In Brief, Jan 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.
Join a briefing session on the National Student Survey 2015
In December, we launched the 2014/15 student engagement campaign, ‘we’re on it’, with new posters and banners showcasing the investments we’ve made in our students’ experience, based in part on their feedback in the annual National Student Survey (NSS).
The 2015 NSS launches here on 2 February. Last year, 74% of our finalists completed the survey, up from 69% the year before. 40% do so because they are told about it by an academic, so widespread involvement is crucial.
There is a briefing for staff involved in promoting the survey, running twice, on:
  • Tuesday 13 January, 13.00–14.00 (Palmer 105, Whiteknights)
  • Thursday 15 January, 13.00–14.00 (Palmer 105, Whiteknights)
Contact Fiona Blair for more information.
Apply for voluntary redundancy if desired before 28 February
If you are interested in voluntary redundancy or early retirement,
please e-mail with your name, where you work
and your employee number, if you know it. Submitting a request does not automatically commit the University to making you an offer, nor does it commit you to accepting any offer.
For more information on the scheme, including Frequently Asked Questions, click here. Read John Brady’s December update here.
Contact John Brady for more information.
Review your personal details by 31 January
It is your responsibility to make sure that all your personal details, including contact numbers, are up to date. The information you provide feeds directly into the staff directory pages.
You can update your records at any time by logging in to Employee Self Service (ESS) with your University username and password. ESS is currently available on all our main campuses; we will provide access from mobile devices and from outside campus shortly. For more on ESS and its benefits, click here.
Contact Cherry Bennett for more information.
Make a note in your diary – revised ‘Ask the Board’ February dates
Ask the board image
The dates for the spring ‘Ask the Board’ sessions have changed. Please note the new dates in your diary:
  • 23 February (10.00–10.50), National Grid Conference Room, Greenlands
  • 23 February (13.00–13.50), Madjeski Theatre, Agriculture, Whiteknights
  • 24 February (13.00–13.50), G01, L022, London Road
  • 26 February (13.00–13.50), G10, Palmer Building, Whiteknights
These events are your opportunity to listen to members of the University Executive Board and ask them questions. You can send any questions in advance to the communications team. Listen to the autumn Ask the Board events here.
Contact Rachel Helsby for more information.
The REF results – confirming our research strengths
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, a national
assessment of research quality whose results were released last
month, confirms the University of Reading's place as a world-leading research-intensive university.
98% of our research is internationally recognised
The REF places the University of Reading 19th in the UK by research intensity (a measure of research quality adjusted by the proportion of researchers submitted), and 27th in the UK by research power (which recognises both quality and quantity of research).
Our results will feed into the Research Strategy 2020, a major strand of the overall University Strategy. Read more here and see the infographics at the bottom of this newsletter for examples of our research impact.
Contact Wanda Tejada for more information.
New way to buy your personal computing equipment
We have recently awarded our IT contract for personal computing to two suppliers: Viglen Ltd (for Windows computers and ‘peripherals’ such as keyboards and screens) and Academia Ltd (for Apple products). Later this month, we launch two IT portals through which you must purchase all of your personal computing equipment from these suppliers, selecting from a range developed by ITS based on staff needs.
By buying equipment this way, the University will save £700k, which represents 40% of our annual PC spend. For more information read here or contact the procurement team.
Contact Mark Brown for more information.
Manage people? Try this MOOC
New to management, about to have managerial responsibility, or just want to review your management style? Starting 12 January, join Martin Bicknell and Henley Business School’s free, open online course, ‘Managing People: Engaging Your Workforce’, to explore good management practice and how to get the best out of people.
MOOC image
To find out more, see what the team at thought of the previous run of this course or read Martin’s post ‘Beyond the template manager’.
There are three optional drop-in sessions in HumSS 44 to support University staff joining the course and discuss the common issues we face as an organisation, on:
  • 16 January 12.00–13.00
  • 20 February 13.00–14.30
  • 20 March 13.00–14.30
Contact Anne Gallagher for more information.
Invest in your personal development in 2015
Developing effective work relationships is an essential part of wellbeing at work. Relevant courses available to staff include ‘Managing change in teams’, ‘Crucial conversations’, ‘Personal effectiveness’ and ‘Understanding unconscious bias in decision-making’ – all of which will help you develop new skills and make you more resilient. This spring we are also launching 90-minute ‘espresso’ sessions on topics like assertiveness, goal-setting, delegating and dealing with complaints.
For more information visit people development. Book a course via Employee Self-Service.
Contact Anne Gallagher for more information.
Helping you – our Employee Assistance Programme
The festive season can bring extra personal stress, whether from financial concerns, loneliness, worries about over-eating or over-drinking, or family and relationship strains.
The Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offers free, confidential counselling and information services, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to help you deal with personal problems – or even help you to stick to your New Year’s resolutions.
Go to the website,, and type ‘Reading EAP’ (with space, no inverted commas) into both the Access code and Password boxes, or call 0800 716 017 and quote ‘University of Reading’.
Contact Claire Eckett for more information.
Join campus choir
Singing is a great form of exercise that improves your breathing and posture; it is mood-enhancing and energising; and, if you sing with others, it’s social and creates a sense of community and achievement.
Directed by Amber Nunn, Campus Choir is for anyone who would like to sing regularly in an informal setting – you don’t need to be able to read music or have sung in a choir before.
We rehearse in the large practice room in TOB2 (Earley Gate, Whiteknights) on Thursdays during term time from 13:00 to 14:00. Join us at our first rehearsal in 2015 on Thursday 15 January.
Contact Rebecca Ranson for more information.
Cycle to Work
If your New Year’s resolution is to get fit, cycling to work is a great way to get more exercise. Visit for more information about the University’s cycle to work scheme and find out how you can save money on the cost of a new bike.
Cycle to work image
To apply for the scheme visit and enter the employer’s code: readingunic2w
Contact Claire Eckett for more information.
Staff in the News
Drs Andrew Barrett and Rob Thompson (Meteorology) spoke live on Sky News in mid-December about the weather ‘bomb’: how it formed, possible effects and how common such storms are. They were also featured widely on radio (including talkSport, Magic).
Virologists Dr Ben Neuman and Professor Ian Jones provided expert comment after Pauline Cafferkey tested positive for Ebola (including BBC News 24, The Telegraph), and Ben commented on the screening of potential drugs (including Laboratory Talk).
In the New Year Honours, Emeritus Professor Ian Mills was awarded an OBE for services to Chemistry and Metrology (The Guardian, Reading Chronicle, UoR website).
Research Imapct
Volcanic ash
Digital Rome
Epilepsy drugs
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