Student and Staff Wellbeing

Covid-19 Update - 26 June - Research students

Covid-19 Update Message to research students - 26 June 2020

Lucy Backhurst, Academic Registrar, shares the latest updates with PGR students.

Dear Students,

In this week’s message I provide a progress update on our plans for reopening the campus, information on virtual social opportunities arranged by and for PGR students and also details of a forthcoming event from the Careers Service.

Plans for re-opening the Campus

As you will be aware, the government has announced a further easing of lockdown restrictions from 4 July but, for the time being at least, the campus remains closed.  We are, however, preparing for a gradual reopening of some University buildings, including the libraries, in the next few weeks.

The following information provides information on what you can expect the campus to look like at the start of the new academic year.  In the meantime, you should continue to work from home until you receive further advice from your supervisor.

The physical campus: Our priority is to make sure you’re safe on campus, so over the next few weeks, we will be putting in place targeted cleaning measures across all our facilities, computer clusters and catering outlets. Screens and barriers will be installed where required to support physical distancing, wipes and hand sanitiser will be available at various locations across campus. We will have an early warning system to detect potential Covid-19 outbreaks in the University community. In September, we will be providing all our students and staff with a safety pack on arrival which will include a washable, reusable face covering, a thermometer and hand sanitiser.

We’re also introducing a one-way system on campus and in our buildings which will be signposted clearly.

Thorough cleaning, safety and physical distancing measures are being introduced across all catering outlets as they gradually re-open, while the NUSU Co-op will continue to offer deliveries via Deliveroo.

Inductions for returning students: All students will be advised to complete an induction on the new arrangements that will be in place on campus prior to their return.  For PGR students, this will include information on the one-way system to be implemented on campus, student safety measures and protocols to keep students and staff safe. 

Sport Facilities: We plan to open our indoor and outdoor sports facilities as soon as it’s safe to do so and will be following government and sports’ National Governing Body (NGB) guidance when we make our sports provision available.

Our Libraries: Although our library buildings are currently closed in line with government guidance, we’re planning a phased re-opening starting in early July.  We’re making sure our buildings comply with Covid-19 physical safety measures and are making it easier for you to access resources online – including increasing our already extensive e-resources.  Our click and collect, click and post, and contactless returns services will make accessing the resources you need for your research easy and safe.

There are over half a million e-books and 50,000 journals already available with more being added all the time.  If you would like to recommend new books or other resources in your area of interest we will do our best to acquire them for you, but for the moment, we are only sourcing electronic versions rather than print.  

Our general library help service is available 24/7 and you can book one to one appointments with a Liaison Librarian  for a customised online chat about your information needs.  We are working with colleagues in the University’s Estates Services on plans to open up the Philip Robinson Library as the first of our buildings to provide a click and collect service for print stock.

More information on all library resources and service can be found on the University Library webpages.

Access to IT: As you know, we’ve made over 3,000 spaces available in our virtual cluster so you can use your own laptop to access the software you need for your research.  And if you don’t have a laptop of your own, you may be eligible to borrow one of ours for a whole semester through our long-term laptop loan scheme.  Further information about the loan scheme will be circulated in advance of the autumn term. Computer clusters will also be available across campus with physical distancing and thorough cleaning measures in place.

Weekly Socials organised by the Postgraduate Research Community

I have been approached by the Postgraduate Research Community who are a group of students aiming to establish a supportive space for PGRs where they can connect, learn and socialise. One of the key issues the group is trying to address is the feeling of isolation that many PGRs experience during their research which is likely to have been exacerbated by the lockdown we have all been enduring over the past few months.

To provide some regularity in these unstable times, the group has organised weekly socials via Zoom that are open to all PGR and PGT students. The socials take place on Thursday evenings from 18.00.   All events are advertised via social media:

Forthcoming Careers Service event

Colleagues in the Careers Service have asked me to let you know about the following forthcoming event:

Our Region, Your Future: the world is full of opportunities, but do you know about them all? Sign up today for the North East Ambition programme (#NorthEastAmbition) taking place in June and July 2020 - to make an impact and leave your mark on the region you study in.

We will be in touch with more information on University plans, so please look out for my emails.

With thanks and best wishes,


Lucy Backhurst
Academic Registrar