Author Archives: Wendy Raeside

Microsoft 365 icons

Skype for Business will be withdrawn on 27 July 2020

Skype for Business will stop working at Kent from Monday 27 July when it will be decommissioned. Microsoft Teams replaces Skype for Business as our virtual meetings and chat tool.

Installing Teams and disabling Skype for Business (S4B)

External contacts

If you use Skype for Business with outside contacts, please do the following by 27 July:

  • Move their contact details into Outlook: this will make them available within Teams and Outlook
  • Install Teams so that any external messages sent to you via Skype for Business can be routed to you in Teams.
  • Make sure you’ve set up alternative contact methods (such as Teams) before the switch off

If you have any issues working with external contacts in Teams after Monday 27 July, please tell us. Email and include the email address of the person you’re trying to connect with.

Tier 4 interviews unaffected

Skype ( will still work for Tier 4 interviews.
Why this is happening
To address some technical issues related to running both Skype for Business and Teams side by side.

Help and support
If you have any questions about Teams or any of the Microsoft 365 tools:

Contact us via online chat, call 01227 82 4888 or email

Staff with laptop

Staff Webchats on campus opening, student experience and recruitment

The University is to launch a series of Staff Webchats to share plans for our return to campus and the new academic year.

Each webchat will feature a panel of senior staff who will share information via a short briefing and then answer questions from colleagues. The webchats include:

  • Opening our Campus – Tuesday 14 July, 11.00-12.30 – chaired by Christina Hughes, Chair of the Covid-19 Programme Board. You can sign-up via Microsoft 355 Forms
  • Student Experience – Wednesday 15 July, 11.00-12.30 – covering Autumn 2020 arrivals, induction and the wider student experience. Sign-up via Microsoft Forms
  • Student Recruitment and Clearing – Wednesday 22 July 10.00-11.30. Sign-up on Microsoft Forms

By using the sign-up form, you can submit questions in advance, which the panel can review and aim to answer in their briefings. Time permitting, there will also be an opportunity for a live Q&A at the end of each webchat.

Space at the webchats is limited so we would recommend nominating one or two colleagues from each team to attend the webchat live. Each webchat will be recorded and the recording made available to all staff.

Find out more

Further information on plans for our return to campus is available on our updated Covid-19 webpages for staff.



Staff in library 2

University commits to researchers’ career development

The University has underlined its commitment to supporting the career development of our researchers.

Professor Karen Cox, our Vice-Chancellor and President, has written a letter of commitment to the Researcher Development Concordat

The letter of 24 June 2020 reads:

‘As part of our current reorganization, the University has agreed that our Graduate School will become the Graduate and Researcher College (GRC) from the start of academic year 2020. The new GRC will have an expanded remit to support postgraduate students and now also staff across the whole academic career span, including but not exclusively our Early Career Research Staff. The GRC brings together expertise from five support services across the University to provide holistic researcher support across all career stages. It will be central to planning and progressing our commitment to developing our research staff, working across the University with colleagues, Divisions and departments to ensure that the tenets of the Concordat are fulfilled.

‘The University of Kent fully supports the Principles of this revised Concordat and we intend to uphold our obligations and responsibilities as a signatory.’

Professor Paul Allain, Dean of the Graduate and Researcher College, stated: “I am very pleased to have this confirmation of Kent’s commitment to all our researchers. At this difficult time, we need not only more support but also to support each other all the more.”

Read the full letter here. Find out more about the Concordat here.



Condolences for Gary Blundell

The University is very sad to report the death of Gary Blundell who has worked at Kent for more than 30 years – most recently as an operator and service desk analyst in Information Services.

John Sotillo, Director of Information Services writes: ‘Gary joined us in July 1989 and has given almost 31 years of dedicated service to the department and University. Many colleagues across the University have benefited from his thoughtful and measured support and this was recognised on a number of occasions through the departmental award scheme and at a University long service award event in 2014.

‘Gary’s most impressive achievement has been the wonderful feedback from customers. Those he helped really appreciated his patience, care and sense of humour. He was always willing to ‘have a quick look’ no matter what the issue, and as a result always highly appreciated by those he helped. He was an asset to the University and will be sadly missed.’

