Monthly Archives: January 2023

Industrial action

Industrial Action: Strikes in February and March

From Professor Richard Reece | DVC Education & Student Experience 

Earlier this week, the UCU trade union announced a series of planned strike days in February and March as part of their long-running national dispute over pay, pensions and working conditions. If the strikes go ahead, it will be an unprecedented period of disruption for which I am very sorry – it is our sincere hope that a national agreement can be reached beforehand. In the meantime, we are working on contingency plans in a number of areas to limit the impact on your studies if the strikes do indeed go ahead.

We know from the action before Christmas that the impact of strike days is likely to be very different in different areas of the University. We will therefore send further information next week to reflect this, including where you will be able to find out more about what this means for you. There is more information on the background to the strikes on our industrial action student info pages.

Planned strike days

Strike days are due to take place at all universities across the country on the following days:

  • Wednesday 1 February
  • Thursday 9 and Friday 10 February
  • Tuesday 14 to Thursday 16 February inclusive
  • Tuesday 21 to Thursday 23 February inclusive
  • Monday 27 Feb to Thursday 2 March inclusive
  • Thursday 16 to Friday 17 March
  • Monday 20 to Wednesday 22 March inclusive

What we will do throughout

Strike negotiations take place nationally which means we cannot solve the dispute here at Kent. However, we continue to urge all parties to keep talking so they can find a way forward that balances staff being fairly rewarded for their hard work while recognising the financial pressures the country faces.

When I wrote last year, I set out our principles around industrial action which will remain throughout:

  • We will do all we can to mitigate any impact on your studies
  • We will never devalue your degree or coursework
  • We will refund you for any direct expenses you incur as a result of strikes
  • Any staff salaries saved as a result of strike days will be reinvested in your student experience 
  • We will be open and transparent throughout

I will write again next week with more information on this, including the practical steps we are taking to ensure your studies continue throughout this.

Finding out more

I know how frustrating this will be and how many questions many of you will have. I want you all to have the opportunity to ask any questions around this directly so will be setting up a series of both online and in-person events in February where we can talk this through together. In the meantime, there is more information on the Industrial Action webpages including how and where you can chat to someone if you have any concerns about this.

Thank you for your patience with this very challenging situation, and I will be in touch again shortly.

Save 20% on Kent Sport memberships

January is often a tough month, with expectations high for the year. The days are dark, the weather is cold and it can be hard to get motivated. We’re here to help you crack those January blues and feel more energised and positive. That’s why we’ve reduced all our membership fees by 20% when you join between 16 January – 28 February 2023.

Already a Kent Sport member? Consider upgrading your membership to a package with even more benefits and save 20% when you do!

As a Premium Plus member, you have access to our whole fitness suite, a range of fitness classes, sports clubs, discounted fitness services and tennis tuition and UNIversal gym membership, which gives you access to over 60 other university gyms across the country! It can’t get much better right? Well, you might be surprised to hear it can! New for 2023 and part of the Premium Plus package, you can access a suite of FREE Les Mills virtual instructor classes every week!

What are you waiting for? Upgrade your membership at one of our sports receptions, or become a member today!

University of the Year, LTA awards nomination

Kent Sport is excited to announce that the Kent Indoor Tennis and Events Arena (KITEA) has been nominated for the University of the Year Lawn and Tennis Association (LTA) Awards. Each year the LTA award a selection of clubs, schools, universities, and individuals for their impressive achievements throughout the year.

2022 saw the University of East London take home the accolade for University of the year, something which the University of Kent is keen to rival. In addition, Tennis President, Sophie Kitson has also been nominated for the Rising Star award, after having served as a line umpire at Wimbledon in 2022 and successfully completing her chair umpire course in autumn last year.

With the awards dinner and regional voting taking place on 11 February 2023, the University of Kent is in a brilliant position to progress through Regionals in April and onto Nationals, which will be announced in May 2023.

This last year has seen the appointment of Tennis Development Manager, Nick Skelton, who has supported President, Sophie Kitson in the development of a comprehensive tennis programme aimed at all levels of player, from beginner to experienced. Including coaching teams’ tennis, development squad tennis, beginners’ tennis, social play and competitions. Additionally, Nick has worked hard to promote the Tennis Centre, through Open Days, individual and team coaching and training.

Some of the achievements highlighted in the nomination include:

  • An increase in student society memberships
  • 154+ student members playing university tennis each week
  • The British University and Colleges Sport (BUCS) tennis team has increased from two teams to four
  • Female LTA level 1 delivered to eight participants
  • 100+ took part in TCF competition
  • University ladder league launched

We are wishing the Kent Tennis Centre all the best for February’s voting and look forward to seeing their continued development through the year!

transgender flag

Gender Recognition Bill: Support for staff

The recent Gender Recognition Bill in Scotland has attracted widespread comment and coverage after the UK government made history by preventing the Scottish Parliament from passing this law. The new Bill would make it easier for people born in Scotland to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), speeding up the process of changing someone’s legal sex and reducing the age that people can apply to 16.

Given this coverage, we want to reiterate our position of working towards an environment where individuals can feel safe and comfortable, without the fear of harassment or discrimination. Please take a look at our EDI policy, Dignity at Work policy and Trans Student Support policy for more information.

We are committed to fostering a positive working environment where all employees are treated fairly, with dignity, courtesy, respect, and consideration. All staff have a responsibility to create an environment that is free from harassment, bullying, unlawful discrimination, and victimisation. We do not – and will not – tolerate discrimination and harassment within our institution. We have been pleased to see growing awareness of the diversity of the trans and non-binary community and increased understanding of the breadth of gender identities. Unfortunately, this visibility has come with a rise in hostility towards some members of the trans community.

Support and information for staff at Kent

  • There is a support group in Canterbury that meets twice a month. It is open to trans, intersex and non-binary people at Kent. The group is run by trans/non-binary people for trans/non-binary people. Family and partners are welcome.
  • There are gender-neutral toilet facilities across our Canterbury and Medway campuses.
  • Check out our directory of LGBTQ+ self-help resources including details of free, confidential, specialist helplines and support group networks, such as Metro, The Be You Project, and Gendered Intelligence.
  • Our LGBTQ+ Staff Network encourages people from all backgrounds, sexual orientations and gender identities to get involved and welcomes any ideas, feedback and advice you have.
  • We fully support and encourage all our students and staff to report incidents of harassment and discrimination using existing policies.
  • Our LGBTQ+ network have a fantastic blog that covers ongoing news, events and challenges – stay up to date with the issues affecting the community.
  • Mermaids UK and Stonewall have easily accessible resources and Q&A that cover many of the relevant issues.
  • The University of Kent Rainbow Lanyard celebrates and promotes our work around Equality, Diversity and Inclusion. Wearing one shows your commitment to providing a safe and comfortable environment for all of our LGBTQ+ staff and students. It also shows LGBTQ+ people that they can ‘bring their whole selves’ to you without fear of judgement or an unsupportive reaction.

Industrial Action Update

As we head into the Spring term, many will be aware that the dispute between the University and College Union (UCU) and Universities UK continues with further strike days expected this term. Nationally UCU currently has a mandate for industrial action through until April and has recently announced 18 days of strikes to be taken over the next two months – these start on the 1 February, with the full list of dates available on our staff webpages. 

While we regret the planned strike action, and particularly the effect this unprecedented amount of strike activity will have on our students’ time at Kent, we are far from the only sector facing disruption at the moment and it is clear that this a difficult time for many. The rising cost of living is putting great pressure on budgets for both individuals and employers – this is certainly the case at Kent, as I’m sure it is for many of you personally. As well as our ongoing discussions with our local UCU branch on matters under our control at Kent, we continue to urge all parties to continue discussion nationally in the interests of an outcome that balances a fair deal for staff with maintaining the financial sustainability of universities themselves.  

Pay is, of course, not the only issue under dispute with the long-running disagreement over pensions also at the heart of the current action. Changes for those in the USS pension scheme were brought in last year which, while regrettable, were done with the future integrity of the scheme in mind. However, the process that led to this exposed the weaknesses in the current governance structure for the scheme – along with other universities we are jointly funding a review of this and agree with UCU’s position nationally that we shouldn’t continue with taking the same approach to decision-making around the future of the scheme. There is more background on this, and the other areas under dispute currently, on our Industrial Action Staff Webpages. 

The first strike day on 1 February is timed to coincide with a national day of action around changes to strike laws in the UK. A strong trade union voice is an important part of employee relations and, here at Kent, local representatives of all our recognised unions regularly make valuable contributions in the interest of improving all of our time at Kent. We fully respect the right to strike and I can appreciate colleagues’ concerns at the recent proposed shift by the Government. Above all, though, it is important we respect the differing views people have across areas and, where we do disagree, ensure that this remains both considerate and constructive. Strike days can be contentious but there are agreed boundaries around what they involve – while those on strike are entitled to withhold their labour, I’m grateful that this continues to be done in a respectful manner that recognises that many others will be working as usual.  

It’s my sincere hope that an agreement can be reached between UCU and UCEA that avoids further damaging industrial action – in the meantime I will continue to keep you updated as the current period continues.

logo for holocaust memorial day and picture of electric tealights

Holocaust Memorial Day 2023

Holocaust Memorial Day – 27 January

Between 1941 and 1945, six million Jews were murdered by the Nazis during the HolocaustThe Nazis also murdered millions of others including Roma, Gypsy and Sinti people, people with disabilities, gay people, and many whose political views or religious beliefs threatened the Nazi regime.

On 27 January 2000, the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, 46 governments signed the Stockholm Declaration and founded Holocaust Memorial Day. This day is to remember the millions murdered during the Holocaust, under Nazi Persecution and in subsequent genocides in Cambodia (1975-1979), Rwanda (1994), Bosnia (1995) and later Darfur in 2003.

You can learn more about the Holocaust by using your Kent login to access an online library of films.

On YouTube, you can watch Medway campus Chaplain Lynne Martin’s seven-minute video marking Holocaust Memorial Day, in which she shines a light on the hope, bravery and heroism of an individual in the midst of horror and atrocity. You can also learn more about the Holocaust by using your Kent login to access an online library of films.

Fighting antisemitism and hate at Kent 

Prejudice, discrimination and hatred based solely on difference is still pervasive in society today. This includes anti-Jewish attitudes, with reports of antisemitism increasing at Universities, and the recently released investigation into antisemitism within the National Union of Student (NUS).

Antisemitism is a form of racism and religious discrimination and we do not tolerate it at Kent.

We have adopted the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition of antisemitism and the Jewish Declaration of Antisemitism. This is an important statement of our solidarity with the Jewish community and our commitment to stamping out antisemitism at Kent.

Light the Darkness – 27 January, 16:00.

On 27 January at 16:00, you are invited remember pause and reflect by placing a battery-operated tea light in your office or window to honour Holocaust victims and show you stand against prejudice and hatred today. You can also wear purple in solidarity.

The battery-operated candles are available free from Mandela Reception from Friday 20 January. (For safety reasons, please do not use a candle with a real flame. Candles with flames are not allowed in University offices or many privately rented properties.)

There are other opportunities to commemorate throughout the year, including Antisemitism Awareness Week in March and Roma Holocaust Remembrance Day on 22 August.

Written by Becky Lamyman, Natalia Crisanti and Joshua Stevens, Student Services staff.


Finance measures update

As we head toward the end of Quarter 2 of our financial year and take steps to ensure we achieve our budgeted results, we all need to continue to do all we can to reduce non-essential spending. Like many organisations, we are facing some extremely challenging financial conditions due to pressures from inflation and soaring energy prices. On top of this, we have faced additional challenges with lower student retention than expected impacting income levels.   

To address these issues, the budget has been reset for the year, reducing budgets for goods and services to compensate for our reduced income. It is essential that we stay within this budget, and last week budget holders were updated on reductions in their areas. 

New measures in place 

Steps have been taken to reduce non-essential expenditure across all activities and categories of spend, with expenditure only incurred where absolutely necessary. Specific areas that will make a big difference are:  

  • Consultants and Contractors: This resource should only be used where it would otherwise greatly reduce the student experience and a new approval process for this is in place for any essential requirements in this area. 
  • Travel: Bookings for in-person conference attendance in 2023 should not be made unless funded externally or with advance permission from a Director. Wherever it is possible to attend events online or achieve similar outcomes without travel, we should not be travelling. 

Planning ahead 

Looking ahead, we urgently need to reduce spend for the rest of this year and the above are areas where we can see room to do this. 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. 

If you need further advice on this, please contact the finance team via the emails below: 

Any questions relating to procurement can go to: 

For specific queries relating to Divisions, contact: 

For Professional Service Departments, contact: 

Inspirational Speaker event with Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis OBE

The BAME Staff Network are proud to be joined by Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis OBE for an insightful conversation on Brilliant Leadership in a Diverse World. This online event will take place on Wednesday 8 February at 14.15 via Teams.

Fill out this form to book your place or alternatively scan this QR code:

About the Speaker – Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis OBE

Dr Fiona Bartels-Ellis OBE is Global Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) at the British Council and member of its Global Leadership Team, she is responsible for setting and driving the strategic direction of EDI worldwide. 

Fiona is a former social worker, a member of the Higher Education Academy and her local Race Equality Council, a Trustee of Africa Gifted Foundation led by Tom llube, supporting gifted and talented African girls in science, and a founding member of the Premiere League’s Independent Equality Panel.

Her 2005 OBE further recognised her contribution to EDI, and she has been recognised as Britain’s most influential people of African and African Heritage Powerlist on three occasions and is now in its Hall of Fame.  As a published writer, strategic thinker and EDI powerhouse, the BAME Network looks forward to what will be an insightful and powerful conversation with Fiona.

Join the Pint of Science Festival – 22-24 May 2023

Calling all scientists and researchers! You are warmly invited to the Pint of Science Festival, taking place from 22-24 May 2023.

This event is a worldwide science festival which brings researchers to your local pub/cafe/space to share their scientific discoveries with you, in a relaxed and informal setting.

The idea is to provide a platform which allows scientists from a wide range of fields, to share their research with the public. This is a fantastic opportunity to engage the public with your research and to get experience of sharing it with new audiences. Both the University and the REF acknowledge the importance of such outreach. Plus it’s a lot of fun!

We will be running festival events in Canterbury and Medway and are now looking for expressions of interest from speakers, including Early Career Researchers and final year PhD students looking to develop their skills and experience in talking about their research.

If you are interested, please email us at with the following details by Tuesday 31 January:

  1. Your name and school/department
  2. A summary of your research (max 100 words)
  3. Your description for your proposed session – 20-30 minutes (max 100 words)
  4. An explanation of how you will make it engaging for the public audience – importantly involving an interactive component (max 100 words).
  5. Suggest which of the below Pint of Science themes you think your session would best fit into.

Pint of Science themes

  • Beautiful Mind – neuroscience, psychology and psychiatry
  • Atoms to Galaxies – physics, chemistry, maths, astronomy
  • Our Body – medicine, human biology, health
  • Planet Earth – geosciences, plant sciences, zoology
  • Tech Me Out – biotechnology, robotics, computers
  • Our Society – law, history, politics, policy, languages
  • Creative Reactions – art and science come together

The Kent Pint of Science Team will review these ‘expressions of interest’ with a view to developing themes for each evening of the festival. We will then contact applicants in early February with the outcome, further info and later organise a practice run in the spring for all of our presenters.

We look forward to hearing from you!

For further general information visit the Pint of Science website.

Read our news stories and watch the video on the Pint of Science event

Canterbury Pint of Science Event – to focus on human thought

Public invited to Pint of Science Event – Pros and Cons of Modern Technology

Kent Online video – Worldwide Talk Celebrating Research Comes to Kent 

Download DEFY. and explore local independent businesses

Veronika Stoyanova, Lecturer in Political Sociology has teamed up with two local business owners Jack Mayhew of Bramley’s Bar and Sam Holden of The Monument Pub to create DEFY. This app maps out all independents in your area and helps boost their popularity by making them easier to find, offering discounts, and highlighting promotions.   

With the cost of living and energy crisis, the team have spent months worrying about tough conditions and the concern of rare and special places in Kent being shut down amid our current economic climate.  

“DEFY. came out of frustration with how little your chances are of weathering a recession if you’re a small independent business. So, we came up with an idea that’s very simple – an app that maps out all independents in your area and gives you access to discounts and offers from them, as well as alerting you to local events and campaigns. Businesses, for once, pay nothing to be on it. Users pay 99p a month but gain that back with just one visit to the local pub. A friend recently saved £8 in a week using 10% off in a local cafe and 20% off in a local pub.” Veronika Stoyanova 

As a non-profit organisation, the 99p subscription fee will initially go towards running costs, but as the team hopes to map out much of the country, they aim to get to a stage when they can offer interest-free loans, free legal advice, and cash-back rewards to businesses on the app.   

You can download DEFY now and further information can be found on the DEFY website. There’s already a wide range of independent Canterbury businesses on the app including The Fig Wine Bar, The Ballroom, Burgate Coffee House and Citi Terrace.