In Brief, February 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.

Respond to USS pension consultation which launches on 16 March

The University is launching a consultation with all members and potential members of USS regarding proposed changes to the benefit structure of the scheme. Changes would see the link to final salary end next year and be replaced with a career average style benefit.

Contributions for all members will increase from 6.5% / 7.5% to 8% of pay. Consultation packs detailing the proposals will be issued in the next two weeks and will explain how individuals can participate in this consultation and provide responses.

Contact Stephanie May for more information.

How to book group, student and business travel

If you book travel for nine travellers or more, or for student trips, please use Studylink, ISIS Education Services or Ian Allan Travel. For business travel, CTM is now the University’s contracted Travel Management Supplier.

CTM will be launching an online travel portal called ‘Vibe’ through which you will book all your business travel. If you are currently using one of the previous contracted travel suppliers, please continue to do so until procurement contact you for roll-out of ‘Vibe’. In the meantime, have your passport handy and complete a travel profile form. Click here to download a form.

Contact Claire Milham for more information.

Open Day planning 2015 – we want to hear
from you!

Open Day image

Following the success of our 2014 Open Days, planning is already underway to ensure our Open Days are just as good, if not better, this year. It is the close collaboration between colleagues across the University that makes our days work so well. We are holding sessions for all colleagues involved in open day planning and delivery to share knowledge and ideas. Details below:

  • Thursday 26 March - 1pm-2pm – Meadow Suite
  • Friday 27 March - 1pm-2pm – Meadow Suite

Contact events to book your space. (Drinks will be provided; please feel free to bring your own lunch to eat during the session).

Contact Fiona Blair for more information.

Respond to review of School of Systems Engineering (SSE) by 27 March

In February, the University Executive Board (UEB) announced a formal review of the School of Systems Engineering. Prompted by the REF results, this will be a comprehensive and detailed 15-week assessment of the School's long-term viability, and will take into account research and teaching quality, research impact, financial projections and strategy.

Led by Professor Robert Van de Noort, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning and Resource), the first phase focuses on information gathering and the review panel is asking for your views, comment and responses by Friday 27 March 2015: please respond to SSE review.

Contact Rachel Stewart for more information.

Discover Reading

Discover Reading – creating a new website

We are developing a brand new website, building on the ‘Discover Reading Prospects’ pilot, to replace the top pages of We are currently updating and overhauling undergraduate course content for the 2016 recruitment cycle, in time for the launch of this year’s national marketing campaign in April. New features include a costs calculator and a personalised, digital prospectus, which will go live during May.

Eventually all current content on will be replaced, but this is a long and phased process. Crucially, nothing will be removed unless and until it has been assessed and replaced in consultation with colleagues – so content will not be lost.

Contact Gem Walsh for more information.

Couldn’t attend Ask the Board? Find out about our Research 2020 plan

280 colleagues attended the four Ask the Board events last month.
Steve Mithen, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, gave a presentation about research at Reading, including our Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 results and plans for developing our research by 2020. Read a summary and download the slides here.

The next Ask the Board dates are:

  • 19 May 13.00–13.50 Madjeski theatre, Agriculture, Whiteknights
  • 20 May 10.00–10.50, National Grid, Greenlands
  • 20 May 13.00–13.50, Henley Business School, Whiteknights
  • 21 May 13.00–13.50 London Road, Institute of Education

Put them in your diary now!

Contact Rachel Helsby for more information.

New-look Employee Self-Service (ESS) – you can access it from anywhere!

Employee Self Service (ESS) is now available anywhere and you can access ESS using your computer, tablet or smartphone. This means that you can update your personal details on your HR record, access payroll information such as payslips and P60s, and book places on training courses at any time, and from anywhere.

Employee Self Service image

Log onto ESS to check your record and make sure your details are accurate, up-to-date and complete. Remember your contact details in the online staff directory come from what is held in ESS.

Contact Cherry Bennett for more information.

New policy on remote working

If you work off campus, please follow the new policy and guidance on remote working to keep University information secure and ensure you work safely and compliantly.

Contact Lee Shailer for more information.


Visit days showcasing what we offer

Visit days are important activities in the undergraduate recruitment calendar, allowing us to showcase our campus, accommodation and academic facilities to offer holders at a time when they are deciding which university offers to accept.

We held three successful centralised visit days in February, and have more planned on 7 and 21 March, with an additional day on 28 March to cope with the demand in particular subject areas. It’s a big team effort. Thank you to everyone in central support teams and in schools and departments who is taking part.

Contact Charlotte Bundy for more information.

Our staff in the news

Research led by Professor Parveen Yaqoob (Food and Nutritional Sciences) found that eating oily fish may not only keep hearts healthy but could actually help to fix damaged blood vessels faster, reducing cardiovascular disease risk. The study was covered widely, including by Mail Online, The Irish Examiner and most UK regional media outlets.

Expert comment from Professor Shirley Reynolds (Charlie Waller Institute) on two mental health reports resulted in extensive coverage, including Mail Online, Independent, Scotsman, Telegraph and a Guardian comment piece.

Our International Cocoa Quarantine Centre’s new home continued to make international news, including Bloomberg, Jamaica Observer and Modern Ghana.

Join Small Ads and Handy People groups on Yammer

The small ads and handy people areas of the Staff Portal have been useful to many staff over the years. We are now offering this service on Yammer which means you write your small ads or recommendations yourself. Just post to the Small Ads Group or Handy People Group and tag (click More then Add topics) appropriately.

You can join Yammer at Find out more about Yammer and our guidelines.

Contact Alison Fabian for more information.

Our new look Community magazine

Community is produced twice a year in February and October and is distributed to over 15,000 householders in the local area. It tells our neighbours what is happening at the University and highlights positive ways in which we engage with the local community. It also carries listings of the variety of events and activities open to members of the public.

Community Magazine

If you want to recruit volunteers for your research or want to promote activities and events on and off campus then please get in touch. Download the latest Community magazine.

Contact Ann Westgarth for more information.

Listen to our Big Band

If you’re organising an event – either at the University or a private function – and need some music, then consider hiring the University of Reading Big Band. For a modest fee, the band will entertain you with jazz and swing classics.

The band will be playing at the Oakford Social Club in Reading on Saturday 21 March at the venue’s inaugural Vintage Night. The event starts at 8pm and the band will be playing classic swing numbers from the 1920s to the 1950s. Admission is free and dressing up is encouraged but not required.

Contact Rebecca Ranson for more information.

And finally...

In brief is your monthly digest – which arrives in your inbox on the first Friday of the month. Because of the Easter closure days, our April edition will come out on Friday 10 April.

In the meantime, to keep up to date with all the news for staff, make the staff portal news page your homepage – updated daily.

If you have news for the staff portal that is relevant to all staff, send your article (no more than 250 words) and a photo to

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