in brief header feb 16
In Brief is a 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.

Complete mandatory diversity and inclusion training by February 2016

Staff are reminded that the mandatory Diversity and Inclusion online training module must be completed by the end of February 2016.

The online training course has been created to raise awareness of the importance of diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The University Executive Board has made the learning module mandatory for all staff to complete.

If you are yet to complete the training, please refer to the People Development page to begin the module. Please note that the module will need to be completed every three years.

Contact Anne Gallagher for more.

Take part in 90th anniversary celebrations on 17 March

The University’s 90th anniversary is fast-approaching and several special events are taking place on Thursday 17 March to mark the occasion.

Between 1pm and 2pm, staff are invited to join us for cake and refreshments in the Palmer Quad. During these lunchtime celebrations, an official attempt to set the Guinness world record for the 'greatest simultaneous chair lift' will take place, inspired by an iconic photo of our first Vice-Chancellor.

A special meeting of the University Court will take place at 6pm, followed by a celebratory reception. Places for the session are available by ballot.

Please see our 90th anniversary website for full details, including registration for the record attempt and Court ballot entry.

Contact events for more.

Nominations for Honorary Degrees

The Joint Standing Committee of the Council and Senate on Honorary Degrees is inviting members of the University, or those associated with it, to submit nominations for recipients of Honorary Degrees. Nominations should be presented on a single side of A4 and should articulate:

(a) the eminence of the proposed individual in his/her chosen field;

(b) the particular relevance of that eminence to this University be this now, in the future, or both; and

(c) the timeliness of the proposal.

The above should be accompanied by an outline CV or Who’s Who entry of the nominee. Nominations should be sent, in confidence, to Louise Sharman by 20 May 2016.

Contact the Louise Sharman for more.

Do you walk, cycle, bus or drive to campus?

Have you told us how you travel yet? The bi-annual staff and student travel survey is now open, and is a perfect opportunity to share your views on how travel facilities could be improved. The results of the survey are used to monitor how we are performing against our University Travel Plan, and help develop the direction of future action plans. For example, responses to the previous survey led to the introduction of night buses and lighting improvements to certain routes. You could even win an iPad for taking part!

The survey is open until Friday 12 February. Please click here to access the survey.

Contact Karen Stanbridge for more.


Malaysia campus launch

On 25 February 2016, the opening ceremony for the University of Reading Malaysia (UoRM) will take place at EduCity, Iskandar. H.E. Vicki Treadell, the British High Commissioner to Malaysia, will attend as the guest of honour. The High Commissioner and See Lian Ong, a Reading alumnus, and the first non-British President of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), will receive honorary degrees as part of the celebration.

UoRM is our first multi-discipline overseas campus, and an important part of the vision to be a vibrant, thriving and global institution. Together with Henley Business School we are offering top-class courses in some of our strongest academic areas – business, finance, psychology, law, real estate, surveying and pharmacy.

Contact Becky Thould for more.

Vice-Chancellor’s PAS Review update

Earlier this week, the Vice-Chancellor provided an update on the Professional and Administrative Services (PAS) review. Workstream leads, HR colleagues and staff representatives have put in a significant amount of work to keep the implementation plan on track. An agreement has already been reached on the “selection approach” and “selection FAQs”, allowing each workstream to determine whether colleagues across the University are already carrying out the duties that are, for the most part, the same as proposed roles in the new structures. Key posts across the workstreams are being advertised internally-only in the first instance, and pivotal appointments have been made in Teaching & Learning Operations and Finance.

You can access the Vice-Chancellor’s full message here. Contact Communications for more.

National Insurance changes

Due to the introduction of the new flat rate, single-tier State Pension from April 2016, the University is required to make changes to the National Insurance (NI) contributions deducted from the pay of members of USS, UREPF and TPS. A rebate will no longer be possible and members’ NI contributions will increase from April. The change has been brought about by legislation. Additional information and an FAQ sheet can be found on the staff portal here.

