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Heads of Department Message 25 March


Today’s update:

Managing Comms to Students and Staff: A Plea

I know you will be handling a lot of queries from students and staff about arrangements for teaching, learning and assessment over the coming months. The twice-weekly newsletters to staff and students are being established as the primary communication channel for announcing the University’s decisions on these matters and Education Executive is doing a huge amount of work on this, as part of the wider business continuity programme of work. The volume and complexity of the work means that we aren’t able to confirm decisions as quickly as everyone would like and I appreciate that this can be frustrating.

But, please could I ask for continued patience and discipline around departmental communications to students? Could you stress that the twice weekly newsletters will give them information they need and reassure them that we are working as fast as we can to get a university-wide set of arrangements in place?

We need to get assessment arrangements and policies co-ordinated and we want to avoid situations in which students are given partial information now which has to be rescinded in the future – because that just adds to confusion. It’s a particular issue if some departments send local messages to their students which are then picked up by others (esp Joint honours students). If we can stick to an institution-wide approach we should get a clearer message out and reduce the problems of confusion and inconsistency.


Generic comms being planned – an indicative draft is attached for information only please - not yet the final version. (but I will only recirculate if there are any major changes)

We are monitoring requests for PGT deferrals and a number are starting to come in. Updates to follow when there is more detail.

For those departments charging deposits, it would be sensible to look at delaying any deadlines for payment. A number of departments are looking at moving such deadlines to end June. Any questions, do please check with the Admissions Team.


STP arrangements were covered in some of the early FAQs – but we are picking up email challenges from the SU about how this is working out in practice.

  • Could your STP contact check that there is some information going out to PGRS who were due to teaching term 3 so that they have some awareness of whether they will need to deliver online (and I am guessing that many of you will still need to use those PGRs to deliver their sessions)
  • If you get any queries, the FAQ was clear that if a delivery session is cancelled, we could not pay for that delivery time but we would still pay for any associated work that was still completed.
  • If you are unable to give teaching opportunities to those who might have expected it (and who need the income), could you remind them about student hardship funds.

June Open Days

It has been agreed that we should cancel these but the Recruitment team are working on a range of digital resources to support students thinking about their University choices

Off Campus Accommodation

Liberty and Unite have agreed to release students from their accommodation contracts. Private Landlords are being asked to do the same.

Incase you lose track of messages that I’ve been sending, you’ll find them all available here

Stay well and stay safe and I hope that while staying with the Government restrictions, you get some time to enjoy the beautiful spring weather.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE