Student and staff news and updates

26 November 2020

Email to students (11:45)

Dear student

This email covers NHS COVID-19 testing for the end of term and important travel information.

Lateral-flow testing

As we have previously mentioned in our updates, we are providing free COVID-19 testing for students as part of the Government’s mass testing programme using rapid lateral-flow devices. This testing begins on Monday 30 November at 10am and you can book your appointment now.

This lateral-flow test is being rolled out by the Government to enable any students who wish to go home for the vacation to do so safely during the travel window of 3-9 December. We strongly encourage you to take this test because if it is negative, it reduces the risk of transmission as you travel home and the risk of transmission to your family and home community.

We have two testing sites: Charles Wilson Sports Hall or The Village Hub, Oadby.

Please remember these important points:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • You are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • You are encouraged to leave the campus and make your way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support you as you self-isolate
  • This testing programme is completely separate to the University’s screening programme

You can find out more details and book your lateral flow testing appointment here through the easy-to-use booking system.

For international students, please note that this test does not meet the standards for international travel. Please see Government guidance on international travel.

We would encourage PGR students who are not leaving during the travel window to please use the University’s COVID-19 screening programme.

Emergency COVID Travel Hardship Fund

If you are struggling to find the money to support your travel home due to COVID, we are here to help. We have introduced a fast-track scheme for students who need rapid access to financial support for this specific purpose. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk or call 0116 2231185 and your request will be assessed within 24 hours (Monday-Friday). Please make clear you are applying under the fast-track travel scheme.

Airport Transfer Service

To help students travelling home by air, we offer a scheduled transfer service to Heathrow Airport. Booking for the December 2020 Heathrow Airport Transfer Service is now open. You can book using our online form.

We want you to get to the airport safely as well as simply. This means that, for the time being, we are limiting the number of seats available on our airport transfer service in order to adhere to social distancing restrictions. Please be aware that spaces may be booked up quickly.

Seats on the airport transfer service need to be booked in advance; you will not be able to turn up on the day you leave. Places are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should only book your seat once you have confirmed your travel plans. We recommend that you limit your luggage to one suitcase and one carry-on bag, as space on the coach may be limited.

Upcoming airport transfer dates

All pick-ups are from Main Campus and Oadby Student Village. Departure times are to be confirmed but are likely to be at around 7am.

  • Friday 4 December 2020
  • Wednesday 9 December 2020
  • Wednesday 16 December 2020
  • Saturday 19 December 2020

Airport Taxis

You can also book a taxi to the airport through Airport Taxis Narborough. So you can be sure that you’re paying the correct fee for your journey, the typical cost of a taxi from Central Leicester to Heathrow would be between £105 and £110 plus any parking charges, and the typical cost from Central Leicester to Birmingham Airport is £48 plus any parking charges.

If you have any questions or concerns around COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Best wishes

Graham and Louise

 

Graham
Wynn PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

25 November 2020

Email to staff (15:45)

Dear colleagues

I hope you are all keeping well as we enter the final week of our second national lockdown. Today’s update includes information on the lateral-flow testing we are providing for our students, electronic leave information, carer guidelines, details of the next live ExB event, an update on the Bennett Building and an opportunity to apply for a senior role.

Lateral-flow testing for students

Tomorrow, booking will open for students to book a lateral-flow test to enable them to go home for Christmas (if they plan to). Testing begins on Monday 30 November and runs through to Wednesday 9 December. Many thanks to the staff who have worked so hard to get this up and running so quickly, and to those who are running the sessions.

Some important points to be aware of:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • Students are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • Students are encouraged to leave the campus and make their way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support students as they self-isolate

This is completely separate to the University’s screening programme which is still available to staff, who can book a screening appointment.

Electronic leave information

Most staff will soon be able to book their annual leave, and apply for special leave, for the 2021 calendar year, via Employee Self-Service (ESS). See the full details.

Carer guidelines

We are aware that some staff might be continuing to face challenges around caring responsibilities at this time. We have prepared some guidance to assist managers should they require support in relation to caring responsibilities that members of their team may have. See the guidance.

We appreciate that this guidance may not apply to all circumstances, therefore if you have any queries regarding a specific situation or about a formal Flexible Working request, that you don’t feel the guidance covers, please do contact your local HR Team who will be able to assist you.

ExB Live Q&A

The next ExB Live Q&A will take place on Wednesday 2 December at 10am. Please save the date and tell colleagues who might not be aware. To find the details of how to join as well as the opportunity to watch previous Q&As again, visit the ExB announcement.

Bennett Building update

Following the flood at the Bennett Building last week, we are now moving out of major incident mode into a repair and recovery mode. Large parts of the building are undamaged but there are teams working to make repairs on the areas that are affected. Due to health and safety reasons, the building is strictly out of bounds except for those needed to carry out the essential work. It is not anticipated that the building will be in operation again until mid-January at the earliest.

Appointment of Registrar and Secretary

We are now progressing the appointment of a permanent Registrar and Secretary. Reporting to the President and Vice-Chancellor, the Registrar and Secretary plays a key role as a member of the Executive Board, in the leadership, management and effective operation of the University. In conjunction with the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer, the Registrar and Secretary leads the University’s strategic planning processes, contributing to the delivery of the University Strategic Plan and working to embed our organisational values and behaviours.

Internal applications are invited for this permanent appointment, with a closing date of midnight on 6 December 2020. Interviews for this post are due to take place on 18 December 2020. For further information, and to make an application, please visit the internal job vacancies page, accessed through My Workspace selecting the ‘Your career’ tab and clicking Jobs and Opportunities.

Thank you for your continued hard work and support.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

Email to students (11:30)

Dear student

As we near the end of this second period of lockdown and continue with our plans for the end of term, we hope you are coping as well as can be with the unusual situation we find ourselves in. We do appreciate how difficult this first term has been for many of you and we hope you are all keeping well and safe.

Please remember, if you have experienced disruption to your studies because of health-related issues, the lockdown situation or any other reason, you can apply for mitigating circumstances. As we outlined in a recent email, we have removed the requirement for evidence for many mitigating circumstances applications.

As an update on COVID cases at the University, in the 10 days to 23 November, we have had 43 cases, of which 29 have been students. See the latest figures.

In the rest of this update, we cover:

  • End of term and lateral-flow testing
  • End of term survey
  • Continued support in lockdown
  • Face coverings in University buildings
  • Sexual violence/harassment
  • Bennett Building update
  • Wellbeing app

End of term and lateral-flow testing

We advised in our email last week that there is a national travel window in which students can return home for Christmas. This window begins from the end of the national lockdown on Thursday 3 December through to Wednesday 9 December. You can read full details on our end of term arrangements webpage.

To assist with your safe return home we will be providing free COVID-19 testing for students as part of the Government’s mass testing programme using rapid lateral-flow devices. It will begin on Monday 30 November and will run until Wednesday 9 December. Some important points to remember are:

  • Testing is available only to students who are showing no COVID-19 symptoms
  • You are strongly encouraged to take two tests, three days apart
  • You are encouraged to leave the campus and make your way home within 24 hours of a second negative test
  • In the event of a positive test, the University will support you as you self-isolate
  • This testing programme is completely separate to the University’s screening programme

Information on booking a test and other details, including for postgraduate researchers, will be released tomorrow, Thursday 26 November.

Please remember that if you receive a positive test, or develop symptoms of COVID-19 at any time, you must report it using the University form.

End-of-term survey

We are fully committed to supporting our students who are staying in Leicester after the end of term and during the holidays. To help us tailor our support to meet your needs, please answer our short survey, which should only take a couple of minutes. All responses are anonymous.

For more information about the end of term and returning in January, visit our webpages.

If you have any worries or need support related to COVID-19, please contact: studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Life in lockdown support continues

While the lockdown is approaching its end, we are still offering support while it continues and beyond, in the shape of our Life in Lockdown activities. These include online mindfulness sessions, available for the next few Mondays, that can help you deal with any stress and anxiety you may be feeling. Visit the mindfulness student page.

Face coverings in University buildings

We have been advised that staff are having to remind students more frequently about the requirement to wear a face covering. All students had the opportunity to receive a safety pack (including a re-useable face covering) at the start of term, to help keep you and others safe. Please carry a face covering with you, and ensure you wear one in University buildings at all times across your mouth and nose, unless you are exempt.

Sexual violence/harassment

We are aware that current social distancing regulations can make it difficult for victims and survivors of sexual violence and harassment who want to formally report to the University. We would like to reassure you that there will be no conduct sanctions if students disclose and/or report being subject to sexual violence or harassment whilst breaching COVID restrictions. Please get in touch with a Standing Together Case Worker through Report and Support to access support and to discuss your options moving forwards.

Bennett Building update

Following the flood at the Bennett Building last week, we are now moving out of major incident mode into repair and recovery mode. Large parts of the building are undamaged but there are teams working to make repairs. Due to health and safety reasons, the building is strictly out of bounds except for those needed to carry out essential work. Student and staff who use the building have been notified of alternative and rescheduled arrangements.

Wellbeing app

Finally, please remember we have the My Wellbeing app, which empowers you to make positive healthy changes - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

If you have any questions or concerns around COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Please stay safe and take good care of yourselves and each other.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

18 November 2020

Email to staff (17:15)

Dear colleagues

Following the update of last week, this update explains the latest information and support for students as the end of term approaches. There are also updates on the working from home allowance, Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment around COVID-19, and the Post Room relocation.

Arrangements for end of term

Our plans for end of term arrangements are well underway and we have created a webpage for students detailing all they need to know, whether they are planning to return home or to remain in Leicester.

We have outlined three key steps for students. Once lockdown ends, the Government has identified a student travel corridor from 3-9 December – we are strongly encouraging students to follow the steps below to travel safely during this time.

  1. Check changes to study – Schools will inform students about any changes to teaching including the transition from face-to-face/blended learning to fully online learning, by 24 November. All current face-to-face teaching will end by 9 December.
  2. Get tested – we are planning for rapid testing to be available from 30 November until 6 December, although it will be available after this date up to and including 23 December for students in exceptional circumstances. We are strongly encouraging students to take the test before travelling.
  3. Arrange safe travel – Schools will advise when testing will be available their students and the dates they are advised to travel. Students can drive themselves home or family members or friends from your destination household can pick them up in a private vehicle. We are asking students to coordinate staggered collection times with their household. If using public transport to travel home, we are asking students to follow the Government guidance.

For international students planning to travel overseas, we are advising they consider whether they need to self-isolate when they return, and to check any restrictions in the country they are travelling to. Students travelling to the EU should also consult relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU transition.

If students are travelling home for Christmas they will need to travel on or before Wednesday 9 December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus, or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address. This would risk not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Please visit the end-of-term arrangements page for all details and updates.

Planning for January continues and we are still awaiting Government guidance on this. We will share an update on our plans in the next few weeks.

Working from home allowance

As many staff will continue to work from home going well into 2021, we encourage staff to view the HMRC advice, as you may be able to claim tax relief for additional costs if you have to work at home on a regular basis, either for all or part of the week. This includes if you have to work from home because of COVID-19. Further information on Financial Wellbeing can be found in the Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit. You can find more details of this in the staff FAQs.

Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment

To ensure that all staff and managers are able to easily complete the Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment (ICVRA) form as part of any return to campus preparations we have now included some narrative to the form to explain the context of the form and how it should be completed. We have also agreed that staff can discuss the risk assessment directly with Occupational Health, before a report is sent to their line manager to ensure that any adjustments or mitigation can be actioned.

The new Resource Hub gives the ICVRA a top level ‘button’ so staff and managers can easily access the form and the more detailed guidance with scenario examples of how to complete the form. Visit the Resource Hub.

Post room relocation

On Wednesday 25 November, the University’s Post Room will relocate to the same building as Print Services at the following address:

University of Leicester
Post Room
12 Chiswick Road
Freemen's Common Industrial Estate
Leicester
LE2 7SX

The Post Room will continue to operate as usual with no disruption to service, and all deliveries and collections for the University will operate from the above address. For any enquiries please contact: postroom@le.ac.uk or 0116 252 2444.

I hope you are all keeping well.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

Email to students (16:30)

Dear student

Following our update of last Friday, we want to give you the latest information on our end of term arrangements. Please read this email carefully as it contains important information about the end of term plans, COVID testing, the student travel window and details of campus operations if you are intending to stay in Leicester over Christmas.

Arrangements for end of term

Our plans for end of term arrangements are well underway and we have created a webpage detailing all you need to know, whatever your plans are for the end of term. Advice is available to help you safely return home to enjoy the break, to ensure you can continue your studies and also to help you keep in touch with your friends. For those of you who will be remaining in Leicester, we will continue to provide activities and support.

If you are planning to return home this Christmas, there are three key steps you need to take to ensure you can do this safely. Once lockdown ends, the Government has identified a student travel window from 3-9 December – we strongly encourage you to follow the steps below to travel safely during this time.

  1. Check changes to your study - your School will inform you about any changes to teaching, including the transition to fully online learning. Any current face-to-face teaching will end by 9 December.
  2. Get tested - we are planning for rapid testing to be available from 30 November until 6 December, although it will be available after this date up to and including 23 December for students in exceptional circumstances. We strongly encourage you to take a test before travelling. Details on testing are available on the webpages.
  3. Arrange safe travel – your School will advise when testing will be available to you and the dates you are advised to travel. You can drive yourself home, or family members or friends from your destination household can pick you up in a private vehicle to take you home at the end of term. Please coordinate staggered collection times with your student household.

If you are using public transport to travel home, please follow the Government guidance.

If you are an international student and plan to travel overseas, you should also consider whether you need to self-isolate when you return. You are advised to check any restrictions in the country you are travelling to and whether you will also need to undertake a period of self-isolation in that country. Students travelling to the EU should also consult relevant guidance regarding the UK and EU transition.

If you are travelling home for Christmas, you will need to travel on or before Wednesday 9 December. This is because anyone who remains at university after 9 December and contracts coronavirus, or is contacted by NHS Test and Trace, will have to isolate for up to 14 days at their term-time address. This would mean you may be at risk of not being able to travel home in time for Christmas Day.

Please note that if you need to self-isolate during the travel window outlined above, you will be able to take a test and travel after the window.

If you are currently on a placement, you should contact your academic school for confirmation of the actions you should take for placements that are a formal part of your academic studies this year. This includes any arrangements for the end of term.

If you are currently on a placement away from the University (eg a year in industry or in a school) you should continue to follow the arrangements of your employer (placement provider). If you have any questions or queries, please contact your Placement Supervisor at the University.

Please visit the end-of-term arrangements page for all details and updates.

We are planning for the beginning of the new term in January and we are awaiting Government guidance on this. We will share an update on our plans soon.

Campus operations

The Library, study spaces, wellbeing services and some catering facilities will remain open from 3 December and throughout the Christmas period, except for Bank Holidays (25 December, 26 December and 1 January).

The David Wilson Library opening times are as follows:

Friday 18 December (last day of term): 9am to 7pm
Saturday 19 December: 12 noon to 5pm
Sunday 20 December: 12 noon to 5pm
Monday 21 December: 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 22 December: 10am to 4pm
Wednesday 23 December: 10am to 4pm
Thursday 24 December: 10am to 4pm
Friday 25 December: Closed
Saturday 26 December: Closed
Sunday 27 December: Closed
Monday 28 December: 10am to 4pm
Tuesday 29 December: 10am to 4pm
Wednesday 30 December: 10am to 4pm
Thursday 31 December: 10am to 4pm
Friday 1 January: Closed
Saturday 2 January: 10am to 4pm
Sunday 3 January: 10am to 4pm
Monday 4 January (University reopens): 9am to 7pm

From Monday 16 November, the Student Services Centre is open Monday to Friday 11am to 3pm. The Student Services Centre is a central point for information and advice for all students. If you need help with any practical matters, the Centre will always be happy to help you so visit them in the Charles Wilson Building. You can email the Centre at studentservices@le.ac.uk.

Over the Christmas period, the Res Life team will be putting on activities for all students including Christmas games, quizzes, pamper sessions and much more. Details will follow soon.

Please keep reading these emails for updates, and following us on Twitter. If you have any worries or need any support related to COVID-19, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk.

Please take care, stay safe and look after one another.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

13 November 2020

Email to students (16:30)

Dear student

We hope you are keeping safe and well during this second national lockdown. We are pleased to say that currently, the figures for COVID-19 infection at the University are stable and this is in no small part thanks to your responsible behaviour. In the last 10 days to 12 November, we have had 77 cases, of which 63 have been students. You can see the latest figures.

There’s a lot to cover in today’s update – please do read it all carefully. Our update today includes:

  • COVID-19 Screening update – Oadby screening days
  • Mitigating circumstances during the second lockdown
  • Life in Lockdown: get your CV checked
  • Study spaces on campus until 18 December
  • Respect on campus
  • COVID Hardship fund
  • Your wellbeing.

COVID-19 Screening update – Oadby screening days

In order to make it easier for staff and students to attend a screening appointment, a new ‘pop-up’ clinic will be opening at Stamford Court in Oadby on Wednesdays and Fridays from 18 November. The length of appointments has also been reduced to 10 minutes.

When booking, please first choose which venue you wish to attend. For any screening appointment you need to be registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre. This screening is only for students or staff who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the screening page to register and to book.

Please note that information on COVID testing to enable you to safely return home at Christmas will be shared next week when we have finalised our plans.

Mitigating circumstances during the second lockdown

We know that many of you may experience issues relating either to the lockdown or your wider circumstances which may impact your studies.

