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

This special edition of In Brief collects the latest updates relating to COVID-19, including our Post-Covid-19 Response Programme and new Assisted Recording Rooms.
You can find the latest updates on our Coronavirus - your questions answered page.

Contact Internal Communications for more information.

Briefing sessions taking place next week

Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort would like to invite you to one of two upcoming briefing sessions:

  • Wednesday 8 July, 15:00-16:00
  • Thursday 9 July, 13:00-14:00

These sessions will be conducted over Microsoft Teams and there is no cap on the number of participants for this session. To attend, please book your place through a short online form.

They will provide an update on the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme and formal consultation with the University & College Union (UCU) and the Staff Forum. There is also more detail on these topics below.

If you manage colleagues who are furloughed at the moment, please inform them about this session so that they can join the conversation.

Post-Covid-19 Response Programme

Following approval from the University Council work is underway on our Post-Covid-19 Response Programme, which aims to urgently address the financial challenges we face, rethink how we can make the most of our people, our spaces, our digital infrastructure, and our partnerships and create a strong and sustainable future for our University.

We are now working through the second phase, which explores financial stability within Schools, optimisation of professional services, and the delivery of teaching and research. Professor Mark Fellowes (Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Academic Planning & Resource) recently shared details of what this is likely to entail, and will present findings to the University Executive Board in September 2020.  

Please read our dedicated FAQs for further information. 


Formal consultation begins

In light of the above, formal consultation is open between the University, the UCU and the Staff Forum. Consultations currently focus on temporary changes to terms and conditions and seek to find routes to keep job losses to a minimum. 

Please feel free to contact your UCU representative or the Staff Forum to share views on the ideas touched on in the Vice-Chancellor’s June briefing sessions.

UCU represents colleagues on grades six and above. The Staff Forum represents grades 1 to 5 in the current consultation but is open to all colleagues – sign up to their mailing list for details of upcoming discussion sessions. 


Teaching and Research capacity for 2020/21 academic year

Plans to create additional capacity for teaching to deal with the impact of COVID-19 were recently communicated in a joint message from Professors Elizabeth McCrum, Julian Park (Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Education & Student Experience), Parveen Yaqoob and Dominik Zaum (Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Research & Innovation).

Key points:
  • We are asking some colleagues to adjust workloads to focus on teaching priorities.
  • Schools should suspend internally funded research leave for 2020/21 unless there are strong strategic reasons for leave. 
  • Research time associated with externally funded research projects should be protected.
  • Heads of School will need to consider time allowable for unfunded research in the context of School priorities.
  • Any decisions must consider equality and diversity concerns and the development of Early Career Researchers.
Read the full message on the staff portal

Postponement of Graduation ceremonies to 2021

Following our previous announcement that we were postponing our July Graduation ceremonies to December, the University Executive Board (UEB) has recently made the difficult decision to postpone December’s event to July 2021. 

After carefully reviewing the options, it was concluded that a December ceremony could only be achieved with significant compromises to accommodate social distancing. Re-scheduling for next summer enables us to give our students the celebration they deserve. We are aware that others in the sector are taking a similar approach for the same reasons. 

We will write to all students expecting to graduate this July/December today, to let them know this decision.


Assisted Recording Rooms available in Palmer 

Twelve Assisted Recording Rooms have been created in the Palmer building.

The rooms can be booked for recording teaching material as required and are available until 11 September 2020. They follow a great deal of work between teams including Digital Technology Services (DTS), Campus Services and CQSD-TEL, who have been researching, identifying and providing facilities to help academic staff deliver content for the autumn term. In addition to having a dedicated recording space, each room will be supported by an AV Support Technician. 

To make a booking and to find out more, please visit the DTS Assisted Recording Rooms page. 


Share your thoughts in the 2020 Staff Survey

The 2020 Staff Survey is collecting feedback on our reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic. If you haven’t already completed it, you have until 12:00 Monday 6 July to share your feedback. 

So far, nearly 2,000 of you have already provided feedback – we thank each of you for taking the time to share your experiences. The survey is being run by Capita Surveys and Research, an independent specialist research agency – you will have received an email from them inviting you to complete the survey. It should only take around 10 minutes and all responses are completely confidential. 

Your views will contribute to our Post-COVID-19 Response Programme, so all feedback will be valuable. 

Guidance and resources for working remotely

As many of us may remain working from home for some time, we have created a new page on the staff portal that covers a range of topics to note while working remotely.

On the Guidance and resources for working remotely page you will find information on setting up your equipment, keeping in touch with colleagues, staying active, learning new skills, wellbeing support and more. Be sure to take a look and let us know if there is anything else you would like to see added. 

Stand united in solidarity 

From one tumultuous event to another, many are still reeling from the recent attack at Forbury Gardens, where three people lost their lives. Among those tragically lost was James Furlong, a local teacher and mentor for trainee teachers at the Institute of Education. Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with those mourning loved ones during this difficult time. 

The University has been offering support to those affected by these tragedies. If you have been affected by recent events, please don’t hesitate to use our employee assistance programme, Confidential Care. Students can contact our Student Welfare Team or receive online support at any time via the Big White Wall service.


Strong turnout for Virtual Open Days

Thank you to all who contributed to our Virtual Undergraduate and Masters’ Open Days. Both events were a great success and we’re immensely grateful for all of your support.

Both events were well attended, with over 2,600 prospective students joining the Undergraduate Open Day and over twice as many bookings for the Masters’ Day than previous face-to-face events. Attendees participated in live subject talks and presentations on aspects of student life such as finance, studying abroad and careers. Current students also shared insights into campus life and study via live web chats.

Feedback for both events has been extremely positive, with 99% of Undergraduate and 97% Masters’ visitors sharing feedback rating their experience as Good or Excellent.


Join the LGBT+ Network Book Club!

The LGBT+ Network invite you their new online book club hosted through their network Teams channel. A book will be randomly selected each month, with discussion opening up on the last Monday of the month (although you can join in the conversation whenever you like). The book list features a varied range of fiction and non-fiction recommended for their LGBT+ representation.

The club is open to LGBT+ colleagues and PGR students, plus allies of the LGBT+ community. To join, please contact Gemma Fitz and she will add you to a dedicated group within the network Teams channel


And managers, while you’re here…

The LGBT + Network also encourages all line managers join the LGBT+ Network on Microsoft Teams.

A dedicated channel for managers is available within Teams that includes FAQs on how to be a good ally and supporter of LGBT+ team members. The Network would love to see managers share their stories, tips for best practice and activity ideas, so please sign up if you're not already a member.

Having someone at the top show genuine commitment and care can make such a different to someone who is struggling against prejudice in one form or other, so your input will be invaluable.

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