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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 planning our phased return and updates to the annual leave policy.
You can find the latest updates on our Coronavirus - your questions answered page.

Contact Internal Communications for more information.

An update on our financial recovery programme

Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort this week set out the financial challenges we face as an institution and what we are doing to respond to these. Nearly 1800 colleagues attended these sessions over Microsoft Teams Live Events. 

The Vice-Chancellor said we are making major efforts across the University to save money – including pausing several large projects and making use of the government furloughing scheme – but these measures will not be sufficient on their own.

He referred to the Community principle of our new Strategic Plan, saying we need to collectively agree on options that will help us make the savings required and minimise job losses. The Vice Chancellor also said that any decisions will be made based on long-term benefit.

A summary and recording of the session is available on the staff portal.

Black Lives Matter: it’s our job to do something about it 

The The overwhelming response to the murder of George Floyd reminds us that the experience of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic (BAME) people is blighted by pervasive racism.

In an emotive message, Professor Van de Noort has condemned racist acts of violence and announced an internal review to explore racial equality at the University. It will be led by Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Parveen Yaqoob.

Our BAME Network welcomed this announcement, and has called University colleagues to stand up to racism. Race@ Reading, an initiative of the network, will share the stories of its members and discuss how we can all contribute to a racially more inclusive institution.

Update on phased return to campus

Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Parveen Yaqoob has provided an update on our phased return and Covid19 risk-reduction measures.

Key points:
  • This roadmap sets out the initial four stages of a phased return and key activities within each stage. The phases may progress at different times in different areas and we will not progress to the next stage unless we are confident that doing so will not raise unacceptable risks.
  • This note on COVID-19 risk-reduction measures provides guidance on how to tailor arrangements in your own area to reduce the risk of transmission. It will be reviewed and updated, so please familiarise yourself with it and check back for updates. 
We will update our FAQs as guidance develops, but if you have any queries in the meantime please contact Internal Communications

Important notes on 2020/21 academic year 

Pro-Vice-Chancellors for Education, Professors Elizabeth McCrum and Julian Park, recently shared details of the Teaching and Learning framework for the 2020/21 academic year

The autumn term will begin on 28 September, with an altered Welcome Week commencing on 21 September (more details to follow). We intend to offer face-to-face contact (subject to government advice) but will support learning and engagement online using four key elements:
  • Core content normally delivered via lectures will be provided digitally.
  • Alongside lectures, interactive seminar-style sessions will help support learning.
  • Assessments may encourage interaction, such as group work or presentations.
  • Enhanced academic support to be provided at a programme and module level.
Read the full framework on our website (University log-in required). 

Updates to Annual Leave Policy

The University Executive Board has agreed a change to the current annual leave policy to increase the amount of leave that colleagues can carry forward to the 2020/21 leave year from five days to a maximum of ten days, or the pro-rata equivalent of two working weeks.

Furloughed colleagues will need to manage their leave arrangements to ensure that they take some annual leave during or around their furlough leave period.

Taking annual leave continues to be important, we all need time away from work to unwind and recharge. You can book leave through Employee Self Service. Leave should be agreed in advance with your line manager. 

Find more information on the staff portal


In case you missed these updates

Things are moving quickly for many of us right now – so in case you’ve been busy lately, here are a few key updates you may have missed:

Take care of yourself 

We say it a lot, but looking after yourself is really important right now. We have many great resources to help keep your mind and body healthy during this time: And take a look below for the latest arrival to our support services! 

‘Friendly Ear’ service available  
The Staff Forum are always trying to find ways to help connect the amazing people who work at the University – something that’s much harder to do under our current way of working. 

In response to these challenges, they are happy to launch Friendly Ear – a new service for those looking for someone new to talk to or chat about the events of the day. So if you want someone to ‘lend an ear’, look no further! 

To find out more – or to lend your own friendly ears – please email the Staff Forum


Share your stories with us To share your story, please email Internal Communications

Check your phone number in Teams 

The Communicating with Teams project team are migrating phone numbers onto Microsoft Teams, enabling you to make internal and external calls through Teams. The project is now past the halfway point, with over 2,000 numbers migrated over in both our UK and Malaysia campuses. 

You will have received an email following the successful migration of your number – if so, please check the phone number above the dial pad on Teams as it may have changed. You’ll need to add your new number into the Employee Self Service directory. Any number changes would only have been made where necessary, such as where people have previously shared a number.

To find out more about calling through Teams, visit the Communicating with Teams page.


Two surveys for academic colleagues 

Academic colleagues are invited to complete short surveys on two important projects: 
  • Academic Tutor System (ATS): we request all Academic Tutors to complete this short survey by 17:00, 8 June 2020. Your feedback will be really valuable as the ATS project transitions into ‘business as usual’. For queries, please contact Dr Jo Cordy.
  • Leadership and Diversity in Higher Education: all academic colleagues are invited to complete this short survey on the gender and BAME balance in professorial, senior grade roles and university committees. Please complete by 14 June 2020. For queries, please contact Dr Karen Jones

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

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