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.
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
In this week’s interview, Chris interviews a member of professional services staff at the University of Kent, Silvia Rasca.
Silvia has recently joined Kent as Assistant Project Manager for the Integrating Student Frontline Services Project. In this fascinating interview, Silvia talks about her journey to Canterbury from Romania and the political turmoil in her native country in the late 1980s, when she was born, and the impact it had on her and her family in the years that followed. Silvia reflects on how she has applied the goals and values instilled in her by her family to her new home, where Silvia discusses the importance of challenging and pushing barriers.
Silvia talks about keeping a diary and she explains why she tries not to have any regrets in life. Her grandparents are a particular inspiration for her, and Silvia tells us the secret of why her grandparents’ chickens had to be spoken to in Hungarian. Her father was a professional volleyball player and Silvia talks about how she used to accompany him to matches. We learn about the type of music that her parents disapproved of her listening to, and she confesses to once having taped over her father’s beloved Pink Floyd cassette tape with Aqua’s ‘Barbie Girl’.
Silvia talks about the role that production and scriptwriting played in her degree and why she enjoyed standing in front of a class as it exposed herself to vulnerable situations which enabled her to ‘rise to the occasion’.
The interview concludes with some candid reflections on the role of activism in her native Romania and we learn whether Silvia is a looking back or a looking forward type of person.
The podcast is available here:
Researchers in the Psychology department are running a large-scale project looking at Social Communication Across the Lifespan; we are currently looking for our last few participants, particularly aged 26-49 years (the study has recruited participants aged 10-90+, and we have had a great response from these age groups, so are looking specifically for these ‘working age group’ participants).
The study involves two testing sessions of 2- 2.5 hours, where you would be asked to complete a series of computer-based tasks. You would be paid £30 cash, and we can schedule testing around your availability (including evenings and weekends).
Due to the nature of the tasks, participants must be native English-speakers, have normal vision (or correct-to-normal, e.g., with glasses or contact lenses), no learning disabilities, no current mental health diagnosis, and no diagnosis of autism, epilepsy, dementia, or history of stroke.
If you are interested and would like to find out more, please email us at: CogSoCoAGE@kent.ac.uk and we will send you more information about taking part in this study!
Dr Chris Deacy, Reader in Theology and Religious Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, has released another instalment of his podcast series on ‘Nostalgia’ interviewing the Reverend Dr Alan Le Grys, who taught as Specialist Associate Lecturer in the Department of Religious Studies.
In a very candid interview, Alan talks about growing up in the South London suburbs on the edge of the largest council estate in the UK in a house that, when he was young, was thought might be haunted, and where he felt the presence of his deceased grandparents. Alan reflects on how, at school, he was the last child to be picked in football, but has in later years embraced running. He has, for example, run the London Marathon for charity. Alan also talks about the ritual of ‘dressing the part’, and offers the aphorism that one needs to ‘Make something routine so that it becomes so much part of your rhythm that you are freed to enter into it.’
Alan discusses the role that music has played in his life, principally in the form of ‘Bach, Beethoven and the Beatles’, and we learn which of the Beatles’ eras he considers to be ‘headache music’, and why. He also talks about why he returned to playing the piano in later years to Grade 5 standard, and how he has also recently accumulated around 10 hours of flying experience as a student pilot.
Despite having three degrees from King’s College London, Alan doesn’t see himself as an academic (leading to a riveting conversation around the theme of ‘imposter’ and ‘fraud’ syndrome) and had never considered either ordination or even going to university until it was suggested to him by his school teachers.
Alan talks movingly about the death of his father, and how his ‘world totally collapsed’, which happened while he was in the midst of writing an essay during his undergraduate degree on the Resurrection, and which he refers to as a ‘deep, formative experience’. Then, in the final part of the interview, we discuss the art of competitiveness and whether it is the process or the end goal that matters, and the way in which he believes the past can be thought of as being reframed by the future.
One of the leading British Baritones of the 20th century, Sir Thomas Allen, will be performing works from a recently recorded CD including composers such as George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Jerome Kern. Taking place on Friday 21 September at 7.30pm, this is an evening not to be missed!
Sir Thomas Allen is an established star of the great opera houses of the world. At the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, where in 2011 he celebrated the 40th anniversary of his debut with the company, he has sung over fifty roles. The same year he also celebrated the 30th anniversary of his debut at the Metropolitan Opera, New York. He returns to the Metropolitan Opera in 17/18 for his acclaimed portrayal of Baron Zeta (The Merry Widow).
In addition to his dizzying list of performances in iconic roles in his 40+ year career, Allen has shot into 2018 off 2017 opera appearances that include Music Master (Ariadne auf Naxos) at Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Roc in The Exterminating Angel (Thomas Adés) at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.
An Evening with Sir Thomas Allen will be held in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall at Gulbenkian on Friday 21 September. Tickets: Full £15 / Student £10. For more information and tickets please visit the Gulbenkian website or call 01227 769075.
Learning & Organisational Development are pleased to announce that the University has achieved Level 1 of the Disability Confident Grading Scheme and we are now accredited with ‘Disability Confident Committed’.
Through Disability Confident, we will work to ensure that disabled people and those with long-term health conditions have the opportunities to fulfil their potential and realise their aspirations. Recognition of this scheme will help us to recruit and retain from the widest possible pool of talent and help develop our valuable skills and experience.
As a Level 1 Disability Confident Committed Employer we have committed to:
- ensuring our recruitment process is inclusive and accessible
- communicating and promoting vacancies
- offering an interview to disabled people who meet the essential criteria
- anticipating and providing reasonable adjustments as required
- supporting any exiting employee who acquires a disability or long-term health condition, enabling them to stay in work
- arranging activities that will make a difference for disabled people.
The Certification (pictured) is valid for 12 months and we can now display the Disability Confident Committed badge on University stationery, correspondence and websites.
Please review where and how you can use this badge within your own processes.
Our work will not stop here.
To demonstrate our continued commitment, during the next 12 months we will review the criteria that is required for us to attain the level 2 certification to become a Disability Confident Employer. We will create an action plan and will work across the University with different departments and the EDI staff networks with the aim to achieve the next level of certification.
The Centre for English and World Languages is delighted to be offering 20-week courses in British Sign Language starting in October 2018.
The course is run by Palm Deaf BSL Training and will allow participants to achieve a Level 1 Award which is accredited by Signature (the awarding body for BSL qualifications).
Due to popular demand, we are now running two groups:
For more information please visit the CEWL website.
Alternatively, if you have any questions, please email email@example.com
Join us for a screening of two fascinating short research documentaries over lunchtime at our Canterbury and Medway campuses on Monday 17 September and Thursday 20 September.
Made for KMTV, each film will last around 12 minutes followed by a guided debate with the scientists, contributors and filmmakers involved. There will also be a small gallery showcasing some of the public engagement work being undertaken by researchers at Kent.
Film 1: The Mohawk of Consciousness
What does it mean to be conscious? How do we know if someone is a conscious entity? For centuries, human consciousness has continued to both intrigue and baffle.
This film follows the research of Kent computational neuroscientist Dr Srivas Chennu who, using advanced electroencephalogram technology (EEG), is able to look inside the brain of vegetative state patients who are otherwise unable to respond and appear unaware of their surroundings.
Dr Chennu’s research has revealed remarkable levels of activity in patients that are often indisguishable from healthy controls. Today it is estimated that up to 40 per-cent of patients in a vegetative state have some hidden level of consciousness but are effectively “locked in”.
The documentary explores the increasing reliance on medical technology to make life and death decisions and in doing so delves into one of the most ethically, socially and clinically complex areas faced by the modern medical community.
Film 2: IVF – Science & Society
Louise Brown, the world’s first IVF baby celebrated her 40th birthday in July. Since then more than six million IVF babies have been born and the technique has evolved considerably. This short documentary will explore the world of IVF from the scientist’s laboratory bench to the private clinic.
World leading IVF scientists Professor Darren Griffin (Kent) and Professor Alan Thornhill will explore the science behind the procedure and talk about the techniques and advances being developed globally.
The film includes touching interviews with a mother about to have her first pre-natal scan, and a father of two teenage sons both conceived by IVF. As the NHS slashes IVF funding, the film also explores how this decision will impact on people and sectors of society that don’t have the funds for private treatments and asks if it’s time for the Government to review the current regulatory framework.
The Medway screening will take place from 12.00 to 13.00 on Monday September 17 in the Dockyard Church at Chatham Maritime Historic Dockyard and you can register for this here.
The Canterbury screening will take place from 12.00 to 13.00 on Thursday September 20 in the Gulbenkian Cinema and you can register here.
Entry is free and open to anyone but places are limited. Please reserve a seat by booking through either the Eventbrite Medway or Canterbury page or by contacting Jill Hurst – firstname.lastname@example.org or ext 3907.
The Mohawk of Consciousness: A new way of analysing brain activity shows a striking difference in the brain activity of two vegetative patients (left and middle). Despite being unresponsive, the patient in the middle had brain activity similar to that of a healthy adult (right).
A new Crowdfunding platform set up by the Development Office to support student projects at Kent has successfully raised thousands to build an environmentally sustainable round wooden timber-framed building – using materials taken from the University’s own coppiced woodland.
This exciting project to create a teaching, learning, and social space set within an ethnobotanical garden was launched at the School of Architecture End of Year Show and quickly took off.
‘We raised well over the £3,000 target in a matter of weeks and thanks to generous match-funding this ambitious and ground-breaking project will enter the building phase at the start of next term,’ said Alex Perkins from the Development Office.
There will now be a further launch to coincide with Freshers Week and the Development Office will be working with Kent Union to choose student-led projects to fund raise through the platform.
The University will be hosting its annual Foundation day lecture on 28 September with a talk from The Rt Hon Lord David Willetts.
Lord Willetts is currently the Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation and Chair of the British Science Association, as well as the Chancellor of the University of Leicester.
Foundation Day is held each year in celebration of the foundation of the University of Kent.
The talk will be held in the Colyer-Fergusson Concert Hall. No booking is required but seating will be on a first come, first served basis.
The Canterbury Society and the University of Kent are delighted to invite you to attend this Distinguished Visitor Lecture with special guest speaker, Griff Rhys Jones – writer, actor, comedian, television presenter and the President of Civic Voice, the national body for civic societies such as the Canterbury Society.
The lecture will take place on Monday 3 September from 18.30-19.30 in the Templeman Lecture Theatre and is entitled ‘The Future For Our Towns and Cities’.
Griff Rhys-Jones is well known for his concern about the quality of our towns and cities, particularly historic cities such as Canterbury. In this talk he will share his concerns about the way the planning system has handed control of the way our cities are being developed to the construction industry and what this means for the future of our towns and cities.
No booking is required. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and this lecture is open to students, alumni and the general public.