Category Archives: Campus online

Professor Karen Cox

Vice-Chancellor’s update – 21 January 2021

Earlier this week, a report by the Runnymede Trust showed that less than 1% of university professors in the UK are black, a figure that has not changed in five years. Here at Kent, work is underway to address racial inequality and to create a change in culture. We are early in the process of this activity and are committed to working with students and staff as we continue to take it forward. Next week Georgina Randsley de Moura, Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance, who is the EG lead on this work, will publish a blog setting out our approach.

As part of this work, we are launching our ‘Challenging Racism’ campaign, which includes a programme of learning and development for staff. We will also provide staff and students with clear and transparent information and updates relating to this work on the website so that we can be held accountable by our community for the actions we take in this area. In the meantime, I would urge all staff to sign-up to a short series of live webinars on ‘Race & Racism’  that have been developed in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University and City, University of London.

With the Spring Term now underway, it was good to hear of the experiences of some of our international students at this week’s Global Showcase event. It was truly heartening to see that that even those who have not been able to join us in person due to Covid-19 feel that they are very much part of our community and have a strong sense of receiving an international experience. My thanks go to all of you who have worked so hard to support our international students alongside with the rest of our student body

Over 130 people took part in the event, and there is no doubt that there is a huge amount of work taking place across the University to develop our international activities and that having to move online has paved the way for innovative thinking around our offer to international students. In addition, while we were all disappointed that the UK will no longer be part of the Erasmus scheme, the new Turing scheme will provide global opportunities for UK students to study and work abroad. We are well placed to engage fully with this scheme as it starts in September 2021, and which targets students from disadvantaged backgrounds among others.

We have now held the second of our Covid-19 staff webchats this week. It was good to hear from a range of staff once again and to see so many of you via the screen! I hope you find the meetings useful. We will continue to do these weekly and post the videos of the meetings afterwards for those who are unable to attend.

With my very best wishes to you and your family,

Karen

Professor Karen Cox | Vice-Chancellor and President

Staff in Gulbenkian

Sign-up to our weekly Staff Webchats

Don’t forget to join our weekly Covid-19 Staff Webchats, currently taking place every Thursday via Microsoft Teams.

The new webchats are a chance for colleagues to learn more about the latest Covid-19 updates across the University. The webchats will focus on key developments from the teams managing our Covid response, while also giving you a regular forum to feedback on the impact of the pandemic and find out more about latest guidance.

Staff Webchats have already taken place on 14 and 21 January 2020, focusing on a general update of Covid-19 and its impact on the University. 

The following webchats are planned for January/February 2021:

  • Thursday 28 January (15.30-16.30) – HR, Health & Safety and Working from Home
  • Thursday 4 February (10.00-11.00) – Online Teaching, Practice and Advice
  • Thursday 11 February (16.00-17.00) – Student Community, Safety and Support
  • Thursday 18 February (13.00-14.00) – Financial Response to Covid
  • Thursday 25 February (10.30-11.30) – TBC

Find out more

To find out more about the Staff Webchats – including how to sign-up to the next one and recordings of previous sessions – please see our Covid-19 Staff Webchats webpage.

Coronavirus

Covid-19 update – 21 January 2021

Safety on campus 

The safety of our students and staff on our campuses remains of paramount importance. There are currently around 1,000 students on the Canterbury campus and much fewer numbers at Medway. We are providing essential services for these students, including our libraries and some study spaces which have remained open following updated risk assessments. We are also emailing students to remind those in term-time accommodation of the need for testing before using campus facilities and also to remind all students of the availability of community testing around the country.

The majority of students on campus are adhering to social distancing regulations and following the guidelines set. However, there have been a small number of instances where students have gathered in groups, not following Covid-19 restrictionsThe majority of these incidents are dealt with effectively by Campus Security; however, some are escalated to the Police. Kent Police have a dedicated Officer to deal with Covid breaches within the Canterbury district. We are in regular contact with the Police to ensure we are responding appropriately and continue to do all we can to limit transmission 

The Government guidance is clear that students should remain at their permanent homes and should not return to campus unless absolutely necessary. We appreciate many of our students will wish to return to Kent as soon as they can, and we await further Government guidance as to when this might be permitted.   

