colleagues who are fully able to work from home should continue to do so for as long as possible; it will be important to capture any benefits arising from the new ways of working to inform a renewed approach to our core business in the year ahead."

It acknowledges the "strong and challenging feedback" from students following the announcement of moving exams online and recognises the additional workload colleagues face following the move. On a positive note, the Vice-Chancellor notes that since the exam period began in May, "the initial impression is that the process is working and that take-home exams have improved accessibility for the majority of students with disabilities".

Other key themes covered include the financial implications of COVID-19, the University's support for the NHS and local community, and our pledge to continue to address climate change after the lockdown ends. The report also provides an update on how the pandemic has affected the University of Reading Malaysia, with teaching and exams moving online.

Moving away from COVID-19, the report touches on important developments including the receipt of a Silver Athena SWAN award from the Equality Challenge Unit, research highlights, the RUSU Excellence Awards and a summary of our exciting film studio project at Thames Valley Science Park.

The full transcript is available to view online.

Senate is the University's main academic administrative body. Reporting to the Council and meeting at least four times a year, the Senate advises on areas such as student entry, assessment and awards. With around 100 members, the Senate comprises Deans, Heads and elected representatives of Schools, as well as professional staff and students. University Boards responsible for developments and innovation in research, teaching and learning report to the Senate.

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