Monthly Archives: December 2020

Coronavirus

Spring return update for staff – 31 December 2020

[05.01.2021 Please see latest update following the announcement of a third national lockdown which supersedes the 31 December update.]

From Alison Ross-Green, Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development.

Dear Colleague,

I hope you have had an enjoyable and restful winter vacation.

You will be aware that the Government announced yesterday a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in England as result of the rising infection rates.

As part of these restrictions, the Government has requested that universities delay the return of the majority of students to campus after the winter vacation. The Government has stressed that university campuses are regarded as COVID-safe and this is simply an effort to reduce the number of people traveling across the country at this time.

This means that we have asked students not return to campus or to their term time address for the start of term unless they are studying medicine or social work or fall under the following exemptions including

  • being an international student who is unable to make reasonable adjustments to their travel arrangements
  • not having access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in their current location
  • requiring additional support, including mental health support
  • being on a placement where the provider is permitted to open under the current restrictions
  • being a postgraduate student and requiring specialist facilities for their work

You can read the email we are sending to students online.

The start of term remains 18 January 2021, and we have been asked by the Government to ensure that all teaching is online for the first few weeks. Students have been told that they are expected to attend all timetabled sessions.

While the latest position replaces previous plans for a staggered return to campus, I hope that the preparations that have already been made to move teaching online for the start of term will mean that we can comply with the Government’s recommendations without increasing workloads.

We have been informed that the return to campus will be paused at least until the week commencing 25 January. The Government will review this decision in the week commencing 18 January. We will update you shortly after.

We will continue to offer asymptomatic COVID testing for staff and those students who have to return to their term time address. Please be assured that there will be sufficient booking slots available for all those who need them once we are all back on campus.

University staff who are needed on campus to provide essential services continue to be regarded as essential workers and can travel to and from work. Please ensure you carry University ID (such as your Kent One card) on your commute. If you are working on campus, we strongly recommend that you book an asymptomatic COVID test on campus if you have not already done so,

I also wanted to flag that we are aware that that some staff will be impacted by the delayed reopening of schools in Kent. I would like to reassure you that the University has measures in place to support staff during times such as this and to ensure that your pay is protected as far as possible if you are unable to work due to the impact of COVID.  If you are affected, please liaise with your line manager as soon as possible.

We will continue to keep in touch with staff and students over the next few weeks as we develop our plans in response to this latest change and will update the staff coronavirus webpages with new information as it becomes available.

My best wishes to you and your family.

Yours sincerely

Alison

Alison Ross-Green | Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development

Coronavirus

Spring return update for students – 31 December 2020

[05.01.2021 Please see latest update following the announcement of a third national lockdown which supersedes the 31 December update.

01.01.2021 Please note – we have now received a letter to all students from Michelle Donelan MP, Minster of State for Universities which accompanies the update below.]

From Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience.

Dear Student,

I hope you have had an enjoyable and restful winter vacation.

You will be aware that the Government announced yesterday a further tightening of COVID-19 restrictions in England as result of the rising infection rates.

As part of these restrictions, the Government has requested that universities delay the return of the majority of students to campus after the winter vacation. The Government has stressed that our campuses are regarded as COVID-safe and this is simply an effort to reduce the number of people traveling across the country at this time.

This means that, if you left your term time address for the vacation, you should not return to campus or to your term time address for the start of term unless you:

  • are studying medicine or social work
  • are an international student who is unable to make reasonable adjustments to your travel arrangements
  • do not have access to appropriate study spaces or facilities in your current location
  • require additional support, including mental health support
  • are on a placement where the provider is permitted to open under the current restrictions
  • are a postgraduate student and require specialist facilities for your work.

If you have remained on campus over the vacation, please be assured that we will continue to provide our vacation facilities at both Canterbury and Medway. I would encourage you to stay on campus as much as possible. If you have not already done so, it is strongly recommended that you book an asymptomatic COVID test at one of the campus-based sites at Canterbury or Medway.

If you are a commuting student, please do not come to campus unless the above exceptions apply to you.

If you are among those who need to return to campus, you are strongly advised to take a COVID test before making the journey back to your term time address, if asymptomatic testing is available to you locally. If this is not possible, please self-isolate on arrival for 10 days, or until you are tested on campus.

The start of term remains 18 January 2021, and all teaching will be provided online for the first few weeks of term. You will be expected to attend all timetabled sessions.

This latest position replaces our previous plans for a staggered return to campus that I communicated to you before Christmas.

We have been informed that the return to campus will be paused at least until the week commencing 25 January. The Government will review this decision in the week commencing 18 January. I will update you shortly after.

Whenever you return to campus, asymptomatic COVID testing will be available at both Canterbury and Medway  and I strongly encourage you to take advantage of this as soon as possible on your return. If you have already made a booking but your return to campus is delayed it would be very helpful to staff if you could cancel that session. Please be assured that there will be sufficient booking slots available for all those who need them once we are all back on campus.

I will continue to keep in touch over the next few weeks as we develop our plans in response to this latest change. I know you will have many questions over this current situation, and we will update the website with new information as it becomes available.

We will be running a Web Chat on 6 January 2021 during which we will answer your questions about these latest changes as well as any others about the Spring term. The booking form is now open so please do sign up.

I realise this is not the news you may have wished to hear. Our priority remains to keep you and our community safe while still providing the highest quality teaching and student experience.

We know that this is a worrying time, and we are here to support and advise you wherever you may be. If you have any concerns or queries, please check our student Coronavirus webpages  or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk and we will respond as soon as possible.

My very best wishes to you, your friends and your family.

Yours sincerely

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience

Fun things to do with your housemates

This year has certainly been challenging and we have all needed to adapt and change the things we do in our daily lives. Staying indoors doesn’t mean your social life will need to suffer, especially during your first year at University. Even if you’re staying in there are still many fun things you can do with your housemates. Check out some of our suggestions below.

Host a games night

This is one that’s great to involve friends from home. Why not have a virtual party and host a games night via Zoom where you can stay connected without leaving the house. A great one that’s quick to get the hang of, without needing to download anything (and free!) is skribbl.co. This is a Pictionary game where you can have multiple players online taking turns drawing and guessing each other’s creations. No artistic skills required! If you like board games, colonist.io is also worth looking into. This is an adaptation of Settlers of Catan, a multi-player resource-based strategy game. There are plenty of other free games available online, so it’s worth looking into.  

Subscribe to a streaming service

Stay in and have a movie night on Amazon Prime, Netflix, and or Disney+. From Marvel to Pixar there’s something for everyone. Netflix Party also means you can watch with your friends online and without being in the same household, again great to connect with friends back home. As a student, you can also sign-up for a free six month trial of Amazon Prime.

Celebrity bake-off

Become a star baker from the comfort of your own home. Challenge yourselves in creating your very own showstopper by either using your own creative flair or by following family favourite recipes online.  If you’re in self-catered accommodation you’ll have access to a modern kitchen. Even if you’re in part-catered accommodation you don’t have to miss out on the fun. Why not try making a microwave cake for a quick chocolate treat?

Do a home workout

If you’re just starting out, looking to improving your fitness as part of a new year resolution and needing that extra bit of motivation to go to the gym… why not bring the gym to you? There’s no better time to give a home workout a go. With exercises easily adaptable to individual needs there’s something for everyone. You won’t need to pay for membership or own specialist gym equipment, making it a very student budget friendly option. You can even use household items as weights, from a bag of pasta to a can of baked beans.

Don’t forget if you’re a first year student living on campus, you have access to free Kent Sport gym membership.

Virtual pub quiz

Challenge each other’s general knowledge with a quiz! Take turns in being quiz master, writing the questions while the rest of you participate by answering them. Or you can use one of the many quizzes available online. If there’s enough of you in your shared house or online group why not have teams and a different theme each round? It’s also a great way to learn new facts which may come in handy in future pub quizzes at Woody’s!

Struggling to get on with your housemates?

Living somewhere new, with new housemates can be overwhelming and it can take time to adjust. If you are finding it difficult living with your new housemates, check out our advice online.

If you are missing home or need some extra support, our Student Support and Wellbeing Team are always on hand to help!

Things to do if you’re at Canterbury

Welcome to the Canterbury campus! If you’re new to the area take a look at some ideas below on some of our ideas of places you can visit and activities you can do. Please remember to follow the Government coronavirus advice and that certain attractions or services may be closed or operating differently due to the pandemic. Make sure to check in advance.

Canterbury Cathedral

One of the most iconic buildings of Canterbury is the Cathedral. Dating back to 597, it is the oldest and most famous Christian structures in England. Guided tours are currently unavailable due to COVID-19 but you can download a free guide to your phone to use to enjoy and understand the spaces within the Cathedral and it’ll take a few hours to explore. There is a small entry charge, but if you bring your Kent-One card along you’ll get in free. If you’re going with a group you need to pre-book online. 

You’ll enter through the doorway to enter the Nave, a truly stunning experience. Further in you have to chance to explore the Crypt, the oldest part of the Cathedral, containing smaller Chapels. As you come back up the stairs it will lead you to the Martyrdom where the exact spot the archbishop Thomas Becket was murdered in 1170, is marked. As you go further up the stairs, turn around to admire the view of the Nave (and don’t forget to look up!) Take the moment to enjoy the beautiful stained glass depicting inspirational stories of men and women. It is one of England’s largest collections of early medieval stained glass. There is also an Archives and Library, which holds an impressive collection of manuscripts, historic records, photographs, maps, and printed books all dating back to the late 8th century. If you choose to visit this area, you’ll need to pre-book your visit and pre-order your study materials ahead of time.

Make sure to check out outdoor spaces in the Precincts as you leave and there are also ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and St Martin’s Church to explore too!

Westgate Gardens

The Gardens are part of Westgate Park which includes lots of outdoor open spaces including Toddlers Cove and Bingley Island. It’s a lovely area for a walk, cycling and there is a children’s play area. In the Spring and Summer months, there are hundreds of bright tulips in full bloom on the flowerbeds alongside the river where you can watch passing boats, ducks, moorhens, and pigeons. Just take a right when you are at Westgate Towers (you won’t be able to miss the entrance) for a peaceful escape!

Cycle Ride

If you’re looking for a challenge you can undertake your own Pilgrim’s Progress on a 50-mile circular ride that links Canterbury, Dover, and Folkestone. The route passes along leafy lanes and bridleways amid rolling hills, wide skies, woodland, country villages, and hamlets.

For those who are looking for a more casual cycle route take a look at the Crab and Winkle Way which links Canterbury to Whitstable. It’s suitable for beginners and families. The route goes from Canterbury West, but you can easily join the route if you’re on campus. It takes you all the way into Whitstable, which in itself is a great day out. Enjoy some fish and chips on the beach and explore the restaurants and shops along the Harbour.

Unfortunately, the Cycle Hub on campus is currently closed, once it is reopened you can hire a bike for the day if you don’t have one yourself. It’s located at the Pavilion in Parkwood.

Brogdale Farm Orchard Walks

For anyone seeking to escape the house or office for some fresh air and gorgeous countryside, the Orchard Walks at Brogdale Collections are an ideal option. Brogdale Collections, based near Faversham, hosts the country’s National Fruit Collections and is home to the largest collection of temperate fruit in the world.  The charity has opened its beautiful orchards and operating self-guided walks so visitors can enjoy the hundreds of fruit trees.

Walking on the White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover are perhaps most famous as an iconic landmark, the white chalk face a symbol of home and wartime defence, but they have so much more to offer; stunning views, a serene walk, a wealth of wildlife, an abundance of history and, most importantly, two tea rooms offering delicious treats. It’s a short train or bus journey away.

 

Entrance to the Drill Hall Library in the sunshine

Things to do if you’re at Medway

Welcome to the Medway campus! If you’re new to the area take a look at some ideas below on some of our ideas of places you can visit and activities you can do. Please remember to follow the Government coronavirus advice and that certain attractions or services may be closed or operating differently due to the pandemic. Make sure to check in advance.

Rochester High Street

As well as the beautiful Rochester Cathedral and Castle, there is also the High Street, home to boutiques, independent shops, and trendy café culture. The Medway Visitor Information Centre is a good first stop to make to pick up a map of the area. On the first floor, there is also an art gallery and a museum.

Explore the city, have a wander, and admire the many historical buildings in the area that featured in Charles Dickens’ novels! Some of these include Restoration House, from ‘Great Expectations’ and the extra Christmas number, the Six Poor Travellers House, located just by the train station. You can pick up a self-guided walking tour at the Information Centre which takes you around all the buildings he wrote about.

The Historic Dockyard Chatham

This is Chatham’s holy grail and steeped in history. The Crown and Call the Midwife have been filmed here along with many films. A visit here will ensure you return to the ‘Age of Sail’ when the Dockyard built mighty ships that mastered the world’s oceans. Test your sea legs as you peer through the periscope of HMS Ocelot, a Cold War Submarine; take charge on the bridge of HMS Cavalier, a Second World War Destroyer; and ring the ship’s bell on the deck of HMS Gannet, our Victorian Sloop. Watch our Master Ropemakers at work using centuries-old techniques on in our Victorian Ropery. It’s a beautiful day out and a must-see if you’re at Medway.  

Bluewater Shopping Centre

If you’re looking to do some shopping, look no further! Bluewater is home to 300 shops and 50 bars, restaurants, café, and thousands of free parking spaces. Different sections of the shopping centre are dedicated to different themes, from classic and high fashion retail in ‘The Guildhall’ to ‘The Plaza’ where there is a cinema and a trampoline park. You can get there easily by public transport, otherwise it’s a short 30-minute car ride away.

Fort Amherst

Dating back to 1756, its purpose was defending the Naval Dockyard from attack. A site full of history, it’s free to visit and family-friendly. There are over 20 acres of land to explore, fortifications to navigate, cannons to spot, and bridges to cross. Take a tunnel tour to explore the underground maze which provided shelter from bombardment, storage of ammunition, and secret access to the Fort. Some say they can even feel a ghostly presence of those from the past…

Riverside Country Park

If you’re looking for a scenic countryside walk, run or cycle this park is perfect. It runs alongside the Medway Estuary and includes the Berengrave Local Nature Reserve. Boasting 247 acres of land it’s full of wildlife and is a protected site, being an especially important area for birds. There’s something for everyone, with picnic facilities, a children’s play area and cycle paths, trails, and a café. If you like the outdoors, check out The Strand, St Mary’s Island, and the Great Lines Heritage Park.

Diggerland

For something a little bit different there is a theme park where those of all ages can drive and operate full-size real diggers, dumper, and other construction machinery. It has over 20 different rides and activities including Go-Karts and Dodgems so it’s definitely a unique day out! There are also restaurants and a cinema in the area so there’s something for everyone. Diggerland is great for small groups so why not go along with your new housemates?

Scenic walks in Canterbury

Kent Union has published a guide to some of Canterbury’s most scenic routes for you to explore with a friend.

From local walks a stone throw away from the campus to scenic routes near the City Centre and a footpath that takes you through to Chartham – you are spoilt for choice.

There is also Marlowe’s Canterbury Walk. The aim of this walk is for you and one friend to explore the life of Christopher Marlowe, who is Britain’s best known playwright. The route takes you on a journey around the heart of Canterbury, visiting places he would have known, and offering an insight into his life.

Download the guide to find a route that suits you.

Photo credits: Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Kent Logo

Update on Tier 4 Covid-19 restrictions

From Alison Ross-Green | Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development 


As you will know, the Government has placed Kent in Tier 4 which means that all of those living in the county are subject to 
tightened Covid-19 restrictions. 

Under the guidance, all those who are working at home should continue to do so. If your agreed way of working is on campus, please continue to come into work as usual as those who work in universities are classified as essential workers. We suggest that you carry your Kent One card (or equivalent University ID) with you as you travel to and from work. 

The health and wellbeing of our staff and students continues to be at the forefront of our decision-making and we continue to follow government and public health advice. At present, there is no indication that being in a regional Tier 4 means we have to restrict the services we are currently offering on campus, but we are seeking further advice on this from our local public health team. We will update you as soon as we have a response.

The regional tiers will be reviewed by the Government on 30 December 2020, and we will further update you shortly after that date as well. Existing Government guidelines indicate that plans for a staggered return to campus after the Christmas vacation will remain in place along with the offer of asymptomatic testing for staff and students on both Canterbury and Medway campuses from 4 January 2021. 

Meanwhile, we are aware that some of you who are working on campus may experience delays and disruption to your normal road journey to work due the closure of the Port of Dover, which has led to increased traffic on some key roads.  