Reviewing our teaching provision 

The Office for Students has written to all universities asking that they conduct a review of the 2020-21 academic year. The focus of the review is to determine whether students have been provided with sufficient information to understand what their academic experience would be like this year, whether they have been kept updated on changes and whether they have received what they were promised. The review must also look ahead to teaching and assessment plans for the remainder of the year, to determine whether the plans in place will sufficiently enable students to achieve the learning outcomes they expect from their study programme. This is a large piece of work, which we are currently planning how to deliver and we will provide more information shortly 

Staff wellbeing 

The national lockdown has undoubtedly put significant pressure on staff, with many working from home whilst balancing childcare, caring responsibilities and other personal demands. As outlined in last week’s staff newsletter, the University is committed to looking after the wellbeing of our staff and takings steps to reduce pressures and workload where possible.  

In the University’s ‘Impact of COVID-19 on staff contribution’ policy, we recognise how the pandemic has changed the way we all work and our commitment to ensuring our staff feel supported during this time. Our updated COPE Framework provides practical advice for staff and managers as well as access to online resources and support for working remotely. Staff are encouraged to discuss their personal circumstances with their line manager to agree any temporary adjustments to their workload which will enable them to be more effective and to reduce pressure at this difficult time.  

More information about working from home is available on our Staff Coronavirus webpages.  

Canterbury Unibuses suspended in service reduction

As part of their service reduction, Stagecoach have temporarily suspended operating the Unibuses to and from Canterbury campus.

This means that the Number 4 bus will be the only bus serving the Canterbury campus at this time, every 30 minutes.

See Stagecoach service updates webpage to learn more about changes to their services during the pandemic.

Challenging Racism Live Webinar series

The University has always been committed to working across all protected characteristics and promoting a culture of diversity and inclusivity for all. Recent global events have pushed issues related to race and ethnicity to the fore, prompting Kent to seek to better understand and tackle racism at the University.

The University is leading the way in the sector by launching its “Challenging Racism” campaign, which includes a blended programme of learning and development for staff. The programme will be delivered by Inclusive Employers over a period of six months. It aims to open channels of discussion and reflection around racism, as well as awareness and understanding of challenges associated with ethnicity and race.

Tuesday 2 February 2021 sees the first of three 90-minute Live Webinars on the topic of “The history of race in the UK”. The University will be partnering with Liverpool John Moores University and City, University of London, to deliver a series of live webinars, followed by an Inclusive Allyship programme for a cohort of 40 people across all 3 institutions.  Staff at Kent will also be invited to participate in two closed Inclusion Circles designed to enable BAME staff to share their experiences on the topics of ‘BAME wellbeing’ and ‘Taking action on race inequality and inclusion’.

Race & Racism  Webinar Series

Webinar 1: The History of Race in the UK – Tuesday 2 February 2021 at 10.00

 Join us for this webinar looking at the history of race in the UK, including the UKs role in enslavement, the British Empire, and the impact this legacy has had on the present day.  

We will be looking at:

  • A brief history of how and when Black people came to the UK, their experiences, and rights
  • The effect of Britain’s history on today’s inequality
  • Why it’s important to understand Black British history

The guest speaker at the first webinar is Chantelle Lunt, a final-year student at Liverpool John Moore’s University (LJMU) studying Criminology and Sociology. During lockdown Chantelle founded the Facebook group Merseyside BLM Alliance which was formed with the goal to address the issue of racism and to create a space where people can safely channel their passion for fighting racial injustices. You can find out more about the group from this LJMU news article. 

Chantelle Lunt

Chantelle Lunt

Here’s two other webinars to look out for:

Webinar 2: White Privilege – What is it and how does it affect society?  – 18 March 2021 at 12.00

Webinar 3: Let’s Talk About Race  –  19 April 2021 at 13.00

Look out for more info on upcoming events!

Please scan the QR code

or click this Eventbrite link to register.

 

The Marsh family

The Marsh family go viral…again!

Dr Ben Marsh of Kent’s School of History and Danielle Marsh of the School of English and family have once again recorded a song which has gone viral.

Adapted from Leonard Cohen’s 1984 track, ‘Hallelujah’, their version ‘Have the jab’ focuses on the Covid-19 vaccine and is performed beautifully by Ben and his two girls.

