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Testing out a theory

Christmas tree

Carols around the Tree – Tuesday 13 December

Great news, Carols around the Tree returns this month! Sadly the event was cancelled last year due to the sudden return of lockdown.  This year however, carols will be sung! So come along on Tuesday 13 December from 17:00 and enjoy singing on the Registry Lawn.

What we have in store

17:00 – Staff and students gather on the Registry Lawn for free mulled-wine and warm chestnuts (Brass ensemble and Ukrainian Choir take their places)

17:05 – Ukrainian Choir Sing 2 songs (unaccompanied) in Ukrainian

17:10 – Concert begins with brass ensemble playing Silent Night – Ukrainian choir (only) to sing first verse in Ukrainian. Staff and students to join and sing second verse onwards.

17:15 – Everyone sings remaining carols together

17:40 – Ends

We hope to see you there!

Global Officers Advent Calendar

Representing a range of culture, academic discipline, and personal interests, we are delighted to showcase this year’s cohort of Global Officers who are taking part in the Global Officers Leadership Development (GOLD) Programme.

Our Global Officers bring you a festive advent calendar where they share what Christmas means to them, their favourite things, and traditions at this time of year.  We hope you enjoy it in this countdown to Christmas. Kent Christmas Calendar

The programme is a co-curricular venture, designed to fit around their academic studies.  It provides a framework of activities for globally-minded undergraduate students at Kent to develop their leadership skills, global citizenship and cultural awareness.

So far this year, our Global Officers have explored their own Cultural Intelligence and how they can develop this further; looked at the Sustainability Emergency and their role in Sustainable Advocacy; worked with Kent Sport and Kent Union to support various World Cup activities, supported the International Student Experience Fair and developed our series of Global Hangouts, with the next one happening on Wednesday 14 December.

In addition to their core activity under the programme, Global Officers are available to partner with Kent staff for any divisional, school or departmental projects, events or activities on campus.

If you have an activity that you would like to engage our Global Officers, have a look at their profiles and please get in touch.

Did you know that you can also incorporate the GOLD Programme within your courses by listing it as a wild module option, GOLD5000 Global Leadership Development? If your course does not allow for this, then students can still take this as an extra-curricular activity; applications for 2022/23 will open in the summer.

For more information about the Programme, please email DeanGlobalLifelong@kent.ac.uk

Students in a Lecture Theatre

SSPSSR research seminar: 8th December with Prof Annette Boaz

Our speaker on Thursday 8th December (16.00 in CESR2) will be Professor Annette Boaz of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Her talk will follow on nicely from the excellent talk we received earlier this term from her colleague Kathryn Oliver, focusing on how research gets into policy and practice. This will be very useful if you are interested in research impact, especially in adult social care.

Title: Assembling the pieces: developing systems that support research use in policy

After many years of debate about the merits of Evidence Based Policy, there is a growing consensus that the relationship between research and policy is complex and non-linear, with politics as a constant factor (as opposed to something to be controlled). With this shift comes a growing interest in approaches that build stronger links between those who produce research, those who use research and those who are the intended beneficiaries of research. This theme of increasing engagement between the producers and potential users of research is accompanied by a recognition that robust systems are needed to support research use in policy.   What do better relationships look like? What systems changes are needed to support the use of research in policy and finally, what elements continue to stand in the way of better use of research evidence?  This presentation will draw on more than 20 years of experience promoting the use of research in policy and practice and insights from current work as a knowledge mobiliser within the UK government.


Cyber coding graphic

Kent has achieved Cyber Essentials certification for the fifth year running

Cyber Essentials (CE) is a UK Government defined baseline that shows we meet a minimum standard for cyber security. It is an essential requirement for many contracts, including Higher Degree Apprenticeships and supports funding applications. At present, these are estimated to generate >£10m p.a. in income for University of Kent.

This year was more challenging due to changes in the requirements introduced in January. All hardware and software now must be listed and checked that it is still under support, and the way users authenticate has been strengthened. This has meant changing many computers and laptops over the last 6 months and updating a lot of software. The hard work and commitment of all IT support staff across all Academic divisions and Professional Service Departments to achieve this is very much appreciated.

