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Playing our part: responding to a global pandemic

Cardiff Metropolitan University
Consistently, and from January 2020 when the University’s Covid Response Group was formed, our approach to the pandemic has been informed by our values and lived through our communication, collaboration and compassion that has prioritised student and staff health and wellbeing with the aim of maintaining the cohesion of our community.

At Cardiff Met we have stayed true to our values throughout the global coronavirus pandemic, applying our ethical approach to every decision and commitment we make to our students, staff and wider community.  

We took the early decision to take a proactive approach to safeguarding the health and wellbeing of staff and students. This meant moving all teaching online two weeks prior to lockdown in March and asking staff to work from home. To aid this change, we enhanced the confidential counselling service offered to staff, provided guidance on flexible working, and created a dedicated mini-site on the staff intranet with wellbeing advice, personal development opportunities and peer-led hints and tips.  

For students who continued to live on campus during the first lockdown (approx 60 students, including international students who were unable to return home due to travel restrictions and care leavers who consider Cardiff Met to be their home), we continued to provide catering services and donated additional supplies to our resident students on a weekly basis. 

First in Wales to release all students from their university-run accommodation contracts.

We sought to reduce financial worries for students by being one of the first universities in the UK and the first in Wales to release all students from their university-run accommodation contracts for the third term of the academic year 2019/20. For those students, including many international students, who suffered financial hardship as a result of the pandemic we offered additional financial support in the form of student hardship funding. 

Simultaneously, we sought to ease the impact of the pandemic on students’ mental wellbeing by being the first university in the UK to move all student advice and support services online, meaning everything from careers advice to dyslexia screening was available very early on to all students at a distance via digital services.  

The University also introduced a ‘no-detriment’ policy regarding student assessment, providing a safeguard that ensured no student was penalised unnecessarily during the pandemic. 

We've made no redundancies as a result of the pandemic.

This included a standard two-week extension for all assignments, converting all final term exams into online assessments and ensuring that students did not receive worse grades at the end of the year than they had achieved through course work during the year.  

In spite of the challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic our sense of community remains strong, bolstered by  being the first university in Wales to commit to paying all staff on permanent, fixed term or more casual contracts their full salaries, regardless of ability to work due to Covid-19. This extended to committing to pay all sub-contractors and subcontracted staff, most notably cleaning staff, their expected salaries and ensuring that there have been no redundancies as a result of Covid.  

Almost 200 staff from the University’s staff of approx 1,500, were eligible for furlough leave, and the University committed to topping up the 80% Government incentive to ensure all affected staff received 100% of their expected salary. 

During lockdown and since our staff and students have given generously of their resources to support frontline services, to raise money for charity, to assist parents struggling with home schooling and to support each other in coping with anxiety and mental health problems as a result of working at home in a pandemic. 

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