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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.

Affiliation with GLO

The School of Economics at Kent is pleased to announce a new affiliation with the Global Labor Organization (GLO), which will connect the University of Kent with over 1,500 academics and researchers worldwide.

Dr Matloob Piracha, Senior Lecturer at the School of Economics and Director of GLO, is confident that this new partnership will contribute positively to the excellent research environment of the School.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is a global, independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that has no institutional position. The GLO functions as an international network and virtual platform for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the general public interested in scientific research and its policy and societal implications on global labor markets, demographic challenges and human resources. These topics are defined broadly in line with its Mission to embrace the global diversity of labor markets, institutions, and policy challenges, covering advanced economies as well as transition and less developed countries.


The GLO Network currently consists of over 1,500 Fellows and Affiliates from across the world.


GLO also runs a Virtual Young Scholars Programme (VirtYS).

KPERN Communities of Practice Programme: Working in Partnership


The second session in the KPERN Communities of Practice Programme will be held on Wednesday 6th November 1-2pm.

Kasia Senyszyn, a School of Arts PhD student specialising in accessibility in theatre and a member of the KPERN (Kent Public Engagement with Research Network), has been working with Sun Pier House (SPH) in Medway, on the ‘Open Arts My Self’ project. The ‘Open Arts Project’ is specifically aimed at blind and visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing people, young people and their families. The project aims to investigate the value of socially engaged practice, looking at improving well-being and engagement with those people at risk of social isolation.

Project artists from SPH will join Kasia to talk about how the collaboration came about and what it has involved, how it worked in practice, experiences of working across very different organisations, and lessons learned from the whole process. Anyone who is interested in working with Sun Pier House should come along.

Please email Research Impact & Public Engagement Manager Maddy at to book a space.


There are 3 further sessions in the Programme:

Session 3: External expert Jamie Gallagher: Evaluating Engagement

Half day workshop Wednesday 29th January 2020 (time to be confirmed)

Jamie Gallagher is an award winning and nationally recognised engagement professional and trainer, specialising in evaluation of the impact of engagement activity.  After an overview of the engagement with research landscape, Jamie will move on to evaluation: the what, why and how. Participants will be supported to work on their own engagement and evaluation plans during the workshop.


Session 4: Laura Thomas-Walters: Innovative methods of engaging the public with research

Monday 10th February 2020 1-2pm

Laura Thomas-Walters, a PhD student in Conservation Biology, commissioned her PhD quilt as a visual and tactile representation of the breadth of research undertaken at Kent. Laura worked with the Canterbury Quilters Society to produce the quilt, subsequently winning the Graduate School’s Postgraduate Community Experience Award. Laura will talk through the development of this innovative method of engagement, and where it will take her next.


Session 5: Dr Helen Brooks and Professor Mark Connelly: Gateways to the First World War – a plethora of engagement activity

Wednesday 4th March 2020 1-2pm

Between 2014 and 2019, Gateways to the First World War was funded by the AHRC to support public engagement with the centenary of the First World War. In this session Dr Helen Brooks, a Reader in Theatre and Cultural History, and Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern History, will reflect on their experiences of a diverse range of public engagement activities: from talks and workshops to performances and lecture-concerts. They will discuss the ways in which they worked with community groups both as advisors and in developing participatory researcher projects, and reflect on the challenges and possibilities of this kind of work.


Calling at Medway students: Fancy starting your own business while at University?

The Business Start-Up Journey is an inspirational programme which brings student business start-up ideas to life.

This 15-week co-curricular programme will provide you with a step-by-step guide to starting a business, teaching you the skills that are required to be a successful entrepreneur.

The programme welcomes all students at the University of Kent. The Journey will be based in the ASPIRE space (Accelerator Space for Innovation and Enterprise) in the Sibson buildingCanterbury and at the Medway campus.

The programme’s focus on innovation will enhance your employability. You will learn how to assess risk, how to turn challenges into opportunity and develop leadership, communication, presentation

The majority of the Business Start-Up Journey will be delivered on Wednesday afternoons in Canterbury and Thursday afternoons in Medway, making it easy for you to fit in around your study.

