End of term message from the President and Vice-Chancellor

As we come to the end of term and, where possible, look forward to spending time with loved ones over the Christmas holidays, I wanted to write to thank you all for your support throughout 2020.

Like many other people at this time of the year, I’ve been reflecting on the past 12 months. Words like unprecedented have been over-used during the pandemic but it’s true that we have experienced a year like no other. So much has happened – sadly, many lives have been lost and our lives have completely changed. We’ve had to adjust the way in which we live, work and socialise to limit the spread of the virus and protect our friends, families, colleagues and communities. Without doubt, it has been a challenging 12 months. However, as always, the University has come together to support each other against adversity, to deliver high-quality flexible teaching, excellent student support and outstanding research.

I have been immensely impressed by our students who have adjusted to the changes exceptionally well and followed our guidance. This has enabled us to play our part in minimising the spread of the infection and look after the health and wellbeing of our staff and students. It was heartening to hear from Professor Ivan Browne, Leicester Director of Public Health, that Leicester students have really helped the City to contain the spread of infection. Thank you all!

I’ve also been impressed by how our staff community has gone above and beyond to support students with their education and their student experience. I acknowledge that it has not always been an easy for our staff and our students this year. Delivering teaching, pursuing research and undertaking learning in a very different environment has been challenging. And I also know that not everything we have done may have gone as well as we had hoped. But we continue to learn and adjust as we go forward.

In addition to supporting our own community, we have reached out to the City to provide help. Universities had the opportunity to show their true value to society and demonstrate their civic mission during this pandemic. I am incredibly proud that the University of Leicester has done that in abundance. Medical students graduated early to help the NHS, our staff and students volunteered their time to support the City Council during the local lockdown and we were a lead partner in the City’s #TogetherInHope campaign. I have been delighted that our response to look after our local community has been recognised by our key partners, including the Mayor, our local MPs and representatives, and the local NHS Trust.

The recent approval of the COVID vaccine provides hope that we will soon be returning to some sort of normality. University colleagues have made a tremendous national impact on COVID research. Leicester is ranked in the top three universities in the UK for COVID-19 research – behind only Oxford and Cambridge. We were the first to highlight the impact of COVID on minority ethnic groups, we led major clinical trials that resulted in the first known treatment and now we are leading an £8.4 million national study into the long-term health impacts of COVID-19. Time and again we have worked together to respond to even the toughest of situations exemplifying why we are Citizens of Change.

I very much appreciate all your engagement, support and hard work this year. I hope you will also get some well-earned rest and stay safe. I’d like to wish you all a very peaceful Christmas and a healthy New Year. I look forward to seeing you again in 2021.