Monthly Archives: December 2021

Professor Karen Cox

Vice-Chancellor’s Update: Best wishes for the Winter Break

From Professor Karen Cox, Vice-Chancellor and President

As 2021 draws to a close, I want to send my sincere thanks and good wishes to you all for everything that has been achieved over the past 12 months. It has been quite a time for everyone, staff, students, family and friends, as we have dealt with a range of issues across the year, not least the continued impact of the pandemic. You have all done an incredible job ensuring our students’ education and support continues to be of a high standard, that our research continues to have impact and make a difference to people’s lives and that we are continuing to play our part in our local communities. The Autumn term has also presented challenges with new organisation structures and ways of working, along with KentVision implementation affecting our workloads. However, I remain humbled by how people have responded to addressing these issues and clear that all of us want what is best for Kent, and that spirit of collaboration remains at the heart of our community day in, day out.

There are so many positives for us to look back on this year already. A second Nobel Prize in Literature winner for Kent with the fantastic success of Abdulrazak Gurnah; powerful international events like The Walk with Amal that connect up our research with innovation and creativity across our campuses; Papin-Prize winning colleagues supporting the NHS; our fantastic Staff Recognition Awards shining a light on the way we all pulled together to respond to the pandemic; and only last week a well-deserved Learning Technologist of the Year Award from our amazing E-Learning Team. We really do have so much to be proud of and build on in the future ahead.

As we look towards the Christmas break, I know many will be uncertain or concerned about the latest Covid-19 wave brought about by the Omicron variant. The safety of our staff and students will remain at the heart of all our response to this and we will be keeping a ‘watching brief’ over Christmas for any updates that further affect our community following the recent announcements. However, as we close from Wednesday 22 December until we return on Tuesday 4 January, the most important thing is for everyone to get as much of a break as they can and, where possible, spend time with friends and family – it is fully deserved for all of you. I send my very best wishes for a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year. 


Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President

Babatdor Dkhar

Babatdor Dkhar awarded Charles Wallace India Trust Fellowship

The Centres for Postcolonial Studies and Creative Writing have awarded the annual Charles Wallace India Trust Writing Fellowship to Babatdor Dkhar.

Since 1991, the Charles Wallace India Trust has sponsored a Fellowship at the University that enables a writer from India to come and work in Kent for the spring term. Additionally, they have the opportunity to present their work to staff and students in talks organised by Kent’s renowned Centres for Creative Writing and Postcolonial Studies.

Babatdor is a writer and filmmaker who studied Creative Writing at Oxford, has taught English in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, worked as an editor in New Delhi, and is the Founder of Ka Ktien Media and the Chief Editor of Half and One.

The Fellowship will enable Babatdor to live and work in Canterbury whilst writing his novel The Khasi Album which is set in Shillong, a town in the north east of India, and is a work of satire, black comedy, romance and tragedy.

As Babatdor says in his application, the novel tackles “the differences between East and West, nationalism and communalism, small-town mindsets and tribal minority sensibilities in an India that is completely different from the one that is portrayed in mainstream literature and media”.

Dr Matthew Whittle, lecturer in Postcolonial Literature and Director of the Centre for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies says: ‘On behalf of the Centres for Postcolonial Studies and Creative Writing, I’m delighted to welcome Babatdor as this year’s Writing Fellow, and looking forward to fostering a creative voice from an under-represented region in Indian literature such as Shillong.

‘The standard of applicants this year was incredibly high, but Babatdor’s writing really stood out to the judging panel as exceptional. We look forward to his contributions to the rich community of creative writers and postcolonial scholars at the University of Kent, and we’ll be following his writing career with great interest!’

University Winter Break – 22 December to 4 January

With Christmas on its way, don’t forget our rest day on Wednesday 22 December.

The rest day is a thank you from our Executive Group, in recognition of just how busy things have been and continue to be across the University. Colleagues who have already booked leave for the 22nd should cancel it via Staff Connect. If you’re a shift worker scheduled to work that day, you should agree an alternative day with your manager to be taken before the end of January 2022.

Also this year, in recognition of how hard it’s been to take leave while we’re so busy, staff will be allowed to carry over up to 10 days’ leave rather than the usual five. These should carry automatically via Staff Connect at the end of the year. If you have any queries re either the rest day or the extra leave carry-over, please talk to your line manager in the first instance.

You can also find out more on our HR webpages.

Services available

If you do happen to be on campus over the Winter Break, there’s a handy list of services  available, including places to eat, at Canterbury and Medway on our Student webpages.

Emergency contacts

If you’re on campus and require urgent help/advice, our Campus Security team are on duty 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can find them in the Security and Transport Centre (Canterbury) or Medway Building (Medway). Or you can get in touch by calling 01227 82 3333 (emergency)/01227 82 3300 (non-emergency) or via the SafeZone app.


