Monthly Archives: July 2022

Lambeth walk

Students and staff come together for the Lambeth Walk

Around 170 people joined the event organised by Kent’s LGBTQ+ Staff Network as a show of support for LGBTQ+ staff and students ahead of the Lambeth Conference.

The march around campus was planned to show the world that people of all gender identities and sexualities are welcome and part of the Kent community. A number of Conference delegates – including gay Bishops with their spouses – joined in along the route, which culminated in a mass dance-off in the University’s central plaza.

Lambeth dance

Following the joyful and celebratory rally, the Network also hosted the Rainbows in Religion Symposium in Marlowe to explore further the intersection of sexuality and religion. Speakers including UoW Trinity St David lecturer Dr Angus M Slater and former UK Government LGBT Advisory Panel member Jayne Ozanne reflected on their own experiences pushing for equal marriage within the Church, before a panel discussion featuring staff and students at the University.

The Lambeth Conference has been hosted at the University since the 1970s, with senior figures from across the worldwide Anglican Communion convening for prayer, reflection, fellowship and dialogue. While we are clear that the Church’s views on equal marriage in particular do not fit with our values as a university, our aim throughout the conference is to facilitate debate and discussion where we can in the interest of positive progress.

Find out more on what to expect during the Conference.

Lambeth walk

Staff and Students come together for the Lambeth Walk

Around 170 people joined the event organised by Kent’s LGBTQ+ Staff Network as a show of support for LGBTQ+ staff and students ahead of the Lambeth Conference. 

The march around campus was planned to show the world that people of all gender identities and sexualities are welcome and part of the Kent community. A number of Conference delegates – including gay Bishops with their spouses – joined in along the route, which culminated in a mass dance-off in the University’s central plaza. 

Lambeth dance

Following the joyful and celebratory rally, the Network also hosted the Rainbows in Religion Symposium in Marlowe to explore further the intersection of sexuality and religion. Speakers including UoW Trinity St David lecturer Dr Angus M Slater and former UK Government LGBT Advisory Panel member Jayne Ozanne reflected on their own experiences pushing for equal marriage within the Church, before a panel discussion featuring staff and students at the University. 

The Lambeth Conference has been hosted at the University since the 1970s, with senior figures from across the worldwide Anglican Communion convening for prayer, reflection, fellowship and dialogue. While we are clear that the Church’s views on equal marriage in particular do not fit with our values as a University, our aim throughout the conference is to facilitate debate and discussion where we can in the interest of positive progress. 

Find out more on what to expect during the Conference 

Find out more about Kent’s LGBTQ+ Staff Network 

Help with the cost of living

The end of the University year is always a chance to reflect on where we are, with the last 12 months once again shining a light on the ways we work together as a community at Kent. While it has been a real pleasure to see more of you face to face as we have re-integrated into campus life, I know that the amount of change we are all having to get used to has added pressure in certain areas and we still have work to do to ensure the wellbeing of all our staff is fully supported. This will be a priority in our new People and Culture Strategy which I look forward to sharing with you all next term. 

Staff Resilience Fund 

While some of the more immediate difficulties presented by Covid have now reduced, we are also now facing a cost of living crisis driven by high energy costs and inflation. This has an impact on our University finances but I am also very aware it will be very worrying for many of you and your families as day-to-day budgets are squeezed by rising prices.  

In the immediate term, Executive Group has agreed to make a one-off payment of £398.06 (pro rata) to all staff who were impacted by the 2020/21 Pay Freeze. This will come out of the Staff Resilience Fund which was established when staff pulled together to help us weather the financial impact of Covid – while budgets remain tight, the impact of rising costs mean we wanted to bring this initial payment forward to do what we can now. Around 75% of our current staff would have been impacted by the pay freeze, with the one-off payment applying to all salaried staff who have been with us since August 2020 and were covered by the agreement – payments will be made directly via the July pay run and, in accordance with the rules of the Fund, will be paid pro rata to hours worked. 

We have also agreed to suspend planned parking charge increases for next year and are looking into what more we can do to support both staff and students, including a possible hardship fund. Both of these immediate measures to help with the cost of living followed helpful input from JSNCC and we will continue to discuss what more we can do – please send any further suggestions either directly to me or via your Staff or Trade Union representative so that we can consider them in full.  

2022/23 Pay Increases 

On 1 August, along with other member universities, we will be implementing the final offer put forward by UCEA on behalf of universities across the sector in the 2022/23 national pay negotiations. The negotiations with trade unions have so far failed to reach agreement and there is understandable concern about how to renumerate staff fairly in an environment where costs are rising so steeply, but the same squeeze felt by households also has an impact on the cost of running the University. 

While I know this won’t feel like enough, increasing salaries by at least 3% for all staff and up to 9% for those in lower grades is felt to be the most that the sector can afford at this time. I am pleased that we can make sure this increase will reach staff pay over the summer and it’s also especially important that the increases are weighted towards those on lower salaries who may be most impacted by the wider pressures we face. It is also important to remember that, as usual, around 50% of colleagues will receive a further 3% increase through moving up an increment on the pay scale in October. 

Wellbeing and Support 

The last few years have felt like a period of constant change, from the top of Government down to our day-to-day working lives. I know this can be very difficult to manage – the way staff have adapted to new ways of working and the frustrations they can bring has, though, shown the best of our community. The way colleagues support each other, and our students, shone through in particular at both our Staff Recognition Awards and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity Awards earlier this year.  

I know there is more to do to build a positive working environment at Kent for everybody, with wellbeing and workload pressures being key priorities for us to address next year. I would also encourage all of you to continue to seek support where you need it, from colleagues, your line manager or your local HR team – and remember our Employee Assistance Programme is available for confidential support and advice whenever you need it. 

Martin Atkinson | Director of HR and Organisational Development

Financial Year End: Looking Ahead

Looking ahead to next year’s budget has meant reconciling two different, seemingly contradictory, positions. Our financial position has undoubtedly improved and we are on a much surer footing, including having the means to do more this year to invest in areas like employability, student facilities and enhanced equipment through successful capital funding bids, while also doing what we can to support staff with the cost of living pressures being faced. Meanwhile our underlying performance shows we still face challenges to balance the books, not helped by a number of external factors adding additional pressure on both ourselves and wider society. Income growth remains a key priority for us, while the reality of rising costs means we need to think carefully about where and what we are spending on and ensure a positive return from any investment made. 

Despite this, it’s important we reflect on how much we have achieved together over the past 30 months during which we ran the Financial Improvement Plan. I know this has been far from easy, but we have delivered huge savings in both pay and non-pay activity which has put us in a much healthier position, while also giving us enough leeway to survive the rigours of Covid and even make some investment in key areas. 

However, our ability to move faster and further is ultimately tied to how much we get in financially compared to how much we have to pay out. Despite the huge progress in recent years, this remains a tricky balance and we are having to weather significant external pressures that have only grown over that time – from rising energy bills and inflation to shifting student priorities leading to a national decline in student applications in some academic areas. Keeping a close eye on how we balance the equation is going to remain critical in the years ahead and we will all need to see this as a normal part of how we work as a University, ensuring we are agile and adaptive to opportunities and threats in an increasingly uncertain world. 

With that in mind, our budgets for next year will require Divisions and Directorates to work their budgets harder and look for further ways to run operations more efficiently and economically, building on the collective efforts already delivered over the past two years. This isn’t just about good financial management, but will involve looking carefully at our processes and activities and determining where these can be simplified or improved – in some cases, we may even decide to stop doing things we’ve done previously. We need to ensure our academic delivery, research and innovation performance and professional support models are resilient and sustainable in the face of change and that we have the flex we need to deliver our wider objectives and take advantage of new opportunities. Part of this will be building on our fantastic REF results to ensure our Research & Innovation income catches up with the best of our peers, including investment in areas with funding potential – we will also need to continue work on how we deliver and support the reshaping of our academic portfolio, and enhance the experience our students have, including the opportunities they are provided with in their journeys through to employment.  

Getting the right balance between being ambitious in our pursuit of a superb student experience while ensuring we are cost-efficient is never easy, but making the right adjustments where we can, to achieve it, will help all of us stay on track in the face of the wider pressures we face. Our immediate priorities are to attract, recruit and retain a sufficient number of students, ensure their time with us is as good as it can be through vibrant campuses and an ambitious, supportive teaching and learning environment, and deliver a high quality and growing research and innovation agenda. To achieve this, we need to have a stable and sustainable financial platform and I look forward to working with all of you to ensure we deliver this over the coming year. 

Jane Higham | Chief Financial Officer 

Templeman Library

Lambeth Conference: What to expect over the next fortnight

The Lambeth Conference is taking place at the University of Kent, Canterbury Cathedral and Lambeth Palace from 26 July – 8 August, with some delegates arriving earlier this week. You can read more about the conference on our website.