There are 5 core elements to Cyber Essentials, summarised as:

  • Firewalls
    • Must be in place at the network boundary and configured for necessary services only.
    • Must be enabled on every device and configured for necessary services only.
  • Secure Configuration
    • All unnecessary software removed
    • Personal devices (Bring Your Own Device) now in scope
  • User Access Control
    • Minimum password strength increased
    • MFA enabled for remote access and all cloud-based services
    • Principles of “least privilege” and “need to know” enforced
  • Malware Protection
    • Installed and running on all devices
    • Updated daily
    • Scans daily
    • Scans files on access
  • Security Update Management
    • Critical updates applied within 14 days of release
    • All software must have active support – updates and patches
    • Firmware and BIOS must be under active support

The full controls can be found by searching for “NCSC Cyber Essentials Requirements”

In the Cyber Compliance space, we are actively working towards Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance and investigating CE Plus and the NCSC approved Cyber Assessment Framework.

What is Sanctuary? 7 December 

This year the University Kent is applying for University of Sanctuary status. As part of the City of Sanctuary movement, the Universities of Sanctuary network aims to ‘make Higher Education institutions places of safety, solidarity and empowerment for people seeking sanctuary’.

To help ensure that the University’s application process is properly reflective and self-critical, the Migration and Movement SRT is holding a series of seminars throughout the year that address the question ‘What is Sanctuary?’

Speakers from a range of disciplines, career stages and backgrounds will discuss what sanctuary means and entails. Contributions will be a mix of academic talks and reflections on lived experience.

All sessions are online. Everybody is invited to join the conversation.

What is Sanctuary 2, 16.00-17.00, 7 December 

Dr Lucy Williams, Senior Visiting Research Fellow (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research) 

This paper will consider sanctuary in a time of ‘crisis’. East Kent, and especially Dover and Manston, are yet again in the eye of the migration storm. In this fevered atmosphere what is the role of ‘sanctuary’? Policy makers rely on closely prescribed (yet flexible) categories to sift the worthy from the unworthy but in forcing people to prove their lives fit into these categories, experience is simplified, and the person is lost. Can encouraging sanctuary in our communities and workplaces be a way to bring attention back to the individual to challenge both policy and public portrayals of migration?

Dr Rachel Gregory Fox, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow (School of English) 

This paper will consider the subject of the camp as presented in Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s Writing the Camp. While refugee camps, in some respects, represent places of apparent safety, community, and shelter, they are also contingent and precarious. The paper will consider how these two aspects of the camp call into question the possibility of its status as a place of sanctuary. Qasmiyeh’s poetry sets institutional oversight and international charitable aid within the camp alongside what Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh identifies as ‘refugee-refugee relations’. The paper considers how Qasmiyeh thus disrupts more centralised views of host-relations, hospitality and sanctuary.

Basma El-Dhouki, GCDC Doctoral Candidate (School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research) 

Basma El-Dhouki is a Palestinian refugee living and working in Lebanon. For twelve years she has been active in humanitarian and development work with refugees and asylum seekers within UNHCR, UNRWA and international NGOs in Lebanon and Syria. Her work has focused on sexual and gender-based violence, child protection and general protection, prevention and response programs. Basma’s PhD focuses on “The role of Refugee-Led Organisations in providing protection and assistance for displaced communities in the Lebanon, Syria and Jordan”. The project explores the nature of refugee-led organisations, the factors conditioning their impact and interventions, and the inclusion of refugees in their own development. Basma’s talk will address the question of sanctuary from the perspective of her professional background.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 851 6610 5867
Passcode: 235681

Kent Sports Community Tennis Open Day!

Kent Sports will be hosting a Tennis Open Day on Sunday 11 and Sunday 18 December within the Kent Indoor Tennis and Events Arena at the Pavilion outdoor facilities. All staff are welcome to book a free 45-minute session where you will be able to experience the fantastic indoor courts, play on the acrylic surfaces, and chat with our experienced staff, including LTA Level 5 coach Nick Skelton and the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) qualified coaching team.

Sessions start from 10:00 for adult coaching, with the last session bookable at 12.45 on both dates. There are also multiple junior and children’s sessions on the Open Day, so there’s plenty of opportunity for you or your children to get involved. We also offer the option of booking your place without the need to choose a session to join.

On the day you’ll be able to experience the courts, chat with our experienced tennis staff, and find out all you need to know about our tennis coaching programmes and our membership offering.

Spaces on our tennis Open Day are limited so make sure you book early to avoid disappointment. Book your free space now.

Can’t make the Open Day? Don’t worry, you can also sign up to our mailing list to receive the latest information about tennis at Kent.


Our Global Mobility Project

As a sector, we understand the importance of internationalisation and global mobility from student and staff recruitment, partnerships and producing high-quality globally collaborative research.

