In Brief, July 2015
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 information.

Sign new employment contracts

Following consultation with UCU and subject to the review and approval of Council at its meeting later this month, we will be providing academic staff with new contracts of employment following the removal of Statutes and other changes to the Charter. Academic colleagues will be asked to sign and return by 1 August.

There will be no substantive changes to contractual rights, and contractual benefits such as notice, pay, pension, sick pay and holiday entitlement will be unchanged. New employment policies will come into force at the same time as the employment contract and they will be available for staff online shortly.

Read more and view a draft contract and accompanying
explanatory notes

Contact Nicola Johnson for more information.

Get involved in 'LGBT Plus' equality at Reading

At the Ask the Board sessions earlier this term, the Vice-Chancellor outlined our ambition to be one of the top 100 workplaces in the Stonewall annual workplace equality index – Britain’s leading benchmarking exercise for LGBT equality. We’re about to take part in this year’s index, and we need your help. Please look out for an email coming to your inbox shortly to complete the survey.

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We now have a simpler way for you to get involved with LGBT Plus: please subscribe here to the mailing list. You can also update your personal information on Employee Self Service.

Contact Calvin Smith (chair of LGBT Plus) or Cathy Smith (HR partner) for more information.

Apply for women’s development programmes

Gender is one of our priorities for diversity and inclusion. As part of the University’s continued commitment to supporting the career development of women, we are now inviting colleagues to apply for the Springboard women’s development programme and the Leadership Foundation’s Aurora women’s leadership development programme for 2015–16. For more details about both programmes, including dates and how to apply, please visit Women's Development Programmes.

Contact Susan Thornton for more information.

Complete our In Brief readers’ survey and you could win £50 in book tokens!

Now that In Brief has been running for six months, we would like to understand how effective it is for you. Please complete a readers’ survey which should take no more than 5 minutes. If you send us your email address at the end of the survey, we will enter you into our prize draw to win book tokens so you can buy some summer reading too!

Contact Rachel Helsby for more information.


Update on PAS

The Director of HR has provided a short update on progress on the Professional and Administrative Services (PAS) Review here. In mid-July, following the meeting of Council, we will share more information and the timeline for the implementation phase.

Contact John Brady for more information.

Implementing the 2020 research plan

The 2020 Research Plan seeks to drive forward the quantity and quality of research at Reading. It provides a vision for research, identifying ways in which research will be led, managed and supported in order to best compete for funding, recognition and influence.

Progress includes: the appointment of Research Deans; the establishment of Research Divisions; and the setting up of a theme-based governance structure. Twenty new posts across Research & Enterprise, Planning & Strategy and the Library have also been created to provide enhanced research support. The 2020 Research Fellowships and Professorships scheme has been launched. Read more.

Contact Wanda Tejada for more information.

Submitting UG and PGT course work electronically from September 2015

From September 2015, it is a University expectation that all ‘summative’ UG and PGT coursework will, where appropriate, be submitted electronically. Schools have responsibility for the implementation of e-submission, following guidelines developed by the Project for E-Assessment at Reading (PEAR) steering group. Support and training are being provided by the TEL team within CSQD.

E-submission is the first step toward the University’s vision of e-assessment approved by UBTL in December 2014: that all summative coursework (with exceptions due to the nature of the work) will be submitted, marked and graded electronically. The timescale for full implementation will be announced in the forthcoming academic year.

Contact Liz Wilding for more information.

New School of Built Environment

From 1 August 2015, the School of Construction Management and Engineering will become the School of the Built Environment to reflect a broader focus on architecture, construction, energy and environmental engineering. Led by Professor Stuart Green, the School will comprise two entities: the existing School of Construction Management and Engineering, and the new School of Architecture.

Image of glass ceiling

These are departments in structural terms but will carry the name ‘School’ for the purposes of building identity in the external marketplace. Please therefore ensure that all internal and external communications about Architecture refer explicitly to the School of Architecture.

Contact Stuart Green for more information.

School and portfolio responsibilities of new Teaching and Learning Deans (TLDs)

From 1 August 2015, the new TLDs will have oversight of the following Schools and have the following cross-University portfolio responsibilities:

Dr David Carter

Schools: School of Arts and Communication Design; School of Humanities; School of Language and Literature; International Study and Language Institute

Portfolio: International (UK and EU)

Professor Clare Furneaux

Schools: Institute of Education; School of Politics, Economics and Internal Relations; School of Law

Portfolio: Student experience

Professor Roger Gibbard

Schools: Henley Business School; School of Built Environment

Portfolio: International (worldwide other than UK and EU)

Dr Orla Kennedy | Dr Amanda Callaghan (01/06/15 – 30/05/16)

Schools: School of Biological Sciences; School of Chemistry, Food and Pharmacy; School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences

Portfolio: Student achievement

Dr Elizabeth McCrum

Schools: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development; School of Archaeology, Geography and Environmental Science; School of Systems Engineering; School of Mathematical and Physical Sciences

Portfolio: Quality, enhancement and curriculum development

Contact Gavin Brooks for more information.

Discover Reading has been launched

Discover Reading has now gone live - the first step in a multi-phased programme to revamp the University's public-facing website, It creates a digitised version of the Open Day experience for the 2016 undergraduate cycle and underpins the new national recruitment campaign. The end goal is to create a set of 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. View Discover Reading here and send your feedback to

Contact Content team for more information.