After the Business Start-Up Journey Launch, the times and locations of all events will be supplied to all students wishing to continue on the Journey.

Find out more about the Business Start-Up Journey which is run through Study Plus

People in a seminar room in discussion

Seminar on Exploring students’ experiences of race through interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education

Colleagues are invited to attend the CSHE Seminar on Thursday 24 October,13.00-14.00, in Grimond Seminar Room 1. The seminar titled ‘Exploring students’ experiences of race through interdisciplinary collaboration in higher education’ is presented by Dr Sonya Sharma, Kingston University London.

In this seminar Dr Sonya Sharma will address an interdisciplinary and collaborative four-year project, Taking Race Live, that explored lived experiences of race among second-year students. Utilizing qualitative methods to evaluate the project each year, she draws on students’ voices to address their experiences of race, partnering with interdisciplinary peers, and learning about each other. Attention is given to how this was done through engaging with the arts and embodied practices found within drama, dance and music.

To register to attend please complete the online booking form.


Pops Orchestra: an informal play-through of music from stage and screen

If you enjoy playing film music and scores from classical musicals, come and try the Pops Orchestra at its first rehearsal!

An informal weekly play-through of popular film and musical scores (and conducted with varying degrees of success by the Deputy Director Music) Pops Orchestra is an informal ensemble open to all students, staff and alumni – no audition required!

Join us on Thursday 24 October at 1pm for an hour-long session including music from ‘Jurassic Park,’ ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and more, and turn your lunchtime into a musical journey across the silver screen…

Four yellow smiley faces

Smiling, Status Quo and dyslexia; Nostalgia Podcast with Martin Bloomfield

In the latest episode of the Nostalgia podcast series, Chris Deacy, Head of the Department of Religious Studies, interviews Martin Bloomfield, who is currently studying towards a PhD in Philosophy at the University of York.

Martin explains why Lampeter was a ‘collection of caricatures’, and we also find out about the range of schools he attended when he was young. The pair talk about how Martin (and his native York) have changed over the years, studying in Lampeter, seeing Bad Manners at Gassy Jacks in Cardiff, the karate and fencing societies he was involved with, why going to university helped him to discover who he was, how he did (and did not) stand for Parliament in 1992, being a floating voter, the days when ‘Top of the Pops’ was the gold standard, the time when Radio 1 didn’t play Status Quo, why Martin chooses the sweet over the bitter, being tested quite late for dyslexia, how happiness is not just about smiling, what advice he would give his 15 year old self, and why Martin has a synchronic view of time.

Flight Path with Ash - Blue North Atlantic Airspace, Working Still, Shona Illingworth. With thanks to NATS.

Topologies of Air

Shona Illingworth, artist and Reader in Fine Art, has co-organised two upcoming events which form part of a forthcoming art installation entitled ‘Topologies of Air’.

‘Topologies of Air’ examines the impact of accelerating geopolitical, technological and environmental change on the composition, nature and use of airspace. The work questions the terms by which airspace is currently understood, and invites us to look up and consider the air above their heads not as a void, free space, but as a multi-layered, complex cultural and legal space that is shared and personal, with a long history and rapidly-changing future. ‘Topologies of Air’ is commissioned and produced The Wapping Project and will be exhibited at Bahrain National Museum in 2020 before touring to The Power Plant, Toronto, in 2021.

The first event is Sky Forum, organised by Sharjah Art Foundation and The Wapping Project which will take place on Friday 11 October 2019 in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. The forum will bring together experts across history, culture, astronomy and space science in three panel discussions to explore the past, present and future relationship between people in the Arabian Gulf region and the sky as well as wider transformations of the composition, nature and use of airspace close to Earth and outer space beyond. The event will feature a conversation between Shona and Marta Michalowska, Artistic Director of The Wapping Project, which will also form an integral part of ‘Topologies of Air’.

The second event is The Airspace Tribunal, an international public forum established by Shona and Professor Nick Grief of Kent Law School, which will take place on Monday 14 October 2019 in Sydney, Australia. The tribunal is a hearing which invites representations from experts across a range of disciplines and lived experience to consider whether we need increased protection regarding the radical transformation of airspace. The hearing argues that the associated threats to human rights are not adequately addressed by the current legal framework, and also forms part of the installation.

The Airspace Tribunal’s inaugural hearing took place at Doughty Street Chambers, London in September 2018. Each hearing is being recorded and transcribed to form the drafting history of the proposed new human right.

Further information and tickets for Sky Forum can be found here, 

Further information and tickets for The Airspace Tribunal can be found here.

You Wont remember me

Kent students win Best Student Film award at LA Film Awards

The film You Won’t Remember Me (2019), made by students from the School of Arts and KTV Film, has won ‘Best Student Film (Feature)’ at the Los Angeles Film Awards. It has also won Best Indie Feature and Best Thriller at the New York Film Awards and Best Student Feature at Festigious International Film Festival.

KTV Film is part of the award-winning student media group Kent Television, producing a selection of films each academic year.

You Won’t Remember Me was directed by Victor Blaho, who is currently studying BA (Hons) Film with a Year Abroad. The film follows the story of Lethe, 40, who wakes up one morning believing she is 19. This sudden amnesia brings her back to a time where she experienced a life changing trauma, that she now has to face in order to overcome her condition. In addition to having to deal with her 19 year old son Lee, she needs to face her innermost past fears and adapt to her present environment strangely unfamiliar to her.

School of Arts students involved in making the film include: Victor Blaho, Rumen Russev and Niall Murphy, all currently studying BA (Hons) Film with a Year Abroad; Adam Simcox, Francesca Coman, Lia Stefanescu, Nikita Kornel, Chidi Ekwe, and Trisha-Evans-Lutterodt who are all studying BA (Hons) in Film; Amelia Mundy, who is studying the BA (Hons) in Drama and Film; Rebecca Mars Jr. and Rhys Clydesdale, who study the  BA (Hons) in  Drama and Theatre; and Olivia Kluba,who studies the BA (Hons) in Media Studies.

Students from School of English, School of Physical Sciences, School of Politics, Engineering and Digital Arts and School of Law also participated in the making of the Film.

‘The project took 13 months to complete’, Victor explains. ‘I made a film about trauma while being traumatised by the making of it. However, similarly to our main character, I now see the unfortunate series of events that we went through, not as a curse, but as a blessing filled with creative opportunities and personal growth possibilities’.

The IMDB page for the film can be found here.

The 72 minute film (rated 15) is available to watch on the KTV Youtube channel here


Giles Courtyard Seating 1

Kent Union Wellbeing Projects

The Estates Department has been collaborating with Kent Union to create a new outdoor space called Giles Courtyard.  This area, located next to the Wellbeing Services at Keynes College, is designed to support wellbeing and encourage people to take a break away from studying and working.

The creation of Giles Courtyard involved consultation with key stakeholders including Kent Union, Student Wellbeing and Counselling Service, Keynes Master’s Office and the Sustainability Team, to ensure that the plans would support biodiversity as well as people.  To meet this requirement, Landscape & Grounds Management reviewed the existing large Japonicas, keeping the larger trees to retain height and valuable nesting, foraging and perching opportunities for birds.  This has led to increased light exposure to the garden, allowing a greater diversity of plant species to grow and invertebrates to thrive in this space.  Staff and students will now have the opportunity to grow their own herbs and produce in the new raised beds and can contact for more details about how to do this.

The space for quiet conversations has been encouraged by installing screened off seating areas, surrounded by fragrant plants.  This provides a secluded room-like feel to the garden as well as encouraging a wide range of plant species.

This is one of a number of projects Estates is assisting Kent Union with to improve outdoor spaces with emphasis on wellbeing, and has been driven by the feedback gathered by Kent Union relating to improvements students would like to see. To find out more about these projects, or other work the Landscape & Grounds Management team are working on, follow them on Twitter @UniKentGrounds