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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

Canterbury Nightline

Canterbury Nightline – We’re here – we hear

Are you missing home? Struggling to make friends at university? Not sure who to contact about something? Feeling low or upset? If so, Nightline is here for you!

Canterbury Nightline is a student-run listening and information service. You can contact us about anything and one of our trained volunteers will help and support you. Everything you say will be completely anonymous – you don’t even have to tell us your name.

You can contact us via phone (01227 824848) or instant messenger (www.canterburynightline.org) between 20.00 and 08.00 on a Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Or email us 24/7 on listening@canterbury.nightline.ac.uk.

For more information, find us on Facebook (Canterbury Nightline) or Twitter (@CanterburyNL)

Any problem, no matter how serious or small, Nightline is there for you

BISA prize-winners 2018

Double award success for POLIR

The School of Politics and International Relations is celebrating a double success in the annual British International Studies Association (BISA) awards.

PhD student Tom Watts won the Postgraduate Excellence in Teaching International Studies Prize, while Reader in International Relations, Dr Sean Molloy was joint winner of the Susan Strange Book Prize.

The Postgraduate Excellence prize recognises postgraduate students who have contributed to the positive learning experience of students in International Studies, raised the profile of learning and teaching in International Studies and shared best practice among BISA members.

Head of School, Professor Richard Whitman describes Tom as an “extremely worthy winner”. Tom has been teaching at Kent for several years and won the University’s Social Sciences’ seminar teaching prize in 2017. His application included an exceptional commitment to reflective practice, widespread innovations and work beyond the classroom including blog posts for the BISA PGN website.

Sean Molloy received the Susan Strange Book Prize for his book Kant’s International Relations: The Political Theology of Perpetual Peace (University of Michigan Press, 2017). The prize is for the best book published in any field of international studies during 2017. The prize aims to honour the work of Susan Strange and to recognise the best current work in the discipline.

BISA is a learned society which develops and promotes the study of International Studies, Politics and related subjects through teaching, research and facilitation of contact between scholars. Find out more on its website.

Pay Gaps and Thigh Gaps: SMFA graduating Fine Art students exhibit in London

Between 6th – 10th July, Pay Gaps and Thigh Gaps, an exhibition by a group of graduating SMFA Fine Art students was on at Old Truman’s Brewery in Brick Lane, London, as part of Free Range – A season of Graduate Art & Design Exhibitions.

Established in 2001 to showcase the work of emerging creatives, thousands of students have exhibited at the shows, taking over Old Truman Brewery spaces each summer and connecting with a London audience. It aims to celebrate talent and provide a platform for UK artists beyond education. The show was extremely successful, with an amazing turn out.

SMFA Students featured were:

BA (Hon) Fine Art

Amanda Nsubuga, Alexandra Aldham, Ayesha Chouglay, Angel Obi and Rachael Willis

MA Fine Art

Deborah Abbott

About Pay Gaps and Thigh Gaps:

There seems to be a growing precedent that in order to be recognised as a female artist you must limit your practice to being ‘feminist’. But why can’t a woman speak beyond her gender to gain recognition? We are a group of proud feminists who would like to share varying concerns beyond our genitalia (and possibly surrounding our genitalia- we would like the option). From, childhood imagination, to personal illness, we come together with uniquely different practices, to support each other as artists… who happen to be female.

More at http://www.free-range.org.uk/cgi-bin/exhibition.pl?yearID=27&exhibitionID=1443  and Instagram at pay_gapsandthigh_gaps





Kent Gives Back at bOing festival August- We need you!

Kent Gives Back, in partnership with Kent Union, is a great opportunity to enhance skills and networks whilst working together for a local community cause that matters to you.

On Saturday 25 August we are asking a group of Kent students and alumni to come and support us and volunteer at the bOing! Festival from 09:00 -17:00. But, we still appreciate it if you can only come along to volunteer for a couple of hours.

The festival takes place on the beautiful University of Kent campus in Canterbury. It will be an amazing day showcasing the very best in theatre, dance, music, films and fun for all the family, packed with magical performances and experiences.

There are many volunteering opportunities with bOing! that you can get involved in, such as being a production volunteer or a technical volunteer. You will gain extraordinary insight into the running of a venue/event. We are committed to helping you develop your skills and your confidence concerning the task of your choice. You will have the opportunity to meet others with a shared passion and also watch quality performances and screenings.

Last year’s volunteer, alumna, and current PhD student, Kasia Senyszyn (Keynes 2004), said of the experience: “…it’s so much fun, it’s a valued contribution to the fantastic programme, and seeing young and old being inspired for life right here in our city was incredible. Plus I met wonderful people and watched amazing work – for free!”

Join us at this event in August, to network, donate your time and share stories with Kent students and fellow alumni. Also, join our Facebook event page to stay up to date or email alumni@kent.ac.ukclick here to register!





Nostalgia podcast with Graeme Forbes

Nostalgia podcast with Graeme Forbes

Dr Chris Deacy, Reader in Theology and Religious Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, has just released a new episode of his podcast series on ‘Nostalgia’.

