Monthly Archives: December 2020

Support for mature, commuting and part-time students

If you are a mature, commuting or part-time student (or a combination) there is plenty of additional support for you and ways to connect with those in a similar position to you. This includes a society that runs as events and study sessions at convenient times if you have other responsibilities (e.g. job and childcare) and a dedicated student network to help get your voice heard.

Mature Student Society

Kent Union has a Mature Student Society with acts as a forum to promote the challenges and needs of students over the age of 21. As well as being for mature students, the society welcomes students returning to education, part-time or a commuting student and students who have dependants or caring responsibilities. The society meets regularly and is a great way to socialise with others students with similar responsibilities and potential interests.

Mature and part-time student network

Kent Union has a number of student networks. The mature and part-time student network aims to represent and act as the voice for all mature, commuting and part-time Students, and to feedback key issues that affect the Mature, Commuting and Part-Time student experience to both the University and Kent Union.

More about support available.

Three students sat on corner sofa together catching up

Looking out for each other

At Kent we’re a community who look out for each other. Here are a few ways to help you look out for your friends and classmates.

Check in with your friends

We are all experiencing a particularly strange year and feelings of loneliness and overwhelm may be popping up more than usual. Remember to check in with your friends and course mates to see how they are doing.

If you or a friend needs some extra support, there are lots of people at Kent ready to help. Contact your School for academic help, and the College Life Team for concerns about accommodation sharing and any other practical worries. They will be able to help or refer you to someone who can.

For support with mental health, disability or specific learning difficulties, there is a  Student Support and Wellbeing team of professionals providing online, telephone and face to face wellbeing services. Do also check out specific wellbeing events such as the weekly International Wellbeing group and Wellbeing café. Do you use social media? Follow @UniKentSSW on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter for ideas and resources to stay well and connected.

Download the SafeZone app

SafeZone is a free campus safety app for all students and staff, giving you quick access to first aid, security or safety assistance.

SafeZone is an easy way to connect to Campus Security, who are on campus 24/7 365 days a year! Learn more about safety on and off campus.

Stick with your household and plan your journey home

If you’re heading out in the evening, make sure you plan your journey home and stick with your household bubble. Please follow social distancing guidance. Remind yourself of the Government guidance about meeting with others.

Walking? Follow the recommended fully lit walking routes around Medway campus. In Canterbury make sure to check out the #LitRoutes maps and guidance.

If you’re using public transport, remember to bring your face covering and some hand sanitiser. Getting a taxi? Make sure it is registered.

If you ever find yourself in an emergency situation in Canterbury where you need to take a taxi back to campus or to the police or hospital, you can use the student safe taxi scheme to get a registered taxi back to campus and pay the funds later.

Find support through the Virtual Buddy Scheme

Sign up to Kent Union’s Virtual Buddy Scheme either to find a buddy or to volunteer as a buddy. Buddy volunteers are there to give you a helping hand and offer you support and friendship. The buddy scheme is available for Canterbury and Medway students.

Meet new people through societies

Don’t forget that societies and sports teams can be a great support network. There are many different kinds of societies from academic, faith and belief, special interest and more so you can find people with similar interests to you. Check out the Kent Union and GKSU webpages to learn more.

Sexual violence online support sessions

New for October 2020, if you or a friend have been affected by any form of sexual violence you can speak to staff from East Kent Rape Crisis Centre via a virtual sign up session. Here you will find advice about accessing counselling, support groups and how to access support from an independent sexual violence advisers (ISVAs). If you are interested in attending a session, or for further support, email wellbeing@kent.ac.uk. You can also find more support on our webpages.

Download the NHS Covid-19 app

Please download the NHS Covid-19 app and encourage your household and friends to do the same. Through the app you can report symptoms, order a coronavirus test, check in to venues (including some on campus) by scanning a QR code and help the NHS trace those who may have coronavirus.

If you or anyone you’ve had close contact with test positive for coronavirus, you’ll be contacted by NHS Test and Trace and asked to self-isolate. You will be asked to provide them with information they’ll need to help stop the spread of the virus. Learn more about the NHS Covid-19 app.

Inform Kent (InK) online reporting tool

Everyone should feel secure at Kent—we’re here to support you. InK is an online reporting tool that helps record details of incidents such as sexual assault, harassment, relationship abuse or hate crime. Find out more about the services available with Student Support and Wellbeing.

Coronavirus

University end-of-term update

From Vice-Chancellor and President Karen Cox and Professor Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education & Student Experience

On behalf of all University staff, we would like to wish you, your families and loved ones a happy Christmas and best wishes for the festive season.

This has been an incredibly challenging year for many. However, here at Kent, there have been some wonderful examples of the student community supporting each other and working together to achieve great successes during these difficult times.