Funeral arrangements

Gary’s funeral will take place at Barham Crematorium, on Monday 13 July at 14.40. You can view the ceremony via webcast on the day, and for up to seven days afterwards. The login/order ID is 38968 and the password is hxpewadp. Further information is available in these webcast instructions from Wesley Media.

Gary Blundell (centre front, in navy shirt) at his 25th long service celebration


Students on campus

Clearing 2020 update – Simone Davies, Interim Director of Marketing

I wanted to give you an update on how we will be approaching Confirmation and Clearing this year in light of Covid-19. We will need to do things a bit differently to mitigate working in a virtual environment and a Clearing that is going to be extremely competitive. For Kent to succeed in this year’s Clearing, we’re going to need a lot of help and support from everyone particularly around Clearing offer making teams and also staffing the Hotline.

For Confirmation, there is little change. However, we will be removing paper from the process and taking an Admissions-based approach with the aim of processing all students before A level awards day (13 August 2020). We will be working on a points-based tariff, whilst maintaining any grades that are mandatory. As in previous years, we will contact Schools about any student who falls outside the pre-agreed tariff.

Early Clearing will be managed by Central Admissions – based on previous year’s applications, this will be manageable and enables us to focus on the changes to systems and processes that are required for the main Clearing activity.

All hands-on deck

This year, we need to take an ‘all hands on-deck’ approach to Clearing. We are going to be delivering this virtually and that’s going to require us to make some adaptations. It’s also going to be extremely fast-paced and we need to process and offer quickly and efficiently.

We will be forming ten offer making teams which, in the main, will be based on the six new divisions with Schools staff and support from Central Admissions staff.

We need everyone to be able to make offers across a discrete range of courses – offer making training will be provided. In the main, this will see Schools making offers to their ‘own’ students. However, if they are not making offers to their ‘own’ students, they might need to support colleagues and make offers to courses within the wider portfolio. We only have a limited number of people and phones and can’t afford to have anyone waiting for specific applications rather than making offers – we need to respond as quickly as possible avoiding any bottle necks.

This year, UCAS has introduced ClearingPlus. We are still working though the detail of that, but it will require outbound calls to be made if/when we receive matches (applications).

We need your help

And we need more help. This year, we are unable to employ past and current students to be part of the Hotline Teams. We are currently around 30 people short of what we need to make this a success. Thursday 13 and Friday 14 August will be our busiest days and we’ll be taking calls and answering queries from 7.30am till 8.00pm. We’ll also be taking calls on Saturday 15 and Sunday 16 August and over the following two weeks.

If you’re able to help, particularly on the 13th and 14th, and you’re not already on a Clearing rota please get in touch with Laetitia Gullett: Full training will be given and, for anyone who hasn’t done it before, it is a really rewarding experience. You will have full support and supervisors are on hand to help at all times.

Thank you for all your help and support with Clearing. You might like to see the Clearing pages, which includes a link to this year’s campaign video. From 6 July, there will also be a link to the Clearing application form.

Simone Davies | Interim Director of Marketing

BAME event

Online discussion of institutional racism – Tuesday 7 July

All staff are invited to an online discussion of ‘Understanding and Interrupting Institutional Racism: A Collaborative Dialogue to Communicate Strategies to Advance the Agenda at the University of Kent’, on Tuesday 7 July, from 16.00-17.15.

This collaborative dialogue will give staff an opportunity to share their experiences and perspectives on institutional racism with senior members of the University’s academic leadership team.

We want these discussions to disrupt structural factors that produce white privilege and systemic disadvantage, and to advance an agenda of racial equality. We invite all staff to reflect on their identities and social positions, taking an “intersectional” approach. This approach recognises that several aspects of (in)equality combine to shape experiences and perspectives. It therefore helps to explain why a Black woman, for example, may experience racism very differently than her Black brother, father or male partner.

The meeting is intended:

-To give participants an opportunity to share perspectives and experiences of institutional racism at work, including any recommendations for change, with the University’s senior academic leadership team.

-To give members of the University’s senior academic leadership team:

  • access to and information about staff experiences of institutional [or structural] racism at work
  • opportunities to answer [and to ask] questions about staff experiences of institutional [or structural] racism at work
  • a space in which to affirm commitments to addressing staff concerns about institutional [or structural] racism at the University.

