Category Archives: Strategic projects

Organising for Success: Consultation timings

Update from Denise Everitt, Project Sponsor and Chief Operating Officer

As you know, we will shortly be sharing proposed team structures with affected professional services staff both centrally and in Divisions. It has been a long process to reach this point and I know how difficult this uncertainty has been for everyone. Thank you all for your patience with this – as I hope you will understand, it has been important to take this time to make sure we propose a University structure that lets us build for the future while reflecting our current financial situation.

Consultation Start Dates 

Consultation will begin for staff in affected teams in each area as follows:

  • W/C 22 June: HR: Phase 1 (Staff savings activity)
  • W/C 29 June: Engagement; International Programmes; IS (Leadership only)
  • W/C 6 July: Student Services; Outreach & Widening Participation
  • W/C 13 July: Professional services staff in Academic Divisions; Research & Innovation Services; Strategic Planning; Graduate & Researcher College; Education; Digital & Lifelong Learning
  • W/C 20 July: Finance: Phase 1

In most areas this will start with group presentations, which will booked by area shortly. Any teams in the above areas which are unaffected by the proposed changes will be also be contacted to confirm that this is the case.

Consultation in the following areas will take place when current strategic priorities are complete: Marketing, Recruitment and Admissions teams (by November 2020); HR: Phase 2 (Devolution) (by July 2021); and Finance: Phase 2 (by July 2021). Alongside this, consultation with Technical Services staff in the Divisions of Computing, Engineering and Mathematical Sciences; Natural Sciences; and Arts and Humanities will take place by November 2020. Any staff in these areas that are placed at risk of redundancy as a result of O4S proposed changes will still be eligible to apply for KVSS during their own period of consultation.

Consultation Timeline 

Within 24 hours of their group presentation, affected staff will be contacted individually to confirm what the proposed structure will mean for them and their options as a result. This will be sent via email. Individual consultation will then take place for 30 days within a 60-day window before the structures are finalised.

Once all affected staff have been contacted, the proposed new structures will be shared across the University on Monday 27 July so that staff can see how wider changes will relate to their own areas.

Selection and recruitment to roles will largely take place in August and September, with new structures operational from the 1 November 2020.

Support and Advice 

This will be a very unsettling time for professional service colleagues, with some having to make difficult choices at what I know is already an especially busy and difficult time. As I’m sure everyone appreciates, we will all need to be understanding of this and recognise the additional pressure that people will be under in the coming weeks.

We will shortly share detailed information on the Organising for Success staff webpages on how consultation will work and what support will be available to staff throughout. Ahead of this, please do also make sure to discuss any concerns you have about this with your manager, HR representative or via the confidential Employee Assistance Programme at any time. You may also wish to seek advice from your elected staff or Trades Union representative.

Can I thank you all for your forbearance and continued commitment to the University over the last couple of years, and I hope that we can soon move to a new structure that will provide both professional and agile support for the University’s activities moving forward.

Denise

Denise Everitt | Chief Operating Officer

KVSS

Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme: Extended deadline

Message from Alison Ross-Green, Director of HR and Organisational Development

As you may be aware, we recently closed the Phase 2 application window for the Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme (KVSS) which was open to specific groups of staff. Our hope has always been that the enhanced scheme would enable the University to meet is target savings of £5.3m for 19/20. While we have had a good response to the scheme so far, further voluntary applications are needed to ensure that we meet (and ideally exceed) this year’s target. Having reviewed funding arrangements, we have decided to keep the scheme open until 22 July 2020 both to maximise savings and reduce the pressure for compulsory redundancies in future years.

The terms of the scheme, aside from the revised timescales appended to it, are unchanged. To help give everyone as much clarity as possible on our financial situation, we have also prepared a short presentation bringing together key information shared on this in recent months. This will also be on the Financial Sustainability staff webpages shortly.

While there will still be individual application windows for staff put at risk of redundancy due to Organising for Success, this extension to 22 July 2020 marks the absolute end of our ability to flex the scheme for other eligible staff and no further extensions will be possible. Where any eligible member of staff feels able to consider KVSS and wishes to benefit from its terms, thus assisting the University to overcome its current financial challenges, then they must apply to the scheme through this last round as no further opportunities will be given.

Lastly, we are aware that some staff are understandably making fine judgements about their financial position if they were to seek voluntary severance and that some reliance may be being placed on enhanced terms (albeit not as generous as KVSS) being available in the future. While the University would always wish to offer some form of enhanced financial terms for those who volunteer for redundancy, we also need to be aware of our worsening financial position as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic and that this may not be possible going forward. We will review the position in September, when our recruitment performance is clearer. If we do decide that we need to make changes at that time, the JSNCC will be consulted and Council approval sought.

As before, all staff interested in applying for KVSS are encouraged to discuss with either HR or their line manager for further details about how the scheme works. If you would like to discuss this confidentially or would like impartial advice, please remember that the Employee Assistance Programme is available 24/7, with more information on the Occupational Heath staff webpages.

