Update for the community on the 2021 student return
Please read below for a joint statement from City College Plymouth, the University of Plymouth, Plymouth College of Art and Plymouth Marjon University about the start of the 2021/22 academic year.
As the City of Plymouth’s higher and further education sector, we look forward to welcoming back our students for the 2021 academic year. In doing so, we want you to know that the health, safety and wellbeing of our whole community – students, staff, city residents and visitors is uppermost in our minds.
Over the past 18 months that we have all lived with COVID-19, we’ve been committed to doing everything we can to look after and support our city – and want to reassure you that we will continue to do so.
Over the last year we have:
Kept everyone safe and informed by:
- Hosting and investing in campus COVID test centres
- Creating dedicated COVID advice teams
- Redesigning our spaces and adapting our learning and working practices to be COVID-secure
- Keeping in constant communication with our students as to how to keep themselves, each other and the wider community safe
- Setting up new contact methods to directly address community concerns
- Maintaining regular and robust information sharing with each other, Plymouth City Council, Public Health England and at national level, the Department for Education.
Used our expertise and resources to tackle the pandemic by:
- Supporting research into vaccination
- Students helping the NHS through volunteering, placements and graduating early to start work
- Staff returning to the NHS front line
- Delivering training to NHS staff
- Supplying equipment to the NHS and staff in the city
- Supporting home-schooling through expertise, research and resources
- Donating school and office supplies to aid social distancing.
With the easing of restrictions, the return of students reignites the social, cultural and economic benefits they bring to our Ocean City – so for many businesses, and the array of community initiatives that our students support, we know their return will be welcomed by many.
In fact, we have carefully welcomed students back on a staggered return basis since January 2020, with all students being allowed back since May 2020 in line with government guidance. In this time there was no reported local student ‘spike’ in cases. Collectively, our COVID rates have been some of the lowest thus far in comparison with other comparably-sized higher/further education establishments across the country – and our hope is to keep it this way.
We want to reassure you that we have each again planned carefully for this academic year building on all we have learned over the past 18 months.
We are focused on working together to encourage all new and returning students to get vaccinated and to test before they arrive, when they get here and regularly from there on in – in line with any evolving government guidance.
We continue to work together, and with relevant local and national agencies spanning government, public health and emergency services to ensure our risk assessments and contingency measures are robust.
For those of us who have our own or university/college managed accommodation, we will continue to ensure these have appropriate risk assessments and that health and safety monitoring measures are in place to protect all residents. This includes quarantine accommodation for any international students who arrive and need to self-isolate.
Inevitably, students will be excited to start and to return to their studies after yet another period of social and academic abnormality. We all continue to engage strongly with students on what they can expect from us and our expectations of them and their conduct.
We ask any member of the local community to report concerns through the official channels as appropriate – emergency services (police/fire service/ambulance) for serious or urgent matters; Plymouth City Council for matters like antisocial behaviour or litter. We have close relationships with all the authorities and work with them accordingly.
We are committed to delivering the highest quality education for our students and we are following all government guidance to ensure that we are operating in the safest and responsible manner possible. We have always highly valued the support of our community for our institutions and our students and are sure that the great Plymouth spirit will shine through to continue to show kindness and tolerance.
Councillor David Downie, Cabinet Member for Education, Skills and Children and Young People, said; “We have always had a close relationship with our city’s higher and further education providers, but never-more-so than during the pandemic era. We commend and thank our colleges and universities for working with us and each other as one to ensure the health, safety and welfare of everyone. The impact of their COVID research, expertise and generosity of resource has benefited many across Plymouth and put our city on the map more widely as an exemplar of how the higher and further education sector playing such a crucial role in fighting the pandemic and using its influence for public good. We look forward to continuing to work together as one in keeping our communities and people safe, happy and healthy.”
City College Plymouth: Ms Jackie Grubb, Chief Executive and Principal
Plymouth College of Art: Professor Paul Fieldsend-Danks, Principal
Plymouth Marjon University: Professor Rob Warner, Vice-Chancellor
University of Plymouth: Professor Judith Petts CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive