Professor Karen Cox

Vice-Chancellor’s update – 29 January 2021

As you know, the Prime Minister has confirmed that the earliest date for the return of schools and universities in England is Monday 8 March, depending on public health advice. For us, any return to face-to-face teaching is likely to be staggered, with the prioritisation of groups such as finalists or those who need specialist facilities. However, this very much depends on the outcome of the Government’s review of the current restrictions, which is currently scheduled for the week of the 22 February 2021.

To ensure that we are best placed to respond to a possible return to campus from 8 March, if we are allowed to and it is safe to do so, Richard Reece, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education and Student Experience), working through Silver Command, is setting up a task and finish group, comprised of Division Directors of Education and Student Engagement and Experience leads.

This group will build on our previous work and set out plans to enable a safe return.  Part of this work will be engaging with staff to allow them to plan out their teaching and examining activities for the rest of the academic session. We will continue to keep staff and students informed of our progress in this area.

I appreciate that, while this latest news provides us with a direction of travel, it does not give us the certainty we would like to have at this time. There is no doubt that such ongoing uncertainty is affecting both staff and students, and we are committed to ensuring our plans are centered on the need to protect the health and wellbeing of our entire community.

The pandemic has affected all our mental health in one way or another, and I wanted to draw your attention to Time to Talk day which takes place next week. A national initiative, its aim is to show how small conversations about mental health can make a considerable difference and there are several ways you can get involved here at Kent.

A project team including staff from across the University is also putting in place the recommendations from the Stevenson / Farmer Thriving at Work review, which focuses on mental health in the workplace standards. Over the coming months, the team will be raising awareness of resources already in place to support staff, along with establishing networks, training and support. This measure will add to our already considerable range of resources and support for staff that can be found our staff webpages.

I thank you all for your hard work and dedication at this difficult time,

My best wishes go to you and your families,


Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President