Author Archives: Wendy Raeside

iese certificate of excellence

Excellence award for Kent Digital Inclusion Initiative

Kent Digital Inclusion Initiative has been recognised with an iESE certificate of excellence 2019

The certificate recognises the wide-ranging partnership and collective commitment to accessibility between the University and Kent local authorities.

The certificate follows an award of £20,000 Local Government Association (LGA) funding last month (September) for an Initiative-led project to embed digital accessibility and productivity skills training in the wider community.

The University has been working in partnership with Kent Connects (a partnership of Local Authorities across Kent) and Kent County Council (KCC) for the past year. The aim has been to align key strategies around meeting the requirements of the Public Sector Bodies (Websites and Mobile Applications) Accessibility Regulations (2018) with a single approach to Accessibility Statements, training, procurement, auditing and use of assistive technologies within both organisations.

The partnership work has been led by George Rhodes and James Church from KCC and Ben Watson from University of Kent Student Support and Wellbeing.

The value of this type of cross-sector working includes sharing and learning from different experiences and skills. Through the shared expertise of the two leading organisations, an initial plan of deliverables was devised focusing on:

  • Shared resources for improving accessibility made available to all partners
  • Awareness raising through conferences and training for staff
  • Engagement with a variety of partners that cover diverse services including Libraries and the NHS
  • Engagement with central government to represent the concerns of our sectors and to work together to agree common sense approaches to new regulations.

Kent Accessibility Statements

Among results so far have been an accessibility statement published by both KCC and the University – an easier-to-read guide to getting the best from our sites, as well as advice on potential accessibility issues.

The University and KCC were among the first public sector organisations to publish these statements using the new model and our collective statements had over 9,000 hits between June and September 2019. Lessons learnt from publishing the statements were also shared with the Government Digital Service (GDS) which informed the development of their subsequent guidance.

Digital Accessibility Toolkit

All of the Kent Digital Accessibility Initiative’s collective knowledge has now been published in the nationally distributed LexDis Digital Accessibility Toolkit.

Please contact opera@kent.ac.uk if you would like to find out more.

Student Journey

Student Journey game – SECL training session

Staff from the School of European Culture and Languages recently attended a series of training events run by the Student Success Project, where attendees were able to play the Student Journey board game and hear the lived experiences of students of colour.

The event reflected on how unconscious bias might be influencing our behaviour; participants heard about how to be a good ally from Lisa Shoko (from Decolonise University of Kent) and practised decolonising the curriculum with visiting Inspirational Speaker Dr Onyeka Nubia.

Both academic and professional services staff reported feeling inspired by the training events, and came away with lots of ideas about how to make changes to their daily lives to create a more inclusive environment in the School of European Culture and Languages. It is hoped that more events such as this will take place in the future, encouraging colleagues from across the School community to be aware of what they can do to make a difference.

Dr Laura Bailey said: ‘It was great that members of staff made the effort to educate themselves about these important topics. The Kaleidoscope Network ‘principles of respectful listening’ and the student voices we heard were so powerful. The workshops helped us, especially white staff, to understand how deep-rooted the problem of racism is in universities and how we need to be very proactive in addressing inequality.’

Those wishing to know more about the workshops or the project can contact Dr Laura Bailey (SECL Student Success Lecturer) in the Department of English Language and Linguistics.

Rutherford Grass Roots Lecture – 13 November

Join us for The Rutherford Grass Roots Lecture, organised in conjunction with the Former Staff Association, on Wednesday 13 November 2019 at 18.00 in Rutherford Lecture Theatre One.

The lecture is entitled ‘The Enduring Appeal of Holy Relics, The Case of St Thomas Becket’ by John Butler.

Based on his new book, The Relics of Thomas Becket, John Butler’s lecture explores the continuing fascination that the Church of England has with holy relics.

For more information please see the alumni webpages.

violin

Lunchtime Concert: the Preston Ensemble

The second in our series of free lunchtime concerts continues on Weds 13 November with a performance by the Preston Ensemble.

Formed in 2016 by string players in the south east, previous concerts include at the Assembly Rooms in Faversham. For this performance, the group brings Mendelssohn’s Octet to the concert-hall.

The performance starts at 13.10; admission is free, with a suggested donation of £3.

The Lunchtime Concerts series is generously sponsored by Furley Page Solicitors.

Brexit

Extension to the Brexit deadline

The granting of another extension to the Brexit deadline means that the UK will not leave the EU on 31 October.  The University’s Brexit Working Group, led by Professor Jeremy Carrette, Dean for Europe, will continue to monitor the situation.

Professor Carrette said: ‘As Parliamentary discussions continue, we will ensure that the interests of students and staff remain at the forefront of any planning. While much of our immediate activity has been contingency planning in case of a no-deal scenario, we have also been looking to the longer-term impact of Brexit and continue to seek clarification on areas of pressing concern such as mobility, fees, travel arrangements and access to research funding.

‘Whatever the final outcome, Kent will remain an outward-looking university, proud of its European centres and its  European collaborations. We will also continue to support staff and students during this uncertain time.’

The Brexit webpages will be kept updated with new information as soon as it is available.

Alice in Wonderland

Book now for Alice in Wonderland – 29-30 November

Do you think that your life is becoming ‘curiouser and curiouser’? Some days, do you feel almost two miles high and others only nine inches tall? Does life seem to be one long Caucus Race and have found yourself believing ‘…as many as six impossible things before breakfast.’? Then take a trip down the rabbit hole and enjoy the madness that is Alice in Wonderland – the latest production by the University of Kent Players Radio Theatre.

Taking place at Mungo’s in Eliot College on Friday 29 and Saturday 30 November 2019, this production is the latest in the Player’s radio-style productions following the success of The Philadelphia Story, The Scarlet Pimpernel and The Maltese Falcon. The performances will recreate the entire radio drama experience – from actors performing various parts to a live foley team creating sound effects using an array of household objects and of course, a special appearance from our sound effects door!

To add to the fun, we are encouraging the audience to wear Alice-themed fancy dress or to be the epitome of elegance in evening dress. Mungo’s will be serving food from 6-7.45pm and the bar will serve drinks both before and after the performance (but not during), so you can come along and make a night of it!

Tickets are £6.50 for general admission and £6.00 for concessions, and are available online at Eventbrite.

Keep up-to-date with the University of Kent Players on Facebook or Twitter.

The dominant infant microbiota member Bifidobacterium

Wain Medal Lecture 2019

Harnessing our microbial ‘Guardians of the Gut’ is the title of the Wain Medal Lecture 2019, on Wednesday 30 October at 17.00. The lecture will be given by Dr Lindsay J Hall, Microbiome Group Leader & Wellcome Trust Investigator for Norwich-based Quadram Institute Bioscience.

The human microbiome has emerged as a central player in human health and wellbeing; modulating our immune system, providing resistance to pathogenic microbes, and helping to digest the food that we eat. Importantly, birth and the first 1000 days represents a critical developmental window in which microbes and their human host ‘communicate’, laying the foundations for lifelong health.

It is now recognised that disturbing this fledgling microbial ecosystem has both short- and long-term consequences such as increased risk of infection, allergy, and chronic inflammatory diseases. Thus, understanding the factors that modulate the microbiome during the first stages of life, during pregnancy, and in infancy, is a key research focus.

In this Wain Medal lecture, Dr Hall will discuss the important roles the microbiome plays, particularly during early life, including recent clinical work relating to beneficially modulating the preterm infant microbiome, and our mechanistic studies using model systems to determine mode-of-action for specific microbiota members (ie Bifidobacterium), with a key focus on developing novel live biotherapeutics for improving infant health.

The lecture will take place in Woolf Lecture Theatre on Canterbury campus. Admission is free and open to all.

Picture shows: The dominant infant microbiota member Bifidobacterium.

Signature Research Themes

Signature Research Theme selection: 29 November

Over the summer, many of those involved in the Expression of interests for Signature Research Themes have been developing their ideas and expanding their scope by talking to researchers across the University and beyond. We now need your help as we prepare to select our first Themes.

Shortlisted groups will be asked to present their vision for their Theme to all interested colleagues from across the university on the morning of 29 November in Colyer-Fergusson. Everyone across the University is invited to attend – please put this date in your diary.

This will be a chance for all those present to ask questions, and then to sign up to be a part of any themes to which they think their work might contribute. Later on that day, a panel of internal and external, national and international  experts, chaired by our Vice-Chancellor and President Professor Karen Cox, will select the themes that currently best reflect who we are and give the chance to expand upon Kent’s research excellence.

These are our Research Themes, and our chance to shape what research at Kent looks like and how it works. Please come along and have your say on them.

Tim Hopthrow, Catherine Richardson, Dan Mulvihill and Sarah Slowe

Calculator

New website explains USS pensions changes

A new website for staff provides information about current negotiations over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).

The USS dispute is a national one with a large number of organisations involved. Earlier this year, the University and College Union (UCU) took the most recent employer proposals to a ballot of its members, calling for industrial action.

The University of Kent’s Executive Group (EG) has expressed regret over the current situation, but has been working at both national and local level to try and help reach a national agreement and assist employees who have to pay increased contributions.

EG has also been lobbying hard for Universities UK (UUK) to enter into direct dialogue with the UK Pensions Regulator and to involve the UCU in this process.

As well as outlining the University’s position and what EG is doing to help, the new website includes a summary of the current situation and background to the USS pensions negotiations.

Find out more on the USS Pension Changes website.

Hong Kong

Condolences for Sir David Akers-Jones

Staff, students and alumni have expressed their deepest condolences at the recent passing of Sir David Akers-Jones, one of Kent’s most prestigious and important alumni.

During his long career, Sir David Akers-Jones served in many important posts in the Government of Hong Kong. He was the Chief Secretary of Hong Kong from 1985 to 1987, and was also Acting Governor of Hong Kong.

Sir David Akers-JonesSir David started his studies at Kent in 1966, the year following the University’s inauguration. In recognition of his outstanding achievements, Sir David received an honorary Doctor of Civil Law from the University in 1987, and continued to play a very active role in the Hong Kong Alumni Association.

Sir David’s support of the University was both longstanding and far-reaching and included  the foundation of the Sir David Akers-Jones Hong Kong and China Fund in 2010, designed to support students wishing to study at one of Kent’s partner institutions, or to undertake a work placement in Hong Kong or mainland China.

We feel immensely proud to have had the opportunity to benefit from Sir David’s broad experience, wisdom and generosity over the last six decades and we remain committed to continuing to support the important work in internationalisation between the UK, China and Hong which Sir David was so invested in.

Anthony Manning | Dean for Internationalisation

You can see comments from current and former staff, students and alumni on the influence of Sir David’s support for the University on the Development webpages