Members of URPS are not affected by this change as they already pay the higher NI rate.

Contact Stephanie May for more.

National Student Survey 2016 campaign launches

Our annual National Student Survey (NSS) completion campaign kicked into action on Monday 1 February. The survey, run nationally by Ipsos Mori, asks final-year undergraduates to provide feedback on the whole of their University experience.

The aim of our campaign is to encourage completion across all subject areas to give all final year students the opportunity to provide honest feedback about their time at Reading. Once again, we are offering students a free drink as an incentive to complete the survey (a coffee, hot chocolate, tea or a soft drink) from either Café Mondial in RUSU or Eat and Drink at London Road.

Contact Fiona Blair for more.

University Library’s £40 million redevelopment

The University Council recently approved a £40 million refurbishment of the Library, due to begin this June and scheduled to be completed in winter 2019.

Following the recent £4.4 million refurbishment of the top four floors, further works will refurbish the ground and first floors, add new lifts and improve heating and ventilation. Key aims are to increase individual and group study space, provide better access and security, and improve energy efficiency. The Library will remain fully operational across the entire redevelopment, and no building work will take place at all during exam periods.

Please see the staff portal story for more.

First phase of funding for Thames Valley Science Park approved

The £36 million funding for the first phase of Thames Valley Science Park has been approved by the University Council. The funds will be invested into the new Gateway Building, the landmark entrance to the entire site that will house the first wave of tenant high-technology firms.

The Gateway will provide top-class office and laboratory space, and is the first of four buildings set to be developed on the 42 acre site. The Thames Valley Science Park will be the biggest dedicated science business park in the region and one of the largest in the South East.

Please see the staff portal story for more.

Recruitment and conversion activity in full swing

Central Visit Days will be held across the University this month, where current offer-holders can experience a day within their chosen department, meet staff and current students, and see the campus and our facilities. Centralised Visit Days will take place on 13, 19 and 20 February as well as 5 and 19 March, with over 1000 visitors expected each day.

Alongside this conversion activity, we are already underway with recruitment plans for 2017 entry. University-wide Open Day briefings took place on 2 and 3 February, and the Student Recruitment and Outreach team will be out on the road from early March at UCAS fairs.

Contact Katja Durkin for more on conversion and Rachel South for recruitment.

IT begin Phase-2 of Remote Access project

IT are beginning the second phase of their Remote Access project, which will provide University staff with secure access to core IT systems remotely, creating a more flexible and responsive working environment with access to a wider range of systems.

Phase-1 provided off-campus access to the HR Employee Self-Service system, which now enables staff to access the system remotely from any location.

This second phase will introduce a new VPN portal that will provide access to core systems and will utilise a mobile phone app to provide additional authentication. This will support other ongoing projects, and will eventually replace the current University VPN system.

Contact Godswill Arum for more.

Launch of Property Services

The Property Services department was launched earlier this year. Formally known as Estates Management, the revamped department is comprised of qualified chartered surveyors, architectural technologists and corporate property and asset managers.

The team provides support on activities including the management of lettings concerning third-party companies and non-University organisations; leasehold and freehold negotiations; rent, service charge and utility cost collection; planning consent issues and policy monitoring; management, valuation and negotiation of Council Tax and Business Rates and defence of University rights over Estate. The department is also responsible for obtaining advice from estate and land agents, external surveyors and associated property professionals. Visit the Property Services website for further information.

Please contact Chris Reeve or Polly Tudball for more.

Apply now for a research travel grant

The University’s Research Travel Grant Fund assists eligible staff and students to present and disseminate their work at national and international research events.

Awards of up to £550 per person per annum are available to support travel costs (including transport, accommodation and registration fees). Applications are considered on a rolling basis and should be made in advance of travel. Funding for 2015/16 is still available and further details can be found online.

Contact Lisa Davies for more information.

HR Operations newsletter

HR Operations has published its first newsletter of 2016. Topics covered in the February edition include process reminders for ad-hoc payments, updates to the HR webpages and notification of an upgrade to Trent.

The February newsletter can be found here.

HR Operations is located in Room 110, Whiteknights House at Whiteknights campus. The team handles tasks including staff recruitment, payroll, pensions, staff Campus Cards, fees form payments, and changes to staff pay and employment conditions.

Contact Nicola Johnson for more.


National award for RISIS Office

risis office award2

The RISIS Development and Support Office won the award for ‘Outstanding Use of Innovation and Technology’ at the 2015 SITS conference. New developments over the past year include the introduction of a new student admin hub with enhanced features to help staff view all information about a student in one place, and a new fees report for students that brings data together from three separate databases to present a consolidated view of a student’s fee and accommodation liability. The team are currently working on a new bulk emailing facility for staff from the RISIS portal, along with the integration of the student helpdesk with the RISIS portal.

Contact the RISIS Office for more.

Reading academics nominated for Current Archaeology Awards 2016

Current Archaeology magazine has nominated Professor Roberta Gilchrist as ‘Archaeologist of the Year’ and Dr Hella Eckardt for ‘Book of the Year’ in their Current Archaeology Awards 2016.

Professor Gilchrist has published many influential studies on medieval nunneries, hospitals, castles, and burials, and has attracted widespread attention for her recent research on Glastonbury Abbey. Dr Eckardt’s nomination follows the publication of her latest book, Objects and Identities: Roman Britain in the North-Western Provinces, which recently won the Faculty of Science prize for best research output (2014-15).

Winners are chosen entirely by public vote, which is why your support really counts. Click here to cast your vote. Voting closes 8 February.

Blackwell’s online price match for books

Blackwell’s at Whiteknights campus has announced that they are now offering an online price match for books. If a book is found to be cheaper at Amazon (excluding marketplace resellers), Waterstones, Book Depository, Wordery, or WHSmith, Blackwell’s will match the price. To be eligible, the book must be of the same print edition and must be new as opposed to second-hand. Evidence of a lower price must be provided at the point of purchase, which will be verified by Blackwell’s before the sale is made. The decision to Price Match is solely at the Manager’s discretion. Visit the Blackwell’s University of Reading website here.

Contact Charlie Stroud for more.

Upcoming events at the University of Reading

There are many exciting events on the horizon over the next few months. Full listings can be found in the spring 2016 Events diary, here.

Highlights include:

Public Lecture: 100 years of Reading’s weather: Join Stephen Burt and Dr Roger Brugge of the Department of Meteorology on an illustrated journey into Reading’s meteorological past. The lecture also forms part of the University’s 90th anniversary celebrations.

100 years of reading

Wednesday 10 February, Palmer Building, Whiteknights campus, 8:00pm

The 2016 Spring Concert: A special musical celebration to mark the official opening of the University of Reading Malaysia campus. Final-year law student Tze Jia Hiew will be the soloist in the Xian Xinghai inspired Yellow River Piano Concerto, accompanied by the UoR Symphony Orchestra

Saturday 5 March, Great Hall, London Road campus, 7:30pm.

Edith Morley Lecture: In conversation with Karen Blackett OBE: In 2014, Karen Blackett became the first woman to top the PowerList 100 of most influential black Britons, and was awarded an OBE for services. This special event is in memory of Professor Edith Morley, and will mark the publication of Edith’s memoir, on sale at the event. Also part of our 90th anniversary celebrations.

karen blackett

Tuesday 8 March, Great Hall, London Road campus, 7.30pm

Cole Lecture: wildlife in a warmer world: Hosted by Professor Camille Parmesan, the lecture will explore the impacts of climate change on wild species, along with the conservation and policy implications of a warmer world. Also part of our 90th anniversary celebrations.


Wednesday 23 March, Henley Business School, Whiteknights campus, 7.30pm

Contact events for more.

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