Some quick updates that I hope might be useful.
Shape of the Academic Year
There will be a bit more on this at Monday’s HoDs forum and hopefully the ARC with HoDs discussion was of value. There are a few points from our most recent meeting that might be of relevance to you:
- We remain committed to a model of delivery that gives students a reason to come to campus and offers them a blend of teaching – both virtual (typically large lectures) but also physically f2f (typically smaller groups). And capacity for students and staff on campus is currently being modelled. But as ever there is the recognition that this may change depending on the pattern of recovery and Government guidance. And we will have to be sensitive to the circumstances of individual staff and students;
- We have been looking at a small number of requests for non-standard start for some courses – we’ve taken the view that it would be better to facilitate later student enrolment rather than supporting non-standard starts (unless clearly necessary) so we are going to recommend that international students be allowed to register up to 5 weeks late to give some greater flexibility.
- Optionality – we’re aware of some depts. that have indicated that they wish to reduce the number of options that they offer (and this will be helpful in terms of simplifying deliver); if you are planning to reduce optionality please could you make sure that partner departments are aware of your intentions so that we do not inadvertently withdraw all the options for a particular cohort of students.
- CMA – I know many of you have concerns about CMA implications for any changes that you might be considering. There will be further guidance available but we believe that we will have flexibility to make some reasonable adjustments to our offer provided we continue to deliver to the spirit of what we have promised.
Marketing will be in touch about further offer holder messaging about what students might expect from their Departments
You’ll have seen the coverage of the temporary student number controls in the press. We’ve received our figures – approx. 4600 for HEU domiciled students. We think that we should reach this number although we will need to accept a number of middles to get there. The challenge will be to meet but not exceed the targets because the penalties look to be significant.
Although its difficult to make any comparison with last year, its worth noting that all but about 9% of home offer holders have made decisions – but over 30% of EU offer holders and 40% of international offer holders are yet to make a decision. Overall, conversion looks to be improving.
PGT applications remain significantly ahead of last year and CF accepts are up but of curse changed arrangements for accepting offers mean that comparisons with last year are unreliable. Currently we have around 1000 students signed up for our pre-sessional English. Again, we can’t read too much into this because this year we are running this online and because its new we’re making it available to offer holders free of charge for the current year only.
Some of you will have been encountering problems relating to new starters who are currently based overseas. The current situation places us in the novel position of trying to honour contracts offered to individuals who are unable to travel to the UK and this is one that we have not previously had to consider. Offers were typically made at a time at which we expected individuals to be able to travel and I don’t think anyone fully understood the challenges that would arises when an individual is working in one country for a legal entity in another.
The problem is a complex one and varies considerably across national jurisdictions (including in the EU). This is not unique to Warwick but rather reflects a problem that very few in the sector have fully understood (I will cite the example of a leading Russell Group University left with a 7 figure tax liability because they employed 6 people outside of the UK and paid through a UK payroll).
The problem is of someone who is resident on one country and employed and being paid in another. This gives rise to concerns around issues such as:
- access to social security in the country where they are living if they are not locally employed;
- taxation (are they liable for tax in both locations? Where do they pay – in the UK because they’re working for a UK employer or in their home country because they are performing work in that country; where do their employment rights sit (in the UK or in the country in which they are working);
- how do we physically pay – do we need an in-country payroll?;
These aren’t new but I don’t think we’d full appreciated the scale of the problems because of course most people have physically come to Warwick and have been assumed UK resident. There is the risk of significant financial liability to the University but also legal liability to the individual.
HR are working to resolve these problems as soon as possible and have been making progress; the challenges are more significant for individuals who are outside of the EU. We clearly need to ensure that we do not expose individuals or the institution to unacceptable risk. We do need to do what we can to facilitate arrival into the UK as this will be the best resolution to the problem, although in some countries we can temporarily set up our own payroll (at a cost).
There will continue to be lots of discussion around managing our savings targets. We recently looked closely at the “Grants and Scholarships” line in the plan where current UoW spend is around £40m. I know many offers have already been made and I know that much of this spend is important for underpinning research. But can I just make a plea for you to look for opportunities for savings in this area, especially if you find any of you scholarship offers are turned down.
I hope everyone remains well – we’re going to be working this way for a bit longer but Monday’s meeting will hopefully give you further insight and optimism around our recovery plans.
Professor Christine Ennew OBE