The panel will include: Professor Karen Cox (Vice-Chancellor and President); Professor Christina Hughes (Interim Director of Student Services); Professor Richard Reece (Deputy Vice Chancellor – Education and Student Experience); Professor Georgina Randsley de Moura (Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance); Derek Baldwin (Branch Secretary, UNISON); and Sian Lewis-Anthony (President, University of Kent UCU Branch).

Discussion will focus on: the staff profile of the institution; decision-making boards and committees; equal pay; staff recruitment; progression and development; health and wellbeing support; sense of belonging; racial harassment; and racial discrimination.

We hope this event will be the first of many. There’s no need to sign-up – you can join live on Tuesday 7 July from 16.00 by clicking this link:

We look forward to seeing you (virtually) there!

Dave Thomas
Co-Chair University of Kent BAME Staff Network and Equalities Officer (UNISON)


A close up of the inside of a purple flower

Supporting your wellbeing during Covid-19

As social restrictions continue to ease during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, a number of us will be feeling apprehensive, or even anxious.

Remember that our Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is here to help you at times like these. You can find series of webinars on all aspects of living under lockdown and the Covid-19 crisis, on the home page of the EAP website, (login: uokent and password: university).

The EAP home page also offers webinars on many other mental health issues – especially timely during the coronavirus crisis.

Alongside the EAP, the University has plenty of other support available to help staff manage their mental health positively. Much of this can be found by browsing the staff Health and Wellbeing website

The University provides counselling for all staff via the EAP. This can be telephone, online or face-to-face counselling; the pathway is agreed between the EAP assessing counsellor and the individual. Counselling can be accessed most easily by using the EAP’s freephone telephone number: 0808 168 2143.

When you ring, you will always speak to a trained counsellor who does an initial assessment and discusses the best form of counselling the EAP can offer to support you. Up to eight sessions are available for University staff.

You can find out more about the EAP and all it can offer on the OH website

JSNCC Papers now available

Staff representation on the JSNCC

The Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JSNCC) is one of the most important committees in the University, with a remit that covers consultation on topics such as the University’s plans and proposals as well as negotiation on pay and staff terms and conditions.

At present, the JSNCC is consulting and negotiating with the aim of reaching agreement on a new reward strategy and will shortly begin consultations on a proposed pay freeze.  If agreements are reached, the proposals will be implemented and staff contracts will be varied automatically without the need for staff to agree individually.

It is therefore vitally important that staff are properly and fully represented on the JSNCC.  In addition to elected representatives of our recognised trade unions, there are also four seats on JSNCC for elected representatives of staff who are not trade union members: two representing the professional services and research support staff in grades 1 to 6; and two representing the academic, research and professional services staff in grades 7+.

One of the two grade 7+ staff representatives, Denise Twomey, will be leaving the University at the end of July 2020.  Denise has been an active and committed representative and has played a full role in the work of the JSNCC over the past few years.  Two candidates have been nominated to replace Denise and to act as grade 7+ staff representative alongside Jon King.  The two candidates are:

  • Mita Mondal – School Administration Manager from the School of Engineering and Digital Arts, who has been nominated by Farzin Deravi and Melissa Mulhall
  • Charlotte Ransom – School Administration Manager from the School of Computing, who has been nominated by Andrea Peett and Alison Webster

Details of how to vote will shortly be emailed to all staff in grade 7 and above along with a link to the two candidates’ election statements.  Please take a few minutes to read the candidates’ statements and to cast your vote – it is very easy to do and totally confidential.


Statement of support for trans colleagues

The University is committed to ensuring we provide an inclusive and welcoming community where all staff and students are enabled to meet their full potential and are treated as individuals. This includes providing support and understanding to those who wish to take, or have taken, steps to present themselves in a gender different to their birth gender.

We are aware that the impact of Covid-19 is particularly acute for trans and non-binary colleagues, and that their situation is compounded by the uncertainties surrounding the implementation of proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act 2004.The proposals would make it more straightforward for trans people to get legal recognition of their gender, and would improve the lives of many trans people immeasurably. The majority of the public responses to the consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act supported the proposed changes.

