My video call this week was with Professor Bryn Jones, Deputy Provost in Dubai. This has been a momentous year for colleagues and students in Dubai with the move from the desert in Academic City to the city in Knowledge Park. It’s a two-part move, first to our interim campus alongside our new campus that is completing fit-out for use next year. Bryn talks about this transition and the new academic year and recruitment processes, amidst the management of the pandemic measures. The design of the new campus buildings has been a highly collaborative project working with the whole community – and the outcome is a very different and very interactive place of learning, suited to the vibrancy of the business district in which the campus is located. You can find the videos mentioned in our conversation on YouTube, which discuss the new campus from staff and student perspectives.

I was pleased to have opportunity to see one of EGIS’s extraordinary global classes in action in the last few days. It brings together 13 different undergraduate first year programmes into a single challenge-based learning environment. My thanks to the academic team who have been creating and crafting these programmes – they are pioneering in offering connectivity for all students across our global footprint. It’s clear that students really value synchronous interaction opportunities. I was able to say ‘hello’ and mention some emerging themes shaping up of future environmental and sustainability strategy (more on this next year!). I look forward to a return visit.

In Edinburgh we normally enjoy a celebration together at Christmas with traditional carols, the orchestra and choir. As in all things, this year is different! We are delighted to announce that the #OneWatt Voices are back, and whilst they may not be able to come together physically for our annual Carol Concert in the stunning Rosslyn Chapel as they’ve done in previous years, that doesn’t mean that they can’t come together virtually – bringing a range of carols and the magic and majesty of Rosslyn Chapel to life in a deeply powerful and moving performance that will light up laptops all across the world! I invite you, your friends and family to settle down with your refreshments in front of your phones, computers and casted TV screens and get into the Christmas spirit. Their performance will be hosted on YouTube and the link will be sent out on or just before the launch date and time of 20th December at 5pm (UK time).

Have a good week ahead.

Professor Richard A. Williams
Principal and Vice-Chancellor