Wednesday 24 June 2020

All staff email

Follow up: VC webinar for staff

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to thank all those who were able to join me on the staff webinar last week, where I shared some thoughts on the impact of Covid-19 as well as looking ahead to how we resume the conversation on our Vision for York.

I was pleased that more than 1400 of you could join in, with feedback so far suggesting you found the presentation and Q&A to be both informative and open about the challenges we face. I hope it also provided useful context to help you be part of the conversations ahead about our next phase in developing the University Strategy. For those of you who were unable to join, we have published the recording and transcript of my talk. I hope you will be able to find time to watch or read it.

To summarise very briefly, I reflected on the scale of the current Covid-19 crisis before outlining how we are going to see its effects for some time, including the significant financial challenges we face, short-term uncertainties impacting on the next academic year, and some of the enduring effects that are likely to lead to lasting change for the sector. I also touched upon our framework for how to respond - with agility, working as a community, and as a university for public good.

Finally, I also set out the next steps for our strategy development and how we will shortly be sharing a set of what I hope you will find to be inspiring, bold and challenging strategic objectives for the next ten years for us collectively to consider.

Your questions

Thank you as well for the questions you submitted in advance or asked on the day. They covered a lot of issues, but the following were some of the common themes:

  • How we champion the importance of internationalism, and the positive impact on our research and student education of being a community of different nationalities, ideas and experiences

  • How we can become more inclusive and diverse as an organisation and what we need to learn from Black Lives Matter

  • The impact of the pandemic on our models of teaching and learning

  • Widening participation and what more we can do to support the next generation as well as our local schools

  • Our financial challenges, and how we are tackling these in the short-term, as well as building resilience to withstand future shocks

  • Our research ambitions and the financial impact of the pandemic

  • Supporting our workforce, including issues spanning flexible working, promotions and fixed-term contracts

  • The rationale and impact of organisational change and the need to focus these on supporting our academic purpose

  • How we remain an attractive and accessible place to study

  • How we design our strategy, measure its success and engage our staff and students

  • Our commitments to sustainability and the interplay between the pandemic and climate change challenges

Thank you to all those who also contributed these and other comments, thoughts and feedback, which will all help inform how we think about the challenges we face.

I will end this message as I finished the webinar, which is by thanking you all for your extraordinary response to this crisis. Denise Jagger, the Chair of our governing body - the University Council - who kindly acted as chair of the webinar, also reiterated this message. Your response has been exceptional, and I am truly grateful.

Best wishes


Professor Charlie Jeffery