Glyndŵr University closed its doors to the public at the start of Wales' lockdown but that didn't mean their work stopped. Deputy vice-chancellor Professor Claire Taylor explains how they've continued to play their part in maintaining life through the coronavirus pandemic for staff and students.

Our campuses in Wrexham, Northop and St Asaph may be closed to the public but as a university we are very much open!

Since we made the decision to close our campuses at the end of March in line with Government health advice, much has been going on behind the scenes to ensure continuity in the delivery of our academic courses and in our research and enterprise activity.

A major focus has been on supporting staff and students to be able to work and learn from home, and to ensure that our students have been able to progress and complete their studies safely. We have worked hard to deliver remote teaching, develop online learning resources and re-think approaches to assessment.

Throughout, we have upheld the principle of 'no detriment' for our students - the idea that no one should be adversely affected because of circumstances beyond their control. In doing so, as a university we have truly lived our values of being accessible, supportive, innovative and ambitious and it's fair to say that the Glyndŵr community has really come together and gone 'above and beyond' under extraordinary circumstances.

But our commitment to really living our values during these difficult times has extended beyond our own university community. At the start of the pandemic, the university signed the Covid-19 business pledge, alongside thousands of major UK businesses and organisations such as the National Grid, Asda, Severn Trent Water and more.

This pledge, launched by former cabinet minister Justine Greening and businessman David Harrison committed us to supporting our own staff throughout the current crisis, to publish clear and simple advice for our 'customers', who are our students (and prospective students) and to commit to help the country and our community throughout the crisis too. We've done this in a wide variety of ways, some of which are outlined here.

We have been really proud to have worked directly with the health sector during this time of global pandemic. Working with partners including Health Education and Improvement Wales (HEIW) our lecturers have helped to train health workers from both North and Mid Wales health boards in respiratory care, allowing them to provide vital physiotherapy to support their colleagues. We have been able to donate PPE to local healthcare providers and our own staff and students have given equipment, time and expertise to local PPE production hubs. We have also made student accommodation available for key workers.

We have been mindful of the many learners across our region who are looking forward to starting university courses this September. We spoke to education chiefs in every county across North Wales to offer them a free course to help prepare their students for university called The Confident Learner. The first students began following the course in early April, and we have developed enough capacity to offer it to all students in sixth form or further education across North Wales throughout the summer - wherever they are planning to learn in the future.

The course is designed to boost study skills, essay writing, wellbeing and much more and is available through the medium of Welsh as well as in English. We have other short courses also available online, designed to address current issues including Mental Health, Wellbeing, Confident Numeracy, Information Technology and more.

It's been a tough time for smaller business too and as a champion of the local economy we've moved where we can to pay invoices to local suppliers weekly. This has helped small businesses with cash flow at a crucial time.

But back to our own university community and to our students and staff who enable Wrexham Glyndŵr to be such a special place. There are many individual stories of where students and staff have demonstrated extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion during these tough times.

Many have gone the extra mile for communities beyond the university as well as doing the same for our own students and colleagues. Some of our engineering students who were returning to their homes in Europe decided to donate the provisions they would not be taking with them to the Wrexham Community Mental Health team.

We do have some students living in accommodation on-site and they are being looked after by our brilliant security team, with appropriate social distancing measures in place. And as well as moving teaching and assessment online we have successfully offered our full range of professional services online too across careers, health and wellbeing support, financial advice and more. We will not let Covid-19 get in the way of doing the very best we can for our students!

Looking forwards...

As we emerge from the Covid-19 situation we are looking forward to welcoming new and returning students and staff onto our university campuses in the new academic year. Indeed, a great deal of work has already started to ensure that the university is carefully prepared to open its campuses safely and responsibly. There will be changes to how we use our classrooms, our labs, studios and clinical spaces, our library, our open learning spaces and catering outlets, but by working with the latest government guidelines we will ensure safe and healthy learning and working environments for all.

Wrexham Glyndŵr University is grounded in its values of being accessible, flexible, innovative and ambitious and an exciting development from September we will be the launch of our new Active Learning Framework (ALF).

ALF will support flexible learning that makes best use of spaces on campus together with digitally-enabled learning opportunities designed to be accessed anytime, anywhere as appropriate. Even though things may be different, and we have to reimagine how we study and how we work, our values and our commitment to our university community, our town, our region and beyond still stand.

A key goal as we approach September is to ensure that new and returning students, staff and visitors feel welcomed, safe, looked after and part of what Wrexham Glyndŵr does best - being a flourishing and supportive community.

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