Information for staff and students on the reopening of the University Library, coronavirus testing and the Careers Service's new career development platform.

Dear all,

People across the University and Colleges have been busier than ever planning for the next academic year, and also thinking about what our collegiate University will look like in a post-pandemic world. Like every other institution around the world, the University of Cambridge will need to adapt. The process will not be easy, and will certainly need to be fine-tuned as we learn from our experience. I am convinced, though, that we will collectively emerge from this crisis as a more robust and resilient community.

New ways of working

The national lockdown has provided a unique incentive to adopt new ways of working. I have previously mentioned the staff survey, conducted by the ourcambridge team, trying to capture both the positive and negative impact of working during lockdown. The response so far has been very encouraging, with almost 1,200 colleagues answering the survey so far and some interesting themes emerging. We are keen to gather as much staff feedback as possible to help improve future working practices. If you haven’t already, please do take the time to respond. The survey closes on 5 June at 5pm. We hope to share the results of the survey as soon as possible.

New ways of learning

As well as new ways of working, we have all been exposed to new ways of learning – whether it is students taking on remote education, or staff exploring new professional development options. I am pleased to share the news that LinkedIn Learning is now available for all University and College staff and students. This service, which complements the resources already available on our Professional Development webpages, offers online courses on creative, technical and professional skills, including leadership and development, as well as resources on wellbeing and remote working.

Many of us may already feel overwhelmed by the demands that the Coronavirus crisis is making on us. I hope that the training available through LinkedIn Learning will be welcomed not only as a professional development tool, but as a longer-term source of personal enrichment, or even as a pleasant temporary distraction. Whether brushing up on your digital literacy skills, pursuing mindfulness or even learning the basics of song-writing, I hope that LinkedIn Learning will have something to offer you all. It can be accessed here using your Raven login.

Careers Service

This is a worrying time for students and recent graduates to be pondering professional paths beyond University. Throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the University’s Careers Service has been operating its full range of services remotely. Since lockdown, the Careers team has answered over 2,500 enquiries via email and through its social media channels. Almost 900 individuals have had a one-to-one appointment with a Careers adviser. Behind the scenes, the team has been conducting and collecting labour market research to help understand the opportunities and challenges facing those graduating or moving on to new roles. Careers advisers have been publishing blog posts looking at how to navigate the labour market and develop new skills during the COVID crisis. Like the rest of the Collegiate University the Careers Service is also preparing for next academic year, moving its careers education programme online and ensuring that there is a wide variety of opportunities for employers and our students to connect.

This week the Careers Service launched Handshake Cambridge, a career development platform that allows users to book appointments, browse job postings, explore and register for events and workshops, and access resources. Users can interact with an online community – create a profile, network and discover new opportunities, learn more about industries and job roles, get an inside look at employers with student reviews and more. Over 3,000 students and recent graduates have accessed Handshake Cambridge since its launch, and almost 500 employers have set up an account so far.

Reopening of the University Library

Huge efforts have gone into planning the phased and safe re-opening of essential University facilities. For staff and students in the arts, humanities and social sciences, loss of access to libraries and archives has been especially disruptive.

Many will be pleased to hear that, by July 6, our University Library plans to begin providing limited services for students and staff via a "zero contact" collection point at which they will be able to pick up books ordered online, return books to an external drop box, and request digital scans.

Information about the University Library’s plans for reopening, and about currently available services, can be found here. Further details are available on this FAQ page.

I must remind all research students not currently resident in Cambridge, or unable to commute from home, that they must in all cases make arrangements with their College before planning their return to Cambridge. Public Health England advice is clear that students who do not need to return to a laboratory to conduct their research cannot yet return to Cambridge, and should not move household. The University Library will do all it can to support all students and staff remotely with digital resources.

Tackling COVID-19 – Testing

In partnership with Addenbrooke's Hospital, the University is now offering a swab (PCR) test to all University of Cambridge and College staff with symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection.

At the moment, we are only able to offer tests to University and College staff. Family and household members with symptoms of possible COVID-19 infection may request a test using the NHS website. Anyone using our dedicated testing service may receive a result more quickly and be offered the opportunity to take part in further research studies.

These tests currently take place Monday to Thursday in a dedicated area at Addenbrooke's Hospital, which is only accessible by car. You will be asked to show your University or College card before the swab is taken. Please make sure you have read the information on our webpages to know more about the process, and about your eligibility for testing.

Tackling COVID-19 – further University resources

Our research community has continued to improve and shape our knowledge of the pandemic and its impact – from articulating the role of fast point-of-care tests in reducing transmission of the virus, to explaining how lockdown has fuelled a rise in cybercrime.

A Cambridge researcher, Dr Ebele Mogo, has been playing a key role in helping public health messages cross language barriers across the African continent. A Cambridge virologist and veterinary surgeon, Dr Sarah Caddy, has been studying the COVID-19-specific antibodies that may in due course lead to the development of a vaccine.

If you have not done so already, I recommend listening to the regular "Science, Policy and Pandemics" podcasts regularly broadcast by our Centre for Science and Policy (CSaP).

Expertise and knowledge have never been so critical. No other community is better placed to convey it than our scholars and researchers.

A final reflection

On top of the stresses and worries of the pandemic, this has been an especially troubling week to follow the news. On Tuesday I published a statement acknowledging the hurt, anger and distress that the killing of George Floyd has caused so many of us, and particularly black members of our community. In the face of historic and current injustices, I am sure that we will all want to reiterate and reinforce our collegiate University’s commitment to the creation of knowledge across all barriers of race, language, culture and background.

Kindness, solidarity, openness of mind and generosity of spirit will be essential to getting us through the current Coronavirus crisis. They must continue to guide our work when we have emerged from it as we seek to make Cambridge a truly open and inclusive place for all members and prospective members of our community.

Best wishes,


Professor Stephen J Toope