Given both the scale and international profile of the Conference, campus will be busy with delegates, support staff, media and members of the public following the different events. We are also likely to see protest from different groups who wish to voice their concern at different aspects of the Church’s work, and we have worked closely with the Conference organisers to ensure this is peaceful and well managed. If you have concerns at the way any protest is being conducted on campus, please contact Campus Security.

Catering and room bookings

The increased numbers of visitors mean that alongside usual summer closures, a number of our catering outlets will be closed for students, staff and the public temporarily – Kent Union-run outlets such as Woody’s and the Library Cafe remain open, along with Co-Op and Caffe Nero. Room bookings will also be much busier due the number of fringe events we are hosting.

Main conference venues

The main meeting venue for the Bishops is the Kent Tennis and Events Arena, with Spouses meeting in the Sports Centre. The Chaplaincy will be based in the Kennedy Building, with numerous seminar rooms and lecture theatres used across campus for fringe events throughout the Conference.

Summer Parking Changes

With a very busy summer of conferences and events taking place at the Canterbury campus, there have been some temporary changes to our car parks. If you are a permit holder, please see notices within car parks and the email sent to permit holders.

Support available

If you feel concerned by any aspect of the Lambeth Conference, please get in touch with Student Support and Wellbeing, College and Community Life or Kent Union, who are all available to provide free, non-judgement support. Read more about support available.

Thank you in advance for helping us make this summer’s conference season a success.

woman pulling leg to stretch before running

Staying active at uni

Join Kent Sport 

Kent Sport operates all the sport and fitness facilities across the Canterbury campus. All students, staff, and members of the public are welcome to become members, with a wide range of benefits including access to:

  • Air-conditioned, fully-equipped gym with cardio, weights and strength training equipment
  • Large fitness and dance studio with up to 40 group exercise classes per week
  • 3 multi-purpose sports halls for almost any indoor sport
    • Including a new NBA standard basketball court in hall 2
  • 3 full-size, floodlit artificial pitches for football, rugby, lacrosse, hockey and more
  • 4 full-size indoor acrylic tennis courts within the Indoor Tennis and Events Arena
  • Dedicated boxing and martial arts areas
  • Social sport and activity programmes including ALL Active and Give It A Go (students and staff only) 
  • Access to the Kent Sports Clinic performance, physiotherapy, and rehabilitation services (discounted rates for members)

All first-year students and students living in accommodation booked through the University are given free Kent Sport Premium Plus membership, giving them access to all the facilities and services. 

You can join Kent Sport with a free Pay to Play membership, simply by creating a new online booking account.

Join a student sports club

Kent Union run more than 60 different sports clubs on campus, with sports ranging from American Football to Ultimate Frisbee, and each club is open to any student regardless of experience. The sports are represented at a range of levels, from recreational to competitive, so there is something for everyone! 

View the full list of sports clubs

Sports Scholarship Scheme 

The University of Kent offers athletes the opportunity to join the Sports Scholarship Scheme, which provides sport-specific training, advice, guidance, and funding to continue competing while studying. The Sports Scholarship Scheme is delivered by Kent Sport.

Get outdoors

There are lots of green spaces in Kent, so why not take advantage of them? Going for a jog or a walk outside is great for clearing your head after a long day of studying. 

If you want to start running, parkrun is a weekly free timed 5km run, jog or walk every Saturday in parks and open spaces. The Canterbury parkrun starts at the Sports Pavilion on Parkwood Road, and the Medway parkrun takes place at Great Lines Heritage Park (Gillingham). 

If you’re looking to take in more scenery, then check out Kent Sport’s Active Campus Routes webpage for some popular walking, jogging, and cycling routes across campus and further afield.

Exercise with a friend

It can be daunting to exercise alone in a gym, or to join a sports club by yourself. Exercising with a friend will mean you’re less likely to get bored, and you can motivate each other by planning new and exciting workouts! On those days when you don’t feel like working out, having someone to keep you accountable will mean you’re more likely to stick to your exercise goals.

Cycle or walk to uni

Instead of taking the bus or driving, take advantage of the many cycle paths and footpaths around our campuses. Walking or cycling as part of your commute is a great way of including activity within your daily life – and it’s good for the environment! 

Find out more about walking and cycling at Kent

three students sitting on the grass and chatting

Staying well at uni

Studying at university is a big change for most people, but you can help ease the transition by remembering to take care of your mental and physical health. 

  • Build a support network

We all need supportive friends and family to talk to to share the difficult moments as well as the good times. It’s a good idea to invest some time in maintaining your existing networks by making video calls or real-life dates, as well as making an effort to meet new people at university, whether you are a commuting student or living away from home.

There are specialist peer support groups and one-to-one appointments available to help provide you with a sense of community at Kent, whatever your circumstances. Information can be found via the dedicated pages on support services and networks for care leavers, mature, commuting and part-time students, international students, and autistic students.

See what’s on via the Welcome events calendar, check out events hosted by your academic division, or take a look at the Student Support and Wellbeing events calendar for weekly peer groups and workshops.

  • Coping with change

Transitions are hard – although it can be exciting to move to a new area or start a new course, it can be unsettling to find yourself building up routines and networks from scratch.

Remember that it can take time to adjust to your new situation and feelings of homesickness or loneliness will likely ease. If you can share how you’re doing with others around you, you’re likely to find many people are experiencing similar feelings, and together you can create a community to look out for one another. You will be studying alongside a diverse community with many different interests and backgrounds, so it can be a great opportunity to explore new hobbies and find your tribe.

Why not join a society at Canterbury or Medway or check out the College and Community Life information on how you might throw yourself into the groups where you’re living and studying?

  • Don’t forget your physical health

Whether you are looking to get fitter, or just want to get moving, Kent Sport has lots of classes on campus as well as guidance from exercising from wherever you are.

The Canterbury campus has a lot of green spaces and woodland trails to explore on foot or by bike, and if you want to find a new friend to walk with, you could sign up to ‘Walking Buddies’ via the Student Support and Wellbeing Events Calendar.

It’s a good idea to register with a GP (general practitioner, or medical doctor) in your area, so you can access physical health care and advice when you need to. 

  • Feeling stressed?

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, here are some things you might explore to help regain balance:

  1. Talk it through – we have a team of expert mental health professionals available free of charge throughout your time at Kent
  2. There is an active Mindfulness Society at Kent – check out their resources or try one of their weekly meetings
  3. Need some help with academic work? The Student Learning Advisory Service, or SLAS, organise lots of workshops to upskill you in many areas of academic work such as referencing, taking effective notes, and organisation and time management.

Student Support & Wellbeing provide free expert support to help all students make the most of their time at Kent. Follow @UniKentSSW on social media for the latest information and resources to help you stay well and connected.

 

Drill Hall library

Support at Medway

This blog outlines the support on offer and how to get in contact.

First points of contact

The friendly Colleges and Community Life Team can help you connect with other students in your College community through activities and initiatives, working with your College Committee and Residential Life Assistants. They can offer advice and refer you to other specialist services, whether you are living on- or off-campus or studying remotely.

You can also get in touch with your School if you have a query. Your School should be able to help you or point you in the right direction for further support.

Support with your studies

Our Student Learning and Advisory Service (SLAS) can help you with everything from perfecting your essay writing to learning how to reference properly.

Don’t forget your School is also there to help you with your studies and offer a range of study support.

Might you benefit from contact with Student Support and Wellbeing?

If you have a disability, chronic condition, mental health condition, specific learning difficulty or autism, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing to see how they can help you make the most of your university journey.

We have a team of expert staff who can help you face the challenges of studying, socialising and living independently, whatever else you might be going through, whether it’s something you’re experiencing for the first time at University or have dealt with for a while.

There is also a free confidential counselling service which offers you a safe space to address issues concerning you and can help get thoughts, feelings, behaviour and perspective on life back in balance again.

Students’ Union

From money worries to housing issues, academic problems to visa support, your students’ union’s Student Advice Service is available to help through their free, impartial and confidential advice service.

Health services

It’s a good idea to register with a local doctor near to your accommodation in order to receive treatment under the National Health Service (NHS): Find your nearest NHS Surgery. Medway students can call Canterbury Nursing Services on 01227 823503 for telephone advice for minor illnesses/injuries and contraception. Check out this Visual Guide: Finding Health Support and Emergency Services at Medway

students sitting at table

Support at Canterbury

This blog outlines the support on offer and how to get in contact.

First points of contact

The friendly Colleges and Community Life Team can help you connect with other students in your College community through activities and initiatives, working with your College Committee and Residential Life Assistants. They can offer advice and refer you to other specialist services, whether you are living on- or off-campus or studying remotely.

You can also get in touch with your School if you have a query. Your School should be able to help you or point you in the right direction for further support.

Support with your studies

Our Student Learning and Advisory Service (SLAS) can help you with everything from perfecting your essay writing to learning how to reference properly.

Don’t forget your School is also there to help you with your studies and offer a range of study support.

Might you benefit from contact with Student Support and Wellbeing?

If you have a disability, chronic condition, mental health condition, specific learning difficulty or autism, please contact Student Support and Wellbeing to see how they can help you make the most of your university journey.

We have a team of expert staff who can help you face the challenges of studying, socialising and living independently, whatever else you might be going through, whether it’s something you’re experiencing for the first time at university or something you have dealt with for a while.

There is also a free confidential counselling service which offers you a safe space to address issues concerning you and can help get thoughts, feelings, behaviour and perspective on life back in balance again.

Kent Union

Kent Union are your Students’ Union at Canterbury. From money worries to housing issues, academic problems to visa support, Kent Union’s Student Advice Centre is available to help through their free, impartial and confidential advice service.

You can also get in touch with your Kent Union full-time officers who are each responsible for specific areas within the Union.

Health services

Kent has its own NHS general practice on campus called the University Medical Centre, with an independent pharmacy next to it. Our University Nursing Service provide advice for minor illnesses/injuries and contraception, and is staffed 24 hours a day during term time by registered nurses. Check out this Visual Guide: Finding Health Support and Emergency Services at University

Jar of coins

How to save money on your food shop

The cost of living is increasing, which can make all of our food shops a lot more expensive! To try to cut down on expenses when buying your weekly shop, we’ve compiled a list of student tips.

(1) Plan your weekly budget

The best place to start is having a weekly budget to work out how much you can realistically afford to spend each week on food. Start by working out your income – whether you have a part-time job or you’re getting money from your parents, every income you have should be accounted for. You’ll then need to make a note of your regular expenses and subtract this from your income. This should then leave you with the amount you have available for food, activities, shopping, and anything else you need to buy over the week. Make sure you set aside a fair amount for food and necessities, and use this weekly budget to inform your spending decisions and plan your food shopping accordingly.

(2) If you can, buy in bulk

Buying in bulk works out cheaper in the long run. For items with a long shelf life that you know you’ll use – like pasta, rice, and washing up liquid – it’s cheaper and easier to buy larger quantities than to keep getting small packets. For example, currently, 1kg of Tesco Penne Pasta costs £1.40, whereas 300g costs £1. Although the 300g packet is cheaper, it works out as £3.34 per kg of pasta when buying 300g packs – which is clearly more expensive than just buying the 1kg bag and using it throughout the term. Therefore, if you can afford it, it’s better to bulk buy at the start of term than to keep buying smaller amounts of items each week.

(3) Do your food shop in the evenings

Most supermarkets start reducing the price of food after about 18.00 so that they can get rid of stock before the end of the day, and make things cheaper that they will no longer be able to sell as ‘fresh’ the next morning. This is great for getting a cheaper food shop – the food will still be fine to eat, just less expensive!

(4) Make a list

Making a list of what you NEED will help to keep you on track with your shopping, and will ensure you don’t waste money on unnecessary items that will just end up going in the bin (which is also far more environmentally friendly as it limits food waste!) Make sure you check your cupboards before you head to the shop so you don’t buy duplicate items that you won’t need, and jot down any ingredients you’re missing.

(5) Keep an eye out for student discounts and cheap deals

There are lots of money-saving discounts online and in stores. As students, you should be able to access student discounts for a range of shops and restaurants, so make sure you always ask if this is available when shopping. For discounts on the Canterbury campus, grab yourself a Totum discount card or a Co-Op membership to access rewards and offers in our two Co-Op stores. It’s also a good idea to do your food shops at cheaper supermarkets (like Aldi and Lidl) if possible, as this will save you a lot of money in the long-run.

 

We hope that these tips offer you some help for saving money on food. The rising cost of living is difficult for many of our students, and we understand that some extra help may be needed at this time.

If you’re still struggling, please reach out to our Student Support and Wellbeing team for help. You can also access Kent Union’s Foodbank at Mandela Student Centre Monday-Friday, 9.00-17.00, and can speak to their Advice Centre about any extra support or advice you might need.

For more information on budgeting, check out our Budgeting Guide.