Universities' response to Covid-19: autumn update

23 September 2020

Research intensive universities are at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19, carrying out vital research such as vaccine trials and data analysis even as students and staff return to campuses this semester. In every region of the UK, Russell Group universities are: 

 - Looking after the wellbeing of students

 - Continuing to carry out vital research

 - Working closely with their local communities 

Student wellbeing

In WonkHE, Vice-Chancellor of Newcastle University Chris Day talks about how his institution is responding to rising case numbers in the region. Like many Russell Group universities, it means:

 - Having clear safety measures in place that adhere to the latest Government guidance for social as well as teaching activities

 - Moving between face-to-face and online learning in a flexible way

 - Working with councils, public health authorities and the local community

Read more: Amidst a Covid cases increase, here’s what R means to us

Vital research

Leading researchers at Imperial College London are developing entirely new tests to identify the virus. A 90-minute Covid-19 test that is highly accurate and doesn’t require a laboratory is already being used in some hospitals and is due to be rolled out nationally: Rapid 90-minute COVID-19 test shown to be highly accurate

Professors from Oxford, UCL and Edinburgh universities contributed to this BBC article that discusses alternative ways the UK might respond: Covid: Is it time we learnt to live with the virus?

Queen's University Belfast is leading a UK-wide study on how Covid-19 affects children, which suggests that those with gastrointestinal symptoms should be tested for the virus. 

Our universities are working closely together: Warwick and Nottingham have been using computer simulations to investigate the effect of mechanical ventilation on the lungs of Covid-19 patients, showing that standard ventilation may not be the most effective for particular patients, and helping to accelerate the development of new treatments.

In fact, the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium brings together UK immunology centres of excellence and includes numerous Russell Group universities: Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Imperial College London, King’s College London, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Oxford, Sheffield, UCL and York. Together they are working on developing therapies and vaccines to benefit the public.

Working with communities 

At Cardiff University, health and wellbeing are at the heart of their civic strategy. The university runs a free mental health support scheme for doctors, with a confidential helpline, counselling and online resources. Like many of our universities, they have also worked with schools to help learning to continue, provided accommodation for NHS staff, and helped train medical students to become frontline NHS staff.

Follow @RussellGroup for the latest on how our universities are leading the fight against Covid-19 through life-saving research, working with their communities and supporting staff and students.

Policy areas

Related case studies