In the latest instalment, Chris interviews Dr Graeme Forbes, Lecturer in the Department of Philosophy, and talks about which other professions he considered entering before becoming a professional philosopher.

Before coming to Kent Graeme worked at a small liberal arts college in Kansas which leads him to make a number of insightful comments about the differences between the US and UK university systems. Graeme has also worked for Iceland supermarket, been a delegate for the National Union of Studies, and also has experience of stand-up comedy as well as being a life member of Keele Drama Society. Graeme also discusses his Scottish ancestry and he lets us into the secrets of the ‘wall of suspicious family rivalry’. Graeme discusses the way in which a family member used to speak to him in the form of parables. This is then followed by a wider conversation about the extent to which the lack of religion was an influence on Graeme’s life and how drama was an influence on his philosophical career.

Finally, Graeme reveals why he feels the need to be an imperialist when it comes to philosophy and we learn whether, as a philosopher of time, Graeme is a backward-looking or a forward-looking type of person.


The podcast is available here.

HAY Job Description training

Learning and Organisational Development have arranged HAY Job Description training for members of staff who are involved in writing job descriptions.

Sessions are running on the 25th and 31st July.

If you would like to book a place, further details can be found on our activities calendar.

Please email us at Idev@kent.ac.uk if you would like any further information.


Learning and Organisational Development activities- July and August

Learning and Organisational Development have a number of activities taking place in July and August which are now open for bookings on our webpage.

Leading and Managing Through Change is a pilot workshop open for any managers interested in understanding more about change, the effects it has on staff and who are looking for a better understanding of effectively leading, managing and embedding change within the organisation.

We are currently improving our RPD (appraisal) process and we are running a number of workshops to update you on the changes being made. We have briefing dates available for both staff being appraised and separate sessions for managers/those who are involved in appraising people so, if you want to learn more about these changes, please sign up to one of the briefings.

Unconscious bias has been a repeated request by areas of the University recently and we are pleased to be able to offer some workshops through the summer months. Open to any members of staff, these sessions will provide a general awareness of unconscious bias in the workplace,  the impacts it may have on our behaviour and decision making and will help increase awareness of strategies to identify and manage our biases. Provided by Advance HE these sessions are likely to be popular, so please book your space soon.

All these activities can be booked via our calendar which can be accessed here.

Staff Connect

Staff Connect Phase 2 now underway

Last year the University launched a new integrated HR and Payroll system – Staff Connect. This introduced a new HR and Payroll system, management reports and the foundations of employee self-service.

The next phase of work on Staff Connect is now getting underway. It will see the phased introduction over the next year or so of further functionality to the system, enabling an automated, streamlined, single point of entry for many of our HR functions.

The aim of the second phase of Staff Connect is to streamline our HR processes and provide employees and managers with a one-stop-shop for most of your HR-related activity.

By the end of the second phase of development to Staff Connect you will be able to view and book onto training courses provided by Learning & Organisational Development (L&OD) and request annual leave via the system.

If you line manage others, Staff Connect will be where you go to authorise training and leave requests, record some forms of absence and you will have the option to log Appraisals/RPDs.  If you are a recruiting manager, Phase 2 will also see the replacement of the current i-grasp recruitment system.

The first of the new functionality to launch will be Training Administration – in September 2018.  This new element to Staff Connect will replace the existing system used by L&OD for training course administration, registration and evaluation of courses managed and delivered centrally by them.

If you are a regular user of the courses run by L&OD, either as a manager or as a member of staff, or are just interested in seeing how the new Staff Connect solution will work, user testing/training sessions, of about two hours in length, are being organised for each day of the week commencing 13 August.  To indicate that you would be interested in attending one of these sessions please contact Su Westerman (Staff Connect Communications and Engagement Manager).

If you have any questions or queries regarding any element of the project please also contact Su Westerman.  Alternatively, you can find out more at the Staff Connect Information website.




AUA logo

New AUA Fellows

Congratulations to Alison Mansell, Student Conduct and Complaints Manager, and James Redmond, School and Business Manager, SSPSSR, who have both been made Fellows of the Association of University Administrators.

They join a growing list of AUA Fellows at Kent, which also includes: Wayne Campbell, Director of Student Services; Chloé Gallien, Master of Keynes College; Melissa Mulhall, Head of Administration, Social Sciences; Linda Lough, Head of Administration, Sciences; and Helena Torres, Centre Administration Manager, Brussels.

The AUA is the professional association for University professional services staff, with over 4,000 members drawn from all levels of University administration and management. AUA Fellowships are awarded based on criteria including continuing professional development, professional knowledge and capability.

Kent has 65 AUA members drawn from schools, faculties, Student Services, Information Services and Academic Division. Kent is joint 6th nationally in terms of its membership numbers. Earlier this summer, Kent Business School hosted the second AUA South Regional Symposium attended by 57 AUA members and non-members representing 13 Universities.

AUA South Regional Symposium May 2018

Our VC and President, Professor Karen Cox addressing the AUA South Regional Symposium 

A re-launch of the AUA@Kent network is planned for the autumn term as part of our aspirations to develop a wider range of local activities and events and raise the profile of the AUA across the University

Watch this space for more details!