Just some additional information to share – mostly about things that are in progress/under consideration rather than anything that is definitive (apart from the graduation issue). As these things develop, we will be able to say more but for now, I thought it might be helpful for you simply to be aware of some of what is in train.
Furlough Provision (Corona Virus Job Retention)
Many of you will have seen discussions and debates about this scheme and possibly also encountered a variety of rumours. I thought it might be helpful if I could update on where I think we are with the respect to the potential for us to use furlough arrangements. The sector as a whole is looking closely at the Government’s scheme, as are we, because it potentially offers us access to financial support which will help us deliver on our strategic priority around protecting jobs.
There is currently some uncertainty about the specific applicability of the scheme in HE; there is a view that where public money might be considered to be underpinning jobs already, there would be no entitlement to further public support. Exactly what this means for Universities requires further clarification. And of course, we would only want to consider furlough for those who cannot work from home and are not key workers needed on campus. So thus far, nothing definitive that I can share other than that if we can access the scheme, we will do, but it will be in a considered and thought through way.
This message will be on its way out to you, and many of you will already be aware – but just in case you aren’t - it has been announced that July graduation ceremonies will be postponed. I suspect that this will come as no great surprise and is consistent with what we are seeing across the sector.
In an email from Stuart, it has been announced that students will be graduating “in absentia” rather than at a July Degree Ceremony. The University will send degree certificates by post and update graduates’ Higher Education Achievement Report for the date when graduation ceremonies were due to happen. We are also assuring students that we are working hard to reschedule the ceremonies “later on in the 2020/21 academic year” to enable the award of degree to be properly celebrated.
The email also states: “Safeguarding the health of our community has to be our priority in these uncertain times and, if we are to stay in line with government advice, we must be wary of holding large-scale events such as degree congregations. Even if the situation in the UK improves enormously by June, it would be extremely challenging to plan the infrastructure for on-campus events of this scale when significant numbers of our team will still be working away from campus.”
Recruitment related work
Colleagues in SROAS continue to work hard on communications with offer holders and other key stakeholders. They have simplified arrangements for checking of applicant documents and largely eliminated the need for paperwork to be physically sent through. You’ll be aware of the move to put Pre Sessional English online; we have also agreed that for this year we should make that programme available free of charge to committed offer holders. And we have also agreed to broaden the range of English Language tests that we accept. Both of these initiatives will help to mitigate the problems that may have arisen as a result of delayed/withdrawn English language testing in key overseas markets. These details will go into the public domain shortly once colleagues have been able to confirm all of the details.
New President of the NUS
In case you haven’t seen this, the incoming, newly elected President of the NUS is Warwick graduate Larissa Kennedy who was SU Education Officer last academic year.
Recruitment Pause – Processing Business Critical Cases
Many of you will be aware that with HR and the VP/CoFs, we have been looking at a range of posts that are in progress or being planned to assess whether these are considered business critical. Those which look to be business critical and aren’t covered by our operating rules (circulated on 28/03) will be going to UEB-Gold on a weekly basis (Wednesday) unless there are very compelling reasons to place a request outside of this cycle.
Professor Christine Ennew OBE