Your Spring Timetable

From Professor Richard Reece | DVC Education & Student Experience

Ahead of the Christmas break, I am pleased to confirm that your Spring Term timetable is now available on KentVision. This should also have pulled through to your iCal feed. 

We will be updating some of the rooms and finalising group allocations over the Christmas vacation, so do check back in before the start of term for your confirmed class schedule. In the meantime, thank you all again for your fantastic efforts over the last term and I wish you and your families the very best for the Winter break. 

Wellbeing at Work: Tell us your thoughts  

From Nikki Hyde, Deputy HR Director and Chair of the Wellbeing Working Group 

There really is a lot going on at the moment and if you’re anything like me then you’ll have found the last term has flown by – I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling more than ready for the Christmas break! The Government announcements over the last couple of weeks have also been a reminder of what an unusual environment it is we are all still working in. Together with the workload issues we continue to face, this adds pressure on all of us and can have a real impact on how much we’re able to enjoy our work day-to-day. 

Through the JSNCC Wellbeing Working Group, we’ve been working together to try and better understand and address the issues that are impacting us all. We want Kent to remain a great place to work; seeing people back on campus has been a real highlight over the last term, but I know the ongoing workload and wellbeing issues mean that this last term has not been any easier for many of us. All of the recommendations of the Wellbeing Working Group have been accepted and are now being taken forward and I hope that they will soon start to have a positive impact for staff. As part of this in Spring 2022, we’ll also be holding focus groups so we can hone in on the issues specifically driving the high workloads there are right across the University – and, ahead of this,  we’d like to get wider views from across the University to help us focus on the right areas. 

Workload and Wellbeing survey

With that in mind, working together with staff and Trade Union representatives, we’ve put together a Workload and Wellbeing survey which is open from today. The survey itself should take no longer than 15 –20 minutes to complete; we do recognise though that asking you to complete a survey on workloads when you are all already very busy is another thing to add to your to-do list. We also want you to have time to reflect on the questions in the survey and have some space to be able to answer them. Managers have therefore been asked to allow all staff up to 45 minutes during work in the coming weeks to complete the survey.  Do take a look if you get a chance before Christmas so you can have a think if you want to over the break, and we’ll then follow up in early January with a reminder on how to add your views. The survey will remain open until 21 January. Given how busy we all are I know this may feel like ‘one more thing to do’, but I really appreciate you taking the time to complete the survey as your views will really help us address the issues that are currently holding us back. 

Lastly, I want to wish you all the best possible Christmas, whatever you have planned, and I hope those that can have a bit of festive fun with friends and family over the next fortnight. I appreciate Christmas isn’t always an easy time for everyone though, so do read our blog from our Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon, on looking after yourselves over the festive period. Do get some rest if you can and I look forward to working together to make life at Kent as positive and rewarding as it can possibly be when we get back. 

Nikki Hyde | Deputy HR Director and Chair of the Wellbeing Working Group 
On behalf of the Wellbeing Working Group 


Covid-19 – Updated travel guidance

The University has updated its travel guidance and suspended bookings to countries that were announced as Red List Destinations in late November. Whilst these countries were removed from Red List status at 4am on 15 December, travel to these countries is still high risk and cannot be booked via Key Travel. 

Until further notice, travel bookings are suspended for countries including Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe. This will be reviewed in early January 2022.

University Travel Policy

Our University Travel Policy states that you should only travel for work when absolutely necessary and unavoidable. If you are attending an international conference, and the conference offers online participation, you should attend virtually for all bookings until otherwise advised. International travel is still a very high risk activity and should be minimised.

If travel is unavoidable, you should always book flexible tickets that allow for time/date/name changes and cancellations. Cheaper, but non-refundable, tickets should not be purchased.

At all times, colleagues should ensure they’re following our University Travel Policy. The policy includes guidelines on continuing to stay in a destination beyond work-related activity. Extending your stay for more days than the work-related activity, or by more than a maximum seven days (whichever is shorter) is not permitted.

Find out more

Further information on our travel guidelines is available on our Finance webpages.  

ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) e-learning training module

From Mark Ellis, Director of University Operations

The University takes the safety of our students, staff and visitors very seriously. Following the ACT (Action Counters Terrorism) Strategic and Operational training sessions with front line managers, supervisors and senior staff, the University has been provided with an ACT e-learning module that is now available for staff to complete.

Devised by counter terrorism officers and security experts, the ACT Awareness eLearning package provides nationally recognised guidance on how to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and understand what to do in the event of a major incident. This guidance is not only useful while you are on campus, but is also relevant when going about your daily lives. It has been proven to save lives both in domestic (eg the London Bridge attack) and overseas (eg Tunisia beach attack) terror incidents.

To complete the module please select this link: Course: Action Counters Terrorism (ACT)( The module should take around 45 minutes to complete. It is broken down into a number of sections that you can return to and resume if you can’t complete in the whole module one sitting.

Please do see if you can find the time to complete this module – it may just save your life or those of your family, friends or colleagues.

Mark Ellis | Director of University Operations

Lead by example initiative

At Kent, we wish to encourage excellence amongst students, leading by example. In light of our Good Neighbour initiative, we aim to celebrate local student residents who exemplified what it means to be a kind and respectful neighbour.

We are launching a Good Neighbour Awards campaign to recognise the amazing student residents in our local community.  

At Kent, our aim is to inspire students to be good neighbours, by drawing from the model students living in our communities and bringing them to the forefront. We would like to recognise the achievements of those students who go the extra mile and embed themselves within their neighbourhoods.  

Do you have local student residents displaying exemplary behaviour and community spirit in your area?  

Are your student neighbours benefitting the area where you live and giving back to their community?  

We would like you to get in touch with information about your excellent student neighbours. Please provide their address and some information about why your neighbours deserve recognition for the award. Contact us on

We look forward to hearing your experiences and celebrating students who deserve recognition for their contributions to our local community.  

We plan to interview the winners of the Good Neighbour Awards and share these case studies with our cohort of students to inspire and empower them. We will use these real-life examples to inform our resources for the future and make them relevant to students living locally in years to come.              

Engaging students in the Community

Throughout October 2021, the University of Kent, alongside the Canterbury Safety Partnership, visited student homes in the local area to talk about being a good neighbour and staying safe while living and studying in Canterbury.  

The Canterbury Safety Partnership visited areas of Canterbury with a high density of local student residents. We were able to engage with hundreds of student properties throughout the city, providing a warm welcome and information about staying safe in Canterbury.

This was a positive start to the new academic year, being able to discuss the importance of being an active member of our local community. The partnership encouraged students to join their local residents’ associations, report crimes online and to share information with their local council to enact positive change to their local area. Kent students confirmed that these interactions with our local services have a huge impact on how integrated they feel as a local resident.  

Kent Union president Aisha Dosanjh said: ‘Meeting and chatting with representatives from local services in an informal way really changes your perception of them for the better. Not only does it make you feel more like a local resident of Canterbury but it also puts a face to who you may be reporting to.’  

You can see the joint safety pages that the Canterbury Safety Partnership provided to students on the Canterbury City Council Webpage.  

This was an amazing opportunity for the Partnership to meet more local residents in the area and discuss safety issues they may have been facing, and how local students impact their neighbourhood. We received an overwhelmingly positive response to the year so far.  

This is set to be an annual occurrence, which we look forward to taking part in next year. 

The Community Safety Partnership comprises the University of Kent, Canterbury Christ Church University, Kent Union, Christ Church Students Union, Canterbury City Council, Kent County Council Wardens, Kent Police and Kent Fire & Rescue. The partnership is working towards a safer Canterbury where our many students can thrive in their local community.          

Introducing your new Community Life Officer – Josh Turner

My name is Josh and I am the Community Life Officer at the University of Kent. I work towards engaging students in their local community and providing support to help them thrive in their studies. I am passionate about embedding Kent students within our local community. I grew up in Kent and share a love for what our corner of the UK has to offer, with the lively spirit of our cities and the charm of our picturesque town. I am delighted to share this place I know so well with students who come to study with us from all over the world.

At the start of this term, we have seen the return of students to Canterbury and Medway, as in-person learning has resumed at Kent and facilities have opened once more. It has been a pleasure to welcome back students for face-to-face learning, to share our community, and to immerse them in our plentiful and historical culture. It is great to see the campuses and community bustling with the energy and excitement that our students bring.

Although this return provides us with reason to celebrate, this has been a hard time for some as the return to “life as normal” has not been an easy transition to make. Many students have missed over a year of valuable lessons that we learn when we live away from home, understanding our responsibilities and role within our communities. With this in mind,  we are thrilled to continue providing our students and communities with the support they need, sharing what it is to live in our communities responsibly and respectfully.

Engaging local student residents with messages on staying safe and being a responsible neighbour through our neighbourhood days, and community safety hubs in the city centre is a priority. I look to the future with optimism for further outreach and events that will see our student community grow and learn together.

I would like to wish you all a wonderful holiday period. Following a year where many of us were not able to gather together with our families and loved ones, I hope that your festivities this year are filled with joy and celebration.

All the best,

Josh Turner, Community Life Officer