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A monthly round-up of all you need to know.

All articles are short and are clearly categorised as ‘for action’, ‘for information’ or simply ‘nice to know’.

Contact Internal Communications for more information.

Book your place for VC’s information sessions

Vice-Chancellor Professor Robert Van de Noort will host four information sessions this month:

  • 22 October 2019 (10:00-11:00), National Grid, Greenlands, Henley
  • 22 October 2019 (13:00-14:00), Madjeski Lecture Theatre, Agriculture, Whiteknights
  • 24 October 2019 (13:00-14:00), LO22 (G01), London Road
  • 25 October 2019 (13:00-14:00), G11, Henley Business School, Whiteknights

All are invited to attend, and you can book your place using this form.

Conversation with the Vice-Chancellor   

Have you got an idea or an issue that you would like to discuss with the Vice-Chancellor?  Your suggestion should be linked to one of the four strategic principles of our new strategy – Community, Excellence, Sustainability and an Engaged University.  The Vice-Chancellor is setting aside some time each month for these conversations. If you would like to take part please complete this form to book a slot to see how he can help you make progress.   

REF 2021: Declaration of Personal Circumstances 

Our Code of Practice  sets out how we determine staff REF eligibility, select outputs for submission and consider personal circumstances that have affected colleagues’ ability to research productively during the REF period (e.g. maternity/parental leave; caring responsibilities; ill health). 

Declarations are voluntary, but are important to ensure that the impact of circumstances on individuals can be recognised and that the collective impact on Units can be reflected in the submission, including reductions in the total number of outputs required. All currently REF eligible staff have been invited to declare personal circumstances. The Circumstances declaration form and guidance, examples and FAQs are available on the REF Code of Practice pages

Have you downloaded Callmy Alert app? 

Callmy Alert is the University’s mass notification app designed to alert staff and students of major incidents affecting campus (such as a major fire, gas leak or firearms incident).  

Should an incident occur, you will receive a simple message, in real time, informing you where the incident is and which areas or the buildings to avoid. The system updates continuously and covers all of the University estate so if you are at your desk or on the move, it will help keep you safe. 

It’s free to download in Apple, Android and Windows app stores. A simple verification process will follow installation, and you’ll need to add the group name UoRalert.  

Apply for BAME leadership programmes 

The University is inviting applications from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) colleagues for two leadership development programmes. These are Stellar HE and the AdvanceHE Diversifying Leadership development programmes. Full details about each programme, the criteria and the process for applying for either programme can be found on the staff portal. If you have any queries please contact People Development.  

Complete the Stonewall workplace equality index  

We are once again taking part in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index – please take a few moments to complete a short survey to help us review attitudes and opinions towards LGBT inclusion at the University.  

To complete the survey, you will need to enter our organisation name and access code: 

  • Organisation: University of Reading 
  • Access code: 1697 

The Index provides us with an opportunity to demonstrate and review the progress we have made over the past 12 months and will help influence future improvements. All responses are anonymous and confidential. Full details are available on the staff portal.  

Support students attending Visa Appointments 

The visa process in the UK has changed. Those making applications in the UK must attend a visa appointment, scheduled to take place on the campus from 14 to 24 October 2019. As the appointments were booked prior to timetables being published, students may have to miss teaching events to attend their visa appointment. These appointments cannot be changed, so please support the students in making time for this. Failure to attend the appointment could affect their visa application and ability to continue the programme started. Therefore, students may find they have to miss teaching events to attend their visa appointment.  

Any questions or concerns regarding this, please contact Katie Robertson, Head of International Student Advisory and Home Office Compliance. 

Communicating with Teams  

IT are preparing to launch the Communicating with (Microsoft) Teams project. It will enable you to work more flexibly around and away from our campuses, facilitate stronger collaboration through shared documents and chat functionality, and change how voice communications (phone calls / audio or video conferencing) are managed at the University. 

Awareness sessions will be held in October/November (dates TBC), which will provide an overview of Teams, how to use it effectively and the choice of communication devices the project will be offering. We greatly encourage you to attend. The current plan culminates in the migration of the phone system in late Spring 2020. 

Visit the Communicating with Teams page for further details or contact

Apply for funding for School and Function events 

The Vice-Chancellor has allocated £15,000 from the University’s Endowment Fund to support departmental, School or Function events involving local community or external stakeholders.  

Applications demonstrating a connection with one or more of our principles of Community, Excellence, Sustainability and the Engaged University are particularly encouraged. Your event should take place this academic year (including the summer vacation). Up to £1,000 can be granted per event.  

To apply, please download and complete this short form (Word, 847 KB) explaining the objectives, focus and benefits of your event and return it to Applications should be received by 4 November 2019. For queries, please contact Sinead O’Flynn

Volunteers needed for Graduation ceremonies  

The Graduation Office is looking for colleagues from across the University who would be interested in providing a helping hand at our winter Graduation ceremonies (12 and 13 December 2019).  

Graduation is always a special time for the University. It is especially rewarding for our colleagues, as we celebrate the achievements of the students we work so hard for. Volunteers are needed to cover the whole event, full days, half days or some shorter shifts.  

Contact the Graduation Office for more information. 

New Student Progress Dashboard  

The EMA Programme, SIS Team and IT Corporate Applications Team, are delighted to announce that a new Student Progress Dashboard is now available for staff within RISIS. 

The Dashboard displays core information about student progress in the current Part and current academic year. It shows how much summative assessment students have completed, what their progress looks like in a series of graphics and how attainment compares to the goals that students can (optionally) set. It has been designed to encourage students to self-reflect on their progress by visualising attainment data and to enhance staff-student conversations.  

More information, and a video demonstration, can be found here

Being an Academic Tutor – tools and techniques 
A new workshop is being held to provide Academic Tutors with tools and techniques to effectively support their students’ personal, academic and professional development. It will be offered on multiple occasions during the Autumn Term.  All Academic Tutors are expected to attend one of these sessions. 

By the end of the session participants will be able to: 

  • use tools to help their tutees interpret their feedback and understand how to use it; 
  • use the Student Progress Dashboard to help students reflect on their goals and progress; 
  • use some coaching and questioning techniques to have effective conversations with their tutees about their development. 

Places can be booked on UoRLearn. Contact Jo Cordy for more information.  

USS Contribution Rate Changes 
A reminder to members of USS that the member contribution rate has changed from 8.8% to 9.6% of pay, from 1 October 2019. Please remember that you will see a change to your take home pay from this month onwards. Employer contributions also increased from 19.5% to 21.1% at the same time. 

Contact Pensions for more information. 

Online courses reach one million enrolments  

Our online course programme has reached one million public enrolments! 

Raising the University’s profile across the world, our courses are helping students from more than 140 countries learn more about everything from mental health and climate change, to ancient Rome, microbes and how to create a mobile game. 

In this video, Professor Gavin Brooks, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice Chancellor for Teaching and Learning, reflects on the University’s online courses journey, since we launched our first online course in October 2013. He also thanks the many staff and students who have helped us reach this significant milestone.  

Contact Nicky McGirr for more information.  


Events highlights

Thursday 9 October - Improvisation Workshops (13:00-13:50, Room G05, L04, London Road campus) 

Monday 14 October - REACH Network meeting (12:00-16:00, Meadow Suite, Whiteknights campus) 

Wednesday 16 October – Public Lecture Series: Climate Change: Turning up the Heat on our Health (19.30, G10, Palmer building, Whiteknights campus) 

Friday 18 October - BBC Radio 4 ‘Any Questions' (18.30, The Great Hall, London Road campus) 

Contact Events for more information.

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