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Heads of Department Update 08 November


A slightly more routine update for you – essentially for information although there is one small action for you in connection with the Study Leave its (which was shared in the earlier general HoDs bulletin last week).

Study Leave

You may have noticed that the formal HoDs Bulletin last week confirmed that academic study leave was being reinstated for 2021-22. UEB took the decision that the temporary suspension that was introduced earlier this year (in order to address concerns about capacity of teaching during this academic year) would be lifted. In the interests of fairness, the decision was that those study leave approvals that were agreed for 2020-21 should simply roll forward to 2021-22. This would ensure that all those colleagues who’d been promised study leave would be able to access it. That means you do not need to do anything other than inform those individuals that the study leave approved for 2020-21 may now be taken in 2021-22. In the interests of managing workload, I’ve said to the Academic Processes team in HR that they do not need to re-issue any formal approvals; the existing ones just carry forward. There is one caveat – if we face another set of exceptional circumstances then we may have to suspend study leave again. I would like to think that this is very unlikely and it is something that we would be very, very reluctant to do – thought I can’t absolutely rule it out. But for now everyone should plan on the assumption that study leave will be in place.

ARC With HoDs on Tuesday

Given everything that has been happening over the past few weeks and given what might happen looking forward, we’ve decided to keep an open agenda for Tuesday’s ARC with HoDs and I’ve asked Stuart if he would join us for discussion and Q&A.

Update on self-isolation (6 November)

We have regular ongoing discussions with Local Authority Public Health (LAPH) to review best practice in isolation of household groups in a university context. LAPH have confirmed that when people are self-isolating, and subsequently students in the isolating group receive positive tests, they do not need to ‘restart the clock’ on their self-isolation. This helps us to avoid putting household groups into repeated isolation. The backing from LAPH in adjusting our self-isolation process has been invaluable in helping us to support the safety and broader wellbeing of our campus community.

This means that when a household is self-isolating, and subsequently students in the isolating group receive positive tests, the whole household does not need to ‘restart the clock’ on their self-isolation - only those who subsequently get a positive test.

The 14 days of self-isolation begin from the first day someone in the household displays Covid-19 symptoms (or from the day they tested positive if they didn’t have symptoms). Any ‘student household contact’ who is well after 14 days can stop self-isolating, even if there have been further positive tests in that household. However, if anyone in the household develops symptoms after the 14 days, they and their household should self-isolate again. This will be communicated via Test and Trace but I wanted you to be aware of the change.

None of this changes the need for individuals to consider the health and wellbeing of everyone within our community. Communications to students will continue to emphasise the need to follow our community responsibilities, act swiftly if they have Covid-19 symptoms, and speak up if they think something is wrong. And we will remind them that deliberate and repeated breaches of University guidance would be considered to be acts of misconduct and could result in disciplinary action.

Student calling

As we enter the 4 week period of increased national restrictions, the university will be contacting all students living on campus by phone to check on welfare, making sure they know how to access support, that they understand both the guidelines now in place (which we appreciate can be confusing) and also facilities still available on campus. These calls start from 6th November and the purpose and content of the calls was tested with a student panel. You may want to advise students and reassure them about their purpose.

If you need any further information please contact Jill Grant

Race Equality Charter Mark Survey

The race equality staff survey is running from Wednesday 4th November to Tuesday 24th November inclusive and is a way for staff and students to share their views and experiences first-hand and completely confidentially. I’ve completed mine and it really doesn’t take too long, so if you could encourage people to complete it, that would be really helpful (and there’s lots of comms about that so hopefully staff and students will be aware). The survey forms part of a wider piece of work being overseen by the Race Equality Taskforce and the associated SAT towards an application for Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter which aims to improve the representation, progression and success of minority ethnic staff and students within higher education. Feedback from the survey will be used to develop an action plan to address the inequalities that exist and facilitate long-term cultural change. For more information about our involvement in Advance HE’s Race Equality Charter please see the Race Equality Charter webpage or contact Catherine McStay on

Changed Teaching Arrangements During Lockdown

When I sent round my update on the teaching arrangements for the current 4 week lockdown, I mentioned that while there was no formal approval process for the changes, we did need to have a record. I should have stressed that this would be via the curriculum change log (although I suspect everyone already knew that!).

As ever, weekends go too quickly! Will look forward to seeing as many HoDs as possible on Tuesday for ARC with HoDs (and if there is anything you want to highlight for specific discussion in advance of the meeting, do feel free to let me know).



Professor Christine Ennew OBE