We are bringing forward the implementation of the Brexit Short Term Travel and Pay Policy to cover this situation. Under this policy, you will be expected to attend work in the normal way during any period of disruption and make all reasonable efforts to identify alternative travel routes. If agreed by your line manager, the University will consider claims for reasonable additional expenses if you have to use public transport instead of your normal road journey. If you are unable to get to work, please notify your line manager as soon as possible. 

Once again, I thank you for your continued support at this challenging time, 

Best wishes, 

Alison Ross-Green | Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development 

Two students chatting and sitting outside Templeman Library

Welcome to our Postgraduate Taught (PGT) students

The Graduate and Researcher College want to wish you are a warm welcome to Kent!

Global Skills Award

The Global Skills Award (GSA) is a programme of lectures and skills workshops designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs. It also develops your personal skills and enhances your career prospects while you study for your Master’s.

Postgraduate study areas

We have a wide range of study spaces at our campuses, including some study areas specifically for postgrad students.

Postgraduate representation in your students’ union

Your students’ unions have networks which are student-led spaces for students who share an interest or identity. You can join the Kent Union postgraduate student network (Canterbury) or the GKSU Mature and postgraduate student network (Medway).

Kent Union also have full-time elected student officers who you can get in touch with if you have concerns or ideas. Pat Stillman is the Vice-President for Postgraduate Experience.

Welcome to our Postgraduate Research (PGR) students

The Graduate and Researcher College want to wish you are a warm welcome to Kent!

Kickstart your PhD workshop

PhD students embarking upon their first year as a PhD Researcher will need to attend a compulsory Kickstart your PhD workshop. This workshop explores the PhD journey and focuses on what researchers need to make the most of their doctoral programme. At this session, students will be introduced to the RDA form, which they will need to complete before your first year Probationary Review meeting. Kickstart your PhD sessions running in the Spring term are now available to book via the Graduate and Researcher College training portal Target Connect.

Researcher Developer Program

You may also be interested in our Researcher Developer Program (RDP) which is open to all postgraduate research students. The RDP is designed to equip postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers with a full range of skills. It improves your effectiveness as a researcher and ensures that by the end of your research project, you are both highly qualified and employable in a variety of careers.

New PhD mentoring scheme

Do you want to learn new skills and meet other postgraduate researchers? The Graduate and Researcher College is delighted to announce the launch of its mentoring scheme for PhD students. The scheme is designed to help support the personal development of both mentors and mentees. Applications for the scheme can be made, until 29 January 2021.

Postgraduate study areas

We have a wide range of study spaces at our campuses, including some study areas specifically for postgrad students.

Postgraduate representation in your students’ union

Your students’ unions have networks which are student-led spaces for students who share an interest or identity. You can join the Kent Union postgraduate student network (Canterbury) or the GKSU Mature and postgraduate student network (Medway) to connect with other postgraduate students.

Kent Union also have full-time elected student officers who you can get in touch with if you have concerns or ideas. Pat Stillman is the Vice-President for Postgraduate Experience.

University of Kent logo

Tier 4 restrictions – student update

As you will know, the Government has placed Kent in Tier 4 which means that all of those living in the county are subject to tightened COVID-19 restrictions.

I am writing to let you know that, if you have not yet travelled home for Christmas, we have now had Government confirmation that you are still able to do so. This is the case whatever tier your family home is in.

Once you are home, you will be counted as part of your family household.

You will also be aware that additional travel restrictions are in place for those seeking to travel to and from the UK. If you are planning to travel outside of the UK, please check whether your plans will be affected by this.

If your plans have to change and you are not able to travel home, please be assured that we will be here to support you over the vacation period. We will also update the Student Coronavirus webpages later today with more information about Tier 4 restrictions and what they mean for those of us living in affected areas.

The Government will be reviewing the current situation on 30 December and we will update you shortly after.

Existing government guidelines indicate that plans for a staggered return to campus after the Christmas vacation can remain in place along with the offer of asymptomatic testing for students and staff on both Canterbury and Medway campuses from 4 January 2021.

Whether you are at home for the vacation or remaining at your term-time address, we are here for you. If you have any concerns or queries, please contact CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk.

Thank you for working together to keep our University community safe.