Category Archives: Strategic projects

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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.

Sustainable Food Strategy – one year on!

1 October 2018 saw the launch of the University’s first ever sustainable food strategy, which provides a road map for increasing the sustainability of our food offering from field to fork and beyond. The strategy supports the University’s overall response to the climate crisis and meets ever increasing demand for more sustainable options across our campuses’ menus.

Now a year on into improving the sustainability of the food served across campus, the Sustainable Food Steering Group would like to share some of the key achievements that have been accomplished in the strategy’s first year. The combined efforts of all those involved were highlighted in the People and Planet University League table with the points received in the sustainable food section, alongside engagement and education, giving Kent a boost up league from 101 to 40th.

Rutherford Kitchen has changed it produce supplier meaning fruit and vegetables are now being sourced from local growers. This mean that the menu in Rutherford can be adapted by the chefs regularly to reflect the seasons and share the best of southern produce.

Kent Union have been working hard to support the Sustainable Food Strategy and were instrumental in pushing for reusable water bottles and coffee cups to be made more available and visible. All staff members can claim a water bottle at any Kent Hospitality outlet, and students that moved into accommodation on campus received a free water bottle and coffee cup. Bed and board students also received a reusable food container that can be traded in for a clean one each time they use it at bed and board outlets.

Kent Hospitality released new menus across their Canterbury and Medway outlets, increasing their vegan options available. Their efforts have been recognised by PETA, who have included the University of Kent on their list of 20 Most Vegan-Friendly Universities. In addition to this, many of the new vegan and vegetation items replaced red meat items that were previously on the menus as part of an effort to reduce carbon and water intensive food items from our offering.

All fish served in meals across our outlets is now Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified. This ensures that no fish we serve is on the ‘fish to avoid list’ for species of conservation concern, and that we have full traceability on where that fish came from.

K Bar have gone disposable coffee cup free, meaning all customers are encouraged to drink in or have their reusable cup at the ready.

The Gulbenkian are taking part in FutureProof and their project, ‘Project Zero,’ aims to eliminate as much waste as possible from their operations. So far they have:

  • removed all single use plastic bottles in the café, saving over 30000 plastic bottles since August 2018,
  • switched to re-usable plastic pint and half pint cups which significantly reduced their single use plastic cup buying,
  • partnered with ‘Too Good To Go’ and each month sell around 70 bags of food, which would normally be thrown away,
  • sent their milk bottle caps (around 300 caps a week) to a company that reuse the plastic

The waste team have begun a food waste trial with six outlets across the University with the waste being sent to an anaerobic digestion facility in Essex, where they produce bio fertilisers for farmers and other growers.

The sustainable food steering group will continue to share our progress against the strategy so please keep an eye on updates in each of the outlets and on campus online.

For more information please email

Organising for Success: Update on Director of Division recruitment

Organising for Success brings together various strands of work to help ensure we are equipped to deliver our Kent 2025 strategy. We aim to be a community that empowers students from a wide range of backgrounds to find and shape their place in the world, and where academics are free to explore and deepen our understanding of it. We want staff to enhance each other’s work and feel part of a common identity.

To  support this, we are working towards creating seven new academic divisions. These will help us to deliver a first-class student experience and empower staff, while in turn helping us free up staff time to focus on work that will enable us to make a step change in our teaching and research performance. The project is now in its implementation phase, with five core strands of activity required to deliver it.

Update on Directors of Division recruitment
We are currently in the process of recruiting the seven new Directors of Division who will lead our new academic divisions. These are key appointments for the University, with the successful candidates joining our Executive Group and helping to shape our future – we therefore need make sure we do all we can to recruit the right candidates for the role.

For a number of reasons, we have not been able to secure applicants to interview for all of the divisions and will therefore be re-advertising for three of them. This will again be open to internal candidates only, so that we can make sure we have fully explored the potential for internal staff to take on the positions before we potentially widen our search externally.

The divisions we are re-advertising are:

-Computing, EDA and SMSAS

-Anthropology and Conservation, Politics & International Relations, Economics and Pyschology

-Kent Law School, SSPSSR and Journalism

The job adverts for these are now live, with a closing date of  23.59 on Sunday 10 November. Find out more on how to apply via the HR website.

Project Governance
Organising for Success is governed by an Oversight Group, supported by a Project Operational Group and subsequent strand project teams. We have recently published a full project governance document with full details on structure and membership, along with Terms of Reference for the Oversight Group and Project Operational Group

Find out more on the Governance section of the Organising for Success website.


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.

Staff in library

Improving our internal communication

We have been making improvements to our internal communications channels.

