A few more updates for you – I know there’s been quite a bit this week in terms of news. This is mostly information – only the item on Career Support might require any actions from you.
I think you’ve probably now seen the updated planning round guidance from ARC. Just a couple of additional points to highlight to you. First we’re planning to reinstate the Research Development Fund - back to normal levels and second to reiterate that we’d like you to think about STP/GTA budgets based on what you’re likely to need. Most of the current year’s cuts to STP have been effectively restored to planned levels pre covid and we want to plan again on the basis of what is needed. The decision to reinstate RDF is seen as being of particular importance after a year in which everyone has had to focus so much time and energy on delivery to students. As we see signs of a return to a more normal pattern of activity, it’s going to be important that we provide resource to support research agendas.
Promotions cases are now being processed and the good news is that we have had a record number of applications this year, despite the many pressures facing colleagues. We had around 30 applicants taking advantage of the special promotions adviser scheme.
One slight snag is that a worrying number of applicants seem to have ignored the word limits requested in the various sections and this will increase the review burden on members of the various committees. It would be onerous to ask individuals to rework their applications and so we have decided not to send any of these back (even the most extreme – 4x the required word limit!). To avoid this in the future we’ll look to build restrictions into the paperwork and for this year we’ll ask the various close readers to try to ensure that those who have ignored the word limits are not unfairly advantaged relative to those who have followed the guidance.
Post study work visas
Many of you will be aware that International students who have yet to arrive in the UK are required to be here by 6th April if they are studying for a year only. We are expecting that UKVI will relax this deadline in recognition of the difficulties that these students have faced in getting to the UK for their courses. We’re hoping that this relaxation will be announced soon and currently, we think that the Home Office will allow 20/21 PGT students to complete all studies remotely, but will require them to enter the UK on a student visa to make their Graduate Route application from within the UK.
Career Support Fund
I mentioned this directly to HoDs last week and I’m really pleased to confirm that we have secured funding (£500k) for a career support fund to help staff who have been adversely affected/disrupted by covid-related caring responsibilities. In most cases, and based on the evidence that we have been able to garner, the impact has been on time (and that’s difficult to replace). Details of the scheme are still being finalised but we will look to provide funding for short-term research support; short-term teaching support (but not to replace actual delivery to students); childcare vouchers and specialist professional development (and we will be open to requests for other forms of support which are allowed within spending rules and which might help individuals to mitigate the effects of additional covid related caring responsibilities).
I hope we can announce formally next week and provide details of how the process will work – it will be light touch and it will have a quick turnaround. Any monies (probably to a max of £10k) will have to be spent by the end of July, but I will be bidding for a similar fund for next year. You can now alert colleagues to this opportunity and you may wish to highlight this to those individuals who have been particularly affected, to give them time to think about what might help them most and how they would wish to make a case. We won’t ask for massive amounts of detail (I’m hoping we can work to a max of one side of A4).
As ever, if you have any queries or questions, please do let me know. For now, I don’t know about anyone else but I’m hoping that the warm weather of the last couple of days lasts to the weekend and that we can all enjoy a bit of a break!
Professor Christine Ennew OBE