Amid COVID-19: reflections on the Health Campaign

Last month, we invited both staff and students to give us feedback on this term’s health communications, especially the areas that worked well and those which might need some improvements. We are pleased to see a significant increase in the number of respondents – nearly 100 students and over 250 staff members  – and we are delighted with the overall feedback, which demonstrates good awareness of our key messages concerning behaviours required to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in the University community.

We would like to thank you for your time, views and constructive comments. 

health campaign 6 key messages: Get vaccinate as soon as possible. Wear face coverings where indicated (unless exempt). Test regularly, and if you have symptoms stay at home if you're unwell. Keep washing your hands. Be considerate of other people's space


The survey headlines are:

Communication channels

76% of staff respondents and 90.5% of student respondents remembered seeing the health campaign graphics for MT2021 (see above). 

COVID-19 health-related information was mostly seen in the form of:

  • posters (71.5% of staff and 79% of students). 
  • e-newsletters (70% of staff via University Bulletin and 86% of students via Student News). 
  • circulating emails (students only) from their college (78%) or departments (67%).

Message awareness

The health advice was broken down into six key messages, as presented in the health communication graphics (above), and a large majority of respondents were aware of each message.

In particular:

  • 90% of staff were aware of ‘Wear face coverings where indicated’, followed by ‘Test regularly, and if you have symptoms’ (87%).
  • Students were more aware of the regular test message (98%), followed by ‘Get vaccinated as soon as possible’ (97%). 
  • Even the least familiar message (‘Be considerate of other people’s space’) was recognised by 83% of students and 77% of staff.

Understanding of health protocols

Most of those who gave feedback indicated a good understanding of the health guidelines recommended within the University:

  • 80% of staff reported knowing how to act to keep everyone safe in University buildings.
  • 77% of staff said they knew when to take a Lateral Flow Device (LFD) test. 
  • 92% of staff respondents reported understanding or partially understanding Return to On-Site Working guidance and protocols.

Students had a similar response. A reassuring 95% know when to take an LFD test and 90% understand the protocols taken around teaching and learning arrangements. Almost all students partially or fully understand how to get a PCR test.

These results demonstrate clear success in raising overall awareness of the COVID-19 health messages as well as clearly communicating specific actions required.

Improvements to follow

Increasing the amount of health communications

Although almost half of staff responded that the frequency and length of health-related content were adequate, 46% of respondents thought there was too little communication. A number of comments suggested that this response was related to the desire to have firmer rules around face coverings.

We will continue to provide regular updates via all our channels, particularly the University Bulletin, to make sure everyone is kept in the loop and feels informed about the COVID-19 situation and protocols that are in place, especially when situations are frequently changing.

We have also started to use social media more to increase awareness of the campaign. Since September 2021 there have been 54 posts relating to the health campaign on the main University social media channels, with the primary aim of raising student awareness of some of the key health messages. Our health campaign posts were shown a total of more than 2.25m times across the different social media channels, the most successful post being a set of four 'Stay Well this Winter' graphics on Facebook, which reached over 134k people.

Establishing clearer guidelines

Some staff felt that the guidelines have not been clear enough in some areas. 

We recognise that there may be differences in how the guidance is applied locally in departments and colleges, depending on local risk assessments and other factors, so clear local signage is important. To support this, we provide a Health Campaign communications pack which is available for use across the collegiate University; we will continue to regularly update this in order to provide a set of consistent communications tools while respecting the autonomy of each college/department.

Our focus will continue to be on explaining University and government policies and guidance as clearly and widely as possible.

Offering more support on mental wellbeing

We asked both staff and students where they felt there were gaps in our communications; both groups would welcome more focus on the mental health support available amid the pandemic, and had concerns that mental health issues have been disregarded as COVID-19 shifted focus on to physical health.

We have taken note of these comments and will aim to signpost help available to both staff and students, as well as providing support and information more clearly in the future.

Comments on University policies

While our aim was to seek your feedback on how well we are communicating health guidance, and on areas in which we can improve, we were also interested to receive many comments on University policies. We have gathered your opinions and will pass this feedback on to the groups responsible for creating these policies.

Thank you

We would like to thank you again for taking the time to provide us with your feedback, and we hope this article has reflected your thoughts on the health campaign. We will strive to keep everyone informed of steps to be taken to protect the safety of our community.