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Video and summary of VC’s briefing on Phase-1

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Chief Financial Officer Samantha Foley and Director of Human Resources John Brady joined Vice-Chancellor Robert Van de Noort at an all-staff briefing on our response to the financial challenges of COVID-19 on Thursday 5 November.

In his introductory remarks, Professor Robert Van de Noort thanked colleagues for working hard to implement the new rules and government guidance over the past week. “Things have moved quite fast since [the lockdown] was announced so thank you for your patience and support whilst we are working through the various guidance”.

Robert explained that, while the University’s financial position remains challenging, the impact on enrolments for this academic year was not as bad as had been planned for. “At this point, I would say that we are cautiously optimistic that we may not need to apply the temporary tiered pay cut as a mechanism to avoid redundancies…..However, it is important to remember that things can still change and this is still the subject of further discussions and we will not make the final decision until early February.”

He said the University will continue to review other measures such as the proposed pay freeze for 2021 and 2022.

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Sam Foley talked colleagues through a more detailed review of our current financial position against projections. She noted that the original financial modelling for COVID-19 expected a financial loss of £104 million over three years, but the total impact to date was £65 million. While the loss of income from student recruitment hasn’t been as bad as we thought, the loss of income from the Halls of Residence and Campus Commerce has been more than was originally assumed. The cost of COVID-19 safety measures on the campus is also slightly higher than originally budgeted.

Sam provided more details on each of these areas in her presentation, including on assets and cashflow, and emerging financial risks to the University. She said colleagues across the University had worked hard on student recruitment and that our recruitment numbers reflected the effort.

“The overall message to take away is that £65 million loss for the University is a large number whatever we want to say. We have covered a large proportion of that from our assets and savings but some of that is going to have to come out of our operating costs – which includes pay – but optimistically we will not be looking at further pay reductions in January.”

John Brady talked about the Voluntary Redundancy scheme that was launched last month and is open for applications until Friday 20 November.  Details of the scheme including how to apply and other information are available on the Staff Portal.

John also shared some of the other voluntary measures – including purchasing additional annual leave, applying for an extended period of unpaid leave and opportunities for early or flexible retirement – that are being developed, with details to follow soon.

Over 800 colleagues participated in the session and put forward a number of questions. We put a selection of these questions – reflective of the range of questions asked – to the panel members. Robert noted that questions about the work on implementing our strategy, led by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Mark Fellowes, will be picked up at the next briefing session.

The schedule for the next three all-staff briefings is agreed and the details are as follows:

  • Wednesday 18 November, 11:00-12:00

           Planning a sustainable future – follow-up to School/Function engagement sessions

  • Tuesday 1 December, 11:00-12:00

           Our international strategy and plans

  • Thursday 17 December, 14:00-15:00

           Conversation with the Vice-Chancellor

To register your interest in attending a session, please complete this short online form. We will send you a calendar invite and instructions on how to join.

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