Becoming internet sensations with their first song ‘One Day More’ back in March 2020, the Marsh family have appeared on television to discuss their experience on BBC Breakfast.

You can watch their latest performance on their YouTube channel and the official UK guidance on vaccines can be found on the NHS website.

Kent People: Paul Sinnock, Head of Technical Services

When did you join the University and why?

I joined Kent in 2005 as an IT Technician in the Department of Electronics (now the School of Engineering and Digital Arts). This was an exciting opportunity to support staff and students in a very technically demanding department, which was actively pushing boundaries in its research and teaching. I worked alongside some excellent IT colleagues, as well as subject technicians, who were experts in their fields. I later took up the role of IT Team Manager, before becoming IT and Technical Services Manager and then Director of IT and Technical Services. After a 15-year career providing technical support to students and staff, I am thrilled to be taking up the role of Head of Technical Services leading the profession here at Kent.

What did you do before joining Kent?

I completed my undergraduate degree in 2001 and worked for a large pharmaceutical company supporting their IT systems and staff across the UK. After two years, I made the switch to higher education, becoming an IT user support specialist at Imperial College London. I had always remembered how technical staff had been pivotal in supporting myself and other students during university. They were the unsung heroes who were always on hand when you needed help.

Why has your new role been created and what’s its remit?

My new role has come about following the University’s pledge to support the national Technician Commitment, a sector-wide initiative led by the Science Council to help address key challenges facing technical staff working in higher education. Universities and institutions who sign-up to the commitment agree to improve and safeguard vital technical skills. The commitment ensures greater visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability for technicians across all disciplines. My role will lead this work and ensure these principles remain embedded here at Kent. My vision is to build on the already exceptional work undertaken by technical colleagues throughout the University. Our aim is to deliver a truly customer-focused, innovative and professional technical service by highly skilled, diverse technical experts, utilising leading technology, equipment and facilities, to provide the very best experience to our students and staff.

Tell us more about who’s who within your team?

I am fortunate to work with some exceptionally talented colleagues at Kent. Technical service staff operate across almost all our subject areas, from science and laboratories to arts and theatres. I will be working closely with divisional and departmental Technical Managers to deliver that positive change and to support the University’s strategic ambitions. I am also working closely with colleagues in other professional service departments including IS, Estates and Health and Safety. By continuing the collaboration of technical staff and professional service teams, we can create a consistent experience for our students and colleagues.

What are your immediate plans for the new team?

Over the next 12 months, I will be working with colleagues to produce the first technical service strategy. This will include our Technician Commitment action plan and a three-year roadmap that delivers against the principles of technician visibility, recognition, career development and sustainability. I will also be working closely with technical managers and divisional management teams to support the transition to the new divisional structure, and wider collaboration of technical services within and across divisions.

Covid-19 permitting(!), what are your interests away from work?

I love spending time at the beach with my wife and our two children. I also enjoy cycling and keeping active. When the weather’s not great, you’ll find me doing some form of DIY. My latest project is using my Amazon Alexa to automate the lighting in my house – much to my wife’s frustration who, rightfully so, doesn’t see the problem with a traditional light switch! I guess once a technician always a technician…

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

The best advice I have been given was from my Dad (which he borrowed from someone more famous): “The harder you work, the luckier you become.”

 

Person using a laptop

Pathways Career Development Programme

The Talent and Organisational Development Team are happy to share details of our upcoming Pathways Career Development Programme.

Next cohort is starting in March 2021

Pathways provides colleagues within professional services departments the opportunity to increase their self-awareness, learn and develop new skills and create knowledge so that they can define their career pathways. The next session of the Pathways programme will be delivered through a blended approach using staff training Moodle for the eLearning modules and MS Teams sessions for face to face sessions.

Programme aims & benefits

The programme aims to prepare individuals who wish to define their career aspirations by helping them to:

Identify strengths and development opportunities Understand what they want from their career Identify opportunities to assist in achieving the identified career pathway Provide practical skills in CV writing, applying for roles and attending interviews The programme will also bring benefit to the wider university by providing attendees greater connections from other areas.

