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A monthly round-up of all you need to know.

All articles are short and are clearly categorised as ‘for action’, ‘for information’ or simply ‘nice to know’.

Contact Internal Communications for more information.

VC's information sessions: are you signed up?

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort invites you all to his next information session this month. The sessions will focus on financial sustainability and will be jointly presented by Samantha Foley (Chief Financial Officer) and Professor Mark Fellowes (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning and Resources). 

Details are as follows: 

  • 10 February: 13:00-14:00, Van Emden Lecture Theatre, Edith Morley, Whiteknights
  • 11 February: 10:00-11:30, National Grid, Greenlands 
  • 11 February: 13:00-14:00, G01, LO22, London Road
  • 12 February: 13:00-14:00, G10, Palmer, Whiteknights

Please use this form to register your attendance. 

If you have any queries, please contact Communications.

Latest information about coronavirus

Cases of coronavirus have now been confirmed in the UK. The UK’s four Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk for the UK from low to moderate. However, they have been clear that this relates to the need for government preparedness and planning, and the risk to individuals remains low. 

Public Health England (PHE) continues to advise that the normal, common-sense steps for preventing the spread of cold and flu apply, like regular hand washing and covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing. 

We will continue to publish updates on the staff portal and via email – please keep checking for the latest developments. 

UK's exit from EU: information for staff 
As you know, the UK left the European Union on 31 January 2020. The Withdrawal Agreement sets out that there shall be a post-Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020. 

As an institution, we are committed to securing the best outcomes for our staff and students. We will continue to share updates as more information becomes available – please keep checking our dedicated staff portal page and Brexit information page for the latest information. 


Accessible Word and PowerPoint templates
We have recently adjusted our downloadable templates for Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to enhance accessibility. We encourage you to use these templates in your work, including for teaching materials.

The templates are the latest in a range of resources to support our Policy on Inclusive Practice in Teaching & Learning and the creation of accessible materials. Although originally created for Teaching and Learning purposes, these materials could be easily applied to other areas within the University. The templates will be updated again to reflect our refreshed branding further down the line – we’ll keep you updated when we have further details to share. 

If you have any queries or feedback about the accessibility of the new templates, please contact the Digital Technology Services team. 

University investments to be fossil fuel free

The University is selling all remaining investments in fossil fuels and putting money behind green schemes. This means our investment portfolio will be fully divested from all fossil fuel companies within months, following the appointment of fund manager Cazenove Capital. 

With the support of the Reading University Students’ Union, the tender process allowed us to respond to the concerns of students, colleagues and other stakeholders. In particular, given our world-leading research into climate change and sustainability, an investment manager was sought with a credible and proven track record in helping UK universities in fully divesting from fossil fuel companies.

Read the full story on the staff portal


UCU industrial action 

The University & College Union (UCU) Higher Education Committee has confirmed that they will be instructing members to take a further 14 days’ strike action. UCU has given notification of strike action on the following dates:
  • Thursday 20 and Friday 21 February (two days)
  • Monday 24, Tuesday 25 and Wednesday 26 February (three days)
  • Monday 2, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 4 and Thursday 5 March (four days)
  • Monday 9, Tuesday 10, Wednesday 11, Thursday 12 and Friday 13 March (five days).
This is in addition to the current period of action short of strike, which continues until April 2020. See the staff portal for full details. Information for students is available on our Essentials Industrial Action webpage.  

IT is now DTS

The University’s IT department is now Digital Technology Services (DTS). Our new name reflects the work we are doing to support the institution’s increased focus on academic computing, modern teaching and learning technologies and better digital experience for our students and colleagues. We will share more details on this – and how you can contribute to our digital future – in the coming months.

For now, please continue using our services as normal. Contact the Service Desk (through IT Self-Service Portal, email or on extension 6262) if you need any support with your laptop, mobile device, PC, Wi-Fi or other IT queries.


Communicating with Teams update 

As you know, all University telephone equipment is being replaced with equipment enabling phone and video calls via Microsoft Teams. 

We are working with colleagues in different teams to understand how they use their phones currently. This will help us to set up the Teams equipment in the most suitable way.

Migration is currently planned in two phases: 
  • End of March 2020: Teaching and Learning Exams and Graduation teams (other potential teams to be confirmed)
  • End of June 2020: all remaining Schools and Functions (after exams have finished).
See the Communicating with Teams page for further details. 

Eco-friendly goods incentives  
We’re pleased to announce two key initiatives promoting eco-friendly goods:

Improved Cycle2Work scheme: you can now apply for a bike and accessories up to the value of £2,500, opening up a wider range of bikes (including e-bikes). Cycling to work is beneficial for your health, good for the environment and will save you money by spreading the cost over 12 months via salary sacrifice. Apply at using the employer code READINGUNIC2W or call 0345 504 6444.

Fairphone: we can now offer Fairphone, an ethical mobile phone brand whose handsets make use of recycled materials in place of traditional plastics and are sourced from an audited conflict-free supply chain. Please see our Procurement page for full details. 

Undergraduate surveys (NSS and UKES) now live
The National Student Survey (NSS) and UK Engagement Survey (UKES) launched on 3 February and will remain open until 30 April. Further information and resources to support promotion have been shared with Schools. The NSS results inform many of the metrics used for the Teaching Excellence & Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). It is essential that we promote the surveys extensively to all eligible students to achieve the best possible response rate and ensure the feedback is representative of our whole student community. Further information for students is available on Essentials.  

If you have any queries please contact Jennifer Rich.

Academic Tutor System mini-conference
On the afternoon of Wednesday 11 March, we will be holding a mini-conference about Academic Tutoring, celebrating how far we have come with implementing the Academic Tutor System Project, sharing good practice and raising aspirations for the future.

Dr Naomi Winstone from the University of Surrey will give the keynote, exploring ways in which Academic Tutors can help students to interpret and act upon their feedback effectively, increasing the quality of students’ academic engagement. It will include a workshop on coaching techniques for Academic Tutors, and a showcase on managing group tutorial meetings.  Booking links and more information can be found here.

Staff networks on Microsoft Teams 

Our Diversity and Equality staff networks are on Microsoft Teams! Women@Reading – our gender equality network – will be available on Teams shortly. 

Teams is quickly becoming a hub for communities within the University. From arranging coffee mornings to asking for advice, our networks play a valuable role in bringing colleagues with shared interests together. 


Stonewall rankings and LGBT+ History Month

LGBT+ culture is high on the agenda this month. We recently announced that the University continues to be among Stonewall's Top 100 Employers, according to the 2020 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (we are placed 93 out of the 503 employers who submitted for assessment in this year's index). 

This month also marks LGBT+ History Month. In reflection of this, Dr Allan Laville, Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, shared his experience of the Stonewall Leadership Programme, which encourages LGBT+ identity to become a central aspect of personal leadership. We’ll be running several events this month -  these include Jessica Lynn’s Transgender Journey on 5 February, and LGBT+ Ally training on 18 February (venue TBC).  


Wine and cheese tasting 

Catering, Hotel & Conference Services invites you to sample the latest Hospitality and Park House wine list.  

The tasting event will be held in two sessions in the Meadow Suite, Whiteknights campus, on 27 February (17:00-18:30 and 19:30-21:00). It will be led by specialist wine suppliers and producers, including Guildford winery Greyfriars. You’ll be able to sample a variety of wines, including our latest sparkling range. What’s more, each wine will be perfectly paired with cheese and other tasty nibbles!

Tickets are £15 and can be purchased at our online shop. This is a great opportunity to socialise, deepen your knowledge and discover our new wine portfolio. 



Reading Film Theatre turns 50

This year, Reading Film Theatre (RFT) will be celebrating 50 years of bringing independent cinema to Reading.

Based in the Palmer Building, Whiteknights campus, RFT is Reading’s only independent cinema, championing foreign language and independent films alongside mainstream blockbusters. It also holds special events, including Q&A sessions with directors.

To mark this milestone, many celebratory events will take place throughout the year, including free screenings of RFT’s top-voted films over the last 50 years, made possible with support from the University of Reading. Visit the RFT website for further details. 


Events highlights

20 February: CeLM Lecture: Understanding children’s reading: At school and at home (19.00-22.00, LO22, G01, London Road)

24 February: Celebrating our University Library – Open House (09:00-15:00, Library, Whiteknights)

25 February: Annual Edith Mary Gayton Lecture: The Role of Agri-Technology Applications in Future Farming Systems (19:00, Nike Lecture Theatre, Agriculture, Whiteknights)

26 February: The Self Delusion: how we are all connected and why that matters (19:30, G10, Palmer, Whiteknights)

27 February: Meadow Suite Wine and Cheese Tasting (17.00 – 18.30 and 19.30 – 21.00, Park House, Whiteknights) 

4 March: Staff Disability Network coffee morning (11:00-12:30, G25, Edith Morley, Whiteknights)

5 March: Annual Edith Morley Lecture: Women in Sport – Overcoming and Succeeding (19:00, G11, Henley Business School, Whiteknights)

Contact Events for more information.

Past issues and future copy deadlines for In Brief can be found here.

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