The circumstances of this lockdown are not quite the same as the last – the University continues to deliver teaching and assessment online through our ignite programme, which is designed to allow continuity of your education even in the face of the disruption of a further lockdown. For these reasons the University has decided to change the mitigating circumstances requirements as follows:

Given the increased pressure on the NHS and the fact that access to many medical services is limited, the University has removed the requirement for you to provide supporting evidence for any mitigating circumstances that are medical in nature. This includes both physical and mental health conditions relating to individual students – you will not be required to provide evidence to support claims for mitigating circumstances on this basis. This will also be the case if you are claiming mitigating circumstances resulting from serious illness of a close family member.

Where you have mitigating circumstances that are not health related, you should still provide evidence to support your claim and this will be considered as part of your submission. We recognise that it may not be possible to provide evidence for all forms of mitigating circumstances during this time, and so your School will be able to consider claims without evidence where you can demonstrate that it was not possible to provide it.

Please note that there may be some Schools where professional or accreditation requirements mean that it will still be necessary to provide evidence, and your School will be able to confirm where this applies.

These revised requirements will be in place for all assessments until the end of this term, on 18 December 2020. After this point the standard requirements for evidence to support mitigating circumstances will be re-introduced for subsequent assessments. If lockdown is extended or re-introduced at any later stage we will review this further.

Life in Lockdown: get your CV checked

Last week we launched our activity programme helping you to stay connected and get the support you need during this second lockdown. A new addition to this is our CV check. Until Thursday 3 December, 11.59pm GMT, email your CV to employer.activity@le.ac.uk to get it reviewed by one of our expert career coaches. We’ll let you know what’s working well, how you could improve your CV further, and recommend steps you can take to keep your career plans moving forward.

Study spaces on campus until 18 December

We are continuing to provide a range of study spaces on campus during the national lockdown and up to Christmas for those student who will remain on campus.

David Wilson Library

The Library remains open for drop-in and bookable study space use, access to PCs, borrowing laptops and browsing and collecting books. The Library is open Monday to Friday 9am – 7pm, Saturday 9am – 5pm and Sunday 12pm – 6pm. We will be updating our website with our Christmas opening hours in the coming weeks.

Charles Wilson Building

Social study space is available in Chi on the ground of Charles Wilson, and dedicated space for staff and PGRs is available on Floor 1 of the building. You can access the space between 8am and 6pm (open access) and with your University ID card from 6pm – 10pm.

Social study spaces in other buildings on campus

Short-stay and set-down study space is available in a number of our buildings on main campus including Physics, George Porter and Bennett. These spaces are available between 8am and 6pm.

Brookfield

Additional study space is available at Brookfield between 8am and 6pm, when the site closes. Some spaces (indicated below) are only available in between teaching sessions:

  • Seminar Rooms in Teaching centre, Brookfield and Mary Seacole (between teaching)
  • Trading computer room which also has access to Bloomberg (between teaching)
  • Hub study space
  • Drawing room - Brookfield House
  • Quiet study room - Brookfield house
  • Computer room - Mary Seacole (between teaching).

Respect on campus

We know that the conduct of the vast majority of students has been excellent this term. However, we are aware that there have been a small handful of incidents of poor behaviour around campus so we’d like to take this opportunity to remind you that we expect everyone to be respectful to all staff, including security colleagues.

COVID Hardship fund

The University is committed to supporting all our students during these challenging and uncertain times and that includes our PGR community. Specific funds have been made available by the University, and through the generosity of our alumni and donors through philanthropy, to support students who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

Find out more about the COVID Hardship fund.

Your wellbeing

Please remember that there is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email at studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday to Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

We also have a number of apps that we encourage you to sign up to/join so you are up to date on our information and we know you are safe and well.

  • NHS Test and Trace – designed to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities – search for ‘NHS Test and Trace’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
  • SafeZone – allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance or first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus. You can search for ‘SafeZone’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
  • My UoL – provides access and information on a variety of University services and matters - search for ‘My UoL’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store or download the desktop version at myuol.le.ac.uk.
  • My Wellbeing – empowers you to make positive healthy changes to your wellbeing - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

We will also share updates on our website and through Twitter. Please ensure you are following these for up-to-date information.

Finally, as many of you will be aware, the Government announced plans this week to enable students to return home for Christmas (if they plan to). We are currently finalising our plans and will be in touch next week with more details on this.

Thank you for continuing to follow these updates. Please take care and enjoy your weekend.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

 

10 November 2020

Email to staff (13:30)

Dear colleagues

Yesterday’s news of the successful COVID vaccine trial brings us hope as we come to the end of our first week of lockdown. I hope you are all adjusting to our second lockdown and managing to still get some time outdoors now the evenings are darker. If it is helpful to take a break from work during the daylight hours please do make the time to do this.

In today’s update I am sharing a blog on the University’s response to COVID-19; developments in the University’s COVID-19 screening programme; an update on the £10 staff allowance for the festive period; student engagement data; supporting students in lockdown; an update on research on campus; and finally the University’s plan to mark Remembrance Day.

COVID response blog

As many of you know, I have been working closely with Geoff Green, Registrar and Secretary, to manage the University’s response to COVID. We have written a joint blog that sets out the number of cases we have had at the University to date and explains how we have managed our response to COVID.

COVID-19 screening – Oadby pop-up clinic

In order to make it easier for staff and students to attend a screening appointment, a new ‘pop-up’ clinic will be opening at Stamford Court, in Oadby, on Wednesdays and Fridays, from 18 November. The length of appointments has also been reduced to 10 minutes.

You can access the booking system for Stamford Court from tomorrow at 9am. The bookings for main campus remain open. In the online booking system, please first select the Adrian Building or Stamford Court before choosing your date and time. Opening times from next week are:

  • Monday 9am – 1.45pm Adrian Building
  • Tuesday 12pm – 4.45pm Adrian Building
  • Wednesday 9am – 3.45pm Stamford Court
  • Thursday 7am – 11.45am Adrian Building
  • Friday 9am – 11.45am Stamford Court

Please remember - the screening is only for students or staff who are not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19.

Visit the screening page to book.

£10 staff allowance for the festive period

As we edge closer to the festive period we have naturally started to receive enquiries regarding the annual £10 allowance for staff to spend on a meal with their teams.

As I am sure you can understand given the world-wide pandemic, current national lockdown and recent restrictions, we do not think it is likely that teams of colleagues will be able to meet socially during the festive period and we do not think it is sensible to encourage it even if certain restrictions are lifted.

We will therefore reallocate the £10 allowance for staff to spend with their teams to the Summer term of 2021 instead, again considering what the national situation with COVID-19 is at that time. We will also be exploring what options we will be able to offer on campus next Summer with Leicester Services Partnership.

Student engagement data

New tools have been developed that allow Schools and Personal Tutors to identify and support students whose engagement with online learning is low.

With the flexibility ignite provides, it’s important for Schools to be able to identify students who are at risk of disengaging from their studies. In previous years schools relied on attendance data to analyse student participation. However, the reduced and changing number of on-campus sessions make attendance data less useful. A new tool developed by IT Services using Power BI, has been published to provide real-time data on student engagement. The tool allows engagement experts within each School to review how often our students are accessing our Digital Learning Environment and the nature of these interactions.

Additional functionality will be added over time, in consultation with the Engagement Data Steering Group. This allows Schools to provide timely and targeted support to students that need it. These new insights have also been added to the Personal Tutor Dashboard, which has been helping personal tutors to support their tutees for almost two years.

View our data insight page.

Life in lockdown – supporting students

As part of our ongoing support for students, we have increased activities and engagement during lockdown and introduced a Life in lockdown programme. This includes:

We’ve also identified additional group study space in the Ogden Lewis Suite on campus and the Library has an extra 80 flexible loan laptops available for use on and off campus to support students during the second lockdown.

Research update

Our research continues during the national lockdown and guidance for our researchers is in line with the UK Government’s guidance for higher education. We have transitioned with speed and efficiency from Tier 1 to Tier 2 of the Department for Education tiers. This reflects the careful planning of Schools and Departments, operations and health and safety colleagues to ensure our research continues to be COVID-secure.

Research activity will continue to be managed by Schools and Departments, balancing research prioritisation and the occupancy levels of buildings to ensure COVID-safe working.

Your wellbeing remains our priority as we continue to monitor our protocols to keep everyone safe.

Remembrance Day – two-minute silence

Tomorrow is Remembrance Day and we will be observing a two-minute silence at 11am. We will be laying a wreath on campus to mark the occasion and a short video will be shared after the event.

Thank you for your continued hard work and support.

Best wishes

Martyn Riddleston
Chief Operating Officer

 

09 November 2020

Email to students (11:13)

Dear student

After careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone our January 2021 graduation ceremonies.

The national lockdown announcement and the Government’s stance on a difficult winter, as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, means we have no choice but to postpone in order to protect students and their families and friends, our staff, and the wider community.

We are committed to offering students the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony in the future. We will review the COVID-19 situation regularly and the resulting guidelines and will notify our graduating students once a date can be confirmed.

Electronic letters confirming awards to eligible students will be issued in November for students awarded up to 8 October 2020 and in December for students awarded after 8 October 2020.

Students will receive their certificate (and transcript if applicable) by post in due course and will be invited to register a postal address for their certificate through MyStudentRecord this month.

 

06 November 2020

Email to students (17:50)

Dear student

We hope you are OK as this second national lockdown begins. In this update we cover what we are doing to help you during lockdown; additional group study space; flexible loan laptops; a guide to digital learning; refunds for closure of gyms and sports centres; and an update on opening hours.

Life in lockdown

We're pleased to announce our Life in lockdown programme to help you to stay connected, to keep occupied and to look after your wellbeing. This includes:

If you feel lonely or require any student-friendly advice and support, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk, Student Space, or Nightline.

Additional group study space

Additional group study space is available in the Ogden Lewis Suite. This can be accessed from the Fielding Johnson South Wing, behind the David Wilson Library. The space will operate on the same opening hours as the David Wilson Library:

Monday – Friday 9:00 – 19:00, Saturday 9:00 – 17:00 and Sunday 12:00 – 18:00.

You can book the space via the Library’s booking system. Please note, you must continue to wear a face covering in this area (unless exempt) and maintain social distancing.

New flexible loan laptops from the Library

The Library has 80 flexible loan laptops available for use on and off campus. These are brand new machines and at the moment come still boxed. They can be borrowed for up to a month – just ask our Library staff the loan length you would prefer. As these are new laptops you will need to set them up and when you return them they will be wiped by IT Services, ready for the next person to borrow. You can download Microsoft365 from the University website and the laptop comes with Windows Defender. To install Microsoft Office go to the Remote Access site. Select Microsoft365 and log in with your IT Username and Password. Then select Install Office.

From January all flexible loan laptops will come with the standard student PC set-up. However, to help speed up the process and quickly support you during lockdown we are issuing them as new laptops at the moment.

To borrow a flexible loan laptop you will need your University ID card. They can be borrowed from the Library Help Zone on the ground floor of the David Wilson Library. They must be returned to the Library on or before the due date.

Student guide to digital learning

Supportive guidance about how to manage your online studies is available in our student Guide to Digital Learning. Here you can find help on using digital technologies, academic study skills including organising yourself when you’re studying remotely, and how to make the most of ignite learning opportunities by being an active learner. You can also follow your interests with short fully online courses in FutureLearn.

Closure of sports facilities and gyms

We understand that you will be disappointed we are required to close our sports and gym facilities for the national lockdown period. We will be providing a refund to all gym members for the month of closure, proportionate to the level of membership fees paid for the year, and more than would normally be returned under our standard terms and conditions. Refunds will be issued after the period of national lockdown comes to an end. Students who purchased club memberships and who are no longer able to participate due to the new lockdown measures will also be refunded. A decision on which clubs are affected will be made in the coming weeks.

School opening hours

As we enter the second lockdown period, School opening hours have changed. Here are the details for each school.

  • Geography and Geology and Environment: operating a reception service Monday to Thursday morning only and will continue with a daily remote service.
  • Chemistry and Physics: operating a reception service Monday to Friday morning only.
  • Allied Health Professions, Biological Sciences, Psychology, Maths, Engineering and Informatics: operating remotely.
  • Leicester Medical School: The Phase 1 and 2 teams will be operating a reduced service from the GDC.
  • HyPIR, Arts and ULSB: 10-3pm Monday to Friday on Campus/Brookfield
  • AAH: 9-3pm on campus Monday to Thursday; Friday - remote support
  • Law, Museum Studies, Education, Criminology and MCS: Remote and face-to-face appointments are available if booked in advance.

Thank you for continuing to follow these updates. We are working hard to provide you with the support you need during this difficult time. We understand that some of you may be feeling more anxious or lonely as a result of the national lockdown, so please remember that we are always here to support you. Contact the COVID response team on covidstudentsupport@le.ac.uk, or call Nightline if you need somebody to listen.

Best wishes

Graham Wynn
PVC Education

Louise Masterman
Academic Registrar

Email to staff (15:00)

Dear colleagues

As we settle in to the second national lockdown for the next four weeks, I would like to update you further to our previous emails this week.

In today’s email we are covering: University response to national lockdown, working from home, changes to working on campus, a refresh of the resource hub, a security briefing and flu vaccines.

University response to national lockdown

Universities Minister Michelle Donelan wrote to students and vice-chancellors across the country to provide more detail about what the national restrictions mean for universities.

We want to make sure our students continue to receive a quality education, with as little disruption as possible, whilst protecting all of our safety wellbeing. That’s why we introduced our flexible, blended learning and teaching provision ignite in September, which enabled us to move more learning online this week.

If you are still unsure about what the changes mean for you, contact ignite@le.ac.uk.

Continuing to work from home

During the VC and ExB Q&A session last week I received a question about our processes for supporting those of you who continue to work from home and the safety of home-working environments. I thought it would be useful to remind and signpost you to the support and packages available, as they have evolved.

We have provided the Continue to Work from Home Guidance and the online training Help with Temporary Homeworking. Combined, they outline the basic principles of home-working set-up that enable you to carry out a self DSE assessment. On completion of the training, staff are directed towards an online questionnaire which provides an opportunity for you to raise any concerns. You can also do this directly with your line manager.

Drop-in sessions for staff to collect their own equipment to improve their home-working environment have been offered, and are still available. Where absolutely necessary (with authority of budget-holders) there is also the possibility of purchasing equipment.

If you need further information and support, you can contact Health & Safety Services, Occupational Health, Wellbeing and IT Services.

Working on campus - changes

Following the University’s move to our Tier 2 pandemic response, the availability of spaces for booking on campus has changed:

  • Touchdown spaces are no longer available for staff to book through Resource Booker
  • Team meeting spaces at Oadby are no longer available for staff to book through Conferences
  • COVID-secure teaching rooms continue to be available for staff to book through Resource Booker for preparing teaching materials, and by exception for 1-2-1 student meetings that cannot be held online
  • Essential spaces in the Pre-Clinical Research Facility and at Glenfield Hospital continue to be available for relevant staff to book through Resource Booker
  • The Students’ Union will no longer take bookings from student groups and has contacted groups with existing bookings to inform them bookings have been cancelled.

A number of food outlets will remain open during lockdown offering a take-away service:

  • Library cafe
  • Starbucks
  • IV cafe
  • Brookfield cafe
  • Village Pub (no alcohol sales)
  • Citroen Van
  • Delicious.

The Atrium cafe and the Food Market are now closed.

Resource hub update

In order to make the information on our COVID-19 Resource Hub more accessible and easier to find, we have moved it to the external website where it will be kept up to date with the latest advice and information. It includes:

  • Guidance for staff who have coronavirus symptoms or have tested positive
  • Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment
  • Working on campus
  • Working from home
  • Research and labs
  • Safe teaching
  • Information for managers
  • Financial operations.
  • You can view all the COVID-19 information for staff. You can still access it via the homepage on the Sharepoint staff section. If you have any questions about content in the resource hub, please contact communications@le.ac.uk.

    Security briefing

    In light of the terrorist attacks in France and Austria, the UK has increased the terrorist threat level from substantial to severe - this means an attack in the UK is highly likely.

    The UK Head of Counter Terrorism Policing has stressed that this change is not based on a specific threat. They have also advised that there is no intelligence to link the France or Austria attacks to the UK, and officers from Counter Terrorism Policing continue to work closely with international partners.

    Please remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to the University Security team. For non-emergencies call 0116 2522023 and emergencies call 0116 2522888 or use Safezone if on campus.

    You should also view the Run, Hide, Tell video which gives advice on what to do in the unlikely event of a weapons attack.

    Flu vaccines

    Flu clinics will still be going ahead during lockdown, as the University remains open and the Government is encouraging individuals to have the flu vaccine. It’s not too late to book your free flu jab so please email staffhwb@le.ac.uk who will arrange your appointment.

    I hope you have a good weekend and do please continue to take care.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    04 November 2020

    Email to students (10:00)

    Dear student

    As we prepare for the national lockdown during the next four weeks, we would like to update you further to our email on Monday.

    University response to national lockdown

    Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, wrote to students across the country to provide more detail about what the new national restrictions mean.

    We want to make sure you continue to receive a quality education, with as little disruption as possible, while protecting everyone’s safety and wellbeing – that’s why we introduced our flexible, blended learning and teaching provision ignite in September and took the decision to move more learning online this week. If you are still unsure about what the changes mean for you, contact ignite@le.ac.uk.

    You will have heard from your school by now, or you will be hearing very soon, how this transition will change the way you learn during the period of national lockdown.

    Life in lockdown – looking after you

    We are developing additional support packages for lockdown to help you study – look out for more details later this week. In the meantime, please let us have your ideas of what you would find most helpful during this particular time – email ignite@le.ac.uk.

    Unfortunately, although social gatherings cannot happen in person outside your bubble, we are working with our Students’ Union, clubs and societies to find virtual alternatives. Whilst this won’t be possible for all, we are doing our best to make sure you have opportunities to keep in touch with friends.

    Don’t forget to follow what the Accommodation and Residence Life team are putting on – let them know if you want to get involved via accommodation@le.ac.uk.

    What’s on campus

    The library is still open and you can book group and individual study spaces online.

    Only the following sites will be operating from tomorrow, Thursday 5 November:

    • Library cafe
    • Starbucks
    • IV cafe
    • Brookfield cafe
    • Village Pub (no alcohol sales)
    • Citroen Van
    • Delicious.

    The Atrium cafe and the Food Market will be closed after today, Wednesday 4 November.

    Supporting you in self-isolation

    We want to make sure you have everything you need and that you can keep your spirits up whilst self-isolating, with free food essentials, cleaning products and games deliveries.

    So far, we have delivered 1,445 free food parcels and made 1,550 calls to check in to see how you’re doing.

    Find out more about what we’re doing to support you.

    Your safety

    The number of cases of people who have contracted coronavirus remains stable among our students and staff at the University. There have been 75 cases of COVID-19 among our staff and students in the last 10 days, 67 of which are students. If you want to know about reported cases of coronavirus on a daily basis, you can check via our data page.

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop any symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are to: isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and support your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected while you study with us.

    Your wellbeing

    There is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email at studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday-Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

    Stay in touch and take care

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    02 November 2020

    Email to students (16:01)

    Dear student

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday evening and our message to you shortly after, we wanted to follow up quickly with further details on how the national lockdown will affect how our University will operate in the coming weeks.

    A second national lockdown is not something any of us wanted, but we must unite to do what we can to stop the spread of the virus, support the NHS and save lives. I know from how our community has responded and behaved since March, and particularly since the beginning of this academic year, that we can once again pull together and get through these challenges safely. I am extremely grateful to you all for your cooperation and support in keeping the University’s infection rates low and our campus safe. You have done an amazing job and I am very proud of you all. Thank you.

    It is clear that to keep protecting our community we must continue to follow Government guidance, behave responsibly and support each other. For universities, the latest Government guidance is to remain open, but to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible. Therefore, we have taken the decision to deliver certain face-to-face teaching and services online rather than on campus. This change will come into effect from this Thursday, 5 November.

    From the outset, we built our system of blended education, ignite, to have the flexibility needed to meet any changes to the prevailing safety requirements, whilst at the same time ensuring the continuity of your education will always be protected. In all areas of our planning, your wellbeing and safety is paramount and it is for this reason we are making changes at this point.

    It is important to emphasise that this adjustment to the balance of the mode of learning we provide through ignite will ensure your education continues on track and on time throughout the rest of the semester and the academic year. All of your learning outcomes and your progression will proceed as planned, and we will be offering full teaching and academic support throughout. Indeed, we are actively planning to enhance a number of our services during this time.

    To help ensure everyone in our community remains safe and well, from Thursday, 5 November we will take the following steps:

    Education

    Since the start of the semester we have been providing face-to-face small group and laboratory teaching and we will now use the flexibility provided by ignite to transfer some of these activities online. So, while some face-to-face activities will still continue at a reduced level, they will be focused on the most essential aspects of on-campus teaching. All of our Schools have planned for this eventuality and you will receive information from your School on how your teaching will be delivered during this phase, along with details of the academic support available to you. If you have any queries please contact your School office or email ignite@leicester.ac.uk.

    University accommodation

    At this stage there is no change in our provision of accommodation. Government guidance has not changed and you are encouraged to only return home at the end of term. We expect further Government guidance on the end of term shortly and will share plans with you as soon as we can.

    Student experience

    In accordance with Government guidelines, social gatherings outside your household are not permitted in any form for the length of the national lockdown. This means that, from Thursday, student groups and societies, including sports societies, will no longer be able to hold in-person meetings or events of any size, and University-organised extra-curricular in-person activities and events will no longer be able to take place. We understand how disappointing this will be, and we are currently exploring what additional digital activities we can organise and put in place for you.

    In addition, please refrain from holding any pre-lockdown parties before the lockdown begins on Thursday.

    Campus operations

    The Library will remain open and you can find full details of opening times and online facilities on the website. We will be looking to increase the level of study space available to you during this period and will update you later this week.

    Your safety

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop any symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are to: isolate, report and test.

    In this case, you should:

    1. self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. do not attend campus and do complete the online form
    3. if you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and your wellbeing. We want to emphasise that reporting to us will not impact on your studies or support available to you in any way.

    Available support

    We would like to remind you of all of the support channels available to you:

    We will continue to provide you with regular information throughout this phase of operation and will increase the regularity of the updates you receive. Please do read these emails carefully to keep up to date.

    Finally, I would like to thank you all again for your patience, cooperation and goodwill. I really hope that you are all keeping safe and as well as can be during this challenging time, please do keep looking out for each other. I feel immensely proud of you all, and privileged to be a part of our community.

    Very best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

     

    Email to staff (13:45)

    Dear colleagues

    No doubt the Prime Minister’s announcement on Saturday night is now sinking in and you are all thinking about what this means for you and your families. No-one wants a second national lockdown, but we must unite to stop the spread of the virus in order to support the NHS and save lives. I know from how our community has responded and behaved since March that we can, once again, pull together and get through these challenges safely. I am extremely grateful to all our staff and students for your cooperation and support in keeping the University’s infection rates low and our campus safe. Thank you.

    It is clear that to keep protecting our community we must continue to follow the guidance, behave responsibly and support each other. I urge everyone to follow the latest Government guidance.

    Since the announcement, and as stated in my email on Saturday evening, I have now worked with the Executive Board team to review our operations and plans in light of the new measures being put in place. At the beginning of the pandemic we established five principles to guide our decision-making:

    1. Prioritise staff and student health, safety and wellbeing
    2. Follow Government guidance
    3. Adopt a phased approach, with key milestones in line with Government timing
    4. Learn as we go along – and deliver improvements
    5. Ensure all decisions align with our strategic priorities.

    Keeping focused on these principles, we have carefully reviewed the latest guidance. Whilst we are operating safely and could continue with our current arrangements, the Government guidance is to remain open, but to consider moving to increased levels of online learning where possible. As an Executive Board we want to ensure that we can continue to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students during this period of national lockdown.

    Therefore, we have made the decision to move to Tier 2 in our COVID response framework. We have already made suitable arrangements to respond to this scenario and I am confident that we can deliver a good educational experience to our students during these challenging times. Furthermore, it is essential that we do all we can to reassure our students of the value in continuing with their university education. So, this means that from Thursday 5 November:

    • Face-to-face teaching will be reduced. All Schools have planned for this eventuality and have Tier 2 teaching plans in place which reflect essential face-to-face teaching in their discipline areas
    • In-person 1-2-1 student support is by exception and will move online
    • Our halls of residence remain open. Government advice is very clear and students are advised to remain on campus and not return home until Christmas. Further guidance will follow on how this will be managed. Until then, we need to ensure we continue to support students in our halls and in private accommodation during this time
    • Current research activities on campus will continue in accordance with local risk assessments
    • In-person supervisory meetings for campus-based PGRs are by exception and will move online
    • The library will remain open with current operations and opening hours
    • The campus will operate at a reduced capacity and catering outlets will be reduced. More details will follow later this week
    • Professional Services colleagues who are able to work from home should continue to do so
    • Bookable touchdown spaces and team meetings spaces are suspended
    • Sports facilities and gyms will close. We will keep this under review if the guidance changes
    • The Attenborough Arts Centre will close but digital activities will continue
    • The Nursery will remain open.

    The Prime Minister also announced that the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) - also known as the Furlough scheme - will remain open until December. The Job Support Scheme, which was scheduled to come in on Sunday 1 November, has been postponed until the furlough scheme ends. The HR Division will be working with managers this week to review new, or existing, furlough arrangements for staff.

    This continues to be a very uncertain time for everyone. Your health and wellbeing remains our priority, and support is available if you need it. You can access the Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which has a range of resources available.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns you should speak to your line manager, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider on 0800 358 4568.

    More detailed information will follow later this week and we will increase the updates you receive during lockdown. Please do read these emails carefully to keep up to date.

    We have responded well to previous national and local lockdowns and I would urge that we do all we can to support the health and wellbeing of the University community and the wider public. I would like to thank you all again for your cooperation, understanding and support.

    Please take care and stay safe.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    31 October 2020

    Email to students (20:20)

    Dear student

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, we will now consider the new national measures being implemented and will share our plans in response to the lockdown early next week. In the meantime, the University remains open and current teaching will continue. Please be assured that there will continue to be a student experience at the University with ongoing digital events and support in place.

    COVID case numbers at the University of Leicester remain low compared to many universities because of the clear safety steps we have taken and the responsible behaviour of our community. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and community remains our priority. Please follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report
    3. Test (book here if not yet tested).

    I understand this continues to be a challenging time, and we are always here to support you, please contact studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk if you have any concerns or need anything from us.

    Stay safe and healthy and look out for updated information early next week.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Email to staff (19:58)

    Dear colleagues

    Following the Prime Minister’s announcement this evening, we will now consider the new national measures being implemented and will share our plans in response to the new lockdown early next week. In the meantime, the University remains open and current teaching and working patterns will continue.

    COVID case numbers at the University of Leicester remain low compared to many universities because of the clear safety steps we have taken and the behaviour of our community. The health, safety and wellbeing of our staff, students and community remains our priority. Please follow the three steps below if you have COVID symptoms or have tested positive:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report
    3. Test (book if not yet tested).

    Stay safe and healthy.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    29 October 2020

    Email to staff (10:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update focuses on the announcement about Nottingham moving to Local COVID Alert Level Very High and what this means for staff and students who live in that area, our approach to teaching in semester 2 and the Executive Board Live Q&A.

    Nottingham Local COVID Alert Level Very High

    All of Nottinghamshire will move into tighter restrictions from tomorrow morning. We have around 70 commuter students living in those areas and just under 150 staff.

    Face-to-face teaching will continue on campus as we are currently operating at the Department for Education’s Tier 1. Travelling for work or education is exempt from the travel restrictions in the Very High Alert Level, so staff should continue to deliver planned face-to-face teaching. However, if you have concerns about the Very High Alert Level and your personal situation, please discuss your circumstances with your line manager. This may result in the completion of an individual clinical risk assessment to assess and respond to any concerns.

    Teaching in Semester 2

    When developing our plans for ignite and our education delivery for 2020/21, starting from the Education Planning Principles document circulated on 20 May 2020, we took the view that our blended learning approach would extend across the full 2020/21 academic year.

    Moreover, we wanted to ensure that all our development work for 2020/21 was fully aligned with our Research Inspired Education Strategy and formed part of a move to develop a more inclusive, flexible education for our students during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.

    From the outset, ignite was designed to allow us to provide our education with the resilience it needs to adapt to a rapidly changing situation. This approach has allowed us to ensure our students have educational continuity while protecting the safety and wellbeing of our community. To confirm, we will continue with our current approach to blended learning through semester 2 while also continuing to closely monitor developments in the COVID-19 situation.

    To help us understand how our approach to ignite is working in practice across our Schools we will consult with students and staff through November. This evaluation exercise will be run in partnership with the Students’ Union and will help inform how we can develop our education in semester 2 and into 2021/22. We will be in contact with Schools shortly to discuss the best approach to the evaluation process and how we can proactively engage our students with the future development of ignite.

    Following the national conversation around arrangements for students over the Christmas period this year, and in anticipation of government guidance on this issue, we will provide staff and students with details on local planning very soon.

    Executive Board Live Q&A

    This week we ran our fifth Live Q&A session with the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Board. Over 600 people joined the event and we responded to a lot of questions. Any questions not covered will be responded to and published later. If you missed the Q&A or would like to watch again, you can.

    I hope you are keeping well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    28 October 2020

    Email to students (10:15)

    Dear student

    Since the beginning of term, we have seen our University community come together in a way that has reinforced the true nature of being a Citizen of Change – a huge thank you to you all for playing your part and helping to keep our community safe.

    In today’s email, we will cover:

    • COVID case numbers
    • Health and safety on campus
    • COVID-19 screening
    • Ignite Q&A
    • Self-isolation support.

    COVID-19 case numbers

    The number of cases of people who have contracted coronavirus remains stable among our students and staff at the University, and at a rate at which it is safe to carry on with the current mix of on-campus and online learning. There have been 73 cases of COVID-19 among our staff and students in the last 10 days, 66 of which are students. If you want to know about reported cases of coronavirus on a daily basis, you can check via our data page.

    Please do ensure you follow the three steps to keep our community safe:

    • Isolate in your home as soon as you display symptoms or become aware of having been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
    • Report to us that you have symptoms
    • Test (book if not yet tested).

    Health and safety on campus

    Staff have been working to ensure teaching spaces, meeting rooms and offices are COVID-secure. This includes calculating room capacities, monitoring health and safety, ventilation checks, providing room and building signage, modifying furniture layouts and supplying cleaning and sanitation stations.

    Unfortunately, we have had some reports of capacity signage being removed or tampered with, room layouts changed and additional furniture brought in. Capacities and layouts have been designed with the safety of everyone in mind and to ensure we maintain social distancing requirements, so please don’t put others at risk.

    How you can be screened for COVID-19

    Since the University’s screening programme began over three weeks ago, more than 700 non-symptomatic staff and students have been screened for COVID-19, helping to protect their peers and colleagues. Recently, the screening centre doubled its capacity, meaning more appointments are available.

    We urge all of you who come to campus and are not experiencing any symptoms, to book an appointment and get yourself screened for COVID-19. The screening appointment takes less than 15 minutes and gives you the information you need to keep you and those around you safe from infection. Find out more about the programme and book your appointment on our screening page. The centre is open for booked appointments from 9am-2.45pm Monday-Thursday and 9am-11.45am on Fridays.

    Ignite Q&A

    We held a live Q&A session for students who had questions about our ignite teaching and learning programme.

    We hope those of you who attended found it helpful. We certainly found it useful to hear from you. If you missed it, you can watch the recording.

    Self-isolation support

    We want to make sure you have everything you need and that you can keep your spirits up whilst self-isolating, with free food essentials and cleaning products, Instagram live events and online exercise classes, so we are working hard to make it happen.

    So far, we have delivered 766 food parcels and made 937 calls to check in to see how you’re doing.

    Unfortunately, it seems on the odd occasion a few of you have not received all the help you need in a timely way. If this happens to you, please email accommodation@le.ac.uk and we will ensure you receive the support you need.

    Find out more about what we’re doing to help get you through this tough time.

    Stay safe and take care.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    19 October 2020

    Email to students (15:00)

    Dear student

    We hope you are doing well in these first few weeks of term. We very much appreciate your patience and cooperation with the restrictions within which we are all working. In this update, we cover:

    • COVID-19 cases update
    • Reporting COVID or self-isolation
    • Book your COVID-19 screening appointment
    • Ventilation guidance for using rooms
    • Alternative arrangements for assessment
    • Our second century – shaping for excellence
    • Student Services Centre opening hours
    • Your wellbeing

    COVID-19 cases update

    We now publish our latest case numbers daily on the COVID-19 information hub on our website. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last seven days is 78, 72 of which are students.

    We are still getting reports of new cases of COVID-19 and people needing to self-isolate, but those numbers are slowing down. Currently, we are not experiencing the level of outbreaks that other universities across the UK have. We are therefore still focused on our current teaching plans and we will continue to monitor the situation daily, always ensuring the health and wellbeing of our staff and students is our highest priority.

    Reporting COVID or self-isolation

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and support your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected while you study with us.

    Book your COVID-19 screening appointment

    If you are not experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, you can still be screened for the virus by booking an appointment through our programme. You must first be registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre. See the screening page for details and to book.

    Guidance for using rooms – ventilation top tips

    Here are some factors to bear in mind when using any University rooms. You should consider:

    • The more fresh air, the better – good outside fresh air ventilation reduces risk.
    • Let fresh air in by opening windows fully or by making use of ventilation systems.
    • You should not be occupying rooms without suitable fresh air provision.

    Alternative arrangements for assessment

    Under ignite we are committed to ensuring that all of your remote online assessments are inclusive and accessible, taking into account any specific alternative arrangements that may be in place for disabled students.

    We have worked closely with the AccessAbility Centre to support students who are eligible for alternative arrangements. These will be in place for their remote assessments this year.

    Our second century – shaping for excellence

    Next year we will celebrate our centenary and we can look back on a proud history of discovery and student success. We enter our second century as a top 25 UK university thanks to our strengths in education, student experience and research.

    We need to continue to build on this success and our ambition is to be a world-leading research-intensive university providing an exceptional educational experience for our students. To compete with the best in the world we must build on our strengths and areas of excellence. We are now making plans for the future and over the next few months we will be reviewing parts of the University to assess how they can best contribute to the emerging opportunities in education and research.

    Some of you may have received a message informing you that the subject area you are studying has been identified as an area where discussions will be held about potential changes. These are School of Arts, School of Business, School of Informatics, School of Mathematics and Actuarial Science and the Department of Neuroscience, Psychology and Behaviour. If you have received a message, we would like to reassure you that the review will not impact the completion of the course and we are committed to providing a high-quality course delivery in these areas. If you have not received an email, then your area of study will not be affected.

