Vice-Chancellor's foreword

Without doubt, 2020 was a truly remarkable year. A year in which all of us were touched in some fundamental way by the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am, however, extremely proud of the way each and every member of staff across the University, and our student body, worked together to deliver our mission for the Common Good, through the toughest of times.

As you read the review of this year’s activities of the GCU community, you will appreciate just how effective the determination was to ‘keep calm and carry on’ in the face of the crisis. This pandemic crisis over a prolonged period has demanded swift action, collaborative leadership with our Students’ Association and Trade Union colleagues, agility from staff to move to new ways of working and a re-focusing of key areas of our health-related and social innovation research to deal with coronavirus.

In addition, more than 5,000 of our staff and students stepped up to volunteer for the frontline in the NHS, or to work in local foodbanks, or to deliver healthcare clinic services to our local population, or even with our Caledonian Club to support pupils from schools in the most deprived areas of Glasgow. 

It was critically important to us all to ensure that our students from a diverse range of backgrounds, at home and overseas, were also supported in their learning and with the increased mental health challenges that resulted from lockdowns. It is encouraging to note that our students have warmly commended our hardworking staff for their care and kindness.

Driven by our strong sense of purpose, the GCU community really lived our values this year and still found time to be creative in solving problems in a range of areas from climate justice, to reducing inequalities in health and wellbeing, to creating responsible, sustainable business models and approaches, to delivering care in the health service in new ways and working out how artificial intelligence can be used to support industry and public services. The continued application of our ideas in practice led to us being recognised by the Times Higher Education as one of the top universities in the UK for our response to COVID-19.

Pandemic challenges will remain a feature of the coming year, but they will not hinder our efforts to widen access to higher education, to continue to tackle institutional racism, to promote gender equality and to make a meaningful contribution to climate change through COP26 in November.

Climate change is a topic of particular importance to our wonderful Chancellor, Annie Lennox, who, throughout 2020, kept our spirits up with strong messages of support.

All in all, 2020 was a year in which the Glasgow Caledonian University community of staff, students, alumni, Court members, friends and partners delivered an outstanding collective, collaborative effort with social impact, which is heart-warming and inspiring in equal measure.

Professor Pamela Gillies CBE FRSE
Principal and Vice-Chancellor