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A message from the Vice-Chancellor

colour photograph of Vice Chancellor Robert Van der Noort

This message from Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort has been sent to all colleagues at the University

Dear colleagues,

It has been almost two weeks since many of us started working from home. This has been a new and sometimes challenging experience. Many of us have experience of working from home, but it is quite different to shift entirely to remote working more or less overnight. Lots of colleagues are also juggling work with home-schooling and caring responsibilities. And we are doing all this when we may also be anxious for our health and that of our family and friends.

As we settle into these new arrangements, the impact of being away from our normal support networks, both professional and personal, is starting to sink in. We have made immense changes in a really short period of time, and I am very grateful to everyone for adapting so quickly. Thanks to the tools at our disposal, teams across our University are starting to find ways to connect through video conferencing, not just to carry out their normal work activities but also to support each other and even conduct socials.

You may have seen the story about ‘Taking time for yourself and each other’ on the Staff Portal this week. It offers advice on getting set up, getting connected, getting on the move and getting support. If you haven’t already, please do spend some time reviewing this information and the resources it links to.

Looking after our wellbeing and managing the challenges and the opportunities that come from this new way of working needs to be an active process. It isn’t clear how long the current ‘stay at home’ advice will last, so it is important that all of us build in time to take regular breaks. This is not just as part of our daily routine, but by booking time off work every so often.

I understand that taking leave at this time may feel odd when we all need to remain at home, but the opportunity to relax away from the demands of work remains important. We all need time to ourselves and with our loved ones to recharge, and that will be just as important in the current circumstances. Taking some days off will help you maintain focus if we have to work remotely for a long period of time. The forthcoming Easter break may be a good opportunity to take some extra days of leave, if you would like to and it is possible to do so. In addition to the Easter Closure days, I  plan to take some afternoons as annual leave, giving me time to finish reading Hilary Mantel’s The Mirror and the Light  and Barry Lopez’s Horizon, and making sure I get my daily exercise done. As usual, leave can be managed through the Employee Self Service portal.

You may have read the government’s announcement that rules around annual leave for key workers may be relaxed. We will, in due course, consider if we need to review our rules on carrying the leave forward.

In the meantime, stay safe and take care of yourself and your loved ones.

Kind regards,


Robert Van de Noort


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