I hope that Welcome Week has been running smoothly for you. And although we had the opportunity to talk yesterday, there are probably a number of practical issues on which I need to update. Generally, Welcome Week seems to be going smoothly if quietly; anecdotally the attendance at online events seems to have been good whilst attendance at in-person events (cinema, tours, piazza stands) seems to have been quite low. Morning tours have been popular and campus outlets appear to be coping with demand. Events such as sports and societies fairs seem to be running smoothly and the VC & SU President Talk went well and was broadcast as scheduled online and on the Big Screen on Monday at 11.30am. It’s now available on-demand at www.warwick.ac.uk/welcomeweek.
Just some practical issues to share with you:
If you haven’t seen it – this is the consolidated online brochure that is trying to bring student information together in a single place. And given that its online, it can be updated. But can I just remind on some key points (some of which came up yesterday). First, it would be normal for some students to be homesick and either want to return home for short visits or even return home and study online; in previous years of course the “study online” option hasn’t been available; this year it is and may make it appear easier for those who are struggling to settle to return home. The approach we’re taking would be as follows:
- Encourage students to talk to Wellbeing in the first instance to see how we may be able to help them; we have committed to delivering a blended, campus experience and we would want to facilitate students to continue to be part of this;
- We are not currently saying to students that they cannot go home for the weekend - guidance on this is clear – we should not put tighter restrictions on students than on the general population (but if they are self-isolating, then they will have to stay on campus);
- We did agree that UK domiciled students could, ahead of the start of term, request to study online if they could evidence good reasons to do. If they have already arrived and can provide similar evidence as to why they should now go back home, then the same process would apply (and of course this is why the conversation with Wellbeing will be so important).
- And while we are cautious about students coming onto campus when they don’t need to – because of capacity issues – the Sports and Wellness Hub is open and is offering a range of internal and external activities for students (consistent with Government guidelines on such activity).
These points should be clear in central messaging but I thought it might be helpful if you could ensure that these points are reflected in any departmental messaging on such issues.
Update on Sessional Teaching Spend (including GTAs)
In developing our Covid Financial Plan (Plan 5b) we anticipated a reduction of around 2700 FTE student numbers and a range of other income reductions. The reduction in STP budgets (including spend on GTAs) was made in the context of these planned reductions in the volume of student numbers and the impact of the suspension of study leave. Through ARC we asked for budgeted STP spend to be reduced by about half from something over £11m of fees expenditure to a figure closer to £6m.
Currently we are forecasting that the actual reduction in student numbers is likely to be significantly smaller than Plan5b (as many of you will be aware) and this will generate a need for more contact hours. The level of uncertainty around numbers persists but in the light of these latest forecasts we need to relax the constraints on the sessional teaching budget to ensure that those Departments which have significantly over-recruited have access to the additional resource they need to deliver teaching. This will be determined in discussion with those Departments and we will need to consider resource requests in relation to projected overshoots. Many of those discussion have started and we have been able to release essential additional resource. Currently we are looking to increase the budget for fees expenditure (largely STP) to around £8.5m. In effect then, the indicative c.£5m savings target that was discussed during the development of Plan 5b is being reduced to c.£2.5m.
And as you’ll be aware, enrolments are looking very good so far; we still have significant numbers of international students who will be arriving late and so there is (not surprisingly) much more uncertainty than at the equivalent time last year. There should be a bit more detail available next week and I will share that information as soon as I can.
How Warwick Works – Shadowing and Development Scheme for Academics
The How Warwick Works Scheme is now open for applications until Friday 16th October. The scheme aims to support the leadership development of research and teaching and research focused and teaching focused colleagues currently at Professor, Reader or Associate Professor levels. This year, in particular, will provide participants with a rare insight in how the University operates in times of disruption; strategically as well as through the use of virtual leadership.
We’re seeking applicants from both those looking to shadow as well as from senior academic staff to volunteer to be shadowed. Further details and application forms can be found here https://warwick.ac.uk/services/od/development-opportunities/schemes/how-warwick-works. Do please let colleagues know about this opportunity.
Thanks again for all that you’re doing –it continues to be difficult and challenging time for everyone – but I think things are going as well as they can be and that’s down to the fantastic work being done by you and so many of your colleagues.
Professor Christine Ennew OBE