As we approach the end of 2020, we feel it is important to recognise your hard work, tenacity and willingness to adapt. We know how much our staff have appreciated your support and the way you have coped so well with the challenges you have faced as a result of COVID.

Thanks to a huge effort from many staff from across the University, and amid some very negative press reports relating to students’ return to campuses nationally, we have had relatively low numbers of cases of COVID-19 amongst our students and staff. This is a massive credit to you for the steps you have taken to help keep our communities safe.

Looking ahead to 2021, we feel optimistic that we will return to a more normal way of life in the not-too-distant future. It will be wonderful to see you able to engage fully in all aspects of University life once more.

Staff from across the University are busy planning for your return in Spring. There will be a wealth of events, activities and opportunities for you to develop your skills and to connect with other students. Please check out our Safe, Study, Social site for all we have planned and how we are improving your experience at Kent.

In your academic school, staff have been listening to your feedback and developing in the areas you care about most. This includes improving their systems for online teaching and ensuring you can access the resources and guidance you need to support your learning.

We will be running a Web Chat on 6 January 2021, during which we will answer all your questions about Spring term; the booking form for this is now open so please do sign up. There are lots of different events taking place next year, so make sure you check out the University’s Events Calendar.

We look forward to welcoming you back to Kent and for the start of the new Spring term on 18 January 2021.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year.

Karen & Richard

Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President

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

Coronavirus

Asymptomatic testing and spring return update

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

I want to let you know about asymptomatic Covid-19 testing arrangements for the New Year. Asymptomatic testing is specifically designed for people who are not displaying symptoms of Covid-19. Please note that if you do have symptoms of Covid-19 you should follow our Isolate Test and Inform procedure for staff and book a PCR test via the NHS Coronavirus website.

Please note you should avoid close contact with others before you are tested and until you have received your second test result.

In accordance with Government guidelines, we are recommending to students that they are tested before they attend their first face-to-face teaching session. To facilitate this, students are being provided with a recommended arrival and testing window.

We know this will not be convenient for all and we will support them whatever their travel arrangements and intended arrival date back to University.

Postgraduate students may of course return to campus to use specialist facilities whenever required. However, if possible, they should be tested before accessing laboratories.

If you have any problems with the University’s Asymptomatic Testing booking system, please email AsymptomaticBookings@kent.ac.uk.

For other questions about Covid-19 related health, welfare and support issues please check our Coronavirus webpages or email StaffWellbeing@kent.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Richard

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

Coronavirus

Canterbury asymptomatic testing and spring return update

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

I am emailing to let you know that the booking system is now open for you to reserve appointments at our Asymptomatic Testing Site (ATS) on the Canterbury campus in the New Year.

Tests will be available between 5 January and 7 February 2021. Please note you should only book your testing appointments once you have reviewed your Spring timetable which is now available.

Please note – if your term address is nearer the Medway campus, you should consider arranging your tests at Medway instead.

What is asymptomatic testing?

Asymptomatic testing is specifically designed for people who are asymptomatic i.e. not displaying symptoms of Covid-19. The ATS provides Lateral Flow Tests which are different to the tests offered by NHS Local Testing Sites.

Please note that if you do have symptoms of Covid-19 you should follow our Isolate Test and Inform procedure and book a PCR test via the NHS Coronavirus website.

When should I be tested in the New Year?

The Government is advising that all students be tested before their face-to-face teaching begins in the New Year. Your timetable will indicate when your first face-to-face teaching session is. Please remember you should ideally be tested twice within 3-5 days before you attend. If you have not been tested in the first few weeks of term, please do so in the week beginning 1 February 2021 as the testing site will close at the end of that week.

If it is available, you are also advised to have a test local to your home address, prior to travelling.

Please note you should avoid close contact with others between your arrival and receiving your second test result.

Students arriving from overseas who wish to be tested at Canterbury and Medway are allowed to do so, but must first follow the relevant government guidance in full. Our testing programme is not a permitted alternative to completing the full 10-day period of self-isolation if arriving from a non-exempt country and cannot be used to reduce that period of self-isolation under the Government’s Test and Release Scheme.

When should I return to campus?

To help you comply with Government guidelines, we have set out the following suggested arrival and testing windows based on when your first face-to-face teaching is taking place.

First face-to-face teaching session  Recommended arrival window and testing 
w/c 18 January 9-15 January
w/c 25 January 16-22 January
w/c 1 February 23-29 January
Anytime after 8 February 30 January–7 February*

 

*Please note – two tests are recommended 3-5 days apart and the last testing day is the 7 February.

These dates are designed to help you follow the Government recommendations. We know this will not be convenient for all of you and some of you may have already made other travel plans. We will support you whatever your travel arrangements and intended arrival date back to University.

If you are a postgraduate student, you may return to campus to use specialist facilities whenever you need to. However, if possible, you should be tested before accessing laboratories.

When will my teaching start in the new year?

Teaching begins on 18 January 2021 for all study programmes apart from KMMS. You should engage with all teaching sessions from this date. Your face-to-face teaching will be reintroduced over the first few weeks of term as shown on your timetable.

If you have any problems with the Asymptomatic Testing booking system, please email AsymptomaticBookings@kent.ac.uk.

For other questions about Covid-19 related health, welfare and support issues please check our Coronavirus webpages or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Richard

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

Coronavirus

Medway asymptomatic testing and spring return update

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

I want to let you know that you will be able to book appointments for asymptomatic testing in the New Year via the Medway Council website.

You should only book your testing appointments for 2021 once you have reviewed your Spring timetable which is now available. You can book your tests up to 7 days in advance, so you will need to book your appointments in the New Year.

Please be assured that, by arrangement with the local Health Protection Team, you may use the Medway Council booking site despite the content suggesting it is not open for students. Further information about the testing process and what you need to take with you on the day is available on our Medway asymptomatic testing webpages.

Please note – if your term address is nearer the Canterbury campus, you should consider arranging your tests at Canterbury instead.

What is asymptomatic testing?

Asymptomatic testing is specifically designed for people who are asymptomatic ie not displaying symptoms of Covid-19.

Please note that if you do have symptoms of Covid-19 you should follow our Isolate Test and Inform procedure and book a PCR test via the NHS Coronavirus website.

When should I be tested in the new year?

The Government is advising that all students be tested before their face-to-face teaching begins in the new year. Your timetable will indicate when your first face-to-face teaching session is. Please remember you should ideally be tested twice within 3-5 days before you attend.

If it is available, you are also advised to have a test local to your home address, prior to travelling.

Please note you should avoid close contact with others between your arrival and receiving your second test result.

Students arriving from overseas who wish to be tested at Canterbury and Medway are allowed to do so, but must first follow the relevant government guidance in full. Our testing programme is not a permitted alternative to completing the full 10-day period of self-isolation if arriving from a non-exempt country and cannot be used to reduce that period of self-isolation under the Government’s Test and Release Scheme.

When should I return to campus?

To help you comply with Government guidelines, we have set out the following suggested arrival and testing windows based on when your first face-to-face teaching is taking place.

First face-to-face teaching session  Recommended arrival window and testing 
w/c 18 January 9-15 January
w/c 25 January 16-22 January
w/c 1 February 23-29 January
Anytime after 8 February 30 January-7 February

 

These dates are designed to help you follow the Government recommendations. We know this will not be convenient for all of you and some of you may have already made other travel plans. We will support you whatever your travel arrangements and intended arrival date back to University.

If you are a postgraduate student, you may return to campus to use specialist facilities whenever you need to. However, if possible, you should be tested before accessing laboratories.

When will my teaching start in the new year?

Teaching begins on 18 January 2021 for all study programmes apart from KMMS. You should engage with all teaching sessions from this date. Your face-to-face teaching will be reintroduced over the first few weeks of term as shown on your timetable.

If you have any questions about Covid-19 related health, welfare and support issues please check our Coronavirus webpages or email CovidSupport@kent.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Richard

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

 

Coronavirus

Covid-19 update – 17 December 2020

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

Testing across this term

As we approach the end of the Autumn term, I’d like to share with you our achievements in testing our students and staff for Covid-19. Our asymptomatic testing facilities opened on 30 November and closed on 15 December 2020. During this period, an incredibly 4155 tests have been carried out from 5197 booked appointments. This equates to a 79% attendance rate. I am pleased to say that the number of positive cases through our testing facilities has been incredibly low, with only 16 positives identified.

We are currently busy planning our asymptomatic testing programme for the Spring term. This will open on 5 January 2021 on the Canterbury campus for students and staff. I am pleased to say that the booking system is now available should you wish to make appointments to be tested at Canterbury. For staff based at Medway, testing is available through Medway Council and you may book up to 7 days in advance.

Tier 3 restrictions

Following the Government’s announcement on 15 December 2020, Kent and Medway are still within the Tier 3 Covid level. This unfortunately means that restrictions are still in place as we move into Christmas. We can however look forward to some respite over the festive period and I do hope you take the opportunity for some much-needed relaxation time with your family and loved ones.

With my best wishes for the festive season,

Richard

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

Laoise Gallager

Journalism student hired as Irish Dancing Magazine feature writer

Laoise Gallagher, an undergraduate at the University of Kent’s Centre for Journalism, has been hired as a feature writer for Irish Dancing Magazine – whilst still completing her final year of studies.