The pandemic changed how we work, with remote and hybrid working increasing significantly, in fact, 38% of working adults have worked from home at some point over the past 7 days! A rise in remote working has led to some employers offering fully remote working opportunities, expanding the applicant pool across the UK and worldwide. However, legislation and liabilities such as employment law, tax, pensions and insurance can create issues, putting both the University and staff at risk.

The Global Mobility Project

Our Global Mobility project will first identify staff partially or fully overseas, then we will develop a policy and procedure that supports our internationalisation strategies, whilst ensuring the University and staff remain compliant.

Please notify us of any current or planned overseas travel/work.  You can do this by completing the overseas travel form.

For further information on our Global Mobility project and what information you are asked to provide, please visit our webpages.  You may also contact your HR team or Emma Milton on E.L.Milton@kent.ac.uk.

Christmas Jumper Day: 8 December

It’s that time of year again and it means Christmas Jumper Day is returning on 8 December. So indulge in a bit of holiday spirit and come to work (or work from home) wearing your most festive jumper!

Send a picture of you or your team wearing your Christmas Jumpers to communications@kent.ac.uk for a chance to feature on our socials!

Christmas Jumper Day is also a fundraising event for Save the Children. This year however the government has agreed to match whatever donations are submitted to Save the Children which will provide all that much more relief to the children who need it the most. Just £20 can buy enough antibiotics to help ten children beat malnutrition. We’ve got a new JustGiving site set up for Kent where you can donate as much as you’d like towards our goal of £500.

You can also donate by texting the code KENTDAY to 70050 to donate £2, £5 or £10 by adding the corresponding number to the end of the text code (ie. KENTDAY5 to donate £5). Though Christmas Jumper Day is on December 8th, the donation page will be live for the entire month until January 6th, so there will be plenty of opportunity to donate.

By Corina-Andreea Apostu, University Operations Coordinator


Respite day announced for 21 December and annual leave rollover

For many of us, 2022 has been another challenging year.  Workloads have remained high and we have all had to work hard to get used to new systems, new structures and our new post-pandemic normal.

In recognition of these challenges, the extraordinary efforts of colleagues across the University and the impact on staff wellbeing, Wednesday 21 December will be treated as a respite day and so the Christmas closure will begin on 21 December, with the University re-opening on Tuesday 3 January 2023.

Colleagues who have already booked leave for this day should cancel this via Staff Connect. Part-time staff who do not normally work on Wednesdays, those rostered to be on shift and staff in front-line roles who are required to work on this day should make alternative arrangements to take equivalent time off prior to 1 February 2023 in discussion with their line manager.

Annual Leave

We understand it’s often been difficult to take annual leave again this year, so as an exception to normal arrangements, all staff may carry forward up to 10 days leave (pro-rata) from their 2022 allocation into 2023.  Where this applies this will happen automatically via Staff Connect.  Any leave carried forward must be used by the end of July 2023.

Any exceptional carry-over of annual leave from 2020 and 2021 that has not yet been used will also be carried over automatically.

We continue to encourage all staff to take their annual leave regularly across the year to help maintain a reasonable work-life balance.

Christmas tree

Your Wellbeing at Christmas

Winter can often be a challenge. Short days, limited daylight and cold days can all play a part in lowering our mood. Alongside this, Christmas is just around the corner. For many of us, Christmas will be a time for us to relax, enjoy ourselves and have a positive effect on wellbeing. However, for some, Christmas is a time of financial stress, family problems and feelings of loneliness.

If you find yourself affected by any of the issues outlined above, you can access support 24 hours a day through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This scheme is managed by Sodexho/Care first and provides easy access to expert help with both workplace and personal issues. You can phone Care first/Sodexho, free of charge, on 0808 168 2143 and get free and confidential advice from an information specialist or accredited counsellor. You may prefer to access services through their website. To log-in, use the username: uokent and the password: university. Their website contains information on a host of subjects relevant to how we live our lives and the challenges we face. There is even an AI interaction available for those who are drawn to technology.  

They also offer weekly webinars on topics such as how Care First can support you and grief awareness. Here’s the schedule for next week: 2022 Weekly Publicity Calendar – 5th December 2022.docx

The EAP is not just for Christmas and New Year; it’s there any time you need help; contact details are exactly the same. Please, keep this information handy so it is there if you need it. 

Brenda Brunsdon, Health and Wellbeing Manager