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Heads of Department Update 16 July


This week’s update is a day early because I’m trying to be better organised and get it written before Friday so that it doesn’t land on your desk just as the weekend is heading your way. Hopefully much of what is here doesn’t require much action (apart from some reading and sharing).


Being mindful of the pressures on colleagues in the coming year, the TRAC team have recommended that we do not conduct TAS for 2020-21. We have excellent data from the TAS undertaken this current year and we will be able to moderate using this data as a basis for the next round of TRAC.

Scholarships for Autumn Entrants

This is probably a statement of the blindingly obvious, but in the interest of working towards our savings plans, can I ask that where scholarship offers are turned down by the first choice candidate, they are not then re-offered to the next-choice candidate.

Shape of the Academic Year

Just to let you know, this group is still working but mostly looking at issues relating to campus capacity and timetabling. The actual campus capacity with social distancing and the volume of students who can reach campus via public transport continues to give some cause for concern. Accordingly, we’ve been looking at new spaces that can be made available for both teaching and dwell/study space. And we are still anticipating that we will need to use delivery slots in the evenings as I think I’ve mentioned previously. We know there will be some challenges for those with caring responsibility but we expect to need those slots and the extra spaces to ensure that we have the capacity to deliver the desired blend of teaching.

PGT Admissions

The latest position for postgraduate admissions shows that we’ve made just under 17,000 offers this cycle, an increase of nearly 60% compared with the same point in 2019/20. Alongside this there are still around 3,000 applications that have been received but are awaiting a decision, almost double the number at the same point last year. We need to concentrate on getting decisions made on the applicants we currently have and then we’ll need to focus attention on the range of activities associated with conversion. However, we do anticipate a possible late spike in applications following the release of marks for finalists. In that context, Student Recruitment Strategy Group reached the conclusion that we should close for new postgraduate taught applications on the 31st July in order to enable the admissions teams (centrally and locally) to focus their efforts on confirmation activities - receiving/checking qualifications, English language tests and supporting documents to meet conditions of offer - so that applicants are able to enrol and travel to Warwick in time for the start of term.

Advice on Return to Work

HR are working on further advice for you around the return to work process which I know is causing you concern and is also a concern for staff (whether for those who are really keen to get back or for those who are very worried about returning to campus). The Extended Leaders’ Forum on 27th July will provide you with more specific details; web based resources are also currently being finalised. We’ve also been looking at a very simple individual risk assessment tool – this would be voluntary and it would for the individual to complete and then use as a basis for discussion (I’ve just done it and it took be about 30 seconds to complete). Its widely used; it has been endorsed from an H&S perspective and the campus Trades Unions have reviewed it favourably.

Webinars – Challenging Racism

Would you be able to remind your colleagues about the series of webinars running in the coming weeks on the theme of confronting and challenging racism, and changing our behaviours in the workplace? I’ve attended both of these and I thought they were well worth listening to.

The two webinars, Be an Active Bystander’ and ‘Combating Micro-Incivilities’ will be taking place on Zoom. To see dates and times and register to join the sessions via Zoom, please visit this page. The purpose of the webinars is to shine a light on different aspects of racism at work. By taking part you are helping further our commitment to inclusion and diversity. This is reflected in our values, ensuring our campus is a welcoming and safe community for everyone, where we are all treated with respect. All members of staff are encouraged to take part. Full details at

Student Accommodation – Plans for the coming year

Accommodation is a topic that many offer holders and returning students want to know about so I thought it might be helpful to update you on policies for the coming year. The Accommodation team have been working to build increased flexibility into our model to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 – this includes extending the campus accommodation contract cancellation period, holding on to booked rooms on campus for up to four weeks from Arrivals Weekend and permitting requests for refunds of campus rooms if a Government imposed lockdown in the UK or in a home country can be evidenced.

The contractual situation for Warwick Accommodation managed off-campus properties will remain as it was before and we will ensure that terms of contract are very clear to students from the outset so the choices they make are informed. We can’t apply the same terms to off-campus as we do to on-campus; this is because only campus accommodation is solely within the University’s control; off-campus accommodation involves third party landlords, who own the properties that the University leases to students and the University is contractually required to honour its obligations with these landlords, many of whom are themselves affected by the fallout of Covid-19. For off-campus, the only basis for release is either contractual (if we breach our own contract), or if the student is unable to obtain a visa resulting in them not being enrolled as a student or required to withdraw after failing to meet the academic requirements of their course.

The aim here is to provide assurance and flexibility to students whilst ensuring that we are able to manage our accommodation provision effectively and efficiently. The background information attached in a pdf is for HODS only; please don’t share this with students. All communications to students about accommodation will come directly from Warwick Accommodation or Student Communications only. This is to ensure accurate and timely communications are provided to students as the situation changes.

Network Capacity for Teaching

I know one or two people have expressed concerns about the resilience of the University network if we’re doing large volumes of online teaching in the coming academic year. I know this has been looked at by the Business Continuity Recovery Programme Board and a range of testing has been undertaken. This will be kept under review but I just wanted to reassure you that the work thus far has pointed to a high degree of resilience in the network.

Thank you all for everything you’re doing at the current time – we continue to face a range of challenges, but we are making progress and the huge efforts of colleagues across all departments are greatly appreciated.





There is a downside to may attempts to be a bit more organised and get the update out earlier – there’s always something else that comes through after the email has gone. This is primarily for information though. Its about further comms to students (particularly to ensure they are informed about changes) and about virtual graduation (much of which is being co-ordinated centrally but there’s lots of scope for Depts to tailor the virtual celebrations).


Student Comms

Following on from the emails we sent to prospective students before UCAS decision date (18 June 2020) we need to give additional information to our offer holders before A level results day on 13 August so they are able to make informed and considered decisions. This is to comply with OfS requirements, but also because the insight we have tells us that prospective and current student, particularly international students, have an increased need for information and assurance.


The Marketing Team have drafted a template that covers all of the areas that OfS have identified as potentially changing as a result new arrangements for return to campus. The highlighted sections in that template will need to be adapted by the relevant home department (but not removed as its all information we need to provide), in line with the completion of the templates shared by EPQ, specifically the Curriculum Changes Log issued in June.


Marketing are asking that you work with your nominated department contact, most likely your DME (marketing contact) and work to this timetable please:




Draft template letter issued to departments

20 July

Departments to update and amend letter in line with changes submitted to EPQ, using this as content to inform letter

By 4 Aug

Departments to share amended version with DME/Contact

By 4 Aug

DME to proof, design content into email in CRM system

By 6 Aug

Share final proof with department for comment/sign off

By 6 Aug

Approve and issue to students

By 7 Aug

Repeat process for PGT and returning students (timeline to follow)


A level results day – issue updated guidance to students made offers during clearing.

13 August


The following information also needs to be included in the email if any of these have been subject to change:

  • Have the length of any discounts been made clear? (if offered)
  • Are there any extra costs that students might need to bear to access resources or buy equipment as a result of changes to teaching?
  • Are there potential changes to the qualification that is been awarded?

Marketing will be in contact, so essentially this is just to make you aware.


Virtual Graduation

Clearly, our final year UG students, and a proportion of our PGT student population will have to graduate in absentia. We know from feedback that 90% of students still want to take part in a physical graduation ceremony, but that is some time away. In in order to mark the effort and achievement of this group, we will be holding a day of virtual celebrations on 22 July 2020. And you’ll be getting full detail of this very shortly. In brief, the plan is to create an online celebration and this will include


Departmental Virtual Year book

Working with Economics, we've created a virtual year book template that allows the creation of collective record of the time here at Warwick, with shared messages (written and video). The completed Economics version is available to view here as an example:


22 July - day of virtual celebration

Starting at 10am, when students get their results via Tablua we are encouraging students to share their celebrations with us on social media.


We have also created a series of Instagram stickers for students to use on this channel, along with a filter frame for students to apply to their images on social media. These are available for anybody to use by searching “#warwickgrad” on Instagram stickers, and you can access the frame on our @universityofwarwick Instagram profile.


We will also be posting Stuart’s video on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram).


We are encouraging students to share their videos on Instagram Stories, but we would also like to have department staff involved in this too in order to share messages of congratulations from staff with our students. If you or any staff from your department would like to be involved in this, please share a 10-15 second portrait video with a short congratulatory message for the Class of 2020. This will be uploaded directly to Instagram Stories on 22nd July. You can email your video directly to


Your own channels

Please feel free to either create content for your own social channels, or to share content from the main University social channels. As per our typical Graduation communications, content on social media will be posted with the hashtag #warwickgrad. If you create your own content, please do use #warwickgrad to link it all together on social media.


All our assets (including animated posts for all social media and an Instagram frame for students to use) are available for to download at


Communications with students

We’re continuing to send out newsletters with students over the summer break, and we’ll be sharing plans with students in the version we send out on 21 July, and we’ll be sharing content on social media ahead of this.


All of this information (and more) will come to you via your marketing contact. So, really this is a spot of advance warning.


Have a good weekend everyone!