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A message to all staff from the President and Vice-Chancellor

17 Mar 2020

Suspension of face-to-face teaching and closure of non-essential facilities on campus

John Owens

In line with the UK Government’s latest advice about coronavirus and in common with many other universities, the University will be suspending all physical face to face teaching (including laboratories, seminars and tutorials) and will be closing all of our non-essential sites from 5pm this evening (Tuesday 17 March). Our libraries, Manchester Museum, Whitworth Art Gallery and Jodrell Bank, as well as most of our teaching and research buildings, will be closed for physical access. Certain essential services and facilities and halls of residence will remain open.

I appreciate this is a very worrying time and this decision has been taken to protect the health and wellbeing of our staff and students, which is our primary concern.

Most staff will be required to work from home, if possible, until further notice. Please contact your line manager to discuss your work priorities and arrangements. Details about working from home are available on StaffNet News.  We realise that many staff will have to make an exceptional effort in order to maintain teaching, research and operational activities over this period, for which I am deeply grateful. 

The University will be maintaining vital support services and facilities that will require some staff to work from the campus.  We will contact staff directly if they are required to come into work to maintain these essential services and facilities and I am especially grateful to those individuals who will be asked to do this. 

Steps should be taken now to pause research activity which requires physical access to University facilities and buildings.  All non-essential travel should cease. We recognise however that exceptionally a number of projects will need to continue (subject to appropriate risk assessment) and these must be agreed with your Head of School.  

Please be reassured that we are maintaining and indeed extending on-line activities.  We are also working closely with the relevant authorities at a local and national level, including funders and regulators, to monitor the wider situation and minimise any further impact arising from the coronavirus outbreak.    

Students have been informed that they can return home if they are able to, but we realise that for some of them that may not be possible or that Manchester is their home. For that reason, our halls of residence will remain open and essential student support services will continue to be available. Students remaining in Manchester in private accommodation will also be able to access support services and advice.   If you are involved in teaching and learning you should keep in regular contact with your students. Students have also been encouraged to stay in regular touch with their School and tutors.  The communication we have sent to students is here at My Manchester News.

A set of frequently asked questions for staff are available at and we will make sure that these are updated at regular intervals.

We will be in regular contact with you and we will let you know when buildings and other facilities will reopen and we will resume physical face to face teaching. We have already put in place arrangements to ensure that all staff and those working at the university will continue to be paid over this period. 

These are challenging times and unprecedented arrangements, but we are all working very hard to protect our core activities of research and teaching. I am very proud of the way our University community is rallying together in these difficult circumstances. 

I would urge you all to follow the latest expert advice from the National Health Service and Public Health England. Our University also has support services in place for our staff and students

The most important thing we can do over the coming weeks and months is to support each other.

Kind regards

Nancy Rothwell
President and Vice-Chancellor