    For our PhD students and early career researchers, we are very conscious of the need to support you. If at any point, it appears possible that any PhD student or early career researcher will be impacted in any way – we will work with the Doctoral College and PGR tutors to minimise any such impact.

    If you have any concerns or queries, or are worried about the review in relation to your studies, please email shapingforexcellence@leicester.ac.uk.

    Student Services Centre opening hours

    From Monday 19 October the Student Services Centre will be open Monday to Friday 10am to 4pm. The Student Services Centre is a central point for information and advice for all students. If you need help with any practical matters, the Centre will always be happy to help you so visit them in the Charles Wilson Building.

    Your wellbeing

    There is a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline is open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300. You can also contact the team via email studentcovidsupport@le.ac.uk. Student Support Services can also be contacted Monday-Friday on 0116 223 1185 or emailed via wellbeing@le.ac.uk.

    Please continue to look after yourselves and each other.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    16 October 2020

    Email to staff (16:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s briefing covers an update on COVID-19 cases on campus and how we are responding, an outline on how our plans align with the new Government three-tier plan announced on Monday 12 October, guidance for room occupation, details of touchdown spaces for Professional Services Staff and an update on the University’s COVID-19 screening programme as well as details of a local engagement activity that PHE and the City Mayor is running, which staff are invited to participate in.

    COVID-19 cases update

    We now publish our latest case numbers daily on the COVID-19 information hub on our website. The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the last 14 days is 162, 156 of which are students.

    We are still getting reports of new cases of COVID-19 and people needing to self-isolate, but those numbers are slowing down. Currently, we are not experiencing the level of outbreaks that other universities across the UK have. Therefore, we will continue with the current levels of education and research activity, monitoring this on a daily basis. Unless there is a Government announcement regarding further lockdown restrictions, or our situation changes, we are continuing to operate at an institutional tier 1 (PFD, 38kb).

    How we respond to cases - our Strategic Framework and the Government’s new coronavirus alert system (Medium, High and Very High)

    Last week we issued the easy-to-view infographic (PDF, 38kb) which outlines how we will respond to COVID-19 based on the DfE 4 Tier Model. In light of the Government introducing its three tiers of Medium, High and Very High we are now aligning our framework with the new system to make it consistent and easier to understand in relation to the Government picture. Leicester is currently regarded as High within the Government framework.

    The COVID Case Response Group (CCRG) meets daily to review our position and makes recommendations using this framework to the COVID Oversight Group (COG) if we need to move up, or down, the tiers. 

    Guidance for room occupation – air considerations

    Here are some factors to bear in mind when using any University rooms. You should consider:

    • That good outside fresh air ventilation quantities dilute internal airborne contamination and reduce risk. The more outside fresh air the better.
    • That fresh air can be provided by either natural means (opening windows or roof lights) or by mechanical means (ducted ventilation systems).
    • That we should not be occupying rooms without suitable fresh air provision.
    • That the University E&DS team has ensured that rooms intended for occupancy have either opening windows and/or mechanical ventilation.
    • That rooms intended for occupancy have been inspected for suitability prior to occupation but in all cases room occupancy levels have been reduced to cater for social distancing and/or the limitations of the fresh air ventilation provided.
    • That where mechanical fresh air ventilation is provided the equipment has been recently fully serviced.

    You should take actions as follows:

    • Ascertain, where external glazing is installed, which windows can be opened.
    • Always ensure that outdoor fresh air ventilation is maximised and make best use of windows by opening them fully, or as fully as practical, during any occupation.
    • If there are top and bottom windows open both sets as fully as possible.
    • Ascertain how (or if) window opening can be managed and windows opened prior to or after occupation to freshen the room before entry.
    • Always ascertain that rooms without opening windows are alternatively provided with properly operated mechanical ducted ventilation. If unsure please seek advice.

    Professional Services touchdown spaces –now available

    For any Professional Services staff who need to come onto campus, touchdown space is now available in the Fielding Johnson Building. The Professional Services touchdown spaces are located on the ground floor in the following areas:

    • FJB 0.065 Front Crush Hall office - accessed straight ahead from FJB main reception. Shared office space.
    • FJB 0.040 Shared office accessed by turning right in FJB main reception, passed the Gimson room, at the end of the corridor.
    • There are five single occupancy offices accessed from 0.040 (FJB 0.041, 0.042, 0.043, 0.044, 0.045).
    • FJB0.048 Turret shared office, accessed through 0.040 or from the FJB side entrance opposite Security Lodge, turning left into the office spaces.

    Desks are currently available on a first come, first served basis. Useable desks are numbered. A system to enable booking of desks is being developed.

    Please remember that if you do need to come onto campus, you must complete the mandatory training and download the SafeZone app. You must also wear a face-covering indoors and keep windows open to maintain natural ventilation. Sanitiser will be available however if you find that it has run out, please contact the Service Desk at ECS-Service@le.ac.uk.

    Book your screening appointment

    The University’s COVID-19 screening programme has now expanded to meet demand so please do book an appointment. Just as a reminder, COVID-19 screenings are strictly for University of Leicester staff and students not experiencing any of the symptoms of COVID-19, so if you begin to display symptoms after booking, please cancel your appointment as described below. If you do display symptoms, you must follow the isolate – report – test procedure.

    While the majority of those who book keep their appointments, there is a small number who are requesting to cancel on the day or not honouring the appointment. It is understandable that sometimes circumstances change, often with little notice, but please do attend your booked appointment if possible, or cancel/reschedule by clicking the relevant link in your booking confirmation email. This will give the opportunity for someone else to make use of the original appointment slot.

    It is also important to remember that if you recently applied online for temporary or permanent registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre, you must wait for a confirmation SMS from the health centre before you make an online booking. 

    You can make your screening appointment here.

    Public health engagement

    Finally, The City Mayor’s Office and Public Health are running some engagement groups to try to understand reasons for a rise in positive cases of coronavirus across the city in recent weeks. Data shows that the rise is greatest amongst the 20-44 year-old age group and so they are particularly looking for people between these ages and that live in Leicester for this round of engagement. Find out more or register here.

    Once again, thank you for your hard work and support. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    09 October 2020

    Email to staff (17:45)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update focuses on how the University is operating in a COVID environment and the support and processes we have put in place. There are six updates:

    • COVID-19 cases at the University
    • Supporting our students
    • Supporting our staff
    • How we respond to cases – our strategic framework
    • Campus operations
    • World Mental Health Day

    COVID-19 Cases Data

    As you may have seen, COVID-19 cases within universities is a key focus for the media at the moment as the Autumn term has begun. It’s important that we carefully monitor cases on campus and support any members of staff or students who test positive for coronavirus or have to isolate as a result of contact. 

    As of today, we have two members of staff and 80 students who have tested positive for COVID-19. We are supporting them and wish them all a speedy recovery. We are now also managing our first outbreak in University accommodation – a handful of cases in the same residential block. As with all other cases, we are providing support to all students affected and have put in place additional precautionary safety measures, including cleaning and security.

    We appreciate that some colleagues may have been worried about the start of term. The first week of teaching has gone well and we are very grateful to everyone for your actions to help keep our community safe. The University is keeping the situation under very close review, along with Public Health England, and all decisions are guided by its advice. If the situation changes, we will tell students and staff immediately. 

    To keep our staff, students, and community informed, we're now publishing daily our data on our COVID-19 cases.

    Supporting our Students

    We have a team ready to respond to students who have tested positive as well as to students who have to isolate. From tomorrow, there will be a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, for students, parents, carers and community members who have concerns. The helpline will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm, from Monday to Friday, on 0116 252 2300.

    The support we offer our students is critical as they are away from home. I’ve listed below some of the support in place:

    1. Free care packages for isolating students whether they are in our own or private accommodation. We have four different types of care packages that students can receive:

    • Food
    • Hygiene and cleaning
    • Treats
    • Games

    2. On-campus screening for students with no symptoms.

    3. Continued academic and pastoral support during isolation.

    In addition, the Vice-Chancellor wrote an open letter to parents and carers last week to share our student support plans. 

    We’ve also been as flexible as possible with our accommodation since the start of the pandemic. Last term we quickly reimbursed accommodation costs when students returned home early. We are also the only university to offer flexible accommodation packages so that students can choose to book for the full year, by term or weekly.

    Supporting our Staff

    Supporting colleagues who have tested positive for coronavirus or are isolating is also important. 

    The key actions you need to remember and follow (and/or advise others) if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are: isolate, report and test. 

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:

    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.

    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    We have already shared flowcharts [login required] so each of us know what to do if we have symptoms of, or test positive for, the virus. It is important that both staff and students follow the process so that we can monitor and manage all cases on campus, in our residences and off campus. 

    The most important element of the process is to ensure that we report all cases using the online form

    We’ve also created detailed guidance for managers on what they need to do and how to respond:

    How we respond to cases – our Strategic Framework 

    As outlined by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor last week, the four-tier model created by DfE to manage COVID-19-safe environments is forming the basis of our organisational response to COVID cases on campus. We have produced an easy-view infographic to explain our approach at each tier (PDF, 38kb). We are currently at Tier 1. The COVID Case Response Group (CCRG) meets daily to review our position and makes recommendations using this framework to the COVID Oversight Group (COG) if we need to move up, or down, the tiers. As Chair of COG, I will liaise with the Executive Board as required. The terms of reference of our new groups COG and the COVID Case Response Group will be published on the Resource Hub next week. 

    Our Strategic Framework has been agreed by the local Public Health team, Lockdown Exit Group and Executive Board. It has also been considered by the Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee (HSWC). 

    World Mental Health Day

    Finally, tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Prioritising everyone’s mental health has never been more important than now. We know making positive change can seem hard, especially at uncertain times. Mind suggests to 'do one thing today', taking the first steps to getting support for yourself or reaching out to someone else.

    I would like to remind you that help is on hand, if you need it. We have our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit [login required], which includes fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas and advice about working from home with links to our carer and parent web pages.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider, on 0800 358 4568.

    I hope you are all keeping well. Take care and enjoy your weekend.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (17:54)

    Dear student

    We hope you are settling into the new term well and, for those returning students, we hope you are adjusting to a new way of learning. It’s good to see our campus coming to life again.

    Supporting you - COVID on Campus

    We are now publishing the number of COVID cases on campus. As of today, we have 80 students who have tested positive for COVID-19 and we are supporting them whilst they recover. A number of students are also self-isolating. We appreciate this will be tough and so are doing our best to make sure you have everything you need to get through it. 

    We are now also managing our first outbreak in University accommodation – a handful of cases in the same residential block. As with all other cases, we are supporting all students affected and have put in place additional precautionary safety measures, including cleaning and security.

    We are supplying free care packages to students who are isolating too. There are four different types that you may receive: food; hygiene and cleaning; treats; and games. To receive them you should fill in the COVID-19 symptoms report form.

    We appreciate that some students may have been worried about the start of term. The first week of teaching has gone well and we are very grateful to everyone for your actions to help keep our community safe. The University is keeping the situation under very close review, along with Public Health England, and all decisions are guided by its advice. If the situation changes, we will tell students and staff immediately. 

    And, as of tomorrow, there will be a dedicated COVID-19 response team in place, if you have any worries. The helpline will be open from 10am to 4pm on Saturday, and 9am to 5pm from Monday to Friday on 0116 252 2300.

    Protecting each other

    We have created six guiding principles and set out the actions and attitudes we must all take on to ensure everyone in our university succeeds and our whole community can stay safe. We promise to abide by this commitment, and we invite you to join us. You can pledge your commitment to the Safe Citizen Promise. If you haven’t signed up already, take a look today.

    Please keep in touch with friends who are self-isolating and, if you feel up to it, there is a programme of ‘social in isolation’ events taking place. 

    Student conduct rules

    We’d like to thank you for all following our student conduct rules. We know that at the moment, student life is not quite as you all expected but we really appreciate how responsible you are being to keep your friends and the University of Leicester community safe. As a quick reminder, please follow the following guidance:

    • Do not socialise outside your household or break the Government’s ‘rule of six’
    • Do not mingle before and after in-person classes on campus
    • Do not move chairs or cross taped-off areas
    • Do not remove your mask whilst in public spaces, including the library, unless you are alone in a room; when you are eating or drinking; if you have a medical condition (mental or physical) that makes wearing a face-covering difficult; or are engaged in work where wearing a face-covering would introduce a more significant hazard.

    If you have a medical reason for not wearing a mask, you can wear a sunflower badge to let people know you are exempt, as part of the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Scheme. To find out more, contact the AccessAbility Centre.

    Unfortunately, a small number of students have had to undergo disciplinary measures for not complying with Government guidelines and we have had to suspend their studies. It is vital that you all follow the guidelines to keep our community safe. See Appendix 1 in Senate Regulation 11.

    Travelling home at weekends

    Due to local lockdown restrictions in Leicester, the Government has put in place extra restrictions to those areas of the country you may have moved from. This includes not travelling home on weekends, even if you are well.

    Please familiarise yourself with the dos and don’ts here.

    Screening appointments

    Since its launch last week, the University’s COVID-19 screening programme has expanded to meet demand. While the majority of those who book keep their appointments, there is a small number who are requesting to cancel on the day. 

    It is understandable that sometimes circumstances change, often with little notice, but given the demand for the appointments please attend your booked appointment if possible, or cancel/reschedule by clicking the relevant link in your booking confirmation email. This will allow for someone else to make use of the screening slot. 

    Just as a reminder, COVID-19 screenings are strictly for University of Leicester staff and students not experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, so if you begin to display symptoms after booking, please cancel your appointment as described above. If you do display symptoms, you must follow the isolate – report – test procedure.

    It is also important to remember that if you recently applied online for temporary or permanent registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre, you must wait for a confirmation SMS from the health centre before you make an online booking.

    World Mental Health Day

    Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day. Prioritising your mental health has never been more important than now. We know making positive change can seem hard, especially at uncertain times. Mind suggests to 'do one thing today', taking the first steps to getting support for yourself or reaching out to someone else.

    MyWellbeing app is also available now to help you make positive healthy changes from the physical, to mental, social and financial, through podcasts, challenges and trackers. It is available on Android and Apple devices; register with your full university email address.

    We would like to remind you of the support channels available:

    Please continue to look after yourselves and each other.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    02 October 2020

    Email to students (09:00)

    Dear student

    With a number of universities already seeing large-scale outbreaks of coronavirus so early into the term, we want to outline our approach and support if the situation was to arise here at Leicester.

    Most importantly, we want to reassure you that your welfare and wellbeing is absolutely paramount and we will make sure we look after you at all times.

    As the national situation changes, we are very likely to be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come and, inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. Any decision we make to ensure your safety and wellbeing will be taken in accordance with our COVID plans, which have been agreed with Public Health England and the Department for Education.

    Planning for your wellbeing

    We want to assure you that we monitor and review the situation on a daily basis. This monitoring covers how we are running the campus and our accommodation and we have plans in place to make adjustments and changes as necessary.

    We are operating a four-tier system for our education and will move within that system as we manage COVID cases at the University. The higher tiers involve moving to more extensive online learning for our students and home-working for staff as necessary.

    The key actions we need you to remember and follow if you develop ANY symptoms, or are waiting for the results of a test, are isolate, report and test.

    1. You should self-isolate and follow Government guidance:
    2. Do not attend campus and do complete the online form.
    3. If you have symptoms, request a test or call 119.

    By keeping us informed we are able to monitor cases and your wellbeing; reporting to us will not impact on your educational studies or support available to you. We want you all to be well and protected whilst you study with us. To help with this we have a number of apps that we encourage you to sign up to/join so you are up to date on our information and we know you are safe and well.

    • NHS Test and Trace – designed to help people to understand if they are at risk of infection so they can take action to protect themselves and their communities – search for ‘NHS Test and Trace’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
    • SafeZone – allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance or first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus. You can search for ‘SafeZone’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store.
    • My UoL – provides access and information on a variety of University services and matters - search for ‘My UoL’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store or download the desktop version at myuol.le.ac.uk.
    • My Wellbeing – empowers you to make positive healthy changes to your wellbeing - search for ‘Uni of Leicester Wellbeing app’ on Apple Store or Google Play Store. You can also access it through MyUoL if you have both apps downloaded.

    We will also share updates on our website and through Twitter. Please ensure you are following these for up-to-date information.

    Seven Steps to Safety and Conduct

    Many thanks to all the students who are following our seven steps to being safe. Please continue to adhere to these steps. As campus teaching resumes this week please take special care not to gather in large groups when waiting to go into teaching rooms – stay socially distanced at all times. Unfortunately, a small number of students have had to undergo disciplinary measures this week for not complying with Government guidelines and we have had to suspend their studies. It is vital that we all follow the guidelines to keep our community safe.

    Supporting Self-Isolation

    We have developed a comprehensive set of plans and support if any of our students are required to self-isolate. Our process looks after students whether we have one student isolating or larger numbers are involved. We will support all students whether in our own accommodation, in private accommodation or commuting to study.

    We are already working with our local supermarkets regarding online food deliveries; we will have essential food packages along with menu instructions for those isolating who are unable to access food; we have also arranged for on-site food concessions and take-aways; and we will support students with specific dietary requirements. We will also have cleaning and personal hygiene packages for you, and will support your laundry needs wherever we can. We will ensure that any medication that is required will be delivered.

    Tutor support will continue, with additional check-ins and we will have a ‘Social in Isolation’ programme of events to ensure students are not alone in isolation.

    Screening on Campus

    We are now one of a handful of universities screening non-symptomatic students and staff. This is a key measure to keep you safe on campus as we will be able to detect the virus in those who may be carrying it and still feeling well. We have just launched so booking is busy but we encourage anyone who is not experiencing symptoms to book a screening. Booking is now available seven days in advance. Please do not book or attend the screening if you have any of the symptoms of COVID-19.

    Support Available

    Finally, we would like to remind you of the support channels available:

    I hope you have had an enjoyable first week and look forward to seeing you all on campus. Stay safe and well and remember, by following the guidelines you will help keep our whole community safe.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    30 September 2020

    Email to staff (11:40)

    Dear colleagues

    Today the University is launching a programme to screen staff and students for COVID-19. With students and staff returning to campus, our priority is to protect them and the local community from the risk of COVID infection.

    Our screening programme is different to the NHS-run testing programme – the University is screening staff and students who do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and are feeling well.

    By taking this action, we are seeking to detect the virus in people without symptoms, and so prevent its spread.

    Screening will take place in the Adrian Building on main campus through a pre-booked appointment system (details are provided below), where you will be asked to take a swab sample which will be used to detect the presence of the COVID-19 virus.

    Screening appointments are available to all staff and students. To access the screening programme registration with the Victoria Park Health Centre is required, which can be either temporary (for the purpose of the test only) or permanent (this is your current GP practice).

    If you are registered with a GP practice other than VPHC, you should register as a temporary patient with VPHC.

    Staff who are already registered with the Victoria Park Health Centre can proceed directly to booking a screening appointment.

    Once registered with Victoria Park Health Centre, you can book your screening appointment by visiting the screening homepage.

    Please visit the screening FAQs section or email the University COVID support team for further information about the screening programme.

    If you have any symptoms of COVID-19, please do not book a screening appointment. Instead please isolate – report – test. To comply with this you should:

    Please do take part in the screening programme to help protect our campus and community. I wish you all a pleasant and healthy start to the new term.

    Best wishes

    Professor Philip Baker
    Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Life Sciences, Dean of Medicine

     

    25 September 2020

    Email to students (16:15)

    Dear student,

    We hope that you are safe, well and excited about the start of the new academic year. This email provides important information. Please read it carefully.

    In light of the Government announcement earlier this week, we wanted to update you on the arrangements for the start of term. From the outset, we have designed our education to be COVID-secure. Our new system of education, ignite, builds in the flexibility to adjust the balance of face-to-face and online teaching to meet changing safety needs, whilst at the same time ensuring the continuity of your education. In all areas of our planning, your wellbeing and safety is paramount.

    Welcome

    To support you on your arrival at the University, we have created a Student Life Induction programme, designed to complement your academic and accommodation inductions. The Student Life Induction tells you all you need to know about how you can look after your own health and wellbeing, stay safe on campus and as you travel in and around Leicester. You can also access our Welcome website which sets out our programme of online and socially-distanced on-campus events that have been planned for Welcome and throughout the term.

    Join Us in Creating a Safe Campus and Community

    Unfortunately, we will be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come. Inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. It’s vital that we work together to minimise COVID cases as much as possible by following the guidance we have put in place.

    As part of its work to protect staff, students and the community from COVID-19 infection, the University of Leicester has launched the Safe Citizen Promise, signed by the Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah and the President of the Students’ Union Mia Nembhard.

    Comprised of six guiding principles which staff and students pledge to uphold and follow, the Safe Citizen Promise seeks to minimise the impact of COVID-19 and stop its spread through collective action and personal responsibility. The University of Leicester also signed a shared commitment with De Montfort University to encourage staff and students to take precautions and protect the Leicester community against COVID-19.

    Please see our Safe Citizen Promise.

    Since the Government imposed lockdown the University has required people accessing campus to use the SafeZone App. We are now asking everyone on campus to install SafeZone and to set it to automatically check-in and out on mobile devices. Or if using a University PC download, install and check in and out when you arrive on campus and when you leave again. This is a simple tool that allows us to monitor numbers of staff and students in our buildings, and should levels exceed the approved capacity an alert will be sent to our security team. Our security team will then be deployed to investigate.

    SafeZone also allows staff and students to contact security in the event of an emergency and enables us to send a fully trained first aider to assist in any relevant situation.

    Seven Steps for Staying COVID-19 Safe

    We have made every effort to mitigate the risk of transmission of COVID-19, but it is very important everyone plays their part. Please follow these seven simple steps to create a safe environment for everyone:

    1. Use hand sanitising stations when on campus or at our accommodation.
    2. Wear a face covering in our buildings at all times, unless you are in your own flat/house or are exempt.
    3. Socially distance at all times and respect the space of others.
    4. Do not hold house parties.
    5. If you are socialising, make sure this is only with your household bubble and do not visit other households.
    6. Participate in our screening programme.
    7. If you develop symptoms:
      • Isolate in your flat/house
      • Report to us that you have symptoms
      • Test (book if not yet tested).

    New Conduct Regulations

    For your own safety, and the safety of others, it is important that you are aware of the guidance and rules that are in place as you join our University community for the new academic year. Leicester City and the Borough of Oadby & Wigston are subject currently to some continuing local lockdown restrictions that mean:

    • you cannot visit other households (including other flats within halls of residence) within this area, indoors or outdoors
    • you should not socialise in public spaces with anyone from outside your household, and never in groups larger than six
    • if these rules are not observed then you may find yourself having fines enforced by the police and be subject to sanctions by the University.

    As a student of the University, you are expected to follow our code of conduct, which has been updated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The key points for you are:

    • if you do not wear a face covering inside University buildings (unless exempt or in a room on your own), you will be subject to a verbal warning or written warning
    • if you do not follow 1m+ social distancing guidelines inside University buildings, you will be subject to a verbal or written warning
    • if you hold a house party which includes anybody outside your household, the University sees this as a serious breach of the code of conduct, and you will immediately be subject to a two week Temporary Suspension Order (TSO) meaning that you cannot continue your studies for that time
    • if you repeatedly breach the student code of conduct, you will be subject to formal disciplinary proceedings which ultimately could lead to your expulsion from the University.

    We are looking forward to welcoming you to our community and hope that you will understand that, due to the current local and national situation, we have to put in place these measures to do all that we can to help keep everyone as safe as possible.

    Your safety

    We have prepared our campus to operate as fully socially-distanced, creating a safe environment for everyone. You will be provided with a pack of hygiene materials to help you keep safe while studying, including a face covering, hand sanitiser and sanitising wipes. In addition, sanitising stations are available throughout the campus.

    If you are a new student, you will receive your pack at registration, either in University Accommodation or in the Charles Wilson Sports Hall.

    If you are a returning student, you can collect your pack from one of the following locations:

    • School offices for the following schools: Business, Chemistry, Engineering, Geography, Geology & the Environment, Informatics, Mathematics & Actuarial Science, Physics and Astronomy.
    • Leicester Law School: the School will contact you to let you know when to collect your pack.
    • Allied Health Professions: you should have already received your pack.
    • Students from all other Schools can collect their packs from:
      • the Welcome team on campus from today
      • the David Wilson Library – now open
      • the Student Services Centre in Charles Wilson Building foyer – now open
      • University Accommodation (if you live there).

    Thermometers are also available from the same locations on request.

    Certificates of registration and student letters

    You can now download your Certificate of Registration, and any other student letters for which you are eligible, from MyStudentRecord. Once you have fully completed registration, log on to MyStudentRecord and select the My Uni Documents tab to download any letters you need. For hygiene reasons, no letters will be printed at registration this year. We suggest you download your Certificate of Registration to keep on your phone, as this confirms your term-time address. When you are with other students from your household bubble, you will be able to use it to prove to anyone who asks that you all live together.

    Supporting you to study online

    We have produced a range of advice to help you to study online effectively, including a comprehensive Digital Learning site to help guide your studies and provide essential information on our Digital Learning Environment (DLE). Through your timetable and the Blackboard site for each of your modules, you will receive regular guidance about the work and activities that your tutors have designed for you, including learning resources and assessments. Guidance and support is also available from our Academic Skills Centre.

    To participate fully in online learning, you will need to have access to IT equipment. With this in mind, we have extended our laptop loan service to increase significantly its availability and flexibility. To find out how you can borrow a laptop visit the Laptop Loans Website or contact our Library: Library@leicester.ac.uk.

    In addition, we have established a Digital Hardship Fund to help students experiencing financial difficulties to access suitable IT equipment for their studies. Please contact our Student Welfare Service for further information about the support available.

    We want to hear from you

    We would like you to let us know about your experience of ignite and to work together with you to shape its future. If you have any feedback, questions or concerns about ignite, please email us at ignite@le.ac.uk.

    Finally, your wellbeing is important to us. Student Support is always on hand if you are experiencing any issues. Please contact Student Support Services on (0116) 223 1185 or email welfare@le.ac.uk.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Monday sees the start of the next academic year and the return to campus for many staff and students. Some colleagues have been on campus throughout the pandemic, while others have returned over the last few months. Over 500 new students arrived last weekend and this weekend we will welcome the rest of the student community.

    The aim of this update is to remind you of some key information for colleagues working on, or returning to, campus. Again, there is a lot of information in this update so please take the time to read it carefully.

    Safe campus operations

    I know colleagues have mixed feelings about returning to campus – some are looking forward to it and others are apprehensive. Please be assured that a huge amount of planning and preparation has taken place to ensure we can operate as safely as possible in a COVID-secure environment. My update last week provides more detail and I encourage you to read the update of 16 September and the associated documents and guidance. We’ve also created a video to highlight some of the changes in place.

    Unfortunately, we will be operating in an uncertain environment for some time to come. Inevitably, even with all our processes and systems in place, we will experience COVID cases on campus and in our residences. It’s vital that we work together to minimise COVID cases as much as possible by following the guidance we have put in place.

    Alongside our guidance for staff, we have also created a detailed student communications plan and put a ‘7 steps to safety’ system in place, which clearly sets out how we expect students to behave. These posters will be distributed around campus and our halls of residence. We have also created our Safe Citizen Promise which sets out six guiding principles and the actions and attitudes we must all take on to ensure everyone in our university succeeds and I encourage you to make the pledge for the safety of our community.

    COVID response plans

    Over the summer, working closely with the Local Resilience Forum, which includes the public health authorities, we have developed comprehensive COVID response plans for a variety of potential situations.

    Although written for our community, the plans draw on the guidance issued by the Department for Education on 10 September, which included four tiers of response for educational provision. These four tiers do not align to the national alert levels, so it is a complex picture for us to work through, agree and then communicate.

    I want to assure you that our plans are robust and, in addition to the detail in this email, we will share some flowcharts over the next week which show how we plan to respond to different situations.

    Key safety information for being on campus

    We appreciate that there is a lot information available on the Resource Hub about how to work safely on campus. We’ve had feedback from colleagues that it would be helpful to have clear guidance on the key things they need to know or do when working on campus. Our top five messages are:

    • Use hand-sanitising stations whenever possible across our estate.
    • Wear a face covering in our buildings at all times (unless you are in an office on your own). This is required regardless of whether you are socially distanced.
    • Socially distance at all times and respect the space of others.
    • Download SafeZone and check-in when you are on campus.
    • Download the NHS Track and Trace App and ‘check-in’ to our buildings, including our cafes and libraries, by scanning the QR code at the door. You can download the app from Google Play Store and Apple App Store.

    How to handle COVID cases

    If a member of staff or a student advises you that they have COVID symptoms or have tested positive, there are three key things you need to advise them to do:

    1. Isolate
    2. Report (Staff can complete the staff form and students can complete the student form)
    3. Test (book if not yet tested).

    Here's a flowchart setting out the process. Please follow the guidance carefully and alert your line manager. This will ensure the approved processes are then implemented to keep our community safe.

    Student behaviour

    It is important that all members of our community follow the safety measures and guidelines that have been put in place. For students, new conduct rules and regulations have been put in place. We have also developed some guidance for staff on how they should handle instances where they observe students not following the safety measures.

    Food on campus

    Due to social distancing rules we need to increase the social study spaces available to our students. Therefore, we will be operating reduced catering facilities on campus. The following cafes and facilities are open Monday to Friday:

    • Library Café, David Wilson Library (11am–5pm)
    • Starbucks, Percy Gee (8.30am-2pm)
    • Delic!ous, Charles Wilson Building (10am–4pm)
    • Brookfield Café (9am-3pm)
    • Atrium Café, George Davies (9am-3pm)
    • IV café, Maurice Shock (9.30am-3.30pm)
    • Food Market, Percy Gee (10am-4pm).

    There will also be a number of pop-up food vans on Centenary Square from Monday 28 September.

    Digital wellbeing

    We’ve had really positive feedback from colleagues on the changes we made to how we work online. Therefore we will continue with these changes for the foreseeable future. As a reminder:

    • Microsoft Teams meetings begin on the hour and run for 50 minutes allowing 10 minutes in between meetings. Exceptionally, where meetings require more time, there should be a limit of 90 minutes.
    • No emails before 8am or after 5pm and none at the weekend (unless working an event/activity such as an open day)
    • Microsoft Teams-free Friday afternoons. The August trial worked well but we also recognise that taking a full day out can be challenging for some colleagues, so we are implementing Teams-free Friday afternoons.

    As we return to campus operations and move to the next phase in our COVID planning, our communications will revert back to the usual channels – The Citizen and all staff emails where appropriate. My updates will continue but will be less frequent and only focus on COVID-related activity. As with all our operations, we will review, respond and adjust this as necessary.

    This update focuses on those working, or returning to, campus and I am very mindful that we have a large number of colleagues who will continue to work from home. Regardless of where you are currently based, your work is vital and everyone plays an important part in the University’s success.

    I’d like to thank everyone for your efforts over the last six months. It has been an incredibly challenging time where we have all demonstrated that we are citizens of change. Thank you for your resilience, determination, adaptability and kindness.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    23 September 2020

    Email to staff (12:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Next week sees the start of the new academic year and I know many colleagues will be returning to campus for the first time since March. Some of you will be looking forward to being on campus again and others may feel apprehensive. This email highlights the extensive steps we have taken to ensure that we can do this safely for everyone.

    The Prime Minister was very clear in his announcement yesterday that schools, colleges and universities should remain open and operations should be COVID-compliant.

    The Lockdown Exit Group has carefully worked through a series of processes, guidance, and risk assessments to maximise the safety of our campus. Our plans have been shared and tested with the Local Resilience Forum, with Public Health England and with internal experts and the trade unions. There is guidance on the Resource Hub for staff who are returning to campus and specific guidance for face-to-face teaching.

    We have increased the signage around campus and in each building, providing clear instructions on how to operate to ensure we keep our community safe and well. Later this week, we will share videos showing how small group, in person teaching will work for both staff and students. We are also offering campus tours to show the changes we’ve made. You can book a tour. The tours are run by the Estates and Digital Services team and are designed to familiarise you with the new-look campus.

    Ignite was designed from the very beginning to provide us with the flexibility to respond to the changing circumstances presented by the pandemic. To successfully deliver ignite, we need to utilise this flexibility to offer online and face-to-face teaching and ensure the educational continuity of our students. Like Nishan, I believe face-to-face teaching is important for our students, their education and their wellbeing, which is why we have taken the steps we have. It is important, however, that we recognise changes in the national and local situation and regularly review the balance of the online and face-to-face teaching we offer. We will use the flexibility provided by ignite to respond to any changes to national guidance and our local situation to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students.

    Currently, we have timetabled a moderate level of face-to-face teaching that has been planned to meet the needs of each discipline. We are monitoring the national and local situation closely and we will work with schools to regularly review the safe and appropriate balance of online and face-to-face teaching as we move into and through the new academic year. It is important that we safely open up our campus to support and deliver education for our students, that we treat people fairly and that we all play our part to deliver an outstanding education and student experience.

    If you are required to work on campus, please ensure you have read the risk assessment for your building, you have reviewed the return to working on campus guidance and completed the return to work checklist. If you have any concerns about returning to campus, please liaise with your line manager.

    For all other colleagues who are not student-facing, or do not need to be on campus to conduct research, our guidance remains the same; please continue to work from home.

    I am confident that when you arrive on campus you will be reassured by the steps we have taken to operate in a COVID-compliant way. The health and wellbeing of our staff and students is always paramount and we will continue to assess and review our processes and activities to ensure we keep our community safe.

    Best wishes

    Professor Edmund Burke
    Deputy Vice-Chancellor

     

    16 September 2020

    Email to staff (15:45)

    Dear colleagues

    This is a long and detailed email. Please take the time to read it as it is important to remind you of our COVID-19 response to date as we get ready for the start of the new academic term.

    Preparedness has been the focus for all our work over the last six months as we have consulted, planned, risk assessed, reviewed, supported and responded to the immense challenges COVID-19 has created. We’ve developed new processes, procedures and guidance, and considered and planned for many scenarios.

    We’ve done this in an environment of constant change with frequent, and often last minute, amendments to Government guidance. And on top of all of that, we were the first city to experience a local lockdown. Throughout the pandemic we have not been deterred. We have always remained calm and professional as teams have come together to re-plan and refocus without complaint. I am very proud of how we have all adapted and responded to COVID and I would like to thank everyone for your efforts since March.

    As colleagues know, research has continued on campus throughout the pandemic and more and more research has returned over the last few months. This is progressing well and I am grateful to everyone involved for ensuring we can continue to conduct research in a safe way.

    Now, as we approach the arrival of the majority of our students and the start of term, I wanted to remind colleagues of the progress we have made and the changes in place.

    Start of Term Preparation

    Colleagues have worked incredibly hard to prepare the campus and Oadby Village for the start of term. These actions include:

    • Specified maximum occupancies for all buildings and rooms, and prepared timetabling in line with capacities
    • Noted the requirement to monitor and manage activity levels and people numbers on campus (for education, research and social)
    • Mandated the wearing of face coverings and the use of SafeZone
    • Created key guidance for staff and students to set expectations, give guidance and help everyone to be prepared, notably: working safely on campus, studying safely on campus, working at home guidelines and guidance for face-to-face teaching.
    • Planned for student arrivals: accommodation, quarantine, Drop and Go, hygiene packs, virtual and in-person welcome events, and international airport pick-ups
    • Established additional social study spaces on campus for students
    • Introduced Live and Learn bubbles for students in University residences, Learn bubbles for commuter students and Live bubbles for students in private accommodation
    • Designed online and socially distanced events and activities such as LeicStayHome – a programme of exercises to complete at home/in halls
    • Developed an online onboarding communications plan for new and returning students focusing on safety, ignite and student conduct and behaviours
    • Established a working group to create a new way of agile working, including new flexible working options such as career breaks and reduced hours
    • Established reporting and support procedures for students and staff who develop COVID-19 symptoms
    • Communicated our plans and approach with community neighbourhood networks and groups.

    Work being completed this week:

    • The launch of a Safe Citizens Promise to reassure our local community, including a joint statement with DMU, on our commitment to ensure our students are safe and respect the community in which they live
    • Student Safety Training module on Blackboard
    • Working and Studying Safely on Campus videos.

    Scenario Planning

    Over the last six months we have learnt that we need to plan for many different scenarios. We must continually monitor and respond to local and national guidance, and adapt accordingly with the aim to minimise disruption for staff and students as much as we can whilst keeping everyone safe and well. We have:

    • Developed a COVID-19 Case Management Plan – high-level principles and actions to be the basis for student and staff communications and for more detailed operational responses
    • Developed a management framework (Scenario Levels and Transition Plan) for responding to different scenario levels, with predefined indicative actions across our range of activities
    • Proactively built and maintained close contact with Leicester City Council (LCC), Public Health and the Local Resilience Forum in order to ensure we have a comprehensive and holistic approach to further developments of the pandemic
    • Held two workshops with LCC to test our plans, with a joint DMU session to follow
    • Responded to the DfE request last week on their request for Outbreak Plans to be sent in by all HE providers.

    Work being completed in September:

    • Establish a new COVID Response Group to manage cases
    • Continuous review and refinement of detailed procedures for managing COVID cases
    • Work with LCC to obtain sign-off by the local Director of Public Health for our outbreak plans (DfE requirement)
    • Test and refine our Scenario Levels and Transition Plan.

    In October, we will close down the Lockdown Exit Group and move to a COVID Oversight Group (COG) to ensure we manage all COVID-related activity on campus.

    Whilst we are operating in very uncertain times, one thing we are clear on is that we will experience COVID cases on campus – in fact we already have. As we are seeing across the country in schools, we expect to isolate groups of staff and students as we manage cases on campus. Our planning ensures we have appropriate measures in place to respond to and manage cases at a local or university level. The level of activity and communication increases depending on the number of cases and the risks involved. A simplified process will be shared next week to ensure everyone on campus knows how to respond if a member of staff or student has symptoms or notifies them they have tested positive for COVID. We all need to play our part to keep our community safe and it is important that we all follow the University’s processes and procedures.

    Guidance and Support

    Everyone across the University has been impacted by COVID-19 in some way and the way we will work in future will continue to evolve. To support these changes we have created web pages and the Resource Hub to ensure you can access the information and guidance you need. There is a lot of information on these sites and we are aware that there is a lot to absorb. Therefore, from next week we will:

    • Provide updated summaries to make this easier to access, with links to the main documents
    • Run bite-size information sessions and Q&A on key topics
    • Create a series of podcasts and videos on core themes
    • Update our FAQs
    • Re-establish the @covid-19 email to ask questions and to provide feedback and comments.

    We are very keen to hear which areas are causing you concern or where you need further information. Please email us. We will then respond quickly before the start of term to ensure you have all the information to hand.

    This week’s edition of The Citizen will provide more information and update on ignite and next week it will share information on our plans for the student experience on campus.

    Finally, I want to remind everyone about taking care of your own wellbeing. Explore the resources for staff wellbeing.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    14 September 2020

    Email to staff (09:45)

    Dear colleagues

    I would like to start by welcoming you all to the new academic year. Over the next few weeks, we will bring the campus back to life safely so that we can begin to get back to ‘normality’ as we welcome staff and students. I am really looking forward to being back on campus as I have missed my interactions with students and colleagues and the general buzz of university life.

    I am fully aware that returning to campus and starting the new term is not without its challenges and some colleagues (and students) may, understandably, be nervous. Careful preparations have been underway for some time and I am in no doubt how complex this work has been and how much thought and detail has gone into ensuring that we deliver the best possible education and student experience, whilst also keeping our community safe and well. I was very encouraged to hear that we welcomed around 200 PGCE students to campus last week and the feedback from both staff and students was extremely positive.

    As you all know, campus has not actually been closed since March. We continued with vital COVID-related research and colleagues in Estates and Digital Services kept our campus safe and supported those students who remained in our halls of residence. Over the last few months, more research activity has returned to campus and student-facing colleagues have returned to support preparations for the new term. We also operated confirmation and Clearing on campus during August and early September.

    I am conscious that as more colleagues return to campus, many more will continue to work from home. Over the next few months we will develop a vision for agile working to drive a new operational approach for professional service colleagues. This will provide a framework for how people will work in a flexible way, both from home and on campus, whilst supporting your health and wellbeing and your personal development.

    The new academic year will be different for us all as we continue to adjust to our ‘new normal’. However, our focus remains the same as we strive to achieve our ambition of being a world-leading, research-intensive university. We must not lose sight of our goals in delivering the best education and university experience for our students while retaining our strong focus on community and inclusivity.

    An incredible amount of work has gone into the development of ignite, our new blended learning approach, and I would like to commend Professor Graham Wynn and everyone involved for their efforts in creating a flexible educational experience without compromising on quality or safety. There is much discussion across the sector on whether we should deliver face-to-face teaching this term. I believe we should. Face-to-face delivery is important for our students and their education, which is why we have ensured we can still deliver this in a way which is safe for everyone involved. The benefit of ignite is that it provides us with the flexibility to deliver online and face-to-face teaching and to adapt our offer to changes in the local and national situation. The successful delivery of ignite will be of paramount importance this year and I encourage everyone to continue to work collaboratively and develop a sector-leading approach to flexible learning.

    In order to achieve our ambitions and be financially resilient, student recruitment remains a critical area of activity as we move from the end of one recruitment cycle to the next. I am very pleased with this year’s Home undergraduate recruitment position. After a tumultuous period of change and uncertainty, our estimated position is set to exceed our original student number control target. Under the circumstances this is an excellent outcome and I am grateful to everyone involved in helping us to achieve this. International student recruitment, which is predominantly postgraduate students for us, is more challenging and it is too early to predict this year’s numbers.

    As we look to 2021 entry we must deliver a recruitment strategy that will reduce an excessive reliance on Clearing to meet our targets. The University of Leicester is a fantastic university and should be a first choice for more students. The next few months are a critical time to engage with prospective students, many of whom have not had the opportunity to attend a UCAS fair or an open day in person. It is therefore vital that academic and professional services colleagues work together to deliver the best digital experience possible to provide the information and guidance these students deserve.

    I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together over the last few months. Once again we have been named as one of the world’s best universities in the 2021 Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings. We retained our position as one of the top 25 UK universities featured in the prestigious list, after being ranked 23rd. But there is more to do to strengthen our position and performance to ensure this great university flourishes in its second century. The new academic year will bring many challenges, but I am confident with a clear focus, collaborative working and agility to respond to rapidly changing national and global developments we will excel in all that we do.

    Thank you all for your dedication to the University, for your hard work, commitment and kindness during this difficult time.

    I look forward to seeing you on campus, or virtually at your digital office, over the coming months.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    11 September 2020

    Email to students (16:45)

    Dear student

    I hope you are safe, well and looking forward to the start of our new academic year. I think we may all agree that 2020 has been very eventful.

    With the start of term on the horizon, I wanted to update you on the new academic year and the information and guidance you will be receiving in the coming weeks. Also, following the latest Government ‘Rule of 6’ announcement this week, I wanted to reassure you all that our plans to provide a safe, secure and high-quality education experience are in place and we are looking forward to seeing you very soon.

    As I am sure you know, our plans for the new year have been taking shape all summer and we will be sharing much more detail on all aspects of these with you very soon. From the outset we have designed our education this year to be COVID-secure. Our fundamental approach to our new system of education, ignite, builds in the flexibility to adjust the balance of face-to-face and online teaching to meet changing safety needs. The wellbeing and safety of our students and staff is always paramount, and ignite will protect both you and your education.

    We have prepared our campus to operate as fully socially-distanced, creating a safe environment for everyone. We have also prepared our social and study spaces and created Live & Learn bubbles, to allow everyone to receive the best education and University experience we can provide. You will receive lots of clear guidance and advice on our new-look campus very soon.

    All of our courses and modules have been reviewed and restructured to provide a strong and clear blended learning experience for you all. Each course team has looked at the best and most effective educational use of all of the different forms of synchronous (eg online and face-to-face/in-person “live”) sessions and asynchronous (eg pre-recorded) sessions and structured modules to best support your learning. You will be provided with clear guidance on what you will be studying and when, with links to all of the content and sessions to support your studies. With ignite, you will have more flexibility over when and where to study and, with support and clear guidance from your module teams, you will have much more choice in how to best structure your weekly studies to suit your needs. Your School will provide you with a lot more detail on your course structure as we approach the new term.

    Of course, our assessment plans have also been reviewed alongside all of our other content. We successfully transferred our 2020 summer assessments online and the graduating class of 2020 achieved a set of extremely strong and impressive results. We have built this knowledge into our plans for ignite to ensure your studies are effectively and fairly assessed in a manner that is COVID-resilient.

    When semester 1 starts, we are planning to hold some small group and laboratory sessions as face-to-face teaching for campus-based students. We will keep the balance of face-to-face and online teaching under review throughout the year and, as part of the flexibility of ignite, will adjust this as required to ensure everyone’s safety and the smooth continuity of your learning.

    We will be sending you regular updates leading up to and throughout term and will make regular check-ins with you all. From next week we will be sending you further information and guidance on our Welcome plans, how ignite will work, how to study safely on campus, and online study advice. We will share with you our pledge to protect and keep safe ourselves and the community. You will also be receiving your timetables for 2020/21 on Friday 18 September.

    Most importantly, we want all of our experiences with ignite to be a shared journey together. We want your education to be a true partnership, and we want to work together with you to shape the future of ignite to be a more supportive and inclusive form of higher education. Our Students’ Union have been fantastic partners in our work so far and we will open up new ways for you to let us know about your experiences and to get involved with our education plans.

    We are very much looking forward to the year ahead. Let’s share our educational journey, learn and have fun, while we protect ourselves, our loved ones and our communities.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

     

    10 September 2020

    Email to staff (16:45)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update includes a range of new HR policies, support for meeting website accessibility legislation, forthcoming ignite events and the next Executive Board Live Q&A.

    Career break policy

    The University has launched a Career Break Policy and Procedure from 1 September 2020. This new provision enables eligible staff to apply to take an unpaid period of time away from work, to balance their career with other commitments, responsibilities and interests. Where a career break is agreed, staff will be guaranteed a return to their substantive post or a role on the same grade, with no less favourable terms and conditions and in the same College/Division.

    Temporary reduction in hours guidance

    The University has introduced some guidance for staff on requests for temporary reductions in hours, to supplement our Flexible Working Policy and Procedure. Staff who request a temporary reduction in their working hours, and submit the request after 1 September 2020 and before 31 March 2021, will be guaranteed a return to their previously contracted hours.

    Maternity, adoption and shared parental leave – enhanced pay

    From 1 September 2020, the University has made a change to the eligibility criteria for the enhanced pay we offer for Maternity Leave, Adoption Leave and Shared Parental Leave. We have reduced the length of service staff will need to have with the University to qualify for enhanced occupational pay, to bring it into line with the requirements for statutory pay. The associated policies and procedures have been updated accordingly.

    With the above measures, the University aims to support staff with their work life balance and wellbeing, at a time when many have experienced challenges in terms of caring responsibilities.

    Website accessibility support

    As covered in a recent Citizen article, you will be aware that UK accessibility legislation applying to universities comes into effect for the University on 23 September, meaning that any content in current use that is accessed through a browser must conform to the regulations.

    To help with this, the Accessibility Standards Working Group (ASWG) is hosting three live drop-in sessions where you can ask any accessibility-related questions or discuss related issues. The dates and times are:

    Ignite insight events

    Starting on Monday 14 September, a series of webinar sessions are taking place focusing on ignite, our new approach to blended learning. The Leicester Learning Institute, in partnership with the Education Strategy Unit, is hosting the practice-focused webinar sessions to support ignite teaching approaches. Read the full details of the events.

    Executive Board Virtual Live Q&A – Thursday 17 September at 10am

    Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah will be hosting the next Executive Board virtual live Q&A next Thursday morning. As usual, the Q&A will take place on Microsoft Teams and you can join the event on the day, where you will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

    Finally, you will all be aware of the latest restrictions in place from Monday 14 September following yesterday’s announcement. Alongside these changes, further guidance was issued last night in relation to universities and the start of term. We will spend the next few days digesting this information and review our plans. I will then send a more detailed update on our Lockdown Exit plans next week.

    I appreciate that this continues to be a challenging time for everyone and I am very grateful for all your hard work, support and resilience during this period of change and uncertainty. It remains as important as ever to follow safety guidance to protect yourself and others.

    Many thanks and best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    02 September 2020

    Email to students (10:00)

    Dear student

    We hope you've had a good Bank Holiday weekend.

    Today’s update provides the latest information on the Leicester lockdown, progress of our COVID-19 screening programme, thermometers available on campus and shielding guidance.

    Leicester Lockdown

    Following the Government’s announcement last week, lockdown restrictions still remain in place with the next review scheduled for Friday 11 September. Please keep following Government as well as Leicester City and Leicestershire County Council advice as we continue to fight the virus.

    COVID-19 Screening Programme

    Last month, we announced that the University will be launching a COVID-19 screening programme from October for staff and students. Screening is different to testing carried out by the NHS. The programme will augment the existing NHS testing by detecting the virus in people without symptoms, and so help to prevent its spread. The screening is not compulsory but we encourage you to participate if you are studying on campus and if you are living in our halls of residence.

    The University have been working very hard and is making positive steps ahead of the launch. Regular discussions are taking place with our partners such as University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Victoria Park Health Centre, Leicester City Council and Public Health England to ensure delivery of the programme to our community. Further developments will be shared over the coming weeks.

    Thermometers on Campus

    The University will be providing a personal thermometer to every student and member of staff who would like one, as part of the wide range of measures being put in place to support everyone at the start of term. This is intended to provide additional reassurance to students and staff and support a sense of collective and personal responsibility. It will also have the potential to lead to the earlier identification of some cases.

    Most people with coronavirus have at least one of the following officially recognised symptoms: a high temperature; a new continuous cough; a loss or change to the sense of smell or taste. Although having a high temperature is not a reliable indicator on its own, being aware of this will at least help someone to confirm that they may be unwell.

    The guidance in such circumstances is:

    • If you have a high temperature (or other symptoms), do not come onto campus, but stay at home, or in your accommodation
    • Contact the NHS and arrange for a test
    • Tell us about this, and about the outcome of the test.

    Arrangements for collection or distribution will be made available shortly.

    Shielding Guidance

    If you are or have previously been shielding, you can now tell us this through MyStudentRecord and consent to that information being shared with University staff in your School, accommodation (if applicable) and our Student Support Service, so that you can be provided with appropriate support. You can update your consent at any time. Once you have registered for this academic year, login to MyStudentRecord and click on the My Details tab and then click on My Consent at the bottom of the screen. You can also update your responses there, to other consent questions asked in online registration.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    01 September 2020

    Email to staff (16:50)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you enjoyed your well-deserved extended weekend.

    Today’s update includes details on the latest Government announcement around Leicester Lockdown, our new and updated guidance available on the Resource Hub, progress on the launch of our COVID-19 screening programme, the availability of thermometers on campus, the re-opening of Roger Bettles Sports Centre and dates for the next VC and Executive Board Q&A.

    Leicester Lockdown

    Following the Government’s announcement last week, lockdown restrictions still remain in place with the next review scheduled for Friday 11 September. Please keep following Government as well as Leicester City and Leicestershire County Council advice as we continue to fight the virus.

    Resource Hub Guidance

    In our continued efforts to exit lockdown safely, we have added further guidance to the lockdown exit Resource Hub, which now includes student guidance - New ways, same citizens – Studying safely guidelines and Safe teaching and other face-to-face student contact on campus guidance during COVID-19 within the teaching section, which is primarily for teaching staff but will also be relevant to other staff engaged in face-to-face contact with students on campus.

    New ways, same citizens – Working on campus guide, Working on campus quick guide and the staff return to work checklist have also been updated in line with Government guidance.

    COVID-19 Screening Programme

    Last month, we announced that the University will launch a COVID-19 screening programme from October for staff and students, initially as a pilot scheme. The COVID-19 Screening Delivery group have been working hard and is making positive steps ahead of the launch. Regular discussions are taking place with our partners such as University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Victoria Park Health Centre, Leicester City Council and Public Health England to ensure delivery of the programme to our community. Further developments will be shared over the coming weeks.

    Thermometers on Campus

    The University will be providing a personal thermometer to every student and member of staff who would like one, as part of the wide range of measures being put in place to support everyone at the start of term. This is intended to provide additional reassurance to students and staff and support a sense of collective and personal responsibility. It will also have the potential to lead to the earlier identification of some cases.

    Most people with coronavirus have at least one of the following officially recognised symptoms: a high temperature, a new continuous cough and a loss or change to the sense of smell or taste. Although having a high temperature is not a reliable indicator on its own, being aware of this will at least help someone to confirm that they may be unwell.

    The guidance in such circumstances is:

    • If you have a high temperature (or other symptoms), do not come onto campus, but stay at home, or in your accommodation
    • Contact the NHS and arrange for a test
    • Tell us about this, and about the outcome of the test.

    Arrangements for collection or distribution will be made available shortly.

    Roger Bettles Sports Centre Re-opens

    Today, the Roger Bettles Sports Centre gym, swimming pool, outdoor facilities and revised fitness class programme has re-opened at Oadby. The sport and active life team have been working hard to ensure a safe environment for all members to work out in. The team will be introducing a booking system for both the gym and the pool, as well as continuing with the online booking for the fitness classes. For further information, please visit the sport and active life website.

    VC and Executive Board Q&A Thursday 17 September

    The next Vice-Chancellor and Executive Board’s live staff Q&A will take place on Thursday 17 September at 10am. Latest updates will be provided and we look forward to answering your questions and comments. Questions can be asked in advance and during the event.

    With best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    26 August 2020

    Email to staff (10:45)

    Dear colleagues

    UCEA’s announcement on the national pay award, the prayer facilities on campus, re-opening of College Court and a reminder about our digital wellbeing, including a day off for everyone this Friday, are all part of today’s update.

    National Pay Award

    Due to the severe risks to the higher education sector’s financial position resulting from COVID-19, our sector representative, UCEA (the Universities and Colleges Employers’ Association), announced last Wednesday, that there won’t be a national uplift to the single pay spine points in 2020/2021.

    I appreciate colleagues will be disappointed that a pay award will not take place this year, but recognise the necessity of expenditure being subject to stringent controls during the next 12 months, to ensure sustainability and future success. The University, through UCEA, remains fully committed to the national pay bargaining process, and expects this to resume in 2021/2022.

    Campus Prayer Facilities

    We are working with the Students’ Union, the Islamic Society and the AhlulBayt Society to ensure the University’s prayer facilities for Muslim students and staff meet all necessary requirements so community prayer can take place in a safe and socially distanced way.

    We will keep you updated with ongoing developments.

    Re-opening of College Court

    College Court will be re-opening on Tuesday 1 September for meetings and hotel accommodation bookings.

    At College Court, the safety of clients and colleagues is paramount and the team have introduced measures to ensure guests experience the same level of service, whilst following guidelines to keep everyone safe.

    Further information can be found on College Court's COVID-19 page.

    Digital Wellbeing

    I’d like to remind you of the steps we are taking to improve our wellbeing as most of us continue to work from home.

    • Try not to send emails before 8am or after 5pm, Monday to Friday and do not send emails on weekends (unless you are working an event for example) or whilst you are on leave.
    • Microsoft Teams meetings should be arranged for no more than 50 minutes, to allow attendees to take a break between; if you need to have a longer meeting it should not exceed 90 minutes and please avoid scheduling meetings outside 9am to 5pm and between 12.30pm to 1.30pm.

    Finally, I am sure that you will remember that all staff will have an additional day of leave this coming Friday to acknowledge your hard work and commitment through the pandemic.

    I hope you’re keeping well.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    19 August 2020

    Email to students (11:30)

    Dear student

    Today’s update provides the latest about Leicester lockdown, we need your help in understanding the impact of COVID-19, an update on the library and catering services and plans for Freshers' 2020.

    Leicester Lockdown Eased

    We are delighted that restrictions have been eased further following the Government’s Leicester lockdown review yesterday.

    Please do check the Government as well as Leicester City and Leicestershire County Council advice regularly, for full details of the new measures in place. The opening of nail bars, outdoor pools and beauty salons from today is, although not directly impacting the University, welcome news and another step in the right direction for the University and Leicester as a community.

    We are preparing for your safe return to campus. Watch our student safety on campus video as well as living in halls for UK and international student videos to understand what steps we have put in place in preparation for your return. Additionally, we are in the process of developing a COVID-19 screening programme, which is designed to identify outbreaks of infection at an early stage. The programme is due to launch in October and we will keep you updated with developments.

    We would like to thank those of you living in the lockdown area for your contribution to the national and local effort to bring the spread of coronavirus under control.

    The Impact of COVID-19

    We recently wrote to you for your help and participation in our ‘Understanding the impact of COVID-19’ survey. The pandemic has had an impact on us all in different ways. As part of our commitment to provide you with the best possible learning experience, we would appreciate your participation in the survey. The survey will allow us to understand your thoughts about online learning last semester, how the University has handled the situation and your wellbeing.

    All responses will be confidential and held anonymously – submissions must be received by the end of today.

    David Wilson Library Services Now Available

    PGT students can now request print books from the Library. Requested items will be available for collection from the foyer. Details on how to place a request will be available on the Library website soon.

    Resumption of Postal Loan Services for Distance Learners

    Registered distance learners can place postal loan requests for print books held in the Library. This can be done via the library search function on the Library website.

    Some distance learners may have books on loan which they wish to return. For existing loans, it is likely the returns labels will have expired. Over the coming weeks we will be sending out new returns labels to those effected, so please wait until these are received. If you have any concerns please email library services.

    Postal Returns

    If you are unable to come to campus, the Library is accepting returns by post. The address is:

    David Wilson Library
    University of Leicester
    University Road
    Leicester
    LE1 7RH

    Catering on Campus

    As part of our safe return to campus ahead of the start of term, Leicester Services Partnership will be reopening the following catering outlets across campus:

    Monday 7 September

    • The Library Café
    • Citroen Van, on Centenary Square

    Tuesday 14 September

    • The Atrium café, in George Davies Centre
    • IV, in Maurice Shock
    • Brookfield Café
    • Deli, in Charles Wilson
    • Starbucks and the Food Market, in Percy Gee

    Outlets will be serving coffee, tea, cold drinks, hot and cold food and snacks.

    Social spaces within buildings have been assessed to operate as a ‘COVID safe’ space. This includes reduced capacity and seating, social distancing guidance, the wearing of face coverings, hand sanitising, safety screens, track and trace when refreshments are purchased and directional signage.

    Freshers' 2020

    Your new look Students’ Union (SU) Executive team are currently busy putting plans in place to ensure new and returning students have a jam-packed Freshers' 2020. Discover what’s taking place including events, an essentials checklist, FAQs and more. Join the SU Freshers' 2020 Facebook page to find out more about daytime and evening events.

    And finally, you will have seen the Ofqual announcement this week that A-level students will be now be awarded their centre assessment grade (CAG) or the moderated grade, whichever is higher. This is good news for students.

    Our position has always been to put students first - we are committed to inclusivity and education for all. Our commitment to students means that we look at every student on an individual basis and are flexible in our decision-making during this process. This is a highly stressful time for students and what they need is certainty, fairness and support.

    We showed our student focus by being the first university to make offers based on mock exam results when the ‘triple lock’ process was introduced by Ofqual. And we are continuing this approach by advising students that we will confirm/offer based on CAGs which their school can validate.

    Many universities are waiting to receive the CAG results from UCAS but we are not waiting. We are taking decisive action and putting students first. We know this approach has been incredibly well received from the huge amount of feedback we’ve received from teachers, parents, students, staff and our alumni community.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (09:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update provides the latest information about the Leicester lockdown, a detailed update on services available in the library as well as our outline plans for catering services and a reminder about our digital wellbeing.

    Leicester Lockdown Eased

    It’s good news to hear that restrictions have now been eased further, following the Government’s lockdown review yesterday. The opening of nail bars, outdoor pools and beauty salons from today, although not directly impacting the University, welcome news and another step in the right direction for the University and Leicester as a community. Throughout the lockdown we have continued our planning to bring research academics back to campus as well as preparing for the new academic year to welcome students back.

    Please do continue to check the Government as well as Leicester City and Leicestershire County Council advice regularly.

    Resource Hub Guidance

    In our continued efforts to exit lockdown safely, we have added further guidance to the lockdown exit Resource Hub. It now includes:

    The following guidance has been updated since the Government put a pause on shielding:

    David Wilson Library Services Update

    Bookable Study Spaces

    The Library are trialling bookable study spaces for staff and postgraduate research students, to be limited to the first floor. You will be unable to browse print collections and there will be no access to PCs, but you can bring in your own device and connect to the wireless network. Spaces can be booked via the Library website from today with the first slots being available tomorrow. You will need your ID card to enter and face coverings must be worn in line with University guidance.

    Click and Collect

    With immediate effect we are extending the click and collect service to PGT students.

    Postal Returns

    If you are unable to go to campus, the Library is accepting returns by post. The address is:

    David Wilson Library
    University of Leicester
    University Road
    Leicester
    LE1 7RH

    Catering on Campus

    As part of our safe return to campus ahead of the start of term, Leicester Services Partnership will be re-opening initially the following catering outlets, serving coffee, tea, cold drinks as well as hot and cold food and snacks.

    From Monday 7 September

    • The Library Café
    • Citroen Van on Centenary Square

    From Tuesday 14 September

    • The Atrium café, in George Davies Centre
    • IV, Maurice Shock Building
    • Brookfield Café
    • Deli, Charles Wilson Building
    • Starbucks and the Food Market, Percy Gee

    Social spaces within buildings have been assessed to operate as a ‘COVID safe’ space. This includes reduced capacity and seating, social distancing guidance, wearing of face coverings, hand sanitising, safety screens, track and trace when refreshments are purchased and directional signage.

    Digital Wellbeing

    We’d like to remind you of the steps we are taking to address our wellbeing as most of us continue to work from home. Please continue to follow the guidance:

    • Please try not to send emails before 8am or after 5pm, Monday to Friday, and do not send emails on weekends (unless you are working an event for example) or whilst you are on leave.
    • Microsoft Teams meetings should be arranged for no more than 50 minutes, to allow attendees to take a break between; if you need to have a longer meeting it should not exceed 90 minutes and please avoid scheduling meetings outside 9am to 5pm and between 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
    • Throughout August, every Friday is a Microsoft Teams free day – so please avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays and reschedule meetings you have in the diary.

    Don’t forget, the Children of Change summer art competition invites the children and dependents of University of Leicester staff and students to create their own artworks on the theme of ‘Looking Forward’.

    I hope you are all keeping well.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    07 August 2020

    Email to staff (17:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update includes details about what’s available within the teaching section on the Lockdown Exit Resource Hub, booking face-to-face meetings on campus, information on Library services, how we’re connecting with our furloughed colleagues, a reminder of our financial controls and information about August payday.

    Teaching Section on the Resource Hub

    There are plenty of helpful and informative resources available on the teaching section on the Resource Hub. You can find:

    • Guidance on ignite principles
    • Upcoming events and activities, such as the ignite insight sessions
    • Operational guidance and principles, including guidance for academic induction, placements, and lab-based learning and more.

    Face-to-Face Meetings Available on Campus

    Meeting rooms at Stamford Court and venues in Oadby Village are now available to book online. This is in addition to booking teaching spaces to record lectures to prepare for next year. We have set up a safe environment so you can meet in small groups in a careful and controlled way. Guidelines are made clear as you go through the booking process.

    Library Services Update

    The Library has started a click and collect service for academic staff and postgraduate researchers and is working to expand this to other users. There is currently no entry into the Library building for study or browsing. During next week they are introducing more services:

    • From Monday 10 August, 10am, book returns via the external book drop at the front of the David Wilson library will be available for all University staff and students.
    • On Wednesday 12 August, Archives and Special Collections will start a consultation and appointment service for academic staff and postgraduate researchers needing to access their collections.
    • During the week commencing 17 August, bookable study spaces for University staff and postgraduate researchers, expansion of click and collect and restarting postal loans for our distance learners will start to be phased in.

    Further details will be available from Monday on the Library website.

    Furlough Update

    The University has taken measures to ensure that staff currently on furlough are not disconnected from the University and are kept in the loop with any developments. Guidance has been cascaded to managers advising them to:

    • Keep in regular contact
    • Ensure that furloughed staff are aware of University-wide communications
    • Invite colleagues to catch up with team members via Teams meetings
    • Ensure staff are booking annual leave, so they do not need to take it in a short space of time on return to work
    • Advise colleagues of any training and development opportunities they may be interested in whilst on furlough
    • Make staff aware they can still access health and wellbeing benefits such Occupational Health and Validium support.

    Financial Controls

    As part of our savings goals, I would like to remind you of the financial controls in place when purchasing goods or services. This includes additional approvals for purchase orders, reduced transaction limits on purchasing cards, and a requirement for the relevant Executive Board member to support any purchase over £5,000.

    The No Purchase Order, No Pay Policy guidance and FAQs on our COVID-19 webpages provides you with further information about the controls.

    August Payday

    Due to the University closure and Bank Holiday, payday will be on Thursday 27 August for all staff. Please ensure all payment requests reach Payroll and Pensions Operations before Thursday 13 August.

    Have a lovely weekend. I know many colleagues will be working over the weekend but I hope people get an opportunity to enjoy the sunshine.

    Best wishes

    Kerry Law
    Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer

    Email to students (16:30)

    Dear student,

    Today’s update provides information about how we’re developing a COVID-19 screening programme, a reminder of the Leicester lockdown restrictions in place and events and activities available to enhance your health and wellbeing.

    COVID-19 Screening Programme

    The University is looking to utilise its expertise to develop a COVID-19 screening programme for staff and students from October. This programme builds on the excellent work already underway by our researchers to identify new strategies to combat the virus.

    We are working in close partnership with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester City Council and Public Health England to develop and deliver a programme that will screen our community. This is different to testing people who are already displaying symptoms – these tests will continue to be carried out by the NHS. Our screening will augment the existing NHS testing by detecting the virus in people without symptoms, to help prevent its spread. This will not be compulsory for students but we will be encouraging you take part in the screening if you are studying on campus and if you are living in our halls of residence.

    This programme should benefit students by protecting your health and providing reassurance to everyone who works, studies and lives on campus at the University of Leicester.

    More details will follow over the coming weeks as we progress our plans.

    Leicester Lockdown Reminder

    The Government confirmed a gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions in Leicester, last week. However, some measures must stay in place to ensure that the infection rate continues to come down. Those of you living in Leicester during the summer, please continue to follow Government advice as well as local Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council advice.

    Your Health and Wellbeing

    We hope you’ve been keeping in good health during the break and keeping active where possible. The Students’ Union continues to run virtual events, which may be of interest to you and please also check out the Leicester Quarantine and Chill podcasts.

    Take care and stay safe.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    05 August 2020

    Email to staff (11:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update includes details about a COVID-19 screening programme on campus, a reminder about Leicester lockdown restrictions still in place, the importance of using SafeZone and a further reminder about our digital wellbeing.

    COVID-19 Screening Programme

    The University is looking to utilise its expertise to develop a COVID-19 screening programme for staff and students from October. This programme builds on the excellent work already underway by our researchers to identify new strategies to combat the virus.

    We are working in close partnership with University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, Leicester City Council and Public Health England to develop and deliver a programme that will screen our community. This is different to testing people who are already displaying symptoms – these tests will continue to be carried out by the NHS. Our screening will augment the existing NHS testing by detecting the virus in people without symptoms, and so help to prevent its spread. This will not be compulsory for staff and students but we will be encouraging you to take part in the screening if you are working or studying on campus and if students are living in our halls of residence. Positive tests will have no detriment on your role at the University and we will be working with the NHS and public health partners to ensure that data is protected and safeguarded.

    We will be writing to prospective students this week to advise them of the programme and therefore wanted to update staff first. This programme should benefit staff and students by protecting your health and providing reassurance to everyone who works, studies and lives on campus at the University of Leicester.

    More details will follow over the coming weeks as we progress our plans and we very much welcome constructive comments and suggestions.

    Please share this update verbally with any colleagues who do not have regular access to their emails.

    Leicester Lockdown Reminder

    The Government confirmed a gradual easing of the lockdown restrictions in Leicester, last week. However, some measures must stay in place to ensure that the infection rate continues to come down. Please continue to follow Government advice as well as local Leicester City Council and Leicestershire County Council advice.

    SafeZone on Campus

    As we continue to plan our return to campus, it is very important that you use SafeZone to check-in when on campus. This can be done manually each time you are on campus or you can enable auto check-in via the app. SafeZone can also be accessed via a desktop app on your PC or laptop.

    By checking in on SafeZone, it will enable us to fulfil our requirements regarding social distancing and lone working. In the event of a first aid incident or emergency, you can use the app to summon a response from Security. It also allows Security to contact you in an emergency should they need to.