The changes, as highlighted in the Vice-Chancellor’s August Update blog, are based on feedback you have given during, for example, focus groups for the Simplifying Kent Internal Communications Project. Your wish list included a clear source of University information, improvements across our key communication channels and a more visible senior management team.

Our internal communication channels now include:

Monthly Vice-Chancellor Update
A new all-staff email on the second Tuesday of every month, covering the strategic direction of the University, key upcoming decisions/changes, highlights from Karen’s diary etc. The first update, on 10 September, is available on the OVC webpages – watch out for the next update on Tuesday 8 October.

Kent Staff Weekly
From Wednesday 2 October, we will be mailing a weekly, rather than fortnightly, all-staff e-newsletter with a round-up of latest University news and events likely to be of interest to colleagues. If you’d like your news featured, email the editor, Wendy Raeside in Corporate Communications.

Staff Guide
Launched in January 2019 and following extensive consultation with colleagues, this new guide covers everything you need to know about working at Kent, from getting started to facilities on campus. If you wish to add new information/update existing information, email

Staff News
The home of latest staff news and events based on stories sent in by colleagues to share with others across the University. Tell us your latest news via this Send Us Your Story link.

Leadership Blog
This is a new channel for senior leaders across the University to update us on key strategic projects. Corporate Communications is working with senior leaders to develop a schedule for these blogs – if you have an idea for a topic that should be included, please let Tim Davies or Wendy Raeside know (email links below).

Kent-staff emails
All-staff emails are for business critical or urgent messages only. If your message meets our essential criteria, you can email your request to the Corporate Communications team.

Social media
We are currently exploring options to provide a social media channel for staff to enable colleagues, wherever they’re based, to share their news and interests. In the meantime, you can find useful updates from teams across the University via @unikentstaff on Twitter.

We’ll keep you posted as and when other changes in our staff communications are happening. Meanwhile, we welcome ideas about how we can continue to improve how we communicate – just get in touch.

Wendy Raeside and Tim Davies
Corporate Communications



KentVision Strategic Group update

Colleagues will be aware that we reached an important milestone in the development of the new KentVision student records system at the end of June. The project has now been taken ‘in-house’, we have established a new governance structure and the development team has been relocated.

The governance structure includes the KentVision Strategic Group and the KentVision Operational Group; they comprise stakeholders and practitioners who are both close to the business and highly committed to its delivery. The team’s relocation from the Innovation Centre to Cornwallis is intended to facilitate better connection with student data system users and will improve communication.

Both the KentVision Strategic and Operational Groups will meet regularly. The Strategic Group which has been established to receive the initial system development, complete the build and plan and deliver the implementation phase of the project, is committed to keeping the University abreast of latest developments and this is a brief first update.

Much has been achieved during the first development phase and University teams are currently reviewing the system that has been delivered in order to assess the completeness of the build and determine what further work need to be progressed in order to facilitate a smooth transition from SDS.

The first development phase of the project has been lengthy, during which time the University has continued to adapt and change. Accommodating University and external changes is important, but it has added complexity to the project and the Strategic Group is considering how best to launch the system using an incremental approach.

We consider such an approach to be important as it will allow for a clear and orderly migration from SDS that is timely and does not put important University processes at risk.  In order to achieve such a migration, we will prioritise functionality for the initial launch (minimal viable product) and consider the best time during the spring and summer to introduce the new system.

The KentVision Strategic Group has met once and is planning to meet regularly from now on. We are currently overseeing the initial piece of work that will help determine the necessary components for a minimum viable product and from this we will develop an implementation plan and launch timetable.

We expect this initial assessment to complete later this month and we will issue further updates regularly via Campus Online/Kent Staff Online newsletter to ensure that University colleagues are kept informed of progress and can prepare for future changes.

Mary P. Hughes
Academic Registrar and Chair of the KentVision Steering Group

Directors of Division and divisional Directors of Operations: Update

We are currently recruiting for our new Directors of Division and divisional Directors of Operations roles. As part of this, we recently held briefing sessions for prospective candidates offering more detail on the recruitment process.

For those unable to attend the briefing session for the divisional Director of Operations, the presentation slides and FAQs from the session are now available on the recruitment page here:

In addition, the FAQs for the Director of Division roles have been updated to provide clarity around research or academic contributions within the role. More information on this and the role itself is available here:

New academic division leadership roles: appointment process

As part of the process to reorganise our schools into seven large academic divisions, we will shortly start work on recruitment to the Director of Division and Divisional Director of Operations roles. More details on the recruitment process for these are outlined below.