Open Days

We welcomed just under 6,000 visitors to our Whiteknights and London Road campuses for our Open Days last month. So far, more than 71% of our visitors have rated the experience as ‘excellent’. Thank you to all staff and students who worked so hard to make our visitors so welcome – and a big thank you to all staff for complying with the parking limitations on campus on the Friday.

Open day volunteer

We are keen to get your thoughts on what worked well and what we can improve, so if you were involved in Open Days, please complete this short survey.

Contact Fiona Blair for more information.

Managing annual leave online

By the end of 2015/16, all staff will be able to book and approve annual leave online via Employee Self Service. Staff will be able to log in to view their annual leave balance and any agreed carry-over and make and review any annual leave bookings. Line managers will be able to authorise leave online. The change will be rolled out to Departments and Schools in four phases across the course of 2015/2016. The first group will be able to access the new system from 1 October 2015.

Contact Cherry Bennett for more information.

Setting up IT accounts for new starters

The IT team will introduce a new User Account Management System in September. The first phase of this work will mean that, once a new employee has returned their signed contract acceptance to HR and it has been actioned on the HR/Payroll database Trent, the reporting manager will receive new starter account set-up information via email. It will also be much simpler to request and receive guest account set-up information for visitors via this new system, and request password resets where required.

Contact Anton Lawrence for more information.

New printers installed by end of September

Between now and the end of September, new printers will be installed across all our campuses. These will replace all existing machines, including shared devices, personal printers and desktop printers. These new machines are multi-functional, meaning they print, copy and scan, securely and on demand, and are more efficient in terms of operation and support.

Details of roll-out plans for each building will be communicated via the locally-selected Print Champions, Building Managers and the Procurement website. Find out more about the Managed Print Service. Read about other developments in procurement here.

Contact the procurement team for more information.

Recruiting and retaining students – new Tier 4 compliance policy

In recruiting students from outside the EU, the University is required to comply with the terms of the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. Last month, the University Executive Board approved the new Tier 4 compliance policy which sets out: the University’s responsibilities as a Tier 4 sponsor; international students' responsibilities; and how the University ensures it meets the Tier 4 sponsor requirements.

This is relevant to students and staff who have direct and/or indirect contact with international students, so please make sure you play your part to ensure compliance with Home Office regulations. Read the policy here.

Contact Katie Robertson for more information.

Major road works on Whiteknights Campus start mid-July

Over the summer, contractors will be rebuilding the internal university road from the Pepper Lane entrance up to the Russell Building. The original road was not intended to be a public highway, and with depressions, cracks, potholes and other defects, the road is now beyond economic repair.

The work is significant in both scale and time: the road will be completely rebuilt and the work will, start in mid-July and complete in mid-September. Diversions will be in place both around the University and on the surrounding roads throughout the entire period. For detailed information including maps click here.

Contact Peter Edington for more information.

Major refurbishment of the URS building

The refurbishment of the URS building, known as the ‘Lego building’, will begin in January 2017. Once complete, the building will accommodate staff and students of the University’s new School of Architecture (which opens in September 2016), School of Construction Management and Engineering, Department of Art and Department of Typography & Graphic Communication.

The University will work closely with Heads of Schools and Departments and their staff as the project progresses. Construction will begin in January 2017, with completion scheduled for December 2018, subject to final confirmation from the University Council and planning permission from the relevant local authorities.

Contact Dorothy Hague for more information.

Blackboard is moving!

This summer, Blackboard will be moving to an externally managed hosting service. Backboard is our online teaching and learning environment, widely used by staff and students alike. This means that Blackboard will be more robust and we will able to get support 24/7/365, if needed. We will have access to new features and versions sooner and with reduced downtime.

There will be some impact to the service while this move takes place, but we are working to keep this to a minimum. More details about the exact timings and impact will be provided to everyone who uses Blackboard in the coming weeks.

Contact Vicki Holmes (CQSD) or Anton Lawrence (IT) for more information.

Reading joins an elite group of research libraries

University Library and Collections Services (ULCS) has become a member of RLUK (Research Libraries UK). RLUK represents the leading and most significant research libraries in the UK and Ireland, an influential community that shapes the research library agenda.

ULCS includes three designated collections: the Museum of English Rural Life; the Archive of British Publishing and Printing; and the Samuel Beckett Collection; and hosts two successful research projects: the Location Register of English Literary Manuscripts and Letters and the WATCH project. ULCS also contributed to the review of the University’s research strategy, and will soon appoint a full-time bibliometrician to support researchers across the University.

Contact Paul Johnson for more information.

Staff in the news

Rowan Sutton and Buwen Dong, from the Department of Meteorology, made headlines in The Times, Daily Mail and Reuters with research published in Nature Climate Change showing how climate change may have had some positive impacts in Africa, by bringing rain back to drought-stricken regions of the Sahel.

Meanwhile, Simon Potts, Mike Garratt and Deepa Senapathi from the School of Agriculture caused a buzz in the Daily Telegraph, BBC News, and on ITV Meridian and BBC regional TV and radio stations, with their work on bee conservation.

Contact the Press Office for more information.

There will be no August edition of In Brief. The next edition will come out on 4 September 2015.

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