In Brief, April 2015
In Brief is a new monthly all-staff news
round-up, giving you concise summaries
of the essential information you need.
All articles are short and are clearly categorised as ‘for action’,
‘for information’ or simply ‘nice to know’.
Contact for more information.

Use the new expenses form and read the changes to the ‘travel and other expenses, benefits, hospitality and gifts’ policy

Following approval at UEB last month, there are some amendments to the ‘travel and other expenses, benefits, hospitality and gifts’ policy effective from 1 April 2015. Please go to the procurement staff portal page to download the new expense claim form. Remember to do this each time you make a claim as the form is updated regularly.

You can now book train tickets either with CTM, our travel provider, via the trainline or national rail sites, or at a local station. You can buy tickets for other members of staff using your procurement card. Read the updated policy and all the changes here.

Contact Sarah Shackleford (expense claims) or Claire Milham (travel and subsistence) for more information.

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Send print publications to the British Library

In order to ensure that the UK’s published output is conserved for the use of future generations, a copy of every UK print publication must be given to the British Library by its publishers under legal deposit rules.

When you publish something, please send one copy to the British Library within one month of publication. For further information read the updated IMPS page and the British Library legal deposit pages.

Contact Charlotte Booth for more information.


Pensions news: Changes to URPS investment funds and retirement options

From 6 April 2015 the new “Freedom and Choice” changes to retirement options come into force. Members of URPS will be able to take their whole pension pot as cash – but there are tax implications. We sent an email to all scheme members on 26 March with more information. More information is on the URPS staff portal page. For impartial guidance, visit

Also note that the Diversified Growth Plus Fund is being replaced by the Diversified Growth Fund which has a lower annual management charge.

Contact Stephanie May for more information.

Professional and Administrative Services review (PAS)

The Professional and Administrative Services review is progressing. More than 100 requests for voluntary redundancy were received and formal offers have been made to 70 people to date. A small number of cases are still being considered.

Many colleagues have participated in PAS workshops in recent months. In due course information will be shared about how the new central services will be organised and timelines for moving to new structures will be set out. Read more here.

Contact John Brady for more information.

Academic structures consultation response and next steps

Following the consultation last term, a summary of all the issues colleagues have raised and the University’s response to them has been published on the staff portal. More than 30 individuals and groups responded by email and 100 colleagues attended the two consultation meetings. In February, the University Executive Board approved an amended proposal, based on the responses, which was approved by Senate on 11 March.

The implementation group has met to discuss and agree the group’s
scope and to plan how we move to new structures, and will consult widely with Schools and services. Read the response to the consultation and
next steps.

Contact Rachel Stewart for more information.

School of Systems Engineering review

In February, UEB announced the review of the School of Systems Engineering (SSE). Over the past seven weeks, members of the review panel have met with SSE staff and students and its Industrial Advisory Board. The review panel has been very pleased with the level of response and constructive engagement both in email submissions - were received almost 50 individual and group submissions - and in meetings with individuals and groups within the School.

The group will hold a meeting with SSE student representatives shortly.
The input received through all of these means will inform the next stage of the review.

Contact Rachel Stewart for more information.

New global engagement strategy

Last month Vincenzo Raimo, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global Engagement), held an open session for all staff on Whiteknights Campus to share his progress on the development of the Global Engagement Strategy. His presentation included: a brief assessment of the University's current position; key features of a globally engaged university; his vision for global engagement, including targets; and some immediate actions.

For colleagues who couldn't attend, and especially for colleagues overseas, the slides together with speakers' notes are available here.

Contact Vincenzo Raimo for more information.

Building a new website and our online support

The University is building a brand new public website (to replace and other new online platforms.

From this summer, we’ll launch new ‘digital products’ to underpin the entire ‘student journey’ - from someone’s first contact with us as a prospective applicant, through their time studying here, to becoming an alumnus. This will transform the way we market ourselves and engage with students.

Future phases will improve our digital services for staff; academics; business and industry; and the community.

To underpin this we’re introducing a new content policy to support colleagues across the institution, with a central team of professional copywriters and content editors in Marketing, Communication and Engagement.

Contact Charles Heymann for more information.

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Discover Reading

Following a small-scale pilot in the autumn, we are now in the early stages of building a new public website to replace the current The first phase will go live this term, with revamped content for all 250 undergraduate courses for 2016 entry.

New features for prospective applicants will be added, including a costs calculator and a personalised, digital prospectus (called My Prospectus), tailored to interests and needs, which applicants can log onto at any time to update.

Contact Joe Buchanunn and Luke Micallef for more information.

New online tools and resources to support the student journey

Me@Reading Applicant launches in May and will provide applicants with a portal containing personalised information and news about the University as well as the ability to check the progress of their applications.

Contact James Ackroyd for more information.

Me@Reading Student, to be piloted in the summer, will provide students with a personalised portal to access their timetable, emails, reminders, news and events. Full implementation is planned for 2015/16.

Essentials will be an engaging and easy-to-navigate resource centre for current students. The first phase has launched this week with resources on exams and careers. In time Essentials will replace the existing student pages and student handbook.

Contact Julie Poulton for more information.

Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for students and staff now online

Staff and students undertaking certain types of activity, for example involving regular unsupervised contact with children or adults in regulated activity are required, by law, to have a DBS check.

We now have a new online DBS service which will ensure faster turnaround times, and safe and secure processing. Staff or students who need to complete a check will receive an email from our online provider, Online Disclosures Systems, with the subject heading ‘New Applicant Account Activation’ and should follow the instructions and link in the email.

Contact Caroline Hobson for more information.

New research data management policy

Last month, the University Executive Board approved a research data management policy which sets out our commitment to managing research data in a way which meets the expectations of public funders, and the requirements that research staff and students must follow in the management, preservation and sharing of research data.

The guidance on the research data management policy provides more
detail on the resources and services provided, and explains how researchers can comply with the policy. Read more on the research data management website.

Contact Robert Darby for more information.

Information security

Every week computers and user accounts are compromised because of malicious emails and downloads. Each time this is detected a user account may have to be disabled and the machine wiped to ensure that the compromise is removed, causing lost time and effort. You can guard against this by:

Being suspicious of emails you receive, especially with attachments.
If you aren’t certain, then don’t open it.
Practising safe internet use. Be careful about the websites you visit.
Not running unauthorised software.

Contact the IT help desk for more information.


Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey

Students have ranked the University of Reading 22nd overall in the Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2015, a climb of 11 places from last year's result. We featured in the top ten universities for:

Good environment on campus/around university (joint 5th)
Good student union (joint 6th)
Good accommodation (joint 7th)
Good social life (joint 10th)

We also scored highly in the categories for ‘Good support/welfare' (joint 15th) and ‘Personal requirements catered for' (joint 14th). This follows the results of the independent National Student Survey 2014 (NSS), which found that 89% of students are satisfied with the University of Reading and ranked its students' union seventh in the UK.

Contact the press office for more information.

Staff in the news

Reading scientists recruited an army of citizen scientists for the largest ever weather experiment during March. The National Eclipse Weather Experiment asked the British public to record changes to weather conditions as the eclipse took place.

The results will improve our understanding of how the weather works meaning scientists can further improve weather forecasts. The story was covered extensively by the national media including the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and BBC News Online, with colleagues discussing the project on BBC Radio Five Live, BBC Radio 4 Today Programme and ITV Meridian among many other media reports.

Contact Professor Giles Harrison for more information.

Institute for Environmental Analytics opens for business

The Institute, which aims to be a national capability for translational research and environmental analysis, bridging the gap between the UK’s world-leading researchers and decision-makers handling the biggest societal challenges facing the world, opened last month. It provides opportunities for increasing the impact of Reading’s research and generating new collaborations and accessing new funding streams.

Email the IEA to find out more or complete a survey with your interests. Read more here.

Contact Cathy Harris for more information.

Gender-neutral toilets

As part of our commitment to support trans staff, students and visitors, we are providing more gender-neutral toilets across our campuses, starting with the conversion of six toilets in the HumSS building, Whiteknights campus.

‘Trans’ is used to include all gender-variant people. It can mean someone feels the sex into which they were born does not represent them adequately, or that they choose to classify themselves as non-binary, neither male nor female, nor a mix of the two.

Everyday acts like choosing which toilet to use can cause unnecessary anxiety or distress for trans people. Providing more gender-neutral toilets can create a more inclusive, welcoming environment.

Contact Janis Pich for more information.

Summer Events Diary out now!

Our Events Diary is published termly. This term, we celebrate the University’s rich cultural heritage with a showcase of music, arts, films, exhibitions and student performances featuring our talented artistic community. Find out more here.

We’re working with Reading Arts to present two very special events at the Town Hall this June: the inaugural University of Reading Town Hall Lecture by Stephen Fry (4 June) and the University of Reading Chorus and Chamber Choir debut at the Concert Hall (6 June).

Check out our events programme, sign up to our mailing list and download the Summer Events Diary

Contact Ellie Gotay for more information.

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