University of Surrey links up with local business community to offer a safe “welcome back” to students
After a difficult and damaging period for Surrey businesses hit hard by the Covid-19 slump in business, the University of Surrey has teamed up with the local business community and Guildford Borough Council to ensure students are welcomed back safely to Guildford.
In a collaborative venture, Experience Guildford, the University of Surrey and the Students’ Union have worked with Delivered Social to produce a film to welcome students back to Guildford safely and showcase the impressive variety of leisure and entertainment facilities the town has to offer.
CEO of Experience Guildford, Amanda Masters said: “As the University of Surrey gears up for the start of another academic year, we look forward to playing our part in welcoming students, new and old, back to our town. Guildford has so much to offer the student community, and our collaborative approach with the University team and Guildford Borough Council to convey this, along with the increased safety measures that our businesses have so diligently put in place, is a positive reinforcement for all who live, work and play in our town.
“We understand and appreciate the economic contribution that students make to our local economy and are working hard to support retailers and hospitality businesses in conveying the offers and incentives that they are rolling out to help celebrate their return. And ‘celebrate’ is exactly what we should do. The plans put in place both on and off campus go a long way in reassuring students that we put their safety first, and our longstanding Purple Flag accreditation also demonstrates that we have done this for many years.”
Leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves said: “We are proud to have such a first class University within our borough and Surrey’s students are valued members of our community with thousands choosing to stay or later return to make Guildford their home after they graduate. We always welcome the opportunity to support the University as their new and existing students arrive in Guildford. This year a great deal of planning and collaboration with officers, local businesses and partners has taken place to ensure the campus and town are as Covid-secure as possible – so that students can have a great experience without putting themselves or others at risk.
“The University have been brilliantly proactive about communicating this ahead of the new academic year especially around the off campus environments. They have ensured that while everything is in place for students to learn and enjoy themselves safely and responsibly, students are also aware that everyone in society must continue to play their part and comply with government guidelines and that any individuals gathering in large groups of over 6 people is now illegal. Students make a significant contribution to our local economy, not only spending on accommodation, food and entertainment, but also the many students who work part-time throughout their studies and those who do so much through volunteering with our local organisations.”
The “welcome back” collaboration is in addition to a huge effort on behalf of the University to ensure a safe return to campus for students – the product of a comprehensive action plan that has been in development for many months as Covid-19 movement restrictions have been gradually developed and relaxed.
Covid-secure measures have been implemented across the campus. Semester One will feature a blend of online and campus-based learning to provide a supportive and vibrant learning experience while keeping staff and students safe against the backdrop of Covid-19. A dedicated self-isolation support team is also ready to support new and existing students with the essential supplies and support they need if they have to remain in isolation while on campus.
President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey, Professor Max Lu said: “Health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. We have spent months preparing for the new academic year. We are very grateful for the support of our local partners and businesses to deliver a united approach to welcoming our students back to the town. Guildford Borough Council and Experience Guildford have safely and successfully ‘reopened’ Guildford town centre and, as members of community studying, living and working in Guildford, we recognise that it is more important than ever that our students are informed about how to responsibly integrate into the local community, as well as University life.
“If we are to defeat the virus currently affecting the whole world, we must all play our part – to support one another and through science and research to contribute to testing and vaccine development.”
The University has been an active member of Surrey’s local resilience forum throughout the pandemic and will continue to work closely with them regarding contingency plans for managing any local outbreaks. The Students’ Union and the University’s Public Engagement team have collaborated with local groups, such as Pub Watch, to ensure a safe and managed approach to the night-time economy and the students’ return to Guildford. Their usual campaigns, including the presence of street marshals and the lamppost campaign to encourage a reduction in street noise in key residential areas, will run as usual with additional messaging around Covid-19 safety and social distancing.