Posted on 12 February 2021
Catch up on the Vice-Chancellor's update to staff (login required) and the follow-up Q and A session, which covers:
A year on from the first case of Covid-19 in the UK, the Vice-Chancellor Professor Charlie Jeffery reflects on the toll of three national lockdowns.
He noted that he has asked line managers to be compassionate and creative in helping staff to balance home and work, and to strip out or postpone any non-urgent work. He emphasised that wellbeing is at the centre of his thinking.
The University's path out of lockdown is not yet known, but Charlie is hopeful that more research activity will be opened up across the University, and if safe to do so, in-person teaching for those students who need urgent access to specialist facilities will be resumed.
Health and safety protocols are under constant review and rapid results testing is available on campus. If you visit campus regularly, you should get tested twice a week, three days apart.
There is still uncertainty about the next academic year. Charlie urged staff to take the opportunity to set our own agenda and to think about which of the changes that we have adopted over the last year we would like to keep.
You might consider integrating some of the innovative online teaching that you have used to supplement in-person teaching in future. You might be able to reduce the amount of travel needed for collaborative research or to sustain our partnerships. A more formal process for you to submit your ‘Covid Keeps’ will be announced shortly.
Charlie also highlighted changes in the external environment, including the effect of the new Turing scheme on international partnerships and recruitment of EU staff and students, the UK policy environment, and the Government agenda on tuition fees.
He asked staff to think increasingly about what our curiosity, expertise and our graduates can do to shape a better world post-covid.
A transcript of the Question and Answer session is now available.
The Vice-Chancellor announced a forthcoming engagement exercise on staff preferences and needs for working from home. He acknowledged that a review of digital infrastructure would also be required.
All managers have been asked to strip out unnecessary work, slimming down processes and examining routine work to reduce workload.
Charlie was asked about the annual pay rise, financial support for staff working from home, and a formal promotions process for Professional Support Services staff.
Charlie answered questions on furlough and how the University is applying a consistent approach to requests for flexible working arrangements.