A very special welcome home for new and returning students

A new and groundbreaking personal service to warmly welcome new and returning students has been launched by the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS).

‘The Welcome Home to RCS’ includes everything from a friendly virtual ‘hello’ for new students arriving to start their studies and branded RCS face masks for all students and staff, to a practical and social support service available to students quarantining due to current Covid safety guidelines.

At the heart of the special project is a Welcome Home Support Team – made up of members of the Conservatoire’s Front of House and the Academic Administration Support departments, as well as the Students’ Union – who are on hand to ensure students have everything they need as they settle in, or return, to the city and life at Scotland’s national conservatoire.

The Welcome Home Support Team is coordinated by Joanne Bell (above), a graduate of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s BA Acting programme and a member of its Front of House team. The service is a continuation of the vibrant #RCSWelcomeHome campaign that normally runs during Freshers’ Week. For many students, the inclusive and friendly environment at RCS means it quickly becomes their ‘home’.

RCS’s Welcome Home programme includes arranging starter grocery packs for arriving students who require to self-isolate or quarantine, more than 200 welcome bags for new students with essential items and Scottish treats delivered by the team, online social events curated by the Students’ Union and, for all students and staff, RCS-branded face masks – just a few ways in which the institution aims to make life easier for its community during the start or return to studies during the Covid period.

Welcome bags: RCS tote bags including treats from Scottish brands IRN-BRU and Tunnock’s, RCS-branded face masks and hand sanitisers and RCS merchandise, are being delivered to the RCS halls of residence at Base Glasgow.

Grocery deliveries: students can choose from three grocery packs — standard, vegan and gluten-free. The packs include essentials such as soup, pasta, milk, fruit and household items. To make the process as simple as possible, RCS can pay for groceries and students will reimburse.

Online social events: the Students’ Union is organising a wide range of daily online social events to help maintain students’ social engagement.

Personalised surveys: every new and returning student is given the opportunity to identify personal needs, travel arrangements and any other concerns.

Professor Jeffrey Sharkey, Principal of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, said: “Our Welcome Home campaign is all about making students feel right at home from the moment they arrive at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. This year, with the extraordinary times we find ourselves in, we want to go the extra mile by providing practical support along with a very warm welcome.

“The new academic year does present challenges however thoughtful and extensive planning has taken place across all programmes which will prioritise, at all times, the safe delivery of learning and teaching within a blended (in-person and distance) learning environment.

“We look forward very much to having creativity back on campus and, most of all, to be able to welcome home our students to an environment in which we’re all committed to playing our part in keeping as safe as possible.”

Suzanne Daly, Academic Registrar at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, added: “We know that many students will be coming or returning to Glasgow without the support of friends or family and we want to bridge this gap. Along with the RCS Students’ Union, we’ve created the Welcome Home Support Team to provide practical support and advice, as well as a friendly face to help settle students back or into life at the conservatoire.

“The team is delivering essential supplies as well as a few little extras from us to help get them through those first few days. We’ve had lots of positive feedback from students who appreciate everything we’re doing to organise their safe start or return to RCS. They have told us that it’s reassuring to have a service like this and they’re grateful for the support.”

John Craig, President of the RCS Students’ Union, said: “Freshers’ Week is more important than ever this year and we’re looking forward to connecting with new students and introducing them to the welcoming community at RCS.

“The Students’ Union (John, above left, with SU Vice-Presidents Zweyla Mitchell dos Santos and Ken Fairbrother)  is working in partnership with RCS to ensure students are fully supported through their return and through practical challenges such as self-isolation and, as well as the Welcome Home Support Team, we have a daily programme of online social activities. The Students’ Union is incredibly excited to welcome all new and returning students to RCS.”

Shanae’a Moore is an actor from Alaska who is joining the MA Classical and Contemporary Text (Acting) programme at RCS. She said: “There were lots of things I hadn’t even figured out ahead of my trip so it was so nice to receive that first email from the Welcome Home team – just to know that someone was on it!

“When I finally got to Glasgow after two-and-a-half days of travel, it felt so bizarre to be in this new city but not be able to fully explore it yet. Receiving the Welcome Home pack felt like little tasters of RCS and Glasgow were brought to me and it really made me feel like they cared that I was here, which made a huge difference.

“They even included some Netflix recommendations that featured recent graduates – it felt like a lovely way to welcome me to the RCS family and I’ve got lots more to add to my watch list now! Having what I need delivered to my door means that I can focus on my course and turn waiting into planning. Now I just can’t wait to start.”

Monday, September 21 sees the start of the new term with a dynamic blended learning offer that recognises both the importance of face-to-face teaching and the need for it to be delivered in a safe and reassuring environment for all within the RCS community.

For the past few months, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s estates, academic and professional services teams have been working hard with health and safety specialists to develop and deliver positive online and in-person learning environments for students studying across a wide range of performing arts, including acting, modern ballet, classical and traditional music, jazz, film-making and creative production. The work includes:

Health and Safety

Ensuring all appropriate measures are put in place to keep students and staff as safe as possible. In a multi-discipline environment, this is complicated. Safety measures and protocols are now in place for each discipline, as well as for all the teaching, working and general access/exit and circulation areas of RCS.

Estates

Over several months, Estates and Client Services have introduced a wide range of additional health and safety measures across the campus. These include deep cleaning, extensive directional and safety signage, additional hand-washing and hand-sanitising stations, Perspex screening in some operational areas and the installation of building occupancy technology, monitored through a digital counting or sign-in system.

Academic

Thoughtful and extensive planning led by the Assistant Principal and Directors of Schools has taken place across all programmes to provide a positive and appropriate blended learning and teaching offer for students, enabling them to engage safely in group work and, where and when appropriate, individual study or teaching on campus. Bringing this complex matrix together has had the invaluable support of the space planning, artistic planning, human resources and health and safety teams.

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