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Heads of Department Update 19 June


This is a little later than planned and so apologies for the somewhat anti-social timing

Withdrawing PGT Courses

I know one or two Depts have asked to suspend PGT programmes for the coming year where recruitment is looking weak and the costs of delivery are high relatively to likely acceptances. It’s probably worth being aware that OfS views such decisions as “Reportable Events” so we have to inform them and give them assurance that we are behaving appropriately with respect to current applicants/offer holders (refunding costs, offering alternatives etc). If you are considering suspending one of your PGT programmes and you do have applicants and offer holders, please can you let the SROAS team know as soon as possible. We would prefer to be able to report collectively to OfS on course suspensions if that’s at all possible. This doesn’t rule out later decisions at all, but if you are actively considering this option it would be helpful to be aware. I’m not specifying a deadline, given the uncertainly that we all face – this is simply a request to let as know as soon as you start seriously considering such an option.


The first panels for VLS applications meet in early July and I’ll be chairing the panel for ARC with the support of the VP/CoFs. We will be asking you to provide assessments of the impact of individual requests and these will be important in our evaluations of each case. We will need to evaluate each application taking into account the impact on your department (and the broader University) but also considering the need to deliver appropriate savings. If you would find it helpful to talk informally about options that you are evaluating, please do feel able to talk to myself or to your VP/CoF.

Preparations for returning to campus

The work around the process of reopening campus is continuing, with an understanding that re-opening will be that much more complicated than the process of closing down. There are many strands of work that are in process, overseen by the Business Continuity and Recovery Programme and there are huge interdependencies and interactions. Timetabling and work around campus capacity is very much linked to your plans around teaching and we are likely to need to go through several iterations to make sure that we can sensibly accommodate the demand required for the delivery of teaching with the capacity that we are likely to have available. But as more information becomes available – both from our own plans and from Government policy - we hope to be able to move towards a sensible set of plans. Alongside this work various groups are looking at options around the use of face covering, temperature monitoring, testing and the appropriate set of cleaning arrangements. Hopefully I can share more detail around this in the coming weeks.

Warwick in London

The start of the new academic year will see some changes for Warwick in London, which has been operating from a base in London’s knowledge quarter for the past four years. Professor Abhinay Muthoo who has been heading up WiL has made the decision to step down from his role as Dean and focus on teaching and research. This decision along with the current situation has led to the decision to close the London office and therefore to close Warwick in London. WiL has achieved a huge amount in a short time, having worked with over 20 different academic departments delivering many conferences and events, subject information evenings for prospective students and parents, Pre-University taster events and a very successful Alumni Talks Series which has seen hundreds of Alumni reconnect with Warwick and their peers in London. The core Summer Schools and academic enhancement programmes have grown and developed and in 2019, the largest summer school to date was run in London with around 400 students from over 50 different countries.

The decision to close the WiL office will not mean the end of the variety of successful projects and products that have been established by the Warwick in London team. In particular,

the successful three week Warwick Summer School at St. Mary’s University in London, the Pre-University Summer School and inbound and outbound bespoke academic enhancement programmes will continue to run with the existing team in a new unit in Warwick Foundation Studies. This will provide an ideal opportunity for Warwick to become a key player in the field of global short programmes, which in turns aids recruitment to our undergraduate and postgraduate portfolio as well as bringing in additional income. The new unit is expected to be in place from 1 August 2020.

Defining “Business Critical”

“Business Critical” is one of those phrases that you will have been encountering in almost all communications and a number of you have asked for a definition. In many senses it is a phrase that is really difficult to define with any precision. We did try to do so when we put in place ARC’s scrutiny of new and replacement posts, so as a reminder, and incase its helpful, the definition that we used at that stage was that a post (activity/spend) is business critical if there is

  1. a high risk that we would unable to deliver significant essential core activity without the post (activity/spend)
  2. there is no prospect of the activity being (for the short term) rearranged, retimed or covered by anyone else or in any other wat (through a reasonable adjustment to working arrangements).

Have a great weekend and I hope to be able to share a bit more information next week about the admissions position following yesterday’s UCAS deadline.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE