Monthly Archives: December 2020

KentVision: project update

KentVision is a major project underway at the University to bring together a number of different administrative processes and to simplify how we support the student journey.

A new Student Record System will replace the expiring Student Data System (SDS) and introduce simpler, more consistent ways to input, manage and process student data. This is one of a number of projects in 2021 focused on how we work together, intended to simplify processes and activity as new structures and teams take shape.

Launch Plans

The functional build of KentVision is complete, with the Student Record System performing as expected and an extended period of development and testing now underway. Data migration has proven more challenging and is now scheduled for February with preparation for the live environment taking place across March prior to KentVision launch in April 2021 following completion of the Spring Term. This revised launch date supports set-up and completion of Online Module Registration (OMR) as for previous years, and extends the time available for staff to familiarise themselves with the new system and to engage with the extensive range of training opportunities and user engagement sessions which are already underway. It also strengthens opportunities to incorporate user feedback within planned enhancements to KentVision later in the year.

Alongside current training, we will run a series of workshops early in the new year to talk through the new system and outline key changes with staff prior to launch in April. These sessions will include activities on getting started with the system, enrolment and registration, attendance recording, module assessment entries, and student support engagement. Workshops will take place remotely, with dedicated Microsoft Teams channels enabled to support users working across different areas of the University. Relevant groups of staff will be contacted directly in the coming weeks with further information regarding this support.

Training and Support

In addition to the dedicated sessions to be rolled out across the new year, online and face-to-face support will continue throughout 2021 as users get used to the system and we identify further ways to improve it. The KentVision project team will continue to be available throughout the run-up to launch, with their dedicated trainer Paul Sales leading on ensuring that people are equipped to make the most of the new simplified system.

A number of resources and video guides are now available on the KentVision staff webpages to help staff familiarise themselves with the new system at their own pace ahead of more in-depth support and guidance provided throughout the year.

Transitional Arrangements

The final stages of implementing KentVision may lead to known outage of specific systems at various points across the Spring Term. We will do everything we can to minimise this disruption, and are working closely with IS colleagues to ensure students and staff are provided with timely updates.

Find out more about KentVision

Kent Logo

Spring term update – 11 December 2020

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

I hope you are well and looking forward to a well-deserved break over the Winter vacation period. For those of you that have returned to your permanent homes, I trust you had a safe and pleasant journey. For those of you staying for longer, do please enjoy your time with us
over the vacation and let us know if you need any support.

As you know from my previous email, the Government is recommending students’ return to campus is staggered in the new year. This is to ensure Covid-19 testing can be offered to all students and staff prior to face-to-face teaching starting in the Spring term.

Timetables for the Spring term will be available from Monday 14 December. Please check your timetable regularly for updates. Your timetable will indicate when your first face-to-face teaching session is taking place.

Your School will be in touch with you next week to provide further information about the Spring term relating to your study programme.

Based on the timetables, we have set out the following recommended arrival windows.

Arriving during your recommended window will enable you to be tested before your face-to-face teaching begins for Spring.

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

We will be offering asymptomatic testing on both Canterbury and Medway campuses seven days a week from 4 January 2021.

Ideally, to meet the Government recommendations, you should plan to arrive around 5 days before your first face-to-face teaching event and have two asymptomatic tests booked within 3-5 days of each other. Please ensure you review your timetable first before booking your tests.

Postgraduate research students who need to return to access specialist facilities may of course return early and are encouraged to book asymptomatic tests ready for their return.

The booking system for new year asymptomatic Covid-19 testing will be open next week and we will contact you then by email with details of how to book.

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

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.

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

Kent Logo

Spring return update – 11 December 2020

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

As we approach the end of term, I want to provide some further information to you concerning the planned staggered return of our students after the Winter break. Thank you to those of you involved in developing these complex plans. I appreciate it has not been easy and your efforts are greatly appreciated.

