In Brief, September 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.

Take part in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index survey

This year the University is once again taking part in the Workplace Equality Index Survey run by Stonewall, the LGBT rights charity that sets out good practice for employers on sexual orientation and gender identity. Whatever your sexual orientation or gender identity, please take part and provide feedback that will assist our ongoing efforts to make this an inclusive place to work.

For full details of how to access the survey, including an access code and organisation name that must be used (or your feedback will be lost), click here.

Contact Cathy Smith for more information.

Check you are buying goods and services in the best way

A new-look Procurement website has been launched to make it easier to find information about buying and paying for goods and services. The ‘I want to buy’ section includes a list of some of the most commonly purchased items and services so that you can quickly find out who to contact and when.

Contact the procurement team for more information.

Complete mandatory funding information in CentAUR


Completion of the funding page in CentAUR is now mandatory when you add a new publication. You will be asked to:

1. indicate whether the publication results from research grant, contract or studentship funding received at Reading;

2. add project(s) using the autocomplete option. You can search for your projects by one or any combination of PI, project title, grant reference, internal project code or funder. If your project is not listed in the autocomplete, you will be able to provide the details in a message box and CentAUR staff will add for you.

Contact if you have queries or if you need help with completion of this information.

Last chance to pay AVCs for USS final salary section members

Applications to pay Additional Voluntary Contributions will not be accepted by USS after 1 November 2015, so if you want to start making, or increase, these payments, contact the Pensions Office via The deadline for requesting figures is 6 October for lump sum payments and 1 November for monthly payments. The email sent by Stephanie May on 17 August contains further details.

Contact Stephanie May for more information.


University of Reading Malaysia Open Days a success

In late August we welcomed almost 2,000 visitors to our brand new campus in Educity, Iskandar, including students from three local schools. The Open Days gave prospective students and their parents the chance to experience the campus first hand and see the facilities that we offer.


This was an important part of the recruitment drive for September, when we will be welcoming our first students to campus. Over the weekend we received 27 applications, a very significant increase in web traffic and lots of serious interest.

Contact Becky Thould for more information.

Academic structure from August 2015

There have been changes to the academic structure since the last session; click here for the structure for 15-16.

Contact Richard Messer for more information.

New University planning process

This year, the University is adopting a new planning process and resource allocation model, developed in consultation with UEB and Heads of School and Function. Schools will no longer be considered cost centres but recognised as revenue centres, allocated all income from their teaching, research and other activities, but paying the indirect cost (covering services, buildings and facilities) to the centre. This provides Schools with greater scope to ensure their financial sustainability. Schools are also encouraged to improve the quality of their activities, monitored through Key Performance Indicators.

In October there will be an information session – date and location will be confirmed via the staff portal and October In Brief.

Contact Robert Van de Noort for more information.

NSS 2015 results

This year's National Student Survey was completed by 1,932 final-year Reading students. The response rate was 75%, up one percentage point since last year and above the sector average of 71%.

Key findings include:


Read more here.

Contact Maxine Davies for more information.

Student recruitment update

The undergraduate recruitment cycle is now drawing to a close and has gone extremely well in the first year since the student number cap was lifted. We have recruited a total of 3867 UG students, 8% higher than last year.

Most undergraduate subject areas have recruited to target, with particularly strong recruitment in Classics, History, English Literature, Economics, Computer Science, Geography and all Henley Business School programmes.

Postgraduate admissions continue in a challenging recruitment environment. Postgraduate taught applicants ready to enrol currently stand at 1590, with particularly strong recruitment in Henley Business School programmes as well as those in Politics and International Relations, Chemistry, Pharmacy, Psychology and Typography.

Contact James Ackroyd or see the Vice-Chancellor’s late summer message for more information.

Spanish at Reading

In September 2015, the University will welcome its first ever students on the BA Spanish (Joint Hons) course. Their 4-year degree programme will give them a profound insight into the diverse and fascinating cultures, societies, histories and politics of both Spain and Latin America, as well as a very high proficiency in the Spanish language and the invaluable experience of one semester/year in a Spanish-speaking country. We expect our first cohort to be around 25 students, and, from 2016, will be offering Spanish from beginner’s level. Look out for film screenings, seminars and other events around campus.

Like Spanish at Reading on Facebook and keep track of what’s happening.

Contact Dr Parvathi Kumaraswami for more information.

Reading Festival

For the first time ever, the University attended Reading Festival. As part of a deal with media group Bauer and organisers Festival Republic, 12 students worked with the UK’s leading rock music magazine Kerrang! – reporting, filming, and interviewing bands backstage. A fantastic experience for our students, this also allowed the University to raise brand awareness among our target audience. Our blog – Backstage Pass – and social media channels created a ‘buzz’ around the festival and University. This will also help us with further recruitment campaigns.

In addition, next Monday will see new student recruitment adverts in Paddington, on the London Underground and – in a first for universities – on Xbox.

Contact Karen Smalley for more information.

Get involved in Green Week, 9 – 13 February

Welcome Week, 19-25 September

During Welcome Week, we will again deliver a great experience for new students that will make them feel truly welcome.

