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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 furlough leave. 
Advice for colleagues about the outbreak of coronavirus can be found on our Coronavirus - your questions answered page which is regularly updated with the latest information.

Contact Internal Communications for more information.

Government support for universities

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort wrote to all colleagues on 4 May 2020 following details of government support for UK universities. The support includes a temporary cap on the number of students a university can recruit, bringing forward tuition fee payments for 2020-21 academic year and bringing forward £100 million of quality-related research funding to the current academic year. Although welcome, the measures stop short of offering the levels of support requested by Universities UK. 

The University Executive Board is now considering the best plan of action as we continue to address the University’s finances in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

You can find a short video message from Robert in this staff portal story.

University's plans for furloughing

One of the key priorities at the moment is saving money where possible. A number of steps have already been taken – specific controls are in place on staff recruitment; Heads of Schools and Functions are only prioritising critical expenditure and we have paused some of our capital projects.

We are also using the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). Colleagues to be furloughed will be contacted by their line manager where possible and will receive a formal letter from HR. Furloughing is temporary and is not a reflection on the importance of a role or the performance of any individual. 

See the staff portal and our Coronavirus your questions answered page for further details.


Phased re-opening of campus

It is clear that social distancing protocols will remain in place for some time. The Major Incident Team is considering plans for a phased return to campus inline with government restrictions. 

Any return will only take place when we are sure that it is safe to do so, in line with government guidance and expert advice. This will be done in a coordinated and phased process which will hopefully alleviate any concerns colleagues have. 

More information can be found in this staff portal article.

Please do not come to campus without prior approval as access won’t be granted.


Summer term VC briefings 

Thank you to everyone who attended the Vice-Chancellor’s summer term briefings. If you were not able to attend, or would like to view the session again, you can find a recording on the staff portal.  

Professor Robert Van de Noort expressed his pride in our community and commended our communal spirit. He provided an overview of the financial challenges faced by the University, while Professors Julian Park and Parveen Yaqoob provided updates from the Major Incident Team, including University support for the NHS. Samantha Foley spoke about the longer-term commercial and development plans. 


Supporting the effort against COVID-19

The University is working together with partners to support efforts against COVID-19.

From studying the virus itself to supporting NHS staff, the University is contributing to efforts to protect people from the disease and help them deal with the many impacts it is having on society. Recent activities include loaning laboratory equipment for testing health and care workers, assisting the production of face masks for frontline NHS and care staff and launching a free online course for young people on managing depression and low moods in wake of the pandemic.

See this useful summary for more news, and keep a lookout for stories under the #WeAreTogether campaign.



Are there elements of your lockdown life that you want to keep, after the coronavirus crisis, to cut your carbon emissions? Perhaps flying less, eating less meat, or cycling to work? On Earth Day the University launched a social media campaign, asking people to pledge how they will help put climate change into lockdown. 

Take the pledge on social media using the hashtag #LockdownClimateChange. 

Looking after yourself

We have a range of resources available to help you keep your mind and body healthy during the lockdown: Don’t forget that you can take annual leave as you would do normally – visit Employee Self Service to book holiday and check allowances.  

Courses: effective remote working and change
People Development will be holding four live online courses on remote working, managing and coping with change on Monday 11 May.

Each course will last 90 minutes. The courses are:
Further details about each course are available on the staff portal

What’s working like for you?

Many colleagues have spoken to us about how the coronavirus lockdown has changed the way they work individually, with their teams and with other teams at the University. 

Every Tuesday and Thursday, we share these experiences on the staff portal. So far, we have heard from colleagues in Security, CQSD, Digital Technology Services and Technical Services, with many more on the way. 

If you’d like to share your story, please email Internal Communications

New University Strategy unveiled

The University Council has formally approved the 2020-2026 Strategic Plan, which sets out guiding principles and objectives as we move into our centenary year, 2026. It is built on four key principles – Community, Excellence, Sustainability and the Engaged University.  

The Strategy empowers all colleagues to use our strategic principles to inform our work, decision-making and priorities. We encourage you all to read the Strategy and to consider how it can be applied to your work, teaching and research.

See the staff portal for further details. 


University Council Nominations Call

We are inviting nominations for the election of one member of academic staff into the University Council. If you work in an academic role (Grade 7-9) and are interested in joining Class 5 of the Council for a period of three years, your nomination will need to be proposed and seconded by eligible colleagues – in this instance, those holding a Grade 7-9 academic role. 

Nominations should be emailed to the Returning Officer (the University Secretary, Dr Richard Messer) by 18 May 2020. If nominating on someone’s behalf, please clearly state that consent has been given by the nominee.

Further details are available on the staff portal


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

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