We will be publishing students’ Spring term timetables next week from Monday 14 December. In their timetables, students will see when their first face-to-face teaching session is taking place. Each student will be provided with a recommended arrival window during which to return to Kent. By staggering students’ arrival in this way, we ensure we can offer all students and staff the opportunity to be tested for Covid-19 before face-to-face teaching begins.

The table below shows the arrival times we will be recommending to students based on their first face-to-face teaching session.

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

I appreciate that some students and staff will be on campus before 9 January 2021 and can confirm that asymptomatic testing will be available seven days a week from 4 January so do please make use of this service.

Postgraduate research students who need to return to access specialist facilities may of course return early and are encouraged to book asymptomatic tests ready for their return. Further information on how to book asymptomatic testing appointments for the new year will be available next week.

I would like to remind all staff that the arrival windows above are not compulsory, and we will support all students regardless of their travel plans and when they decide to return. We will be advising students to use their recommended travel window so we can ensure they can be tested before their face-to-face teaching begins in line with Government guidelines. We will also be advising students that they should be tested before they return to Kent if this is possible. I will be in touch again next week to provide more information about asymptomatic testing for the new year.

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

Charities to support over Christmas

These are the charities that the university are supporting over the Christmas period. Please feel free to donate if you wish.

Support The Salvation Army this Christmas 4 | The Salvation Army

Top 6 Charities That Help Children at Christmas Time (


How to become an Age UK phone buddy this Christmas? | Metro News

Community Christmas Campaign: Volunteering and Events for Older People (

The Times and Sunday Times Christmas Appeal 2020 | News | The Times

Here are some other charities you can get involved in.

Canterbury Homelessness  

STAR refugees 

There are also some letter writing campaigns for you to join:



Giles Lane development 

The University has joined forces with St Edmund’s School to support a planning application for the development of a plot of land on Giles Lane by a third-party developer who will finance, build and run the proposed scheme to provide additional student accommodation. The sale of the small plot of land is part of our income generation activities.

The need for student accommodation in Canterbury is supported by Local Plan policies and the proposed scheme will alleviate the housing pressure in Canterbury by attracting students out of Housing in Multiple Occupancies. The scheme will also enhance the city’s offer to the business and tourism economies as it not only incorporates much-needed conference facilities, but it will also provide additional tourist accommodation during the vacation period.

Kent logo

Covid-19 update – 10 December 2020

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

As we approach the end of term, I would like to extend my thanks and appreciation to all staff from across the University for your hard work and commitment during this challenging time. This has been an incredibly busy term for everyone. It has been wonderful to see staff working together, in such difficult circumstances, to deliver a really positive experience for all our students.

Asymptomatic Testing

I would like to remind you that asymptomatic testing is still available at both our campuses.

Medway-based staff can book a test at four centres across Medway, one of which is at the Deep End on campus. You must book a test in advance. Please ensure you take your booking confirmation and face covering with you to your test. You will also need to confirm your critical worker status by showing your staff ID or a letter from the University. From today, others in your household will also be able to book a test. They only need to bring a photo of your staff ID, or letter, as well as proof of residency as confirmation of eligibility.

If you would prefer to be tested at Canterbury, our Asymptomatic Testing Site is open until 15 December, and appointments are still available so please do book should you wish to get tested. Testing at the Canterbury site is available to staff but not to anyone else in your household.

Please remember these tests are only if you are asymptomatic, i.e., have no symptoms of Covid-19. If you do have symptoms, please book a PCR test with the NHS online. Please then follow our Self-isolate, Test, Inform procedure for staff.

Students’ staggered return to campus

Many of you will have seen in the news that the Government is recommending students’ return to campus in a staggered fashion in the New Year and we will be will be offering asymptomatic testing from 4 January 2021. This is to ensure all students and staff can be tested for Covid-19 before their face-to-face teaching begins.

Students timetables for the Spring term will be published on 14 December. Based on the date of their first face-to-face session, we will be advising students to arrive during a recommended date window. This will allow them to be tested for Covid-19 before they commence with their face-to-face sessions. Students and staff will be emailed regarding the staggered arrival dates next week.

I would like to stress that students’ arrival dates are recommended, not compulsory. We know that some students will have made alternative travel arrangements and will therefore return to us at a different time. Some may be travelling from overseas; others will need to come back earlier for work commitments, or may have stayed with us over the whole of the winter break. Whenever their arrival time, all our students will be supported to return to campus in the safest way possible for our whole University community.

Thank you again for your dedication to our students.


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



Christmas tree

Invitation to Virtual Christmas Quiz – 16 December

An invitation from Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President:

As we approach the end of term, I’d like to thank you all again for your hard work and commitment this term, which has been very much appreciated.

I am delighted to announce that we will be holding a staff Virtual Christmas Quiz on Wednesday 16 December at 14.00. If your diary allows, it would be great to welcome as many colleagues as possible to join us ahead of the forthcoming Christmas festivities. I’m looking forward to hosting the first round of questions!

In order to join us, please sign up here and you will be sent the link, via Teams, in advance of the event.

We very much look forward to seeing you and your Christmas jumpers, if you can make it!

In addition to the Quiz, please take a look at our Online Advent Calendar with video messages from across our community, sharing advice and guidance with our students over the Christmas period.

Best wishes for the festive season,


Professor Karen Cox
Vice-Chancellor and President

Microsoft Yammer logo

Microsoft Yammer is coming soon!

Written by Sarah Fisher, User Experience and Digital Content Office: 

Microsoft Yammer is coming soon 

Yammer, a Microsoft 365 communications tool, is being piloted at the University, ahead of its full launch in spring 2021. If you’ve had emails about Yammer but aren’t part of the pilot group, please ignore them: you don’t need to take any action. 

About Yammer 

Yammer is a workplace based social network, similar to Facebookwhere friends are colleagues. You’ll see workplace reminders instead of advertisements, and updates are linked to University news, events, and questions or thoughts shared by colleagues.  

It will offer us an informal open staff communications channel, where you’ll be able to: 

  • Interact with University news by liking and commenting on posts 
  • Follow other members of staff 
  • Create or join community groups: these can anything from sports and leisure interest groups such as ‘walking group’ or ‘book-club community’, to groups based on work-related topics and themes. Groups can be open for anyone to join, or private, where requests to join need to be approved 

Yammer is part of Microsoft 365. Where Microsoft Teams lets us set up formal collaborative online workspaces with access restricted to members only, Yammer will be open to everyone, and is envisaged to be a more informal communications tool. 

More about the pilot 

A community of early adopters are piloting Yammer to help us discover its benefits and limitations. Staff from across the University who are participating in the pilot:  

  • Researchers working towards our Signature Research Themes 
  • Staff in Divisions 
  • The central communications team 
  • Elearning staff 
  • Information Services staff 
  • Staff from professional services departments 

We are encouraging each of the divisions and professional service departments in the pilot to consider creating their own groups. 

What’s next 

Following the pilot, we plan to make Yammer available to all University staff; this will be early in 2021. If you want to find out more about Yammer please take a look at Microsoft Yammer for staff

If you’re still getting emails from Yammer, you can unsubscribe, or ignore them until the new year when you will have access to the platform.  

If you have any questions, please get in touch. 

Best wishes, 

Information Services 
University of Kent
01227 82 4888 

University Council: Chair’s Update – November 2020

The Council is the governing body of the University. Chaired by Dame Ursula Brennan DBC, its remit is decreed by the University Charter. The Council holds at least five meetings per year and its 22 members include 12 lay members, as well as staff and student representatives. Its principal committees include the Finance and Resources Committee, Audit Committee, Ethics Committee, Lay Nominations Committee and the Remuneration Committee.

The Council is keen to engage more fully with with University staff and, as a first step, has introduced a ‘Chair’s Update’ as an informal record of the most recent Council meeting held on 27 November 2020:

The autumn meetings are always busy because this is when Council reviews and confirms its terms of reference and Committee structure and, usually, signs off the annual report and accounts. This year, the Office for Students has extended the deadline for submitting accounts because of the disruptions of Covid-19 and the plan is to sign off our accounts in the New Year. With such a long agenda, this note picks up on just a few of the topics discussed at the meeting.


On Covid-19, Council had an update on the numbers of cases and heard about the implementation of arrangements for asymptomatic testing to support the Government’s plans for the early return home of students for the end of term. The Government left it to universities to organise this testing and Council were impressed by the work which had been done by staff at Kent to get the project up and running from scratch at such speed.

Student recruitment

A key issue for University performance is student recruitment and Council regularly gets an update on student numbers. This time, Council was able to note the good outcome for 2019/20 and had an update on the actions being taken to improve on the less positive early indications for 2020/21. Members heard about some innovative digital marketing efforts to follow up expressions of interest, and about work with Divisions to understand why some subject areas had low applications. Council will keep a close eye on this subject over the coming months.

Degree outcomes

Governing bodies have been asked to increase their focus on academic assurance and this month Council reviewed the information on degree outcomes for last year. While it was good to see that standards had been maintained, action is needed to address the attainment gap for BAME students and those from socially deprived areas. Council wanted to understand more about what drives these differences in outcome, and about what the University is doing, through the Student Success Project to help close the gap. Council will return to the topic later in the year.

The statement on degree outcomes was one of the first products of the new-look Senate; another was the simplification of procedures for student appeals and complaints. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator had recommended that we simplify our process and the new regime will have only two stages, with more emphasis on early informal dialogue with the complainant. The outcome should be swifter for both staff and students.

Financial challenges

Council had updates on wide range of other topics including Brexit, the Prevent strategy, the work of the Ethics Committee, the Audit Committee and the Safety, Health and Environment Executive Committee, but the main business of the day was the University’s finances. The budgets set at the start of 2019/20 had been thrown off course by the pandemic, but the draft accounts showed that the success of efforts, such as increased student recruitment, and a rigorous approach to cost reduction through the Financial Improvement Plan had mitigated much of the lost income. Council were grateful for the hard work which had gone into delivering these results and recognised the increased pressures on staff.

Looking ahead, Council discussed the financial challenges that the University has faced in the current year, with the continuing impact of Covid-19, Brexit, the unknown impact of changes to A level teaching and the increasingly competitive market in higher education. Members were impressed by the professionalism and skill which had gone into analysing all the potential risks ahead and in identifying mitigation and contingency plans to address any reduction in income.

Dame Ursula Brennan DBC
Chair of Council 

Writing on post it note next to notebook

How to study online effectively

We have put together some tips that help you to study effectively remotely.

Check out support available

Make sure you check out our online study support including the Online Learning at Kent: A Guide to Successful Study Online and you can speak to an adviser from the Student Learning Advisory Service. 

Get into a routine and stick to it

Work out when you are most productive – are you a morning bird, afternoon person or are you a night owl?

Find your perfect spot

As draconian as it sounds, we are much more productive when sitting at a desk, so try and study there. If you are fortunate to have access to a quiet lounge or kitchen space then make use of that.

Get rid of all your distractions and that means your phone

The phone is by far the biggest time killer. I would advise that you turn off all your settings so you are not disturbed. If you find your phone too much of a temptation then just either switch it off or leave it in another room.

Create a study schedule

Set specific times for studying and for breaks. Start out doing periods of 30 minutes to study and five minutes for a break. When you know you have a break coming up, you will find it easier to focus on your studying. As you get used to this schedule, increase the study times to 45 and then 60 minutes. You could also try the Pomodoro technique. 25 minute intervals of work followed by a break.


Recent studies show that meditating before you study can improve your reading comprehension, memory, concentration, stress and anxiety. There are some great apps that help you to meditate such as Headspace.

Noisy housemates

If you are lucky to have noise cancelling headphones, these can work like a dream. Or another idea is to work out when your house is the most noisy and quiet and organise your working hours around those times. If neither of these work then you might have to call a house meeting.