The format of the week follows last year:

Saturday/Sunday (19/20 Sept): Campus carnival with big wheel and other entertainment to get students mixing and making friends (2pm-6pm)
Monday: VC/ RUSU welcome, followed by welcome in Schools and personal tutor meetings
Tuesday: Programme inductions followed by the Module Fair
Wednesday: Joint Honours events centrally and in Schools
Friday: Teambuilding in Schools
Wednesday 30 September: Reading Experience Day – an event for students in all years, providing opportunities to engage in activities that, alongside their academic studies, can help develop skills and employability.

Contact Sarah Stuckey or visit

T&L Open Programme

The training sessions and workshops offered by the CQSD Teaching & Learning Open Programme cover topics such as:

Enhancing Teaching
Supporting Students
T&L Essentials
Technology Enhanced Learning

Full details of the T&L Open Programme for University staff are available here. Details of additional sessions will be made available once confirmed, so please check back regularly for updates.

How to book:

Click on the direct booking links here.
Visit Employee Self-Service.

Teaching and learning announcements, such as relevant training and development sessions or funding calls, are circulated through a CQSD-run mailing list – join now.

Contact Lisa Munday for more information.

Director of Walker Institute

Dr Ros Cornforth has been appointed as Director of the Walker Institute. Ros will develop the reputation of the Walker Institute as a centre of inter-disciplinary excellence relating to dynamics of the global climate system and its impacts on environment, food, health and society.

Ros’s extensive experience and networking with policymakers, communities and international organisations will help drive inter-disciplinary, user-orientated research, as well as collaborations with stakeholder groups. Her current appointments as Director of the Africa Climate Exchange (AfClix) and consultant for the DfID Africa Regional Team will provide the basis for expanding the Africa-related activities in the Institute.

Read more about Ros and her work.

Undergraduates 'Thrive' with career mentoring

'Thrive', the University’s career mentoring scheme for penultimate-year undergraduates, enables alumni to share their professional experiences with students from Maths and Statistics, TAEDS and Biological Sciences who are poised to make decisions about their own careers. Scheme success has led to the further expansion of 'Thrive' into English Literature, Psychology and Modern Languages for 2015/16, in addition to a generic scheme.

Mentees become more confident and better informed about the world of work thanks to opportunities for workplace visits and shadowing, and we anticipate that this opportunity should improve graduate-level employment and enhance course reputation.

Anyone who is interested in Thrive should contactTania Lyden.

In Brief survey prize-winner and key findings

263 members of staff responded to the survey, giving us feedback on the value of In Brief and ideas for improvements.

Highlights of the survey:

94% of staff find In Brief to be very or quite useful
83% of staff feel better informed about what’s happening at the University
83% of staff like the fact that articles are brief

Respondents also gave suggestions for improvement. We are currently looking to see how we can make readers’ experience even more positive.

Congratulations to Gerri Aherne, Henley Business School, who won £50 Blackwells gift voucher in the free prize draw.

Thanks to everyone who took part and gave us their ideas.

Contact Sarah Browning for more information.

H&S newsletter

The latest issue of the Health and Safety Services newsletter, Safety Matters, is now available. This issue has important information regarding new types of fire extinguisher being rolled out into University of Reading buildings.

Contact Moira Simpson for more information.

New Employee Healthcare benefit

The University has introduced a healthcare cash plan scheme to help you budget for your everyday healthcare costs. The scheme is provided by UK Healthcare and offers cash back for a variety of medical treatments including:

Dental check-ups, X-rays and hygienist fees
Eye tests, glasses and contact lenses
Complementary therapies

Children (up to the age of 18) are covered free of charge. There is no need for a medical and there are no qualifying periods, allowing you to get immediate benefit. For more information and an application form, visit the website.

Contact Claire Eckett for more information.

Train ticket discounts for staff

The University has joined the easit sustainable travel network, as part of easitREADING, making University staff eligible for a 15% discount on First Great Western and South West rail fares that travel into and return from Reading station. Travel into Earley station is not currently eligible. Register for an easit card using your University of Reading email address here.

Contact Karen Stanbridge for more information.

If you are travelling on University business, please use the University’s business travel supplier, CTM.

New events diary

The University events diary, containing details of our exciting autumn events programme, is now available and will be distributed around our campuses. You can also find details online.

Contact for more information.

Enabling Technology Programme update

We are now two years into the Enabling Technology Programme which is improving the way IT is delivered across the university. We are making efficiencies and savings, are providing updated software and tools, and have reorganised the IT department. Running more than 40 projects, we have upgraded the networks, implemented Employee Self Service and updated A/V equipment (amongst other things).

We are still working on many more projects, e.g. provision of research data storage (coming soon), an application jukebox for students to browse and download software, mobile device management, an inventory of all hardware across campus, and more.

Contact Nicola Tyson-Payne or click here to find out more.

Matlab is now available to all staff and students

The recent IT reorganisation has led to improved coordination of computing requirements around the University. One of these requirements is for Matlab, which is a high-level language and interactive computing environment, used widely across science, social science and humanities disciplines. IT has successfully coordinated a site-wide agreement for Matlab, starting August 2015.

Under the agreement all staff and students can obtain Matlab, and all its toolboxes, for use on both University and their own PCs. There is also access to technical support and training. We are in the process of rolling out access to the new agreement; if you are interested, look here for more details or contact

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