Financial Sustainability: May Update

Following last month’s update on the programme of activity required to return the University to a financially sustainable footing, work is continuing to carefully reduce costs while specifically targeting increase in income in areas that make sense. 

Staff Cost Savings 

Work has continued with the JSNCC on proposals to mitigate the need for redundancies in order to deliver the staff savings required this year, with a number of proposals either in effect or under consultationThis includes suggested changes to the University’s Reward Strategy, which staff are invited to give feedback on before 5 June, alongside specific proposals regarding promotions and discretionary payments for some senior staff.  

Cash & Capital Approvals 

A number of measures have been introduced to reduce our day-to-day costs, building on the good work already underway in a number of areas to reduce staff costs. This includes restrictions on both credit cards and travel use, work with budget holders to reduce end-of-year spend and tighter control on the use of external providers. 

Business Improvement & Value for Money 

Recent changes to our European strategy are now being implemented, centred around a strong hub in Brussels supported by an increased focus on partnerships with universities across Europe. Alongside this, progress has been made in a number of areas in exploring online opportunities through Future Learn as part of ways to complement on-campus teaching in the future. 

Find out more on the Financial Sustainability and Improvement programme. 

Kent Logo

Financial Sustainability: Credit cards and travel

We are currently introducing a number of changes to how we procure goods and services as part of wider work to reduce our non-staff costs. This is being coordinated by a task force led by Procurement with members from JSNCC and both central and divisional finance, building on the good work already underway in a number of areas to reduce budget spend.

To support this, the Cash & Capital Approvals Committee has approved plans to place restrictions on both credit card and travel use with immediate effect. This will be an essential part of improving our finances, ensuring as much resource as possible can be put towards core University work.

Credit cards 

Credit card use will be restricted to a small number of nominated areas, with all other cards given a £0 limit. Cards with active subscriptions to services such as Facebook, Twitter or Mailchimp will remain open so that these payments can continue, but with all other categories apart from subscriptions blocked. Any other payment card spend will have to be requested via the Procurement Team, who will be in touch with cardholders directly to confirm local arrangements.

Travel 

From today, the Travel Booking Portal will be switched off to prevent any travel booking until the Covid-19 travel restrictions are lifted. Log-ins to Key Travel will be suspended until further notice, with any requests for travel made directly via the Procurement Team until further notice.

Expenditure that would ordinarily be incurred using payment cards or through the Key Travel system should not be made using personal payment methods and reclaimed through staff expenses. Please refer to the Staff Expenses and Benefits Policy for full details of eligible expenditure that can be reclaimed in this way.

Please contact the Procurement Team if you have any questions.

Organising for Success: Project update

Organising for Success brings together various strands of activity to help the University deliver its Kent 2025 strategy and ensure a future we can be proud of. Our six new academic divisions will take full responsibility for their budgets from 1 August 2020while new teams will mainly be in place by September. Proposed team structures will be shared with affected staff towards the end of June, with more detail to follow on timings and how information will be shared shortly. 

Transition work 

Detailed work is continuing to coordinate activity to ensure a smooth transition to divisions as teams come together. Current priorities include ensuring everything is in place with Finance to support divisions as they take responsibility for budgets, and working with HR to prioritise key policies and procedures that need to be updated this summer to reflect the new structure. Work is also ongoing to update key accompanying systems ahead of autumn, with a pragmatic approach wherever possible to ensure continuity in our support of essential activity. 

While their important work will continue throughout transition, this week will also see the final Faculty committee meeting taking place ahead of governance transferring to divisions in the autumn term. We’d like to thank the various chairs and members of our Faculty boards and committees for all their work over a number of years. 

Managers’ engagement sessions 

Engagement sessions for managers in professional services start this week to help make sure they are updated on the project and can support their teams in the coming weeks. As with the last set of briefings, these are designed for those at Grade 7/8 upwards with significant line management responsibilities in areas affected by the current changes. While a number of managers have already signed up, please contact Learning & Organisational Development via ldev@kent.ac.uk if this applies to you and you would like to attend a session. 

For latest updates, see the Organising for Success staff webpages 

Coronavirus

Coronavirus testing

The health and welfare of our students, staff and visitors remains our absolute priority as we continue responding to the coronavirus outbreak.

While the majority of our staff are working from home, a number are still working on site to support students staying on campus. In line with recent government guidance, anyone who has to travel to work and is demonstrating symptoms is eligible for a coronavirus test.

All staff who fit this criteria are encouraged to take advantage of this wherever possible, with more information on how to arrange a test available on the Government’s coronavirus webpages.

Testing is also available to anyone living with staff working on site who are showing coronavirus symptoms.

Find out more about Coronavirus testing 

Read more on the University’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak

KVSS

Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme: Application deadline

Following the extension to the scheme due to the disruption caused by Covid-19, the current window for KVSS applications will close on 24 May.

This additional window of the scheme was introduced in light of the University’s financial situation and the need to make significant savings in staffing costs this year. It is open to specific groups of staff, including those in areas where we know that savings will need to be made. Full details, including information on how to apply, are available on the HR staff webpages.

