In her latest blog, Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Karen Cox gives an assurance that she will continue to press for a consideration of alternative options by UUK, UCU and the USS. Tomorrow (Friday 23 February) she will be meeting with Universities UK and vice-chancellors from across the sector and will ensure that Kent’s voice is among those calling for a resumption of national discussions on the future of the USS pension.
Following her recent letter to staff concerning the national situation on USS pensions and the industrial action which some UCU members will be taking from tomorrow, the Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Karen Cox has today written to the Chief Executive of Universities UK to express the University’s deep frustration at the way national negotiations appear to have stalled.
In her letter, she says: “We are working hard to mitigate the impact on our students while maintaining high academic standards but, given that we are not free to resolve this issue at a local level, we remain deeply frustrated by the apparent deadlock in discussions at national level.
“We agree that the proposals put forward by UCU are unaffordable and, here at Kent, they would add £4.5m to our staff costs, which is not sustainable. However, we also believe there may be opportunities that may provide some basis for renewed discussions with the UCU and we are not clear whether these have yet been explored.
“We recognise that there are pressures from the Pensions Regulator and from other member universities to ensure that the scheme has a lower risk profile and that the Joint Negotiating Committee has had to balance the competing views. We all wish to see a sustainable pension scheme that does not require revision every few years, with the uncertainty and disruption that would be brought by this. However, you will recall that we have consistently raised questions over the decision to de-risk the USS investment strategy with UUK and directly with USS.
“The areas that I feel might be explored further include:
- whether there is scope for deferring the implementation of the de-risking of the investment strategy, given that it largely drives the increase in the projected deficit. It would make sense to revisit the discussions on risk in an informed and measured manner, and to fully consider a range of options including the re-introduction of some element of Defined Benefits into the scheme if investment returns exceed the 2017 assumptions.
- whether there might also be further consultation with employers as to whether some limited additional contribution might be made should the currently proposed changes go ahead.”
I am writing to acknowledge the difficult situation we all find ourselves in with regard to the national situation on USS pensions. I absolutely respect colleagues’ right to take action in the way they are, in response to a situation that we all thought had been resolved a few years ago now. I and many of us across the University have urged for, and will continue to urge for, ongoing discussions at national level to resolve this issue and have consistently raised questions over the decision to de-risk the USS investment strategy with UUK and USS. However, we recognise that there are pressures from the Pensions Regulator and from other member universities to ensure that the scheme has a lower risk profile and that the Joint Negotiating Committee has had to balance the competing views. We all wish to see a sustainable pension scheme that does not require revision every few years, with the uncertainty and disruption that would be brought by this.
In the meantime we are seeking to mitigate, as far as is possible, any impact of the proposed industrial action on our students by implementing approaches adopted in the past at Kent. We will keep our colleagues and our students up to date as the situation relating to any strike action unfolds. Please visit the following web pages for more information and our position statement on this issue: www.kent.ac.uk/human-resources/pensions/uss-industrial-action2018/
Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President
The Learning & Organisational Development team has been developing a Women’s Leadership programme. This pilot programme has been targeted at women across the University both professional and academic staff and who have previously completed the University’s LASR (Leadership for Areas of Significant Responsibility) programme.
The purpose of this programme, is to deliver four high level workshops, each individually designed to complement and enhance the learning from the central LASR programme, whilst exploring new innovative leadership capabilities exclusively for women leaders at Kent, so they feel equipped, and empowered to challenge the current leadership gender imbalance.
The first workshop took place in January which included an external facilitator discussing Women’s Leadership: Perception vs Reality. The feedback received from the cohort was very encouraging and positive:
“Excellent opportunity to share views and experiences”
“Chance to understand and work on the issues faced by women outside the university, because it put our experience at Kent into perspective”
“I was heartened to see the amount of support and dedication for women’s leadership in the learning and organisational development team. I thought the session with the external facilitator was very good in terms of addressing personal and emotional barriers to feeling confident at work”
There will be a further three, half-day workshops running over a five-month period, focusing on the themes of:
- Strategic Career Planning and Management
- Work life balance: The challenges and adjustments
- Leading through Change Creatively and Dynamically
The overall structure and content of the programme has been overseen by the Learning & Organisational Development team.
Any questions regarding the programme, please contact Lucy Fuller, Senior L&OD Coordinator l.d.fuller@Kent.ac.uk
As you know, industrial action called by the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) is set to begin tomorrow, Thursday 22 February. As this is a national dispute concerning a large pension scheme involving hundreds of higher education employers, we are not free to resolve this dispute on our own, or with our own staff. We remain deeply frustrated by the apparent deadlock in discussions at national level, but we are continuing to lobby those involved to restart negotiations, call-off the action and consider alternative options.
Though we can’t be sure how many members of staff will be participating, we expect many classes to go ahead as usual. The UCU has asked those members taking part to inform you of their decision already so we hope that you will not encounter classes that have been cancelled without advance notice.
We are doing everything we can to make sure that this action has as little impact on your studies as possible. Throughout the action, the University’s campuses and centres will all be open as usual with libraries, study spaces and PC rooms, student services, catering, accommodation and sports facilities operating as normal. You should also have full access to all the buildings and facilities you would expect.
We have published revised information on the action, how it might affect you, what we are doing to reduce its impact and what you can do to work through it and seek appropriate advice and support.
We recognise that this is a difficult, uncertain and worrying time for you. It is, however, vital that you continue to study as usual. Unless you are informed otherwise, you should continue to attend all timetabled classes, continue working on projects and assessments and continue to submit assessments on time.
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated wherever possible.
Dr Ruth Herbert, Lecturer in Music Performance in the School of Music and Fine Art, will perform with her trio Table Music at Schott Music, London on Friday 2 March, from 19.30-21.30.
They will be joined by renowned jazz pianist Tim Richards and Ruth’s daughter Asha Parkinson (BBC Young Jazz Musician Award semi-finalist 2016) on soprano sax for an evening of music featuring contemporary, jazz and world influences.
The evening will include commissioned works from Tim and Asha, plus works by Piazzolla and Zimmerli.
For reservations, ring Schott Music: 0207 534 0710. Tickets: £10 (full-time students £5) https://schottmusiclondon.com/
Formed early in 2017, and at core a piano trio, Table Music break new ground with a focus on new, recent and 20th century music displaying a rich mix of influences: contemporary classical, jazz and world, sometimes incorporating improvisation and other instruments. An album is planned for 2019.
As a professional pianist, Ruth has performed with various ensembles, notably recording soundtracks for silent films commissioned by the British Film Institute (BFI) with the piano trio Triptych, subsequently touring these works at major venues in the UK and USA (eg Barbican and Lincoln Centres).
Academic positions held include Head of Performance Studies at Dartington College of Arts and Lecturer in Music for the Open University. Prior to her appointment at Kent, Ruth held a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Faculty of Music, University of Oxford and a Junior Research Fellowship at Jesus College, Oxford.
The Graduate School is delighted to announce that this year’s Postgraduate Festival will kick start with a launch event on Monday 18 June from 12 noon in the Sibson building, Canterbury campus. This will be followed by a week of activities and workshops open to all PG students (schedule of events TBC).
Call for Participation
We encourage PG student support to help us deliver innovative sessions at this year’s Festival. There will be three parallel session topics during the launch event that we would welcome student participation and/or ideas to help organise.
- Frustrations of being a PG student
- A supervisor and student relationship
These three topic ideas are open to your interpretation – if you would like to get involved, contact Felicity Clifford, Postgraduate Experience Officer at email@example.com.
The Advanced Journal of Professional Practice (AJPP), a peer-reviewed online journal, seeks the articles which demonstrate new knowledge and innovations of a work-related professional practice or practical advancements. The journal allows for the sharing of experiences and gold standard practices for anyone working in a professional role and is inclusive of student dissertation papers, from all faculties across the University.
The AJPP looks for submissions that do any of the following:
- Offers a critical discussion of any area of contemporary professional practice
- Describes applications of research findings, innovation or other innovative to an area of professional practice; and particularly which might be considered and applied by analogy to other disciplines
- Brings together trans-disciplinary activities in relation to professional practice
- Explores the inter-relationship of professional practice
- Contributes to recent developing conversations within professional practice.
Submit your article at: http://journals.kent.ac.uk/index.php/ajpp
The AJPP is published by the Centre for Professional Practice (CPP). The Centre’s programmes and short courses give you the opportunity to gain academic recognition for the skills, knowledge and experience you have developed in your workplace. Find out more about our part-time, flexible BA/BSc Top-up in Professional Practice or MA/MSc Professional Practice programmes, or an online short course Introduction to Master’s-level Study: www.kent.ac.uk/cpp
Kent students and staff, along with five accompanying guests, can get discounted tickets for the Festival of Steam and Transport at The Historic Dockyard Chatham. The Festival will take place on 1 and 2 April 2018. And if you book before 18 March 2018 you will get a further 25% off.
Price if you book before 18 March:
Adult Ticket £9.00
Concession Ticket £8.00
Child Ticket £7.00
Family Ticket (2+2 or 1+3) £26.50
Xtra Child £6.00
Two Day Adult 1st & 2nd April £18.00
Two Day Concession 1st & 2nd April £15.00
Two Day Child 1st & 2nd April £11.00
Two Day Family 1st & 2nd April (2+2 or 1+3) £45.00
Two Day Xtra Child 1st & 2nd April £9.00
Price if you book after 18 March:
Adult Ticket £12.00
Concession Ticket £11.00
Child Ticket £9.50
Family Ticket (2+2 or 1+3) £35.50
Xtra Child £8.00
Two Day Adult 1st & 2nd April £25.00
Two Day Concession 1st & 2nd April £21.00
Two Day Child 1st & 2nd April £16.00
Two Day Family 1st & 2nd April (2+2 or 1+3) £63.00
Two Day Xtra Child 1st & 2nd April £13.00
You will need your Kent ID to receive these rates. Plus students come under the concession rate.
These tickets will be available to purchase on the day of visit, however you may like to obtain tickets in advance, from The Historic Dockyard Admissions Desk during normal opening hours.
Please note there is also student discount at the bars at the Food & Drink Festival section onsite at The Dockyard.
Kent is pleased to announce that Professor April McMahon, Deputy Vice-Chancellor-Education, will play a key role in a national pilot scheme for the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).
Professor McMahon has been appointed by HEFCE (Higher Education Funding Council for England) as a member of the main expert panel and Chair of the Humanities subject panel for a trial of TEF assessments at subject level.
Another former Kent colleague – Rory Murray, Kent Union President from 2016-2017 – is a member of the Medical and Health Sciences subject panel.
Fifty higher education providers are taking part in this trial, designed to test different methods for assessing university provision at subject level as part of the TEF in future years. These new assessments have the potential to offer applicants more detailed subject information before choosing where to study.
Professor McMahon, who joined the University in September 2016, was previously an Assessor for year two of the TEF in 2016/17.
She has had a distinguished academic career and is a Fellow of the British Academy. She has worked at the Universities of Cambridge and Sheffield as well as Edinburgh where she held the posts of Head of the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, Head of the College of Humanities and Social Science and Vice-Principal, Planning and Resources.
Prior to joining Kent, Professor McMahon was Vice-Chancellor at Aberystwyth for five years.
For further information on year three of the TEF and subject level pilots, and full lists of panel members, see the HEFCE website