COVID-19: An update from our research community

COVID-19: An update from our research community

Our researchers have been exploring the impacts of COVID-19 on society. On this page, you will find a collection of articles and blogs which explain how we are contributing to the fight against the pandemic, along with updates for the Coventry University research community from Richard Dashwood, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.

Official statements

Coventry University research community update: changes to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

On 24 March 2020 Research England announced that, due to the effects of COVID-19, the REF exercise would be postponed but the census date for staff would remain unchanged at 31 July 2020.

Research England are consulting on the REF timetable changes and recently invited feedback to gather initial views on the revised submission date and the impact period deadline.

On Tuesday 5 May 2020, Coventry University submitted its response. We have requested that any delay to submission deadlines be kept to a minimum. If a delay is deemed necessary, then we request 31 March 2021 – the earliest option presented by Research England. In addition, we have also proposed that the impact period maintains its original deadline of 31 July 2020.

Postponing the submission deadline beyond the proposed date would not only delay the result in terms of its use in the league tables, but also push back the funding settlement which would reduce the benefits of an anticipated increased grant. We believe this would have a disproportionate effect on those institutions who (like Coventry University) have invested significantly in research over the current REF period.

Our argument is that the full effects of COVID-19 will not be known for many months, possibly years. There is currently no understanding of timelines for the COVID-19 situation, and as such the social distancing restrictions currently in place significantly limit the prospect of any further impact being realised. Delays carry with them costs for the sector in terms of workload and staffing, and the extension of REF preparations will result in a hugely disruptive exercise at a time that is already uncertain for us all.

Despite this uncertainty, Coventry University’s preparations are in an advanced state and as such we are on track to meet the original timelines. This will not only ensure we are ready to meet any possible new REF deadlines, but also maximise any potential benefits some further preparation time could provide us.

A message for our research community from Richard Dashwood, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research.

As we work through these unfamiliar and unprecedented times, one thing that is clear is the serious and wide ranging impacts of COVID-19.

Our first and foremost priority is to ensure the safety of our staff and students. In line with Public Health advice, face-to-face teaching was suspended and moved online, and the university campus has been closed to try to further prevent the spread of the virus.

Whilst many of us can work remotely, others who conduct experimental research and fieldwork have had to pause their activities. Regardless, we are doing all we can to make sure everyone stays supported and connected. Senior research leaders are regularly meeting to keep up to date with all guidance and will continue to work swiftly to implement the necessary changes to keep everyone safe.

Over the past few days we have reengineered how we operate and approach our daily tasks, not just as an institution but as research centres and individuals.

Our staff have been truly amazing in their handling of this situation:

The Doctoral College ensured that the impending Doctoral Capability and Development Conference (DCAD) was not postponed but moved swiftly to virtual format. The online conference was attended by 121 participants, and included live chats, webinars and online workshops for postgraduate researchers and staff across the university.

The DCAD conference also hosted the awards for ‘Outstanding Research Supervision Team’. The annual awards recognise and celebrate inspiring and supportive supervisory teams across the University, who are nominated by their postgraduate supervisees. This year’s winning teams are both housed in the Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations: a big congratulations must go to the Communities, Identity and Politics Research Group and the Faith and Peaceful Relations Research Group for their hard work and dedication to their students.

In addition, more than 25 PhD students and research staff from the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences have volunteered to help University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) with testing patients for COVID-19 in the coming weeks. Many of the volunteers are overseas students who cannot get home and want to help our local NHS services. The University has also drawn up a list of equipment it could provide to the NHS to help it increase the number of tests it can carry out.

Finally, a big thank you must go out to our research community. As you would expect, many are working quickly to support the national effort to understand coronavirus and its wider impact, offering advice to policy makers, industry and many others.

There are so many incredible initiatives taking place across the University’s research centres and institutes, and we’ll report them in future updates. Please continue to follow the government’s guidance and take care of yourselves, your families, and your community.

Read more about the University's response to COVID-19.

Latest news

Interior of social supermarket

Social supermarket still serving Coventry

A social supermarket selling cut-price food has had a challenging first month of operations as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak but is still providing a crucial service.

Straps for protective face masks

FabLab manufactures protective equipment for NHS staff

Coventry University’s FabLab is manufacturing straps for facemasks to make them more comfortable for frontline NHS staff.

hand pointing at cgi cogs

Blog: What Happens Next?

Coronavirus, Brexit and Industrial Strategy: COVID-19 has obscured the many tensions wrought by Brexit, but when the dust settles, how do we address the tension that exists between Brexit and industrial strategy?

Exterior of Rwandan hospital at night

Coventry University project powering Rwandan hospital

A solar-powered electricity system installed as part of a project led by Coventry University is now helping the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two actors sitting on bench in middle of stage

Coventry's universities announce joint project to support creatives

Coventry University and the University of Warwick have launched a joint project that will fund local artists hit financially by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Two scientists in lab holding test tube

Coventry University answers call to help the NHS

More than 25 PhD students and research staff have volunteered to help University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire (UHCW) with testing patients for COVID-19.