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Post-COVID-19 Response Programme update

colour portrait photograph of Pro Vice Chancellor (Academic Planning and Resources) Mark Fellowes

A message from Mark Fellowes, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning & Resource) on our Post-COVID-19 Response Programme:

Dear colleagues,

It was good to see so many of you at Robert’s briefing sessions recently.

I would like to start by thanking you for sharing your ideas, suggestions and concerns about the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme with us. The scale of the financial challenge we face as an institution and its potential impact on our community is understandably a source of considerable concern for everyone. As Robert said, through collective discussions we can bring about changes that will help us achieve savings while reducing the impact on our people as best we can.

We did not get an opportunity to talk about Phase-2 of the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme at Robert’s briefing sessions, and through this email, I would like to share some details with you.

Our objective continues to be to build together an institution that attracts the best people to work, study and research and is known globally for its excellence. The last few weeks have shown how quickly our community can adapt to significant changes when required. We need to build on this adaptability to respond to what can only be described as a once-in-a-generation test for our sector. Responding to the challenges we face won’t be easy and may require us to take some difficult decisions, but our response will define how we look to the future and to building a sustainable institution consistent with our strategic principles.

That is why Phase 2 brings together colleagues from Schools, Functions and those with specialist expertise along with representatives from RUSU to explore four broad but tightly inter-related themes:

  • How can we make our Schools financially robust?
  • What is the optimal way to deliver our professional services?
  • How should we be teaching?
  • How do we support excellence and sustainability of our research?

We will also be considering cross-cutting issues such as use of space and digital infrastructure, maximising and growing external partnerships, and how we support the wellbeing of colleagues and students.

Each workstream is led by a member of the University Executive Board and will develop joined up scenarios, with financial modelling, to present to the University Executive Board in September 2020. While it is critical that we address the financial implications of the COVID-19 crisis, we want to explore our existing challenges and opportunities as well and develop scenarios that help us flourish as an institution into the future. That is why our work will be guided by all four principles in the strategic plan: Community, Excellence, financial and environmental Sustainability and Engaged University.

Heads of Schools and Functions, and the Research, Teaching & Learning and Diversity & Inclusion Deans have been closely involved in forming our initial thinking and will continue to be a source of expertise and ideas as possible options are developed. They will also have a very important role in keeping colleagues informed and feeding through input from their areas.

This work is essential to our future and I am keen to involve colleagues in our discussions. Engagement is critical and colleagues across the University will be kept regularly informed. The work will be fast-moving by necessity, but colleagues will have the opportunity to contribute to the thinking wherever possible. Over the coming weeks, for example, we may ask you to contribute to online surveys and, where possible, follow this up with some focused feedback.

As Robert explained, Council will shortly make decisions on a set of recommendations about how we can be ready to address our estimated £106m shortfall created by the COVID-19 pandemic. If Council agrees, the University will begin formal consultation with the UCU and the Staff Forum about temporary changes to terms and conditions, seeking to find routes to keep job losses to the absolute minimum. The outcome of this consultation process will impact decisions about redundancies as part of Phase 2 of the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme, so that we make any necessary changes in the most strategic way possible.

Some more detail about Phase 2, including membership and workstreams, is available on the Staff Portal. If you have any questions related to Phase-2 of the Post-COVID-19 Response Programme, please email communications@reading.ac.uk and these will be shared with the relevant workstream.

Kind regards,

Mark

Mark Fellowes

Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Academic Planning & Resource)

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