A year in review
Date: 18th Dec 2020
As a new year starts, it’s time to look back on an inspiring and challenging year at Buckinghamshire New University.
In January, the University kicked off another year full of fundraising activity with staff and students rowing 2020 metres each for charity Row Britannia in aid of Sport Relief. TV sports presenter and Row Britannia patron Gabby Logan visited and cheered on rowers.
On Love Our Planet day in February, the University pledged to go carbon net zero by 2030 and signed up to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals Accord, a commitment to promoting prosperity while protecting the planet.
As the COVID-19 pandemic crisis worsened in March, the University supported local communities by giving 13,500 items of Personal Protective Equipment to protect frontline NHS staff. To help students maintain their health and wellbeing, the University set up an emergency allowance, reduced accommodation costs, and urged private landlords to consider rent discounts.
In April, the University’s COVID-19 efforts continued with textiles and fashion technician Sasha Cabey joining an 80-strong group to create and supply NHS staff in the local area with scrubs in response to the national shortage.
Bucks graduate and internationally renowned artist Ian Berry returned to Wycombe in May to project his #clapfor animation, which celebrated frontline workers tackling COVID-19, on to the University’s building in High Wycombe.
June saw the University recognise Volunteers Week and acknowledge the staff and students who have gone the extra mile to help their local communities. Gypsy, Roma and Traveller History Month was celebrated with an online exhibition and debate, while the announcement of Bucks’ strong employment rate (98%) capped off a busy month.
The evolving COVID-19 crisis meant this year’s eye-catching art and design exhibition took place online in July and was able to remain open until the end of August. The University also celebrated a rise in student satisfaction scores in the latest National Student Survey and cemented its place once again in the top quartile of higher education institutions in the UK.
With A-Level results being released in August, the University was determined to make things as easy and straightforward as possible for prospective students and honoured any offers that had already been accepted. Bucks also offered free accommodation to students who, due to circumstances beyond their control, required somewhere to stay before starting their actual accommodation contracts.
A busy September saw staff and students returning to COVID-secure campuses with various precautions taken. A new bursary for students from the Gypsy, Traveller, Roma, Showman, and Boater (GTRSB) communities was introduced. A productive month was topped with news that Bucks rose 28 places in the Guardian University Guide.
In October, staff and students celebrated Black History Month with a series of events that recognised the positive contributions and achievements of Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) group communities. Some of the University’s student nurses appeared on ITV News to discuss their experiences of working on the frontline during the height of the pandemic. Bucks launched new fast-track degrees and also partnered with a specialist United Nations agency to launch a new Master’s qualification in aviation security.
With awards season in full swing, the University was shortlisted for three Times Higher Education Awards in November. Rural crime expert Dr Chris Sambrook appeared on BBC’s Countryfile and the University adopted the IHRA definition of antisemitism after a joint meeting of the University’s Senate and Council.
With the festive break in sight, Professor Margaret Greenfields and Dr Carol Rogers kicked off December with the launch of new research on the impact of hate crime on the GTRSB communities. Both the University and Bucks Students’ Union created Christmas hampers filled with festive treats and gifts to give to students staying on campus over the holiday and the local community respectively.
After a unique 2020 with various measures taken by the University to react to ongoing COVID-19 developments, the University has continued to make great progress and is looking forward to continuing this in 2021.