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Heads of Department Message 11 June


A few more (hopefully helpful) updates.

Academic Promotions

We’ve committed to review our position on academic promotions in September, with a view to putting in place a new timetable, provided we can be confident that we can fairly assess cases from those who may have been adversely affected by the impact of the pandemic. That’s still the case. At Senate yesterday, I was asked if we could reassure staff more broadly that their contributions to T&L and related activities during the pandemic will be recognised in any promotions decision. We have a framework for promotions that does allow us to do exactly this – one which allows a high level of excellence in one (or more) activity to partially compensate for slightly lower levels of achievement in other areas. But can I be very clear that when we are able to re-instate our academic promotions process we will ensure that we give full and fair consideration to the way in which workloads may have been rebalanced during the pandemic and that we give full and fair consideration to contributions that have been made to institutional priorities at this time, and specifically in relation to teaching and learning.

I’m hoping you’ll be happy to share this with colleagues.


Just for avoidance of any doubt, given that the University has decided not to adopt Zoom for the delivery of teaching and learning (because of serious security concerns), this does mean that colleagues must not use personal Zoom accounts for the delivery of their teaching.

Messaging to offer holders

If they haven’t already done so, the Marketing team will be in contact with your department about tailoring the forthcoming communications to offer holders.

Spending from Research Allowances

As part of the work on savings you will have probably had discussions about reducing the level of research allowances for colleagues in your departments. And we’ve had some queries about what might be eligible spend. If there are any uncertainties it might be helpful to be aware that:

  1. We are not currently expecting to cover (from University funds) physical conference attendance (to include conference fees, travel subsistence), although some virtual attendance would be acceptable;
  2. We would be looking to minimise University funded travel costs and we are not expecting to pay for any unfunded international travel as things currently stand. Unfunded domestic travel should be restricted only to what is absolutely essential;
  3. We would not expect to fund the purchase of books (ref FP16.6.4), although exceptions may be made when a book is essential for a teaching or research activity, it is expensive and it cannot reasonably be sourced by interlibrary loan. Any such purchase should be organised by library and book belongs to library but can be on long term loan to staff.

This isn’t necessarily everything but these point above relate to the most immediate queries that have been raised. We are looking to be able to deliver very substantial savings in non-pay spend, so please could I ask for you to be as cautious as you possibly can when looking at spend.

OfS Guidance on Student Protection during the Pandemic
We received the following from UUK relating to student protection and what might be reasonably expected of providers. This is not the same as CMA but is closely linked to likely CMA requirements. I think the point to note is that while there are very clear requirements about information provision there is recognition form OfS that providers will have to be flexible about what they offer to their students.

“In new guidance published today, the OfS said that registered providers in England must give students clear and timely information about how the delivery of their courses will change next year – including the extent to which they will be delivered online – as a result of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. According to the guidance, current students should be made aware of what teaching will be delivered in what way but does not propose any deadline for this information to be provided. It also highlights that students should also be told whether any adjustments to their courses and teaching might need to be made to reflect different scenarios and changes to public health advice. Prospective students should receive enough information to be able to make an informed decision about starting that course, choosing a different course or deferring.”

I hope this is of use and as always, happy for this to be shared.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE