Monthly Archives: December 2022

Pre-Hannukah Celebrations across Campus

It was lovely to welcome Rabbi Zalman Lewis to campus this week to conduct a pre-Hannukah celebration. Rabbi Lewis lit a Hannukah candle, shared some welcome doughnuts and brought people together at this important time of year in the Jewish calendar.

Rabbi Lewis praised the university for its support and encouragement of the annual celebration. He said, “an essential Hanukkah message is the rights of all to wear their religion and identity proudly and publicly”.

“It was wonderful to promote a meaningful message to so many students via our pre-Hannukah celebration. As a small community at Kent, events like this are so important to raise the profile of Jewish students at the University and to help young Jews to connect with each other at this special time of year. There were also lots of warm interactions with students and staff from many backgrounds which is exactly what festivals like this are all about.”

Chabad at South East Coast Universities was established in 2006 as part of the expansion of Chabad at University Campuses across the UK to be a presence for Jewish students and provide the security and confidence they need. Since then, many social events, meals, lunch n learns and more have taken place at the University of Kent and other universities based across the South East.

Vice-Chancellor’s December update

Dear Colleagues, 

My warmest wishes to all of you as we come to the end of another busy term and look ahead to Christmas and the New Year break. This is always a special time of year – this week alone has shown the breadth of what it means to people through our traditional carol service in Canterbury Cathedral, carols round the tree, our local rabbi lighting a pre-Hannukah candle on campus, and our archive growing with materials from the world’s first Muslim pantomime! My thanks also to everyone who has been out early in the mornings making our campuses safe through the recent icy conditions. 

Lots to celebrate in 2022 

Before we all head off for a well-deserved break, I wanted to pause and reflect on a year that has once again seen some real successes for Kent. The REF is an obvious place to start, with our excellent results standing us in good stead for the years ahead. We were also able to invest further in STEM through a £1m grant from the Office for Students, supporting key areas where we are looking to grow. 

Community has been a major focus this year, with our first ever Kent Giving Week raising tens of thousands for the Parkinson’s Centre for Integrated Therapy, and our inaugural Youth Summit bringing schools together from across the county. We’ve also shown what a wider university community is all about through our twinning with Kherson State University in Ukraine. Our commitment to our role within wider society will develop further next year with our application to be a University of Sanctuary and the development of our Right to Food initiative. 

The return of in-person graduations was another big highlight, with the smiles and hugs across multiple ceremonies a real boost for everyone. It’s also been great to see our new brand identity centred on ambition rolling out across our campuses and marketing material. 

Looking ahead to 2023 

So there is lots to build on as we look ahead to next year. As I have updated previously, we do have bumps in the road to negotiate, particularly linked to our in-year issue with student retention – on Wednesday we held a dedicated session with senior leaders to focus on this and the practical steps we can take to ensure we don’t face this issue again. Linked to this will be a concerted focus on the National Student Survey.  

Our annual accounts have now been published, which set out some of the challenges ahead, including our continued need to think about our ways of working and how we can be more effective. Income is what we need to remain focussed on and we have an Executive Group strategy session next week and a Council strategy session in January, where we will be thinking about what else we can do to move the University forwards. I was also pleased to see the new Education Secretary Gilian Keegan row back on recent comments regarding international students; it goes without saying that our international community brings so much to our University and our region and is of huge value socially and culturally. We are proud to welcome so many people from around the world to Kent. 

Making ambition count 

While the sector is still facing challenges, we should remain proud of what we do and the impact we have for so many. Our University supports thousands of students each year to make their ambition count, finding their way in the world in a supportive environment through the huge talent and effort of every one of you. There are successes big and small every day and while I don’t underestimate how much work that takes, I want to thank all of you for your continued commitment to the University.  

I hope all get some down time over the coming weeks and wish you all the very best as we head towards 2023. 

With all good wishes for Christmas and the New Year. 

Yours sincerely 

Karen 


All staff are invited to join the Vice-Chancellor for a Community Catch-Up on 17 January 2023 between 12.00-13,00, where Karen will be providing a mid-term review and a look ahead to the rest of the year. Sign up now and a calendar invite will be sent to all attendees beforehand with information on how to join.

Welcome Fair

Using Library and IT services – your first few weeks

Welcome to Kent!

Follow these top tips for study success in using library and IT services:

Take the IT and Library e-induction in Moodle

Take the IT and Library e-induction on Moodle. You’ll be guided through all you need to know to help you get off to a flying start! If you’re studying a module remotely – you can take the Your Digital Library and IT e-induction (remote study only) version

Explore the Library with the Templeman Trail app

Follow the ‘Templeman Trail’ – explore and discover where to find your books; your favourite study space and Library services to help you succeed. Download Actionbound from your App store and search for ‘Templeman Trail’. Then head to the Library to start the trail.

Read our essential IT and Library guides

We have lots of useful online guides covering all you need to know in your first few weeks at Kent including: connecting to Wi-Fi and online services, downloading free software, borrowing books from the Templeman Library and accessing your Digital Library.

Working Smart Online webinar presentations

View our series of Working Smart Online webinar presentations to get off to a flying start:

For further help:

Check our key guides on the Library and IT services student web page.

Contact IT & Library Support

  • helpdesk@kent.ac.uk
  • 01227 824888
  • Use the Chat to us button (Library and IT web pages) to launch online chat
  • Visit us: Block D, Ground Floor, Templeman Library

If your request is urgent, please use Nexus Self Service to submit a ticket and we’ll get back to you when we are able.

Director of the Institute of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing (iHSCW)

We are currently inviting applications for Director of the Institute of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing (iHSCW), on a fixed-term basis (3 years). To apply, fill in a short form and upload a CV and Cover Letter. 

Institute of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing (iHSCW) will be promoting multi and interdisciplinary research and teaching activities in the field of health, social care and wellbeing.

The University of Kent is establishing an Institute of Health, Social Care and Wellbeing (iHSCW) as a university-wide hub to promote multi- and interdisciplinary research and teaching activities in the field of health, social care and wellbeing. Building on existing strengths at Kent in health and social care, iHSCW will serve as a major regional catalyst for the highest-quality research, knowledge exchange, and education. It will lead a step change in the University’s activities in this field, regionally, nationally and globally, providing leadership and a scaled-up approach across the three pillars of the University’s activities, with a particular emphasis on building partnerships with external stakeholders and securing external funding to support research and innovation that can contribute significantly to addressing challenges in health, social care and wellbeing.

iHSCW will support the University’s civic mission by addressing significant regional needs and challenges in health and social care.

Working in close collaboration and partnership with external stakeholders across Kent and Medway, including the Integrated Health Boards (ICBs), Public Health departments, local authorities, health and social care providers and commissioners, business and industry, policy-makers, post-16 education providers, and the wider community, iHSCW will support the University’s civic mission by addressing significant regional needs in health and social care, particularly those in coastal towns and communities. Mobilising the University’s current resources and research expertise in the field, and building on those resources, iHSCW will focus in particular on the prevention of ill-health, both physical and mental, and on interventions and other strategies (including educational) designed to increase opportunities for lifelong health.

As a hub for research, innovation and education in health and social care, iHSCW will bring together researchers and educators across the University to work together on larger collaborative funding applications, as well as the development of intellectual property (IP) and spin-outs, involving those from across the arts, humanities, and medical, natural, and social sciences. The Institute will work with academic Divisions to ensure coherence and oversight to our education and training provision, ensuring that any future offer is responsive and aligned to external stakeholder needs.

The Institute will thus ensure that the University plays a major role in addressing health and social care challenges in the region and beyond, though research, innovation, and knowledge exchange, education, and civic engagement, generating significant income to support its activities.

Changes to KentVision Technology Release Timeline 

Following recent meetings of the KentVision (KV) Project Board, I wanted to share with you some of the decisions that we have made regarding the future direction of the project, as well as some other significant updates.

It is important for me to stress that the University remains committed to delivering the KV project and to realising its benefits. Since we went live in April 2021, a number of very significant features and improvements have been developed and delivered (e.g., new functionality for students to view and maintain assessment deadlines and features for the processing of mitigating circumstance requests, board of examiner and post-board amendments), but there remains a large backlog of features and functionality requests yet to be confirmed for delivery.

The KV Project Board, in close cooperation with university central governance groups, has made the decision to move the KV work from a separate project to an IS business-as-usual delivery model by the summer of 2023.

As a consequence, between now and summer of 2023, we must re-focus the project on delivering features, functionality and data improvements in the following areas:

  • Compliance (e.g., features relating to UKVI reporting)
  • Statutory obligations (e.g., features relating to HESA Data Futures ensuring we maintain our link to UCAS)

When the compliance and statutory features and functionality in the backlog are assessed, the risk to the institution of not delivering these is extremely large. We must deliver changes on these areas by summer 2023 as a result to changes to regulations and a delay will present real risk in meeting our compliance obligations.

We know there are challenges for teams who are experiencing workload pressures. To try and address these, from January 2023 we are establishing a dedicated KV Operational Support Team to provide technical support during intensive operational processes, that require manual workarounds, throughout the academic year (e.g., online module registration and academic roll-over activities). We will work with local managers to make sure the impact is understood, and the right support and mitigations are in place so teams can continue delivering high-quality services with existing systems and tools.

A significant amount of work had already been completed across the six KV Functional Area Groups which has enabled delivery of new features and a greater understanding of our activities and operations; along with insights as to how we may best organise these activities within KV and across Central and Divisional Teams. The project is now reviewing the original planned activities and we are developing plans with Senior Leadership and the KV Functional Group Chairs to move forward these key areas of work, reprioritising the plan.

The possible options we will consider for addressing the remaining features in the backlog include:

  • Further technical development work to KentVision
  • An alternative existing software solution (e.g., Office 365)
  • A process and or policy change.

The revised plan will prioritise areas where we will get maximum benefit for professional service, academic staff, and our students. I will update colleagues in January 2023 on how we intend to address the remaining features within the backlog.

KV has already delivered key features and functionality – this is down to the hard work and achievements of the many colleagues who have contributed to the project thus far. I thank them for that, and for their excellent work.

Our commitment to supporting our staff is unwavering, and as we are now moving towards the end of the KV project phase, we have to make changes to both our plan and our approach that take this into consideration. The KV Project Board is meeting frequently to monitor the impact of this decision and the mitigations being put in place, and we will provide regular updates to you moving forward.

Annual Finance Report 21/22

To help address the additional financial pressure this year including inflation and the increased cost of living, we all need to do all we can to help reduce any non-essential spend – the Finance team have written to budget holders with updated budgets to reflect this and we should all keep this in mind when planning projects in the months ahead. We have also put in place an ‘exceptional approval to hire’ process so there is tighter control around staff recruitment for the time being.

Our Financial Statements and Annual Review for 21/22 have now been published, showing an underlying operating result of an £11.7m deficit which is in line with the budget we set for the year – reflecting an important step on the path to achieving financial sustainability. As with many universities, this year’s accounts include a very significant additional pensions charge of £54.6m which is why you see a larger overall deficit – this is the result of the 2020 valuation of the USS pension scheme and is an accounting adjustment only, with no adverse impact on Kent’s underlying performance or cash levels.

Reflected in the reported 21/22 performance was the return to more regular conditions as the impact of Covid receded, with increased face-to-face activity, improved occupancy and more use of student accommodation and catering facilities leading to increased income. Total income grew by 3.7% to £260.4m compared to 2020/21, although tuition fees were lower with increased competition for students. This return to full activity and the removal of temporary measures to control costs, as well as additional investment into areas of growth potential, meant that costs increased by 11%, to £274.5m. This excess of spend over income, along with planned payments to lenders resuming in-year, has meant that our cash balances have reduced in the year, to £30.5m (equivalent to 45 days of spend). Whilst this still exceeds the University’s financial sustainability target, work continues to improve the underlying operating performance and cash generation.

Looking ahead, 2022/23 has brought additional challenges with lower student retention than expected impacting on income levels, and inflation and energy costs are also placing pressure on budgets. We have put in place measures to ensure that we can we achieve the budgeted result – a managed deficit of £6.0m. This involves short-term cost control measures which delay the timing of new investments and restrict non-essential spending. We’re currently working through the details of these measures and will be providing full updates to budget holders early in the New Year. Alongside this, and with a focus on the longer-term financial sustainability, initiatives are being worked up aimed at increasing and diversifying income and ensuring our operations are delivered as efficiently as possible.

 

IT and Library support desk

Job opportunity: Join the IT and Library Support Team

We’re looking for part-time staff to join our team at the IT & Library Support Desk in the Templeman Library.

Location: Templeman Library, Canterbury Campus
Salary: £12.06 per hour

The role

Information Services is looking for people to join our team as Support Assistants, working flexible hours part-time to staff the IT & Library Support Desk in the Templeman Library. These vacancies will begin in January 2023 and continue until at least the end of the 2022/23 academic year. Training will be provided.

Responsibilities include:

  • assisting students, staff and visitors in finding and using library resources and public IT facilities
  • supporting students connecting their own devices to the University networks and services
  • supporting circulation functions within the Library and at partner institutions.

In an average week we aim to offer at least 6 hours of work, though this is not guaranteed. The Support Desk is open 7 days a week, up to 12 hours a day, with most shifts between 09:00-21:00 Monday to Friday and 12:00-18:00 Saturday and Sunday.

Initial pay will be at least £12.06 per hour. Upon gaining sufficient experience there is an opportunity to progress to a higher rate.

The person

The successful candidates will have a keen desire to help others and excellent communications skills, coupled with a good understanding of the library and IT facilities provided by the University of Kent.

  • They will be confident, friendly and willing to approach others to offer assistance and enforce regulations.
  • Advanced knowledge of both IT and library resources is desirable but not essential for this position.

We expect all Support Assistants to be available to work during Welcome Week (September), as this is our busiest time of year.

For full details of the role and the selection criteria please refer to the job description linked below.

The department

The IT and Library Support team is part of User Experience within the Information Services department at the University of Kent.

More information

Closing date for applications: 14 March 2023 

If you’re a Kent student and need advice on job applications and interviews, contact the Careers and Employability Service.

Due to the volume of applications expected for these posts there may be a delay between the closing date and receiving a response from us. Please do not contact us for updates on the status of your application; we will contact every applicant with the outcome of their submission in due course.

Interviews are scheduled to be held in early January, however we will continue to accept applications until 14 March from people who are available to work later in the year.

photos of people involved in DHM at Kent 2022 & DHM logo

Disability History Month – how we marked it at Kent in 2022

To decide how to celebrate and mark Disability History Month this year, members of Kent Union, staff and students from a variety of divisions, networks, and groups across the Medway and Canterbury campuses met frequently throughout the term to plan and collaborate. Sharing ideas and looking at how far we have come has been part of the process in continuing to think of new and inspiring ways not only to celebrate Disability History Month, but also to identify areas where there work is still needed to continue to grow and develop new inclusive ways to remove barriers.

Event highlights

Exhibition and film screening

Student Engagement and Communications Officer Natalia Crisanti and Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic Strategy, Planning, and Performance) Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura, introduced the screening of a number of short videos called ‘Our Stories’ (BSL interpreted) with students and staff, current and past, talking about their experiences of disability. The films emphasise considering and anticipating the seen and unseen needs of all, with people listening to one another carefully and understanding that each person is the authority on their own best conditions for thriving. With such a wealth of inspirational people at Kent it has been a great opportunity to take time to focus and reflect on our community and what disability means to us as a University. Janice Markey, Kent’s Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion notes that “the exhibition and screening [which took place on 6 December] are an inspiring impetus for us in our work to create an environment at Kent which is welcoming and inclusive for all”. For more on the screening and exhibition opening, read the blogpost summarising this event. You can also watch a video version of the timeline (narrated, with closed captions), or read a slightly abridged version on Kent’s Disability History Month webpage.

Chloe Timms author talk
Former student Chloe Timms returned to Kent to give a talk on her debut novel ‘The Seawomen’ (2022). Chloe discussed about how she became a published author alongside the challenges of being a disabled writer. To find out more about her professional journey, visit Chloe Timms’ blog.

Chloe Timms with her book. Woman seated in wheelchair, with blonde hair and pink jacked. Book titled 'The Seawoman' on the table in front of her.

Research and career opportunities

Also this month was an opportunity for one of our PhD students to showcase her research with a Virtual Reality Wheelchair Driving Experience, and the Careers and Employability Service hosted a number of online groups for students, including workshops on how to ask for adjustments in the workplace, and sessions on the Change 100 internship scheme, which offers paid summer work placements for students with disabilities.

Finger casting workshop

On the topic of health and wellbeing, a finger casting workshop was held whereby participants could let their artistic sides show through creating their own finger sculpture and foil embossed artwork. The idea was to encourage awareness and connection with the body through creativity.

Group of students seated at a table with craft activities.

Millie Knight – sports champion talk

Kent Union’s focus was on creating opportunities for students to come together and learn from each other. Their events included plant pot painting and a talk from former student, and four-time Paralympic skiing medallist and Karate world champion, Millie Knight. Thomas Freeston, Vice President of Welfare and Community was Kent Union’s lead on DHM, and reflected on the month as an “opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people living with a disability and also raise awareness”.

Group of people standing in front of a banner, holding medals.

What’s next? Let’s shape tomorrow together…

Of course, opportunities for discussion and progress are not limited to Disability History Month. You can get involved in many different ways throughout the year. Perhaps through the Staff Disability Network and Student Accessibility Network. Please contact EqualityAndDiversity@kent.ac.uk if you would like to share any ideas or feedback about this year’s disability history month or disability provision in general.

~~~

Did you know that Student Support and Wellbeing (SSW) advisers can help students set up the support they need at any time during their studies? Check out this guide on Seeking Support from SSW for more information.

Follow #DHMKent22 and #InclusiveKent on social media for the latest, and if you would like to contribute your experience and perspective to conversations, podcasts or articles on this theme, please email StudentServicesWeb@kent.ac.uk.

Written by Maddy Kendall, Joshua Stevens and Natalia Crisanti, Student Services, 13.12.22

fruit in a supermarket

How to save money on your food shop

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 Campus Pantry at Mandela Student Centre, and can speak to their Advice Service about any extra support or advice you might need. We also offer a range of emergency financial support options.  

In addition to this support, we’ve compiled a list of student tips to help save on your food shop.

(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.

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

Taking photo of Christmas tree on phone

Got a new phone, tablet or laptop? Do this to stay connected

Got a new phone or laptop recently, or hoping to get one this Christmas? Stay connected to all Kent systems by adding a second authentication method (such as a home phone number and/or mobile number) now to your account. It’s quick and easy to do.

Choose a method that won’t be affected if you change device or mobile phone number. For example, if you use an authenticator app on a device you’re replacing, this won’t transfer to a new device unless you’ve backed it up. Adding a secondary method such as your home phone number or mobile number (if you intend to keep the same number) will help avoid any loss of access.

This will be especially useful during the vacation when the University is closed and our staff won’t be around to help reset your account.

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) is required for off campus access to email and other Kent IT systems and online services. It adds an extra layer of security to your IT Account. It provides a 99.9% reduction in compromised accounts and will also help to protect your own personal information.

User guide

MFA at Kent user guide

Help and support

If you have any questions, please contact IT and Library Support: