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Welcome back to London whether from near or far!

30 September 2020

Monday 28 September officially marked the start of the new academic year and Term 1 for students.

Alan Thompson

Monday 28 September officially marked the start of the new academic year and Term 1 for students. This last week we have welcomed many students to London, joining us from all over the world, not just from the UK. We are delighted to have the students physically in London but equally pleased to welcome all those students attending UCL virtually. We are all adjusting to our new way of working and it’s fantastic to see so many students embracing this change which we recognise is difficult for many but critical if we are to avoid any wider disruption.

As we plan ahead for the PVP London Office programme activities for 20/21, we are working closely with our UCL colleagues and external partners to ensure an enriched schedule of activities for the year ahead. In particular, we have been in close discussion with the London Borough of Camden, not only because we are developing a joint UCL-Camden Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) this term (more details to follow soon) but because safety on campus is paramount given the latest increase in COVID-19 cases and changes to UK Government advice.

Our Bloomsbury campus is based in Camden and many staff, and the majority of students, will live in and around Camden itself. With the influx of students arriving in September, it was key to ensure both UCL and Camden Council have an aligned approach to sharing messages about safety on campus. This has been a joint effort by many colleagues and departments across UCL but in the PVP London Office we have been working closely with Dr Julie Billett’s team at Camden and Islington Public Health. As Director of Public Health at Camden and Islington, Dr Billett has shared:

“Cases of coronavirus have been rising across Camden and London since the beginning of August. Thankfully, cases in Camden seem to be on the lower end of the scale but have been rising in recent weeks, and because we live in such an interconnected city, rising cases across London impact us all. That’s why it’s really important for all students and staff to be extra vigilant in following public health advice. If you develop symptoms, please self-isolate and get tested. Self-isolating – along with everyone you live with – is so important because it will prevent you passing it on and keep those around you safe.”

UCL has of course created its own tailored advice for staff and students alongside the numerous measures of significant action to keep our campus safe. As well as our community commitment, on-site safety processes have been implemented including reducing the number of people on-site to 25% capacity and implementing a new zoning system, amongst many other measures. Read more about how we’re protecting our staff and students here. In addition, UCL recently announced a new testing programme, a culmination of several months’ work by teams across UCL and UCLH. Up to 1,000 tests will be provided each day for symptomatic staff and students and anyone who tests positive will be referred to the NHS Test and Trace system as per UK Government guidelines. The first phase of testing is for symptomatic students based in UCL-managed Halls of Residence and further expansion of testing capacity will be rolled out over the following weeks. Our Connect to Protect tool is also now live for staff and students. This reporting tool, designed with public health experts, will help UCL to monitor and respond to coronavirus cases at UCL. These multiple and considerable efforts are the result of many teams coming together and I am so proud of the UCL community during this unsettling time.

As part of new student inductions this year, we have been working with colleagues on the Make the Most of UCL campaign, the new campaign for students in their first six weeks of term. The final week, week six, is ‘London Week’ and from 2nd-6th November we will be sharing blogs, tips and guides to student life in London. We’re also hosting events in week six for students to find out more about UCL and London in particular, and I look forward to engaging with students then. Look out for a guest blog by Lalage Clay, Director, Education & Talent at London & Partners during London Week. We also look forward to working more closely with London & Partners and London Higher as UCL buildings will be featured in their new joint ‘Inspiration Campaign’. We look forward to seeing the finished campaign in autumn.

Finally I am pleased to share that the London Framework is nearing completion and we hope to publish in autumn. This key document sets out the key principles which define the purpose of UCL London and how we recognise the significance of UCL’s place in London. Together with the PVP London Office, UCL London will act as a convenor, an advocator and a platform for UCL in London and importantly, a supporter for driving change and creating impact in our region.


Colleagues from across UCL have continued in their research and work which focuses on London and Londoners.

In early September an interactive 3D map of London was built by researchers at the UCL Energy Institute and the UCL Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis for the Greater London Authority (GLA). The London Building Stock Model, which contains data on the energy efficiency of all properties across London’s 33 boroughs, can be used to help identify energy inefficient buildings and inform local authorities. Additionally the London Solar Opportunity Map, reveals the solar energy potentially available from all roofs and open land across Greater London

UCL Innovation & Enterprise have reported that tech startup Coplug is collaborating with the NHS North East London Commissioning Alliance to help in healthcare planning for 1.1million people living in the area. A consortium, led by Coplug and supported by the UCL Innovation & Enterprise Global Innovation Team, will develop a unique data analytics platform for healthcare planning called SidM Health. Darshana Gothi Chauan, Coplug’s CEO and Founder undertook a postgraduate certificate in Smart Cities and Urban Analytics at The Bartlett, UCL, to help her bridge the worlds of data and government. She went on to found Coplug in 2017, now located at UCL’s entrepreneurship hub, BaseKX.

To share any London impact stories or to get in touch, please contact Amy Lightstone.