Directors of Division

An internal advert for this will go live on Monday 5 August, with external leadership consultancy Wickland-Westcott supporting us with the assessment process. The key selection and assessment dates are outlined below:

  • 5 August: Job advert live
  • 26 August: Closing date for applications
  • 27-29 August; 2-5 & 10 September: Initial telephone interviews with Wickland-Westcott
  • 17 September: Shortlisting meeting
  • 18-22 September: Shortlisted candidates to complete pyschometric tests
  • 23-25 & 30 September; 2 October: Assessment centres (case study and interview) run by Wickland-Westcott
  • Mid-end October: Final panel interviews and stakeholder presentations

If you wish to find out more about the assessment process and what will be involved, Wickland–Westcott will be on campus holding briefing sessions on the following days / times:

  • 1 August, 13.30 – 14.30 – Darwin Boardroom
  • 6 August 12.30 – 13.30 – Darwin Boardroom

For those unable to make these briefing sessions, a Q&A document will be made available on the Organising for Success webpages shortly afterwards.

A reminder of the new academic divisions can be found on the Organising for Success webpages.

Divisional Directors of Operations

Recruitment to these roles will also be for internal candidates only, with the assessment process managed by external consultancy Minerva. The advert is expected to go live on Monday 12 August, with more details to follow on the selection process.

Professor Karen Cox

Interim DVCs: appointment process

Message from the Vice-Chancellor

Recent announcements stated that we would be seeking to make interim appointments to cover two DVC positions until the outcome of open recruitment processes.

We are looking at external and internal options for these roles in this period and I am now writing to invite colleagues who may have the relevant skills and experience to make formal expressions of interest in the following interim roles:

DVC Academic Strategy, Planning & Performance

This will be a new role with the post holder providing leadership on, and implementing structural frameworks for, a broad range of institutional planning and horizon scanning activities. This will help ensure that Kent is well-placed to respond to sectoral changes and provide an outstanding student-centred experience.

The DVC Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance will also develop frameworks to support the delivery of academic and research excellence in our new school groupings. The key accountable areas for this role will include strategy and planning, as well as academic leadership, working closely with the emerging school groups and their leadership teams, to ensure that Kent maintains a competitive offering to students.

A full job description is available here

DVC Education & Student Experience

The post holder will be responsible for the University’s continued excellence in student experience and will be accountable for developing and delivering further innovations in educational programmes.

The interim DVC Education and Student Experience will work across the University to implement new strategies and impact our education offer alongside student support.  The role holder will ensure that our educational programmes are relevant for the graduates of the future, and of an excellent standard; that student needs are met both curricular and co-curricular dimensions and that we are working towards our ambition of offering one of the best student experiences in the UK.

A full job description is available here

Both positions will be interim until appointments are made following open recruitment processes and offer an excellent opportunity to step up into a more senior role and take on a new challenge which will play a key part in shaping these roles for the future.

Should you wish to express interest in either or both of these interim appointments please provide an up-to-date CV, together with a covering letter setting out how you feel you would contribute in the role to

Please note that the closing date is 12 noon on Friday 30 August 2019.  Interviews will be held on Tuesday 10 September (DVC Education and Student Experience) and Friday 13 September (DVC Academic Strategy, Planning and Performance).

If you would like to have an informal, confidential conversation about either post, then please feel free to email me or Ruth Johnson, so that a suitable date / time can be arranged.


Changes to printing

Over the next few months the way you print at Canterbury, Medway and Tonbridge will change.

Our Executive Group has approved a new Print, Copy, and Scan Policy (pdf) which will be rolled out across the University. The new policy was agreed in October last year and is vital to our reduction of both the costs and environmental impact of printing, as well as the procurement and maintenance costs of the equipment.

We’ll replace desktop printers with multi-functional devices (MFDs) that have combined print, scan and copy functionality. There will be fewer printers overall. The likely date of the first change will be 12 August 2019. Where it is necessary, desktop printers will be kept by exception.

We’re finalising locations with help from your school/department. Your departmental IT representative (excel file) should shortly be able to share the finalised printer map for your building with you. If you’re concerned that your needs may not be met, please discuss with your departmental IT representative.

We’ll let you know when your offices will switch to the new service and provide advice for using the new printers.

How printing will work

Why this is happening
We have over 850 desktop printers on campus – some of which only print a handful of pages a month. Desktop printers are expensive to maintain and operate, and are energy inefficient.

This change will enable us to:

  • reduce costs considerably
  • reduce energy usage by 55,000kgs of carbon a year
  • reduce paper usage by around 15% – 3 million sheets of paper a year.

Our existing print provider, Apogee, will provide the service and dispose of excess printers in an environmentally-conscious and safe way.

Mark Reed, Head of Procurement