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Heads of Department Message 27 April


Just some further updates for you:

Shape of the Academic Year

Thanks to all who have sent in comments on our thinking about the shape of the coming academic year – our Project Board is meeting tomorrow for its first scoping meeting. I will continue to keep you updated and we will continue to seek your views. We won’t be able to do everything that every department may want, but we will be looking for a solution that works in the best interests of students, staff and other stakeholders.

Video-Conferencing Software

Many of us are using software such as Zoom for meetings and events, alongside Microsoft Teams. The University is in the process of getting a site license for Zoom so staff and students can use it for time-unlimited, multi-participant events. But in the meantime, some of us have access and many are using it free-of-charge. There have been a couple of security incidents with Zoom where an uninvited individual has disrupted meetings. Can you remind colleagues about the importance of considering security issues when using Zoom or other similar pieces of software – especially where events are advertised to a wider audience. As a reminder, there was specific guidance on Zoom on Insite last week – details below.

Safe use of Zoom
Are you using Zoom to stay in contact at the moment? See our guidelines for safe and secure use.

Financial Planning

You may have seen some of the announcements that other Universities have been making about their financial position. We are not yet in a position to discuss our finances in any detail ad we are still working on financial planning and associated contingencies. We are already facing a significant loss of income and increased costs in the current financial year, and you’ll be aware that we have been doing a lot to try to get an up to date forecast for the year end. Much is still uncertain but we expect a very, very significantly reduced surplus at the end of this financial year (lost accommodation fees, lost conferencing and related CCSG income, extra costs from home working etc).

There continues to be much uncertainty about the impact of CV19 on recruitment. Many analyses in the UK and beyond point to a major loss of international students, and we are all modelling a range of recruitment scenarios. A fall of 50% in new international students is a commonly modelled scenario but some market research is suggesting that the reduction could be larger. There is more optimism with respect to home UG students, although there are still concerns that some students might chose to defer their University place of a year or longer.

We have been looking at financial projections for next year based on possible recruitment scenarios. You’ll recall that I mentioned that we are in a relative strong position (and we are) , but nevertheless, we face some real difficulties given the risk to international student recruitment. We are looking carefully at work to support recruitment (eg the new pre sessional English programme, the alumni scholarship scheme etc), but we are still expecting a significant drop in income – particularly from reduced fee income, but also from the loss of CCSG income.

We are looking at a range of options in terms of cost savings – we will continue the recruitment pause; we will need to look very carefully at all discretionary expenditure; we’ve cut back on the capital plan, we are using Government support schemes and we will look to increase borrowing. We will need to ensure that we have sufficient cash to meet our outgoings and we’ll also need to try to balance expenditure to income as far as we possibly can.

And as soon as I can give more definite information and further details, I will do.

Next Year’s Academic Promotions Round

A few people have started to ask whether we will be proceeding with the next academic promotions round (September 2020). I’m conscious that we do need to take a position on this – and we will do shortly, so please could I ask for your patience for a bit longer on this one.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE