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Heads of Department Message 09 June


Some further updates for you.

Market Research Latest

If you’re interested, attached is the latest market research relating to student recruitment/sentiment. There is a continuous stream of research coming out as you’ll have seen in the press and while the details do vary there is a reasonable degree of commonality in terms of the findings. We do continue to monitor the research and gather market intelligence to inform what we’re doing.

Support for Clearing

Please could you share the following message with colleagues in your Dept?

To help us ensure we can attract the best students this summer, we’re encouraging staff who are able and interested to volunteer for this year’s Clearing Hotline on Thursday 13 August. Currently, we are planning for the operation to be taking place on campus following social distancing guidelines, and is a chance for colleagues to contribute directly to student recruitment for the coming academic year, with around 6,000 calls expected on the day.

Colleagues in Admissions will be providing full training and support, and any staff who wish to take part can sign up via the Clearing Hotline webpage.

Student Number Controls

As you know, we’ve had confirmation of the cap on recruitment for UG HEU students. We’ll need to be careful during Confirmation and Clearing to work to this target and there are significant penalties if we exceed it. We have a degree of confidence that we can get close to the recruitment cap based on those who meet their offers and the near misses. We will need to make assumptions about attrition rates and its possible that these will need to be higher than in previous years given the uncertainty that many prospective students are facing. One of the consequences of this managed recruitment environment is that those Departments with a strong recruitment position may be less able to go over target than would have been the case in previous years. It’s going to be a difficult balancing exercise and we will be doing all we can to address the preferences of all departments but we will have to do this with our SNC figure in mind.

Shape of the Academic Year - Timetabling

We have had a further meeting of the SoAY group earlier today. Can I reconfirm that we are going to allow international students to arrive up to 5 weeks after the start of term 1 (rather than our normal 3 weeks) – that would be w/c 9th November. This will give them a bit of a cushion against visa and ELT delays.

We have also been looking further at timetabling issues. The timetabling team are going to start preparing a timetable based on the principle of 2m social distancing. (we may be able to relax this as the situation improves, but for now we think it’s best to start with 2m). This will generate some significant timetable constraints as I think everyone is aware. You’ll also perhaps recall that I’ve previously mentioned the possibility of extending the teaching day (eg 8am start to 9pm finish) and even the possibility of teaching on Saturdays.

The model for the 2m social distancing shows that we could provide the following proportion of small group teaching (based on last year's timetable) for various teaching week scenarios. The challenge is around room size and while with 2m distancing we can easily accommodate groups of 3-9 we have more constraints with the next size of room which is likely to be in much greater demand for small group teaching, given the 2m requirement.


Teaching Week

Total Hours Available

% Teaching Accommodated





+ Wed afternoons




+ Wed afternoons

+ extra hour each evening (until 8pm most evenings)




+ Wed afternoons

+ extra each evening

+ Sat 9am-7pm



One area in which timetabling would welcome feedback is a view on whether 50% (or 57%) of last year’s small group teaching capacity (f2f) is enough for you or whether you think you are likely to need more? Essentially the weekly “Total Hours Available” number is what makes the difference so where in the week extra hours are added makes no difference to capacity. If you have strong views, can you let me know please?

We will need to be very sensitive to the equality aspects of extending the teaching day and/or the teaching week, so please can I reassure that we are trying to factor this in to all decisions around timetabling, in so far as we possibly can. Further complexities will arise when we can be clearer about the number of staff with clinical vulnerabilities who may not be able to teach f2f.

Thus, all of this remains a work in progress and for now, as you think about teaching plans for next year, can I just make a please to you retain as much flexibility as possible as we know that the situation will remain dynamic for some time.

Zoom Site Licence

Just a reminder in case you missed it – the University’s Information management Committee has decided not to approve a site licence for Zoom – the consensus is that improved functionality in MS Teams will provide for most departmental needs and there are concerns that Zoom does present security risks. But if you are already using Zoom then you’re ok to continue until a sensible break point is reached. More comms on Insite today.

Thanks again for all the work they you’re doing – I know its difficult at the moment and while some things are becoming clearer, I know there is still lots of uncertainty and lots of ambiguity. I know this makes life particularly difficult for you and can I just try to reassure you that we are trying to share as much as possible and to give greater clarity but its all taking time.

Stay safe and stay well.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE