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Heads of Department Message 5 May


Some information that you might find useful.

Recruitment and Admissions

The recruitment team are continuing to engage with offer holders through a variety of channels with web chats being particularly popular. They are in contact with the various bodies who sponsor students and they are sharing the general message about our intention to start the academic year in autumn with students on campus. There is work in progress to reassure students in China (and indeed other major markets) about the quality of a Warwick education and about the safety and the attraction of a campus environment. We continue to work closely with our recruitment agents and partners in key markets.

The attached infographic might be interesting – we do work with IDP in the recruitment area; their survey is one of the most upbeat in terms of student intentions, although the positive figures overall may be somewhat offset by the less favourable perception of the UK compared to Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Many other surveys – including QS are much less sanguine and point to the risk of shortfalls of over 50% in international students overall.

We are currently looking to put in place a framework to guide confirmation and clearing. You will be aware of the recent news about the Government support package (which essentially helps with cash flow issues by bringing forward SLC payments and some QR monies). This package effectively requires us to implement an approach to the recruitment of home students that will deliver a maximum intake of our target +5%. Intake predictions are complex given the difficult environment in terms of student decision making and the uncertainty about the impact of the planned approach for assigning grades to students who are unable to complete their A-levels (or equivalents). The implications for departments will vary according to current recruitment position. For a small number of departments there will be the possibility of an overshoot in terms of home students without a need to consider middles. In others, even if middles are accepted there will still be a shortfall and the opportunities in clearing may be limited.

We must try to enrol our home target +5% at the institutional level. We will not face any regulatory restrictions in terms of international students and the concern here will be around the numbers who are willing to start as planned. The Admissions team will contact you to talk through any specific issues for your department once UEB has approved the overall framework. And as we get more information about the factors influencing applicant decision making we will review the details of the planned approach.

HoDs Forum on Monday

This will be an opportunity for a discussion around the initial financial projections for next year and the ways in which we might address the expected shortfall in income. While we retain some optimism about our financial position at the end of the current financial year (a small surplus), next year will be challenging and we will need to look for some significant savings. But more of that on Monday.

Academic Probation

I’ve previously mentioned that we would endeavour to take into account the impact on probationers of the current disruption (including the postponement of study leave). Given the length of time that most academic staff will be required to work from home and the potential scale of the impact of CV19 on those colleagues who are in their probationary period, we’ve decided that it would be more sensible to offer all probationers the option of an automatic 6 month extension to their probationary period, if they require it. If the extension is not required, individuals may still complete probation in the planned timeframe.

Academic Promotions

The issue of the timing of the academic promotion round has been raised in a number of contexts – most recently at Social Inclusion Committee. Given the current challenging circumstances and the expectation that working from home will continue for a while, we are concerned that it will be difficult for individuals to prepare high quality promotion cases, and we are particularly concerned about the impact this may have from an equality perspective. It is well known that women have more caring responsibilities, and this may be exacerbated at the present time with the added pressures of factors such as home-schooling and caring. In addition, many colleagues will be required to focus much of their attention on the delivery of teaching and learning related activity and may not have the time to give their promotions applications they deserve.

Starting the promotions round as normal (with the end September deadline) risks disadvantaging some, if not all applicants, and there are particular concerns about the impact on female staff. UEB-Gold has therefore agreed that we should delay the 2020-21 promotions round.

Given the current uncertainty, we are not going to confirm a new timetable just yet and we will review the position in due course. But, the current aspirations would be that we set a revised deadline for promotions application at either end December ofr end January and we then accelerate processing time frames to allow promotions to take effect from 1 August 2021. We would expect that the promotions process would recognise the work that individuals have undertaken during the current crisis.

As was the case with the study leave decision, I will send round a separate email that HoDs can use/adapt to communicate this message to their colleagues if it would be helpful.



Professor Christine Ennew OBE