Hope the first week of term has gone as well as it could give all of the many difficulties and uncertainties. And I know there is a lot on at the moment and its compounded by a lot of the uncertainty that is almost endemic to the current situation. We are trying to keep an eye on the burdens that are imposed on HoDs and the things we keep asking you for. And we’re genuinely trying to manage this, but there are just some things that we have to do because of the external pressures and regulatory requirements. So, I just wanted to try to reassure you then normally, when we’re asking you for things, it’s because they are genuinely needed.
Several of you have asked about options to reduce some of the demands of the ARC planning round and we are looking closely at this; in contrast to last year, I think we would like to have meetings with all budget units so that we can discuss issues more broadly. However, we’re looking to ask you for less in the way of inputs to the paperwork, and we’ll also keep the meetings shorter. We’re just trying to finalise some proposals so I will come back to you shortly on this.
The other updates that follow are probably really just for information only, but hopefully of use.
Easter Closure and Additional Leave
You’ll have seen the announcement about the extended closure period over Easter to try to ensure that we enable more people to take a decent break, after what will have been another tough term. There will have to be some exceptions, of course, because there will be students on campus who we will need to support and there will be some access needed to research labs. Inevitably, as soon as we allow some exceptions, there are requests for lots more and we have been asked, via the weekly Union meeting, whether certain groups of staff can work during that period and take the leave at another time. We are trying to hold a firm line on this and limit the exceptions. As you may be approached with such requests, I thought it might be helpful for you to see the justification that we are using.
- The closure and additional leave has been announced early to allow people time to plan activities including research and teaching in the full knowledge that there will be an additional period of closure from 6-9 April;
- It is a conscious decision to have a University closure, rather than just allocating 4 days of extra leave for two reasons – it does make it easier for people to take leave because it is a closure and therefore much of our activity is legitimately not happening. Relatedly, it’s more of a break if you close and most people are not working, because of course you don’t return to a backlog in the same way as you would if you took leave while others are working;
- There are a small number of individuals whose research work requires direct access to campus facilities for time sensitive work;
- Access to those facilities is already constrained because of Covid security issues and, in that particular context, those individuals have much, little or no scope to re-plan their research commitments and therefore, for this group only, we are making an exception and allowing the 4 days to be taken at another time.
In all of this, I appreciate that many of us do work flexibly and closure periods may not mean “no work” but they typically mean rather less work and, with deadlines, there is scope to manage these through the early announcement.
IT Support Fund for Students
The IT support fund that was set up to support students struggling to meet the cost of IT equipment needed to undertake their course is now closed. The scheme funded 930 eligible students with a non-repayable IT Support Bursary of £600.
Current options that are available to students who still have problems include:
- Approach their department to see if a device is available for loan.
- Contact IT services via firstname.lastname@example.org to request a temporary loan laptop. Further information is available at Student Laptop Loans (warwick.ac.uk)
- Contact the Student Funding team via email@example.com to discuss options – this may include an emergency loan in certain cases. Further information is available at: Hardship Funds - Student Funding - University of Warwick
Structural Changes in relation to Pre-sessional English Provision
Some of you may be aware that ARC reviewed our Pre-sessional English provision last year and, as a consequence, we are looking to grow and develop provision (online and f2f), bringing in dedicated UG provision as well as different course durations for PGT. As part of this work we have sought to consolidate some of the activity that had been dispersed and, as a consequence, would like to let you know that the Pre-sessional English and In-sessional English programmes have moved to Warwick Foundation Studies (WFS) as of 11 January 2021. The purpose of all of these programmes is to develop your students' academic language and literacies for their degree programmes, and for your students to explore what it means to be part of your disciplinary community. A new website with detailed information of the revised courses available to your UG and PG offer holders in summer 2021 and 2021-22 will be published shortly.
A big thanks to Ema Ushioda and colleagues in the Department for Applied Linguistics (DAL) for all of their hard work in developing and growing this activity, and a big thanks to Ines Molinaro and colleagues for agreeing to take this provision forward to its next stage of development in supporting our international student communities pre and post arrival.
I think that’s all for now – I hope everyone gets some good down-time this weekend.
Professor Christine Ennew OBE