The programme will run from Mid March to early June

More information can be found on our blog

Next Steps

If you feel this programme would support your current career situation, please send an email to ldev@kent.ac.uk outlining the reasons why this would benefit you, please ensure that your line manager supports your request to join the next cohort.

Closing date for applications is Friday 19 February 2021

Man running on road near grass fields

Kent Sport – Tips on how to stay active during lockdown

Oli Prior, Head of Physical Activities at Kent Sport gives us his top 10 tips on how to stay active during lockdown…

1. Start Lightly

Whilst it is always tempting to start the new year with high intensity activity this is a sure fire way of making it unsustainable as you will likely give up in a few weeks or worse – injure yourself.  Whatever you start doing, start lightly, if you’re doing Joe Wicks’ morning PE for the first time, just do half of it or take the low intensity options, don’t go straight out for a run, start with a fast walk or walk up-hill.

2. Find an Exercise Buddy

Training on your own is hard, stay motivated by finding a like-minded friend or colleague who can train at the same level as you. Current government guidelines permit you to exercise with either other members of your household or support bubble or one other person (so long as you keep your distance and stay local) so rope in your partner or children or your like-mined neighbour or colleague in your new exercise routine

3. Lounge ‘Hi Lo’

Since the first lockdown there’s been plenty of online content available bringing the gym studio to the nations’ living rooms, with so much choice where do you start? Why not ease yourself in with a familiar face on screen and check out Kent Sports ‘Stay Well at Home’

4. Walk This Way!

Walking is one of the most accessible forms of physical activity and has great wellbeing benefits as well as the obvious physical ones. Just getting up from your desk and doing a lap of the office/house once every hour will aid circulation and engage muscles. We are permitted to go out once a day so make sure you are walking, getting some fresh air and enjoying local surroundings.

5. I want to Ride my Bicycle

This is the last music pun I promise! If you prefer to get out on two wheels instead of two feet then cycling offers many training benefits. If you’re already a regular cyclist then virtual platforms like Peloton or Zwift bring the pro-cycling world to your living room but if you’re not quite ready for the Lycra, you can follow online workouts at home with any stationary bike or invest in a turbo trainer (device that attaches to your real bikes back wheel).

6. Get a ‘Virtual Pet’

This is not an invitation to go online and buy a Tamagotchi, but rather imagine you have a dog to walk every day. It’s easy to look at the drizzle on the window and stay inside, but by donning your rain-mac and going out regardless of rain or shine to walk that ‘Virtual Pet’ you will establish that habit mentioned previously and reap the benefits of daily activity.

7. Create a Power Playlist

We all have our own taste in music, but my next tip is to use this, as it is proven that music makes a difference when you exercise. Nowadays, you can build by voice command on your smart speaker or explore one of the many digital radio stations available on your smart phone.

8. Chill

For low intensity or holistic workouts a podcast can help provide structure to a training session or great company on a brisk walk – again it is so easy to download these to your device – many sports stars have turned their hand to these in lockdown with fresh episodes every week.

9. Park & Ramble

While many of you remain working from home, if you are still commuting to campus I challenge you to ‘Park & Ramble’ as you did before the pandemic. Why not allow an extra 15-20 minutes on your morning commute and park as far away as possible on campus and walk to your desk. Our campuses are great for walking all year round so explore a new route each day if you can.

 10. Stay Well at Home

The final tip is a reminder to access Kent Sports Stay Well @ Home platform, there is a breadth of content to help you stay active and engaged whilst facilities are closed or you are working from home. We look forward to seeing you all again soon, but for now from all at Kent Sport, stay well and stay active.

Professor Iain Fraser

Professor appointed editor in chief of a new journal

Congratulations to Iain Fraser, a Professor in the School of Economics, who has been appointed as the inaugural editor in chief of a new journal called Q Open.

Published by the Oxford University Press (OUP), this economic journal covers agriculture, environment, food, development and climate, and in many aspects covers one of the newly identified university research themes.

This joint venture between OUP and the European Association of Agricultural Economics is an open access journal, with Iain recruiting a high-profile team of journal editors and associate editors to run it.

To take a look at it’s first issue, published on Thursday 14 January and to discover more about the journal, please take a look at the Q Open webpage.

More information about the editorial content included in the first issue can also be found on this Issues webpage.