Rachel Sandby-Thomas, Registrar, held a coffee morning for all staff on Thursday 21 September in the newly refurbished Radcliffe building where she updated colleagues on current external and internal developments, before giving staff a chance to take part in an exercise in how we communicate.
Rachel began by thanking colleagues for their tireless work on a wide range of projects. This included our successful recruitment and admissions programme for this academic year. Despite a national, overall drop of 4% in applications (HEFCE, 2017), we have beaten our internal targets. We’ve also out-performed our widening participation targets and maintained our rigorous entry tariff. It’s a real collective and collaborative effort and everyone plays a vital role.
Work continues on a number of fantastic capital programmes. The Gooses' Nest (the temporary theatre) will shortly open for Warwick Arts Centre, providing space whilst refurbishment and extension work is undertaken. We will also shortly reopen 'the runway' - the link between central campus and University House outside the National Automotive Innovation Centre.
Rachel then went on to consider the current external landscape. Recent headlines in relation to Higher Education had focused on Vice-Chancellor’s pay, and perceived value for money within the sector. The Sunday Times published a story on the Treasury’s wish to lower tuition fees. From a policy perspective, this creates a degree of uncertainty (and wild speculation in some quarters). Any change in our funding will undoubtedly have a consequence but this is something we are prepared for. We have returned a considerable surplus in this year’s financial planning and our capital programme, including the new Humanities Building, will continue.
Rachel highlighted that, at a recent Association of Heads of University Administration (AHUA) meeting, Sir Michael Barber (incoming Head of the Office for Students) had spoken on the importance of data and transparency and efficiency across the sector. Again, these are both areas we are well equipped to respond to. We will shortly appoint a new Director of Data and Information who will also hold the ring on our General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) preparations (another area we will need to be ready for). Our Simplify, Collaborate, Deliver (SCD) programme has also helped us. It has enabled our staff to use their capabilities, knowledge and ideas to drive forward efficiencies and the value for money agenda. Obviously there is more work to be done, but initiatives such as SCD have helped our focus.
The Year of Talent
With the introduction of our new HR system, Success Factors, we will have a yearlong focus on talent. As part of this, Warwick has entered into a partnership with Ambitious Futures to launch a graduate-entry programme in the professional services. More details on the Warwick scheme will be shared shortly.
How we communicate
Rachel finished by explaining that the rest of the meeting would be dedicated to understanding how best we can communicate. Colleagues were asked to note down flip boards: (1) how we best communicate, (2) what should we communicate, and (3) when should we do it.
Let us know what you thought - a dot waddingham at warwick dot ac dot uk.
Rachel talking through key developments for the year ahead
Staff at the coffee morning
Colleagues worked through how we best communicate