Author Archives: Miles Banbery

socially-distanced students walking on campus with view of cathedral in background

Keeping our communities safe

With the new academic year starting on Monday 28 September, we are looking forward to welcoming you to the University and hope you have a fantastic time at Kent.

This year will undoubtedly feel a little different for all of us. Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, we have had to make many changes to the way our University runs and follow the latest guidance for HE provided by the Department for Education.

This includes developing clear guidelines for how our students, staff and visitors should behave. Please help to keep our campuses and local communities safe and running effectively by following the guidelines and advice you receive.

Whether you are on campus or in the local community, you must follow Government regulations – in particular:

It is important that you understand the Government regulations and adhere to these. As you may have seen in the news, the infection rate is rising including among young people. Please keep yourself safe and help look after those around you by following the guidelines.

The Government has just announced new regulations regarding socialising and meeting others which come into play from Monday 14 September. These regulations apply to everyone, and include meetings both indoors and outdoors. From Monday you may only socialise in groups with a maximum of 6 people. This means that meeting with others inside your own home, outside and in bars or restaurants will all be affected. Please note, should your household already be larger than 6 people, you are allowed to meet as a group together.

The Police have the power to break up groups of more than 6 people and fines from £100 rising incrementally to £3,200 can be issued. In the case of serious or deliberate breaches of Covid-19 regulations, the University can also take action in line with our Student Disciplinary Procedure.

You’ll see lots of signs around campus and in local shops, bars and attractions to help you remember how we all need to behave now. Please follow the signs you see; they are here to keep us safe. We have put together this video to help you. Remember – all the guidance you see applies in the community as well as on campus.

For those of you forming new households this year, in either University or private rented accommodation, you should take account of the guidance on meeting people from outside your household for advice on household interactions.

If you’re still planning your journey to University, please follow Government guidance and avoid public transport where possible.

We appreciate this is a difficult time and a lot for us all to remember. The University is here to support you and we are committed to ensuring you have the best possible time at Kent. We have put together a dedicated student website for further guidance and FAQs concerning Coronavirus to help you. These will be updated as further information becomes available. There is also a clear procedure you must follow if you experience symptoms that might be Covid-19.

We are working hard to ensure you feel a part of our Kent community. Please make sure you check out all the welcome events and activities you can engage with safely during your first few weeks with us. If you need advice, our Student Support and Wellbeing Service is always on hand to help you. You can also speak with your academic school or email studenthelp@kent.ac.uk.

Our next Welcome WebChat is for new and returning students at 10.00, 28 September 2020. Please sign-up online if you’d like to attend.

Thank you for being part of our Kent community.

Best wishes

Richard

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Education and Student Experience

Coronavirus

Returning to Kent in Autumn 2020

For the attention of all students returning as undergraduates in September 2020.

I hope you are enjoying the summer – even if the summer is not quite what you might have expected – and are getting some well-deserved rest. 

Here at the University, we are working hard to prepare our campuses for your return in September. 

Looking after all members of our community is our top priority so we are putting measures in place to help you stay safe, study and socialise on campus. 

To give you a better idea of what to expect, we have developed a set of FAQs with the students’ unions. Read the FAQs online now. These are being frequently updated in line with Government guidance, so please check the FAQs before you come to campus. 

Please note, Medway campus arrangements are being discussed with our campus partners (Greenwich and Canterbury Christ Church) and more information will be available in due course. 

There is an accommodation Webchat on Friday 24 July at 10.00. Laura, from our Accommodation Team, will talk you through everything you need to know about on-campus accommodation. Lesley, from GK Unions, will also be sharing advice for students renting off-campus. Sign-up now. 

I also want to take this opportunity to remind you of the student support on offer over the summer. Our student support teams are on hand to help with any wellbeing, study or finance questions you have as are the Kent Union and GK Unions advice centres.

If you have any questions about returning in September 2020, please email studenthelp@kent.ac.uk. Alternatively, if your enquiry is about this summer’s exams and assessments, please email exams2020@kent.ac.uk.   

I look forward to welcoming you back to campus in September! 

Richard 

Professor Richard Reece | Deputy Vice-Chancellor Education and Student Experience 

Kent Logo

University welcomes BME society statement and demands

Eight of our BME student societies have made a joint submission to the University of their Statement of Solidarity & Call to Action to the University of Kent on institutional racism and the University’s need to take action.

Following on from our joint statement on racism with Kent Union, the University welcomes this submission and is committed to working through the issues raised. We have had conversations with groups of students over the last few weeks and will be continuing these. We are also inviting representatives of the societies named in the statement to meet with senior colleagues and the submission will be part of a discussion on our response to institutional racism at the next meeting of our senior management team, the Executive Group.

Many of our staff and students are actively working to address institutional racism and, following recent online forums, we have already begun additional work on a number of issues raised by members of the University. However, we recognise we have much to do to address these issues through our actions, training, education and through appropriate policies and procedures and we are committed to progressing these in partnership with our students and staff.

Coronavirus

No-detriment explained and University update

We hope you, your friends and families are all continuing to keep safe and well and that you managed to have a break over the vacation alongside studying and revising and all your other responsibilities.

As well as marking the start of the Summer Term on Monday, I am writing to let you know that additional information has been added to our student coronavirus webpages, much of it in response to your feedback at our recent WebChats and through your Kent Union representatives.

No-detriment policy explained

In particular, we are aware of how much you want to understand more fully how the no-detriment approach will work. There is a new section entitled ‘No-detriment policy explained’ that we would strongly encourage you to read.

The no-detriment approach assures all students, whether you are an undergraduate or postgraduate, that we will take account of how Covid-19 may be impacting your performance in assessed work.

Whilst further detail is in the FAQs, the key message is that we have a number of elements to the University’s no-detriment policy:

  1. A ‘safety net’ calculation based on your performance up to Saturday 14 March. We’ve published more info on this today and will add more detail on the calculation itself very soon.
  2. Additional mitigations put in place since Saturday 14 March such as extensions to deadlines and 48hr exam windows
  3. Guidance to Boards of Examiners to ensure they can and will take the disruption created by covid-19 into account in agreeing your final marks and/or degree classification.

We have also added new pages for those who have studied abroad this year or plan to next year. There are also new pages for taught postgraduates and research students.

Advice and support

Following the successful launch of the new and informal series of Kent Student WebChats delivered via Zoom earlier in April, we are planning to hold these weekly at 10.00 on Fridays. We look forwarding to engaging with you as part of these chats as they will help us identify how we can best support you.

This forms part of our extension of virtual services and online support. All of the University’s services remain open.

To help you make the most of our services and support, we are redeveloping and refreshing the Student Guide and putting together another issue of our student update e-newsletter to be sent out early next week.

In the mean time you can read about access to online and remote support in our Guide to getting support from the University and Kent Union including Student Support and Wellbeing, the Student Learning Advisory Service, IT Service Desk and both the Kent Union and GK Unions advice centres. We also urge you to make full use of our study guides for online examinations and the Kent Union De-stress zone.

There’s also more information about our continuing services for students who remain on the Canterbury campus and the Kent Union Food Bank and Kent Union Co-op shop also remain open. See their website for the opening times.

University and Kent Union staff and Full-Time Officers continue to remain available to support you throughout this period so please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

On behalf of all the staff at the University, Kent Union and Full-Time Officers we wish you all the very best luck with your examinations, dissertations and final year-end assessments.

Best wishes,

Christina and Sasha

Professor Christina Hughes                                          Sasha Langeveldt
Interim Director of Student Services                           Students’ Union President of Kent Union

Coronavirus

No-detriment policy agreed for this academic year

We know that the last few weeks have been difficult for you, and many of you are worried about sitting exams and completing other assessments. As a result of close working between Kent Union and the University, we are pleased to announce that Kent will be implementing a no-detriment policy that will safeguard the contribution of your academic performance in the outcome of your studies for this academic year.

This is an extraordinary time and the uncertainties brought about by the impact of COVID-19 have led us to develop a framework which is both flexible and academically robust. It is also designed to support you through a range of scenarios and individual circumstances. We know you have all been affected in different ways and the circumstances you find yourselves in will vary from person to person. Our approach will hopefully give you comfort in knowing that under the no-detriment policy your final average overall mark for the stage will not be impacted adversely as a consequence of the current conditions caused by COVID-19.

These changes come from the incredible amount of feedback, discussions and cooperative work from Kent Union’s elected full-time officers and from our academic colleagues. We would like to thank you for your input, patience and understanding. We are confident that we have developed a set of principles which will ensure that you will not be academically disadvantaged in any way during the summer assessment period.

We would ask you also to note that due to the rules of professional recognition status in a limited number of subjects, we may not be permitted to apply the ‘safety net’ policy to specific professionally recognised programmes. These are not decisions that we can control and if this is the case you will be communicated with separately by your School.

Further details on this no-detriment policy will be made available by Wednesday 8 April 2020 at the latest, but we wanted to let you know as soon as possible that this approach is being adopted. In such uncertain times, we hope that this is one thing less for you to worry about.

Please do refer to our Exams and assessments FAQs page – we will be continuing to update them.

With our very best wishes

Christina and Sasha

Professor Christina Hughes                             Sasha Langeveldt
Interim Director of Student Services              President, Kent Union

 

University of Kent logo

Cases of suspected mumps

We have been advised by Public Health England South East (PHESE) that there has been an increase in cases of suspected mumps associated with our Canterbury campus.

Please read the PHESE letter to staff and students or read on to find out more.

If you think you have mumps or would like to enquire about being vaccinated, please contact your GP. The University Medical Centre can be contacted by phone on 01227 469333.

Out of hours you can call NHS 111 and the University Nursing Service on 01227 823503 or ext 3503. The service is available to all students and staff at the University of Kent (Canterbury Campus) and is staffed by registered nurses 24 hours a day during term time.

What is mumps?

Mumps is a contagious viral infection. Swelling of the parotid glands is the most common symptom of mumps. The parotid glands are a pair of glands responsible for producing saliva. They’re located in the side of the face, just below the ears.

Other symptoms of mumps include headaches, joint pains and a high temperature, which may develop a few days before the swelling of the parotid glands.

The symptoms of mumps usually resolve within one or two weeks.

Complications of mumps include swelling of the ovaries (oophoritis), swelling of the testes (orchitis), viral meningitis and deafness.

How the disease spreads

Mumps is spread in the same way as colds and flu – through infected droplets of saliva that can be inhaled or picked up from surfaces and transferred into the mouth or nose.

A person is most contagious a few days before the symptoms develop and for a few days afterwards.

If you have mumps, you can help prevent it spreading by:

  • regularly washing your hands with soap and water
  • using and disposing of tissues when you sneeze
  • avoiding university or work for at least five days after the onset of swelling

When to see your GP

It’s important to contact your GP if you suspect mumps so a diagnosis can be made. Let your GP know in advance if you’re coming to the surgery, so they can take any necessary precautions to prevent the spread of infection.

Protecting against mumps

The MMR vaccine protects against measles, mumps and rubella. Two doses of the MMR vaccine are needed. If you are not sure whether you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, please check with your GP. If you have not had two doses of MMR vaccine, please make an appointment with your GP to get vaccinated. Staff can also receive MMR vaccine if not previously vaccinated. There is no upper age limit for receiving MMR vaccine.

Further information on mumps is available on the NHS website.

Condolences for Jess Small and Conor Chambers

It is with great sadness and regret that we can confirm the deaths of students Jess Small, a third year PhD student who died on 11 October, and Conor Chambers, a first year student who died on 18 October. Our sympathies and condolences are with both students’ families and friends at this most difficult time.

If you, or anyone you know, is affected by this sad news then you are encouraged to seek support. Staff and students are welcome to get in touch with the University’s Student Support and Wellbeing Service who are ready to help. They also provide a list of contact details for emergency and out-of-hours support services.

Staff and students may also wish to reach out to the University’s Chaplaincy or to Canterbury Nightline.

Calculator, calendar and pen image

USS pensions update

Universities and trade union representatives have been in negotiations over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme since March 2017.  This is a difficult and complex situation and the University and College Union (UCU) are now balloting its members for industrial action

The Executive Group (EG) regret this situation and the impact it has on staff, particularly at such a challenging time.

Because the USS scheme is a national one, the situation cannot be resolved at a local level. As a result, the University is doing all it can to support efforts to reach a national agreement and the Vice-Chancellor and other members of EG members recently met with Universities UK (UUK), the national body which is representing employers like Kent in this dispute.

EG is clear that members of USS need to have in place a long-term and sustainable agreement on both benefits and contributions. At the meeting, they presented the case for a review of the regulatory environment, arguing that the current framework makes it harder for the sector to reach such an agreement. The Vice-Chancellor and colleagues stressed that the current framework does not recognise the unique nature of the university sector, which they said needs a more bespoke approach to pension valuations, and urged UUK to open direct line of communication with the pensions regulator, involving the University and College Union (UCU).

They also asked that all efforts to be made to expedite the delivery a second phase report from the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), the recommendations from which could also move the negotiations towards a resolution that is acceptable to all.

Further background and information about the issues facing members of the USS pension scheme is available on the dedicated USS pensions website.

Staff who are members of the SAUL pension scheme should be reassured that at the last valuation the scheme was confirmed as fully funded and is therefore not impacted by the issues currently facing USS.

Kent Bunny - Canterbury Food Bank

Canterbury Food Bank thanks University staff

On Monday 17 December, the Canterbury Food Bank came to collect the donated items and were pleasantly surprised. They couldn’t believe the amount of food donated in such a short amount of time.

Kent Bunny hasn’t quite had time to come around to thank everyone for their donations, therefore, would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their kindness and generosity so close to Christmas.

Thank you!

Kent Hospitality and Gulbenkian Annual Awards ceremony

A big congratulations to all Kent Hospitality and Gulbenkian staff who received awards at this year’s Annual Awards Ceremony [link to https://www.kent.ac.uk/hospitality/reward-and-recognition/annual-awards-ceremony.html].

On Thursday 6 December, 130 staff were recognised for having achieved nationally accredited qualifications in the last year, with over 200 awards presented. The event celebrated both departments passion to learn and develop, Pride awardees, achievements and professionalism.

The CECS (Consistent Excellence in Customer Service) Award was also presented at the event by Denise Everitt, Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer. Many congratulations to runner-up: Sam Ranger, Street Kitchen chef and this year’s winner: Lucy Galt, Gulbenkian Café Bar Assistant.