Praise for University’s COVID-19 response

The University of Leicester has been recognised with a national award for its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Higher Education Business Continuity Network (HEBCoN) – a consortium of HE institutions set up to respond to disruptive sector-changing events – selected the University’s approach to the pandemic for its prestigious Contribution to Sector Award.

Leicester became the first city in the UK, in June 2020, to face a ‘local lockdown’ due to a spike in COVID-19 cases. The University response centred on key themes of clear communication with students and staff, as well as flexibility in University processes which enabled a large-scale test-and-trace programme and other major changes to day-to-day operations.

The University, through its partnership with the University Hospitals of Leicester (UHL) NHS Trust, also continues to contribute to world-leading research into the effects of COVID-19.

Aashish Khadia, Director of Planning, presented the University’s strategy alongside a number of recommendations in a case study for HEBCoN in order to help other HE institutions negotiate the pandemic. He said: “Everyone at the University worked incredibly hard in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The local lockdown, from June 2020, was a challenge for the city as the rest of England was coming out of lockdown – we were the first city in the UK to be placed in such measures.  

“It was important that we shared best practice and lessons learned from this experience with other HE institutions so they were prepared for future local lockdowns.  

“To be recognised by HEBCoN is a huge honour and this award is recognition for every member of staff at the University.”

Professor Nishan Canagarajah, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Leicester, said: “This recognition is testament to the tireless work of University colleagues in ensuring that we remain agile to the numerous challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The response by our students and staff has been hugely positive, and has meant that we have not only continued to provide top-class teaching and world-leading research throughout this period, but also played a role in supporting our tremendously resilient local community.

“We are very proud to see this approach recognised by experts in the sector as a prime case study of how to navigate events such as these, and hope to use what we have learned to create an even more vibrant institution as restrictions begin to ease.”

Other examples of University contribution included work with partners such as Leicester City Football Club and the Bishop of Leicester on a community cohesion campaign under the #TogetherInHope banner, as well as initiatives to adjust admissions to reduce student stress

The full case study, Our Response to the Leicester Lockdown: Communication in the face of uncertainty, is available by request.

Explore more of the University of Leicester’s research into COVID-19 on our human health pages, including a podcast with Professor Chris Brightling, chief investigator for the PHOSP-COVID study examining the long-term effects of coronavirus.