During her second year of studies, Laoise designed and wrote an article for the publication as part of a print assessment. After being encouraged by lecturers to pitch it to the Irish Dancing Magazine, Laoise successfully had the article published as a double-page feature. She was subsequently offered the role of feature writer for the publication.

Laoise, who is also a World Championship level Irish dancer, has built up her journalism experience whilst at Kent with placements writing print articles at the Medway Messenger and an internship at broadcast news outlet KMTV. She is now trained in print, radio, TV and online journalism.

After being an Irish dancer from a young age, around six years ago Laoise began competing professionally, training three to four times a week for the Reel Eire School of Irish Dance. Her biggest achievement to date is being ranked third in the Southern Region, which qualified her to represent England at the World Championships in North Carolina last year.

Laoise Gallagher magazine spread

(click to expand)

Laoise said: ‘As a World Championship level Irish dancer myself, I thought that it would be smart to pick a niche magazine to pitch to as I could really immerse myself in the story and show expert knowledge. To make the design as accurate as possible, I contacted the magazine to ask for specific details on how they would lay out a feature piece. They were so helpful and when I submitted my assignment, I also sent it to the editor of the magazine. She was really impressed with the piece and I was delighted to not only have it published but to be offered a role in their editorial team too. This is so valuable to have as experience on my CV.

‘Studying at CfJ has been the best few years of my life. When I joined, I was quiet and shy, the thought of a phone call was terrifying. Now I am in my final year and it feels like I have grown so much as a person and the skills I have developed as a journalist really prepare you for the real world. The lecturers go above and beyond to support you in whatever route you want to take.’

 

 

Brexit

Brexit Short Term Travel and Pay Policy

The University has been working to put plans in place to ensure the University remains operationally viable in the event of a no-deal Brexit. As part of this work, we have a policy to support managers and staff in the event that staff working on campus experience difficulties in getting on to campus due to increased congestion and delays on the roads across Kent after 31 December.

Under the Brexit Short Term Travel and Pay Policy, if you are a member of staff whose agreed way of working is on campus, you are expected to attend work in the normal way during any period of disruption and make all reasonable efforts to identify practical travel routes during a period of travel disruption.

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 in order to get to work.  Staff who are unable to get into work must let their line manager know as soon as possible.

Staff (including timesheet paid staff) who are not able to attend for work due to the travel disruption and who are unable to work from home will have their normal pay maintained for the first day of travel disruption provided this has been agreed in advance with line managers. After this, you will be expected to either take annual leave or TOIL.

Further details about the Brexit Short Term Travel and Pay Policy are available here.

Information to support your travel plans is available on our Transport webpages.

 

Look after your wellbeing this Christmas

Article from Brenda Brunsdon, Occupational Health and Wellbeing Team Manager:

Change is a constant in life and sometimes, we need to mentally reframe, or redecide our approach to something to be able to accept the change it brings. One of the major traits of resilient people is how they cope with change and they usually do it by reframing how they see the situation that has developed.

Take Christmas. Once solely a religious festival, in many ways it now represents a family-centric mid-winter fest, with lots of opportunity to party alongside any praise and thanks related to the coming of salvation.

Christmas though is not a season of joy for everyone. If you are one of those people dreading Christmas, for whatever the reason, remember that the University Employee Assistance Programme is staffed to take your call at any time, day or night. The telephone number is 0808 168 2143 and it doesn’t cost you anything to call.

Our relationship with Christmas changes over time. When we are children Christmas means mystery, anticipation and excitement. Teenage years bring the angst of not knowing whether to be a child or a grown up. We then mature into young adults without responsibilities, partying through Christmas; then young parents with children and the cycle begins again.

All our family losses are marked at Christmas, the person not at the family get-togethers, the card that doesn’t arrive for 2 years running. They are balanced by the joys of new members of the family, especially children. Our relationship with Christmas shows we can cope with change and have the skill to psychologically reframe as we go through life.

The essence of Christmas is hope. The Christmas Story is that the Child is born, the wait is over; when He grows, He will usher in a time of love, kindness, and forgiveness for all. This year, we really need hope back in our lives. And the glimmers of hope are there on the horizon, with the roll out of the Covid 19 vaccine.

I wish everyone who reads this a peaceful, restful and happy Christmas Holiday period. I hope that those who have been touched by sadness and loss over the past 12 months can start to heal and move forward. 2021 is very near and, hopefully, it’s going to bring solutions to the problems of 2020.

‘What is Resilience? Defining Resilience’: by Emma Ogilvie on resiliencetraining.co.uk

‘Reframe Unhelpful Thoughts’: YouTube video by Every Mind Matters

‘The Importance of Hope; How to be more Hopeful’: by Paul Thomas on selfhelpforlife.com, article and video

Information on the Employee Assistance Programme on OH website