There will be a final window of KVSS only for those staff who are formally put at risk of redundancy as a result of changes under Organising for Success. Unless you are formally put at risk of redundancy under Organising for Success then the 24 May deadline will be the final opportunity to apply. If we are in a position where we need to make further staff savings next year, we will unfortunately not be able to provide terms as generous as KVSS.

All staff interested in applying are encouraged to discuss with either HR or their line manager for further details about how the scheme works. If you would like to discuss this confidentially or would like impartial advice, please remember that the Employee Assistance Programme is available 24/7, with more information on the Occupational Health staff webpages.

Find out more about the Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme

Financial Sustainability and Improvement: Procurement update

As part of the wider programme of work across the University to ensure our future financial sustainability, a task force reporting to the Cash & Capital Approvals Committee has been looking into ways to reduce the cost of our day-to-day activities. The group is led by our Procurement Team, with members from JSNCC and both central and Divisional finance staffwith their work key to identifying non-pay savings required this year.  

number of changes to how the University procures its goods and services have already been put in place as a result of this, helping ensure that expenditure is limited to essential activity onlyWith immediate effect: 

External Providers can now only be used when there is no viable internal alternativemeaning that (for example) all refreshments must be ordered through Kent Hospitality and all printing requirements through the Design and Print Centre. If cheaper alternatives are found externally, this should be shared with the relevant internal department in case they can review and improve their offering.  

Purchasing Cards will now have a transaction limit of £500, with Procurement working to reduce the total number currently in use across the University. 

Travel should currently only be booked if it directly relates to the successful recruitment of students and meets wider government Covid-19 restrictions. Travel budgets will also be reduced as a result of latest government advice, with restrictions lifted when appropriate. 

Unneeded suppliers whose services are no longer required as a result of Covid-19 restrictions have been written to by Procurement to suspend their services for the duration of major changes such as the closure of campus. If any supplier insists on being paid while not providing services, refer all correspondence to the Procurement Team. 

More widely, the Cash & Capital Approvals Committee is working closely with budget holders to ensure that all departments contribute to University-wide efforts to identify savings. This includes limiting any end-of-year spend to essential activity only, ensuring as much resource as possible can be put towards core University work.  

Read more on the recent changes to procuring goods and services at Kent 

Find out more about the Cash & Capital Approvals Committee. 

Organising for Success: Project update

Organising for Success brings together work that will ensure we are equipped to deliver our Kent 2025 strategyincluding launching new academic divisions and ensuring our professional services are shaped around the needs of our students

Our six new Academic Divisions will be ‘live’ from 1 August 2020, with senior leadership teams appointed and budgets confirmed. New teams will then mainly be in place by September and will be fully operational by the start of November at the latest. 

Academic Divisions 

We will shortly begin recruiting to the core academic leadership roles within each Division, which were recently discussed at Senate. These key roles will be part of each Division’s Senior Management team, helping develop strategy in areas such as education, research and postgraduate study. 

Alongside this, work is ongoing to confirm framework agreements between Divisions and central professional services, with divisional Directors of Operations and Heads of Profession working closely to agree where resource and responsibility will best sit in the new structure. 

Central professional services 

Recruitment is ongoing to outstanding senior leadership positions in central professional services, with appointments regularly updated on the organisation chart on the HR website.

We are also currently working with Learning & Organisational Development on a second series of engagement events for managers following the ‘Town Halls’ earlier in the year, with invites to follow in the coming weeks. These will again be focussed on making sure managers have the information they need to support their teams in the coming months, including project updates and HR information. 

Transition planning 

A dedicated project team is now working to bring together the different aspects of transition activity already underway as we move to the new divisional structures, including plans for key areas such as appealssystems and support for students at the start of next year. More information on this will follow shortly, including a detailed timeline showing how this will be managed in the interim period before Divisions are fully operational. 

For latest updates, see the Organising for Success staff webpages 

Financial Sustainability and Improvement: Update

The Vice-Chancellor’s February blog outlining the work required to get the University back on a financially sustainable footing, helping ensure we continue to be a great place to work, teach, research and study.  

Since then, the Financial Sustainability and Improvement programme has been approved by Council, with a focus on carefully reducing costs, specifically targeting increase in income in areas that make sense and making the right strategic decisions.  

This work is being coordinated by our Financial Improvement Director Peter Pentecost, who has been employed by the University specifically to develop this and to support its implementation. Peter reports to the Vice-Chancellor, supporting colleagues across the organisation to make sure the plans in the programme are delivered on time and that project milestones are achieved. 

The four main strands of activity to deliver the programme have now been established, with Executive Group leads in each area focussing on how to identify savings and income opportunities with sufficient pace without destabilising our strong teaching and research ethos. There is more information on the different areas of work on our new Financial Sustainability staff webpages, with updates to follow in the coming weeks on recent progress with non-pay savings led by the Cash & Capital Approvals Committee, and new analysis undertaken for the University on student data trends to support our Academic Sustainability and Performance activity. 

Find out more about our Financial Sustainability and Improvement work. Further information, including FAQs, will be available on these pages shortly.