We stand firmly with our trans and non-binary colleagues in calling for trans equality, with better support and recognition for trans and non-binary people and the struggles they face.

We know that we, as an institution, still have work to do, but we are unequivocal in our commitment to make the University a safe and welcoming place for staff and students of all genders and identities.

Trans people are our colleagues, our students, our friends, and we will continue to support them on the journey to true equality.

If you would like to learn how to be an ally, or wish to find out more about the rights of trans and non-binary people, further information is available from Mermaids and Stonewall.

University resources



Profile: Kent LGBT+ Staff Network

As LGBT Pride month draws to a close, we talk to members of the University’s LGBT+ Staff Network about the network’s role at the University, the importance of Pride, and why inclusion is so important in the workplace.

Contributors include: Jules Andreae, Operations Officer for the Information Services Operations Team; Anne-Marie Baker, the University’s Athena SWAN Project Manager; Bob McKay, Student Success Project Manager, Kent Business School; and Jan Moriarty, Student Success Project Manager at Kent.

What are the aims of the Kent LGBT+ Staff Network?

Bob: I think we have a number of roles – there’s the social/community element, such as organising network lunches and events for people to get together, but there’s also the role of being a ‘critical friend’ to the institution, ensuring that issues with LGBT+ equality are challenged and making sure that queer staff have a voice which is heard.

Jan: We also act as a first point of contact on issues around employment for LGBT+ staff and the impact of new policies and legislation on the LGBT+ community at Kent.

Jules: And we’re a visible point of contact for colleagues who need support or a friendly face to relate to.

What is the Network currently working on?

Jan: Stonewall’s new Workplace Equality Index has just been released, so we’ll be taking a look at that over the summer.

Jules: Members continuously engage with different departments and EDI (Equality, Diversity & Inclusion) teams in their departments.

Bob: We speak to central University leadership teams as well – we’ve recently been speaking to the VC about the University’s response to the government’s reported roll-back on reforms to the Gender Recognition Act 2004, which is a big step backwards for the rights of trans and non-binary people in the UK. We’re also looking forward to the end of lockdown and some events that we might be able to organise for the LGBT+ staff community once we’re able to see one another in person again!

Who can join the Network?

Bob: Anyone! Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans or other… and even straight colleagues! If you identify as LGBT+ or you’re an ally, the Network is ready to welcome you!

Why might someone want to join the Network?

Jan: For me, it’s about representation. We all (staff and students) need to know there’s someone out there whose experiences may be similar to our own. Some of us have to be visible to make that possible. However, I totally understand that some prefer not to be. Even if someone doesn’t want to take an active role, being a member is a good way to keep in touch.

Anne-Marie: One of the reasons I joined the network was because I believe it is important to have visible LGBT colleagues – this was certainly a big help for me when I first started work.

Jules: Growing up as LGBT+, people can be made to feel “less than” or shameful about who they are. The LGBT+ Staff Network gives a community for people to feel pride in who they are, as well as a place to press for changes to make sure the University keeps improving so that it becomes a place all staff can feel pride at work, equally.

How can people join the LGBT+ Staff Network?

Bob: Just drop us an email at

Jules: If you log in to, and search for ‘lgbt’ you’ll be able to see the staff network mailing list and subscribe to update emails. You can also join our new Team on MS Teams, by clicking here or by clicking Join or Create a Team from within Teams and then using the code skd6691.

What’s it like working at Kent as an LGBT+ person?

Jan: The various communities represented by the LGBT+ acronym will experience Kent in different ways. We are a diverse community and we have very different challenges. There’s still a lot of educating to do.

Anne-Marie: I decided to be out at work many years before I joined Kent and perhaps it had become a bit of a “so what” for me. The LGBT+ community does have a voice at Kent and it’s been good to be part of that to progress LGBT inclusivity so that others feel supported to be themselves.

Jules: I believe the University is a good place to work. I believe improvements are needed and we should always strive to improve in our areas of the university and push the University to be a leader for inclusivity and equality.

Bob: Honestly, it’s the first place I’ve ever been able to bring my whole self to work. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect by any means… but I love being able to be myself at Kent.