I know this is not going to be the sort of bank holiday weekend we had all hoped for. And with so much happening at the moment (and some urgent deadlines), I know that it will not necessarily be a long break for everyone. But please do try to ensure that you and your colleagues get some time off and some time to rest and relax. (I’ve got seedlings to pot on and a vegetable plot to dig so will be hoping for some decent weather).
It’s been an incredibly hectic few weeks and we’re all in a more challenging and tiring work environment. I think we can all approach the holiday weekend feeling that we’ve made some amazing progress in terms of looking after our students (especially those who are looking to graduate), our colleagues, our applicants and contributing to our community. There is still lots that we need to do and a whole range of projects that need to be progressed, but for the next few days, please do try to get something of a break!
Next week’s deadlines
I’m aware that, for some of you, there are some very tight deadlines around teaching and assessment processes early next week and I’ve been asked if we can reduce the number of central requests for action/information for a few days while there is a big focus on getting assessment materials checked and uploaded. Chris Twine will be asking central services if they can avoid sending out email requests prior to the April 16th deadline unless these are genuinely business critical.
Shape of the Academic Year
We are starting some detailed contingency planning around the shape of the academic year for 20-21. And as well as our local discussions there are also conversations taking place within the Russell Group and other mission groups. Inevitably, these discussions are linked to the scenarios that are being explored in terms of recruitment. While there remain grounds for qualified optimism around the intentions of home undergraduate students, the position for EU and other international students is much more of a concern with surveys suggesting that a very significant proportion of international applicants are looking to defer. And of course, whatever the stated intentions of prospective students our options will necessarily be governed by national and international policy decisions. There will be more to share on this as the scoping of options progresses.
We are ready to submit the first tranche of furlough requests. These requests are essentially based around the nature of the role that individuals perform (ie roles that are clearly not required in the current situation). Access to the furlough scheme will be important in helping us manage the financial position of the University and we will top up the government contribution with a view to ensuring that those furloughed are not adversely affected. Further submissions are being considered where there are staff who would be eligible.
Just a quick reminder that STP staff should still be paid for any preparation and support work that they undertake, even if their specific teaching session is not taking place. I think there is also an awareness that with students being at a distance, the demands on STP staff in terms of support may increase and therefore it would be acceptable to replace any teaching hours that are not required with additional support hours. But in the interests of managing our financial position, I would be grateful if you did not increase STP spend beyond what was already planned.
We still intend to move away from STP and to the new GTA scheme for next academic year for sessional teaching needs. More detail will follow as soon as possible.
UUK Support Request to Govt
There have been extensive discussions within UUK and the Russell Group in relation to the level of support that the sector is likely to need to manage through the current crisis. At the request of the Minister and agreed package has been put to Government. This includes a number of initiatives that I think we would welcome including re-profiling payments from the SLC, enhanced support for research, flexibility in terms of home student recruitment (based around our target numbers) and improvements in terms of the visa regime and support for international recruitment.
Finally, I was due to be on leave next week and I will still be taking some time off (though not the whole week). But that means email responses will be slower and I may not be able to provide updates quite so regularly.
Have a good holiday weekend
Professor Christine Ennew OBE