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Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor

VC’s blog: renewed national discussions needed on USS pensions

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.

Read VC’s blog: renewed national discussions needed on USS pensions

You can find all the latest information for staff about the proposed pension changes and the industrial action on the HR website including the latest update from UUK.

Featured post
Professor Karen Cox

USS pension situation – staff message from Karen Cox

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

SMFA shows

SMFA Postgraduate Presentations Wednesday 23 May

The annual School of Music and Fine Art (SMFA) Postgraduate Presentations take place on Wednesday 23 May in the Galvanising Shop Performance Space at Medway campus.

The Postgraduate Presentations are an excellent opportunity for SMFA to celebrate the successes of our postgraduates and the contribution they make to the life, work and academic community of the school.

The day will run from 10.30am until approximately 3pm and includes a range of presentations from students studying Music and Fine Art MA and PhD programmes, as well as a participatory tour of a Fine Art Degree showpiece from a MA Fine Art student.

There will be an opportunity for the audience to ask questions after each presentation and a lunch will be provided for presenters and the audience at which further discussion can take place.

If you would like to attend contact the SMFA postgraduate team or visit the SMFA Facebook page.


Participants needed for study on biofeedback of eating behaviour

Researchers from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts are seeking participants to take part in a study relating to biofeedback of eating behaviour.

This study aims to investigate the interaction of users with biosensor driven feedback during the consumption of a small meal. Participants are required to take part in a single study session lasting no more than 60 minutes.

You will be asked to consume a selection of free food during the session, including pizza, jam sandwiches, yoghurt, apples and water. In return, you will receive a £10 Amazon e-voucher on the successful completion of the study session.

If you would like to learn more or volunteer to take part in the study complete the online form or email Ben Nicholls.

Jolly Sailor Pub in Canterbury

Last pubTALK of the year – Monday 21 May

Please join us next Monday (21 May) at The Jolly Sailor, Canterbury for the last pubTALK of the academic year!

We are excited to welcome Professor Alex Stevens who will be joining us to discuss ‘Countering drug deaths’.

As usual, pubTALKs will be in the upstairs function room at The Jolly Sailor, Canterbury. Doors open at 19.00 for a 19.30 start and entry is free of charge. Everyone is encouraged to stay behind after the talks to continue the discussions for a drink or two!

Please feel free to invite colleagues and friends – all are welcome. You can also get up to date information via our website or mailing list.

We’re looking forward to seeing you there.
The Q-Step team

DIARY DATE: pubTALKs will be back again from October 2018 when they will be held on the second Monday of each month.


Silke Grygier

Survivors’ Forum Friday 18 May

Silke Grygier, founder of the Not The Only One Project, will be facilitating the next Survivor Forum from 18.30-20.30 on Friday 18 May in Rutherford Ext 12.

The main aim of this format is to create a safe space for survivors of sexual abuse to come together, meet others, share experiences, and discuss the issues and themes which affect them. The experience of being in a space with other survivors, can be hugely empowering for survivors and can alleviate common feelings of shame, stigma, and isolation, and foster experiences of connection and feeling understood.

In the Survivors’ Collective, Silke has facilitated forums on themes such as ‘access to healthcare’, ‘media representation’, ‘our experience in education & the workplace’, and workshops such as ‘speaking out’, ‘connecting to our body’, as well as a ‘giving testimony session’ where survivors had the opportunity to tell their story.

Not The Only One​ is a project designed to reach out to university students who have experienced childhood sexual abuse (CSA). As a group, CSA survivors are often invisible, not only to society, but also to each other, and suffer stigma and isolation. At the same time, survivors tend to experience great difficulties especially in young adulthood, and are often left with a lack of understanding and support. Through workshops, presentations, info-stalls, support groups, open forums, and therapeutic support this project aims to raise awareness, create spaces for survivors to come together, and offer specialist support.

Further Survivor Forums will take place on the following dates:

  • 15 June (Rutherford Ext 12)
  • 20 July (Grimond Seminar 2)

You can find out more about Not The Only One here. You can also contact Debbie Worthington, Student EDI Officer for further information.

Managing Mental Health for Line Managers

Learning and Organisational Development is running six sessions on Managing Mental Health for Line Managers, which will take place on:

Tuesday 12 June am or pm session

Thursday 14 June am or pm session

Tuesday 19 June am or pm session

The sessions are targeted at members of staff with management responsibilities. If you would like to attend a session, book via the Learning and Organisational Development website.

Dr Xiaofan Amy Li

Dr Xiaofan Amy Li awarded travel fund

Dr Xiaofan Amy Li, Lecturer in Comparative Literature, has been awarded the Chiang Ching-Kuo Foundation travel fund by the European Association for Chinese Studies (EACS).

The funding will allow Amy to undertake research trips to sinological libraries within the UK. She will use this opportunity to consult scholarship on classical Chinese literature and its translation history, to complete a book manuscript she is co-authoring with colleagues at the University of Oxford.

The book is provisionally entitled Translation and Literature in East Asia: Between Visibility and Invisibility. It will ask: What specific problems do the translation and circulation of Chinese-script-based literature pose? What does translation render visible and invisible, especially if we compare various modern translations of classical Chinese literature into modern vernacular Chinese (baihua), modern Japanese, English, and French? Finally, do literary translational practices in pre-modern East Asia say something about a world literature before (rather than in) the global age?

Jordan Norris

Employee award for placement student Jordan Norris

Jordan Norris, a Computer Science with a Year in Industry student, has won an employee award for exceptional contribution during his industrial placement.

Jordan is working at Zest The Agency as part of his degree and was given the quarterly ‘Besty Zesty’ award, after being nominated by his colleagues.

He said: “I was presented with the Besty Zesty statue, engraved with ‘Award Winning Effort’ and a cash bonus. When given the award, it was announced that the decision was unanimous and that I received it for the exceptional effort and contribution I had made to recent projects – DS Virgin Racing’s Season 4 updates to their website and Zest The Agency’s own website rebuild – especially noting that the Zest site was coded single-handedly and largely out of office hours.

“I had been putting in lots of late nights and long days in order to meet the strict deadlines of such a big client (DS Virgin Racing), so it was warming to be shown such appreciation, and I was proud to have made such a good impression as a relatively new member of the company.”

The School of Computing sends over 100 students on placements every year. The School has strong links with industry in Kent, nationally and internationally and has two dedicated placement officers who help students secure roles. The Industrial placement programme is available to all undergraduates and taught Master’s students in the School.

Paul March-Russell on the Arthur C. Clarke Award

Dr Paul March-Russell, Specialist Associate Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature and editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, is on the judging panel for the Arthur C Clarke Award for science fiction literature for the second year running.

The shortlist for 2018 has just been announced. The six shortlisted books for the best science-fiction novel published in 2017 are:

  • Robert Cargill, Sea of Rust (Gollancz)
  • Anne Charnock, Dreams Before the Start of Time (47 North)
  • Omar El Akkad, American War (Picador)
  • Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia (Sceptre)
  • Jennie Melamed, Gather the Daughters (Tinder Press)
  • Jeff VanderMeer, Borne (Fourth Estate).

‘The 2018 shortlist is perhaps one of the most eclectic ever,’ commented Paul on the shortlist, ‘From a giant flying bear in a post-apocalyptic landscape, to the future of reproductive technology; from an absurdist satire on the meaning of existence, to a dystopian society where paedophilia is a virtue not a sin; and from the prospect of a second American Civil War to a post-human world of scavenging robots and global AIs, this is a list that demonstrates the imaginative possibilities of sf being written today.’

The winner will be announced at a public award ceremony held in partnership with Foyles Bookshop, Charing Cross Road, London, on Wednesday 18 July 2018.

Further details of the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the shortlist are available at: www.clarkeaward.com

Barely More Empty book cover

Angelos Evangelou publishes new translation

Dr Angelos Evangelou, Associate Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature, has recently translated Greek-Cypriot poet Andreas Georgallides for a bilingual (Greek and English) edition of the collection ελάχιστα περισσότερο άδειο [barely more empty] (Iambos Publications, 2018).

The collection is abstract and minimalistic, yet loaded with autobiographical and romantic undertones. As Georgallides writes in his preface,  the poems ‘do not demand comprehension nor do they claim hospitality in the space of meaning’.

The book was launched in Nicosia, Cyprus at an event organised by the Union of Cyprus Writers, and is currently being considered for the Nana (Athena) P. Kontou Award (Academy of Athens, Greece) and for the ‘State Poetry Award’ (Cultural Services, Ministry of Education and Culture, Cyprus).

For more information, please see here.

Shane Weller book

Shane Weller on Beckett’s Endgame

Shane Weller, Professor of Comparative Literature and Head of the School of European Culture and Languages, has just co-authored a new book entitled The Making of Samuel Beckett’s ‘Fin de partie’/’Endgame’ (University Press Antwerp and Bloomsbury, 2018).

Originally written in French and first performed at the Royal Court Theatre in 1957, Samuel Beckett’s Endgame is widely regarded as one of his most important works. The new publication is a comprehensive reference guide to the history of Beckett’s text.  It includes a complete descriptive catalogue of available relevant manuscripts, including French and English texts, alternative drafts and notebook pages, as well as a critical reconstruction of the history of the text, charting its genesis through the process of composition to its full publication history.

For more details, please see the publisher’s website.