Universities working with local health organisations to keep Dorset safe

Bournemouth’s universities have been actively working with health and emergency organisations across Dorset during the pandemic to help protect the community from Covid-19.

AECC University College, Bournemouth University (BU) and Arts University Bournemouth (AUB) have been working with Public Health Dorset, BCP Council and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group through weekly meetings and regular contact to ensure that steps are being taken to implement safety advice, understand the regional context, and work for the benefit of staff, students, and Dorset residents.

The universities have also been working with Public Health England South West to ensure that best practice from universities across the South West is also being implemented locally, as well as Dorset’s Local Resilience Forum.

The universities have also been actively working with the Universities Neighbourhood Policing Team to underline student behaviour expectations. BU and AUB share an on-campus test facility for staff and students to use twice weekly, with a test centre also set up at AECC University College, to help track cases of Covid-19 and provide quick results to ensure anyone with a positive case self-isolates and follows national government advice.

Moorlands College and Bournemouth University International College are also actively involved in the joined-up working.

The context of local universities is included in Public Health Dorset’s weekly reporting to give transparency to the local community and share what universities are doing on-campus to ensure that students and staff are playing their part in mitigating the risks of transmission.

Jane Horne, Consultant in Public Health at Public Health Dorset, said, “Throughout the pandemic, we’ve kept in regular contact with colleagues at the universities and colleges to review our local situation, plan our response and ensure we’re communicating clearly with students and the wider public. This has meant that collectively we have been able to adapt quickly to new developments like rapid testing and national restrictions, helping to keep everyone safe. We know that the past year has been a difficult time for students so we’d like to thank all members of the university community who have followed the rules and helped stop the spread of Covid-19.”

Jim Andrews, Chief Operating Officer at Bournemouth University, said, “A key part of our Covid-19 response has been the way that lots of organisations have come together to share best practice and support one another in implementing guidance to ensure we are doing all we can to stop the spread of Covid-19. We’re so grateful for the close working relationships we have with partners and other universities across Dorset and the support we’ve been given as we’ve made decisions to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our students and staff, and the communities in Dorset to which we all belong.”

Professor Lesley Haig, Vice-Chancellor at AECC University College said “At this time of national crisis, regular communication and timely information sharing between our universities has been critical to coordinating our local Covid-19 response across Dorset.

“AECC University College has continued to deliver teaching and patient services safely onsite since August 2020 and operates an onsite Covid-19 testing centre for staff and students.  We continue to work closely on many levels with key colleagues at Bournemouth University,  Arts University Bournemouth, Public Health Dorset and with other partners regionally and nationally, to ensure the safety and welfare of all members of our communities.”

A spokesperson for Arts University Bournemouth said: “Since the onset of the pandemic, AUB has been keen to work with other key local organisations to ensure the safety of staff, students and the wider community and prevent the spread of Covid-19. 

“Working together with Bournemouth University, our joint rapid testing facility has enabled students to travel, study and live safely in the local area while continuing their studies either on campus or via blended learning online. AUB is pleased to begin gradually welcoming students back to our campus via a phased approach, and we thank our key partners for their efforts to ensure the safety of our local community.”

Local university staff have also been working to support the regional, national and international response effort. Some of these stories can be found on the BU website.

Each university has more information about its Covid-19 response on their website.