    Digital Wellbeing

    Your health and wellbeing is very important to us and it is imperative that we take key steps to address it in our new way of working. As we are working more digitally, we must work in a way that is mindful of our own and others’ digital wellbeing. Please continue to follow the guidance:

    • Please try not to send emails before 8am or after 5pm, Monday to Friday, and do not send emails on weekends (unless you are working) or whilst you are on leave.
    • Microsoft Teams meetings should be arranged for no more than 50 minutes, to allow attendees to take a break between. If you need to have a longer meeting it should not exceed 90 minutes. Please avoid scheduling meetings outside 9am to 5pm and between 12.30pm to 1.30pm.
    • Throughout August, every Friday is a Microsoft Teams free day – so please avoid scheduling meetings on Fridays and re-schedule meetings you have in the diary.

    We are currently producing some further guidance around digital wellbeing that will help staff to manage their personal work life balance and will share this with you, once it is finalised.

    I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

    Best wishes

    Kerry Law
    Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer

     

    31 July 2020

    Email to staff (17:00)

    Dear colleague,

    Today’s update includes some further detail on the local and national lockdown, progress on resumption of campus and our policy on quarantine and annual leave.

    Lockdown Update

    With the lockdown being lifted locally, from Monday bars, pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and non-essential shops can now re-open, with national social distancing guidelines in place. There are still restrictions in place which are:

    • single-adult households (those who live alone or with dependent children only) can still form a support bubble with one other household (see support bubbles guidance for Leicester).
    • people from different households are still able to meet in a group of up to 6 and only outdoors, provided they follow strict social distancing.
    • people should not meet in private homes or gardens (this includes people who live within the area travelling to visit someone who lives outside Leicester).

    The next review will take place by 13 August. It is important we adhere to local Government advice in our continued fight to beat the pandemic.

    Nationally, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a delay in further easing of the lockdown until 15 August at the earliest, due to a rise in coronavirus cases across the country. Key points from the Prime Minister’s briefing today include:

    • face coverings to become mandatory by law in all public indoor settings on 8 August.
    • shielding will be paused nationally from 1 August as planned.
    • changes to wedding celebrations to allow up to 30 guests are also postponed.
    • new slogan from the PM: "Hands, face, space, get a test”.

    I understand there is a lot to take in with all these developments with further guidance in place. We will continue to keep you informed as changes take place.

    Resumption of Campus Updates

    An extraordinary meeting of the Lockdown Exit Group was held today to consider the easing of restrictions. Further detail and guidance will be provided next week but the key highlights are:

    • phase II research return to campus will commence from Monday 3 August and will be managed locally by Colleges (Deans of Research and Directors of Operations) - in compliance with approved risk assessments and health and safety guidelines.
    • the Library is already operating a click-and-collect service, and expansion of services to include book return and appointment booking for archive access, is currently being planned for mid-August – more details will be provided in w/c 10 August.
    • clearing operations will continue to be delivered on campus.
    • teaching spaces within the Bennett Building are now available to book for teaching staff who need to prepare content for ignite.
    • our nursery will be re-opening on 10 August.
    • our gym and sports hall remain closed for the time being, in line with guidelines.

    Next week we will be reviewing both the Live and Learn policy for student groups published last week and our current university travel guidelines to ensure they both adhere to new regulations.

    Travelling Abroad and Quarantine Advice

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) continues to advise against non-essential international travel, except to countries and territories which are on the exempt list and the University recommends that staff comply with this advice.

    Before you travel you must ensure that your leave is approved by your line manager. Whilst you are away you should ensure that you review the FCO guidance regularly as it may change during your holiday and affect your ability to return to work as planned.

    If you are travelling abroad, when you arrive back in the UK, you will not be allowed to leave the place where you’re staying for the first 14 days you’re in the UK (known as ‘self-isolating’) unless you’re arriving from an exempt country.

    Therefore, if you are due to come back to work after travelling home from a country which is not exempt, you should:

    • work from home for any quarantine period required, if possible. If your role requires that you have returned to on-site working, you must discuss with your manager prior to travelling whether you can work from home for your self-isolation period (which may include different duties or tasks) and how any onsite duties may be covered.
    • if you cannot work from home, you will need to discuss the potential length and arrangements for your absence with your manager prior to travelling. If agreed, you should either.

      • book additional days annual leave to cover your quarantine period or
      • take unpaid leave for your quarantine period.

    If whilst you are away the Government declares that the county or territory you are in is no longer exempt you must contact your line manager at the earliest opportunity to discuss the options as detailed above. In this circumstance only, paid leave may be granted for the required period of isolation if you are unable to work from home.

    Take care and enjoy your weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (11:00)

    Dear student,

    Last night, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Matt Hancock, announced that the lockdown in Leicester city has been lifted and pubs, cafes, restaurants, bars and hairdressers can re-open from Monday, in line with the rest of England. Some social distancing restrictions remain in place in line with some towns and cities in the north of England relating to mixing with other households as well as leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools remaining closed.

    The good news is that for our students and halls of residence based in Oadby and Wigston restrictions have been fully lifted.

    We’ll ensure we keep you up to date on the changes as the Government clarifies the detail and we will continue to be in touch throughout the summer with more information about all the work underway to help you live, learn and thrive when we all start back.

    Although we have come a long way, please continue to be mindful that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, so we must continue to follow Government advice to protect ourselves and others. We must remain true Citizens of Change and stand together as a community to beat the pandemic.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    30 July 2020

    Email to staff (23:35)

    Dear colleagues

    Earlier tonight, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, announced that the lockdown in Leicester City has been lifted and pubs, cafes, restaurants, bars and hairdressers can re-open in line with the rest of England. The date for this change is yet to be confirmed.

    However, some restrictions remain. We will have the same measures in place as some towns and cities in the North of England relating to mixing with other households and leisure centres, gyms and swimming pools will remain closed.

    The lockdown in Oadby and Wigston has been fully lifted. This impacts on many of our colleagues who live there as well as our halls of residence.

    It has been difficult to get clarity on the changes, so we will update you with more detail as we receive it.

    Overall, this is good news for the University and the City. We have worked hard as a community to control the virus and our efforts are paying off.

    In terms of what this means for the University, we will continue our carefully controlled return to campus. The Lockdown Exit Group (LEG) will review its plans and will update on next steps early next week.

    Please remember general information and guidance is available on the resource hub. Although we have come a long way, please continue to be mindful that we are still in the midst of a pandemic, so we must continue to follow Government advice to protect ourselves and others.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    29 July 2020

    Email to staff (10:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update provides information about how we’re supporting UUK’s National Graduates Day, the upcoming Research Town Hall, advice on sending scheduled emails and the health and wellbeing support available to you.

    National Graduates Day tomorrow

    The University will be supporting the Universities UK campaign, National Graduates Day, to celebrate the resilience and achievements of the class of 2020 and to promote the skills, qualifications and experience that graduates gain from studying at university. We will be sharing UUK’s digital content using #WeAreTogether and #2020MADEUS as well as continuing to share recordings from our graduation ceremonies.

    You too can play your part in the campaign by posting on social media to recognise the class of 2020’s accomplishments.

    Research Town Hall

    Professor Iain Gillespie will hold an event tomorrow, 9.30 - 10.20am, for our research community. The session has been designed to give you the opportunity to share successes, concerns, suggestions and offer mutual support. Iain will give a brief update followed by an interactive session, with questions and the opportunity to comment using the chat function. If you would like to attend, book your place through EventBrite.

    Scheduling Emails in Outlook

    As part of the digital detox, colleagues are using the Outlook scheduling facility.

    If you would like to learn more, IT services have provided guidance to help you do this. Check in with IT services on Yammer for further IT announcements and help.

    Health and Wellbeing

    Your health and wellbeing remains our priority as we continue to fight the coronavirus. Please check the Staff Health and Wellbeing channel on Yammer regularly to find out what support is available to you along with activities and events that may be of interest.

    Later this week sees the third review of the Leicester lockdown extension. As usual we will communicate the outcomes of this review and explain how it impacts the University. Regardless of the outcome, we will continue to work and prepare the campus and University ready for the next academic year.

    I would like to thank you all for your hard work, commitment and determination to get us back on track for September.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    28 July 2020

    Email to students (15:45)

    Dear student,

    We hope you’re keeping well and safe and are having a good summer break.

    As we plan to return to campus, we have been working hard to ensure you stay safe and secure including guidance on household bubbles. Below is some key information you need to be aware of when you come back.

    Household Groups

    Much of the UK Government’s guidelines about permitted social activity during COVID-19 is based on ‘households’. For example, currently most parts of England may spend time outdoors with groups of up to six people from outside their household whilst maintaining social distancing, but you don’t need to socially distance from members of your household. Whilst at University, whether you are living in University-managed or private accommodation, unless you live alone, the other people you live with are your household and you are effectively in a bubble with those people, which may be the other people in your house or flat if you live in shared, privately rented accommodation or the other people in your family home if you live at home during term-time. If the other people you live with are University of Leicester students, you will also be able to travel, eat and socialise together and use University study spaces as a group, without needing to social distance. If you live alone, you can form a ‘support bubble’ with one other household which could be a household of other University of Leicester students.

    Social Study Spaces

    It is expected that you will have access to social study space on campus, and that household groups, whether those in University-managed or private accommodation, will be able to make use of spaces without the need for social distancing.

    You will still be able to meet, study and socialise with other students if UK Government guidelines on social distancing for England or the local area permit it. These guidelines are likely to change over time. For example, guidelines for most of England currently permit groups of up to six people from different households to meet up outside if social distancing is maintained.

    Certificates of Registration

    The University issues a certificate of registration to students around the start of term which shows that you are registered as a University of Leicester student and states your term-time address. We are aiming to issue PDF certificates of registration to students shortly after the start of term which you should be able to access on your phone or other mobile device if you need to demonstrate your address – this will be helpful if you need to prove you are in a bubble with friends when you are out.

    We have also created a ‘living in halls’ video to help you understand the changes we have implemented to keep students as safe as possible.

    We appreciate there is a lot to take in. If you do have any accommodation related queries please check the FAQs in the relevant accommodation section on our COVID-19 webpage.

    Take care.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    24 July 2020

    Email to staff (16:15)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s update provides information about how we’re working with the Government’s face covering guidance, new documents available on the lockdown exit Resource Hub and a reminder of our commitment to your health and wellbeing.

    Face Coverings

    Today, the Government regulation of wearing face coverings has come into force. As you know, one of the key principles underpinning our response to COVID-19 has been to follow Government guidance. The wearing of face coverings is a huge story in the media and there are many differing views. In order to clarify the University’s position on this we have produced our own guidance: Face Coverings and Other Protective Equipment.

    Resource Hub Update

    Work continues to ensure a safe and secure return to campus for staff and students. We have now added the following guidance on our lockdown exit Resource Hub:

    In addition, you can find updated FAQs about campus services, which includes information on queries regarding cleaning, parking and post.

    Health and Wellbeing

    Your health and wellbeing remains our top priority as we continue to fight the virus. We are fully committed to your health and wellbeing and I’d like to remind you of some of the steps we have in place:

    • We are working with the EDI Team and the BAME Staff Forum to develop specific resources to support BAME staff wellbeing.
    • All staff have an additional day’s leave on 28 August.
    • We are implementing a Citizens’ Recognition Strategy, with electronic thank you cards and a COVID Wall of Recognition.
    • We will provide flu vaccinations for those staff who are not already eligible for a free NHS vaccine.
    • The Attenborough Arts team will be running a children’s art competition – Children of Change - this summer to help keep little ones busy – more details to follow next week.

    Next week sees the second review of the Leicester lockdown extension. As usual we will communicate the outcomes of this review and explain how this impacts the University. Please be assured, regardless of the decision, work continues to prepare the campus and University for the next academic year. More information will follow in the next few weeks to provide more detail on what campus life will be like. We are in the same position as many universities and organisations around the world in that we won’t be going back to how we were but working, living and studying in a different way. I am confident that as Citizens of Change we can rise to that challenge.

    I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    21 July 2020

    Email to staff (15:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today’s briefing provides an update on the University’s plans following last week’s announcement to further extend the local lockdown. I am also sharing with you more information on our ‘Live and Learn Bubbles’ for students and a new accommodation video that will be sent to prospective students tomorrow. I’d like to remind colleagues about the opportunity to volunteer to help with the city’s COVID-19 testing initiative and finally, also remind you about our digital detox and seek your feedback on how it’s going.

    Local Lockdown Extension

    As you all know, when the local lockdown was announced by the Government on 30 June the University was already starting to implement plans for increasing its levels of activity on campus. These plans were then halted, and some activity that had already restarted on campus was stopped.

    Last week’s announcement extended the lockdown but it also included some easing of conditions and a contraction of the boundary area. This has led us to review our plans once again. We now plan to recommence some activities on a prioritised and controlled basis, as outlined below, and to align the timing of this with the City Council date of 24 July for the easing of some local restrictions.

    Since the very beginning of the national lockdown, the University has had small numbers of staff on campus in specialist roles, for example: providing security, maintaining our facilities to ensure they remain compliant and, not least, undertaking critical COVID-related research activity and providing support to our partners at the University Hospitals of Leicester. In addition, Health and Safety specialists have been reviewing buildings to assess them for risks and to plan and make the necessary adaptations to ensure that they are COVID-secure.

    From Friday 24 July we will be carrying out the following additional activities:

    • Starting, or re-starting, next phase priority research activity – projects that are essential to our financial or reputational sustainability or which must be completed in the near future.
    • Opening some of the Bennett Building to allow teaching staff to prepare ahead of term (for example to record lectures) – this will be by appointment only and only for staff who do not have the facilities to do this at home.
    • Re-opening our ‘click and collect’ service, which allows individual staff controlled access to offices for equipment or materials they need.
    • Launching a library ‘click and collect’ service, to allow staff and postgraduate researchers access to key research materials (from 29 July).
    • Developing plans to reopen our nursery once this is allowed.
    • Progressing our Confirmation and Clearing operations plans on campus.

    If you are personally impacted by these changes your line manager will be in touch. For click and collect access, please refer to the Resource Hub. A majority of staff will continue to work from home for the foreseeable future. For additional guidance and support on how to ensure you are working effectively and supporting your health and wellbeing, please refer to the Resource Hub.

    Live and Learn Bubbles

    Tomorrow we will be sharing information about our Live and Learn Bubbles with prospective students. Read the email and watch the video on accommodation. I wanted to share this with you so that you can get a sense of how we will operate next year. I’d like to thank colleagues in the Accommodation Team and Student Services for doing such an excellent job. I am sure students and their families will be reassured by the attention to detail the team have shown to ensure our students stay safe but also settle in and make friends.

    Help Leicester Get Out of Lockdown – Volunteers Still Required

    Getting Leicester out of local lockdown later this month is very important to us. You can help by volunteering to deliver COVID-19 testing kits.

    If you would like to volunteer to deliver the kits, and help stop the spread of the virus in the city simply complete the online form. By submitting the information on the form you are providing consent for the University of Leicester to share your information with Leicester City Council.

    Leicester City Council will provide all volunteers with PPE, instructions about the activity and support via planning workshops. If you live outside the local lockdown area, you can still offer your support – the Council has confirmed that all volunteers will be officially identified as critical workers.

    Digital Detox

    I want to remind everyone of the digital detox that the Vice-Chancellor announced on 7 July.

    • Microsoft Teams meetings to begin on the hour and run for 50 minutes allowing 10 minutes in between meetings. Very exceptionally where meetings require more time there should be a limit of 90 minutes.
    • No emails before 8am or after 5pm and none at the weekend (unless working an event/activity ie an open day)
    • Microsoft Teams-free Friday (August only).

    Please do feedback how you are finding the detox by emailing covid19help@le.ac.uk. I hope this is having a positive impact on your working day. We do understand that colleagues may work different hours to suit their, or the University’s needs. This is fine – please just delay sending emails out of the core hours.

    Once again, thank you for your hard work and support. I hope you are all keeping safe and well.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    17 July 2020

    Email to staff (17:00)

    Dear colleagues

    As you will know, the lockdown in Leicester has been extended with a further review expected in two weeks’ time. More details about this are in the email from Nishan, which you will have received last night. The new local lockdown boundary changes will commence from 18 July.

    As we stressed previously, since the local lockdown implementation both the Lockdown Exit Group and SSTB have continued the work for resumption of campus and the preparations for the start of term.

    At this stage we have not planned for any changes in term dates and we are determined to keep to schedule to deliver a safe and compliant study and work environment as well as an engaging and fulfilling student experience.

    In planning discussions this week we have reviewed the impacts and option of 1 and 2 metre social distancing and are now developing the delivery plan. A proposal for how students can live and learn has been presented and will now be circulated more widely for feedback. Our guidance for studying safely on campus was approved this week and will be published shortly. Please check the resource hub regularly and make yourselves familiar with the guidance and directives.

    Together in Hope

    Today the University, in partnership with Leicester City Football Club and the Diocese of Leicester, and supported by a raft of public figures, has launched a campaign which invites the citizens of Leicester and Leicestershire to come together in a celebration of community spirit during the coming weekend.

    We hope you will join the celebrations of Leicester and the wider county online using the hashtags #TogetherInHope and #WeAreLeicester. More about the campaign can be found on our home page.

    Director of Research and Enterprise

    I am delighted to announce that Dr Ian Forristal will become our Director of Research and Enterprise (RED) from 1 October 2020. Following an internal appointment process, Dr Alison Riding has been appointed as Interim RED Director, with immediate effect and until 31 October 2020, to facilitate a handover with Ian.

    Ian has extensive experience, working in this area at a number of institutions including The Open University (where he is joining us from), Nottingham Trent, The Royal Academy of Engineering and Queen Mary.

    Grant Bourhill, CEO Science Parks Leicester, has done a tremendous job as Interim RED Director during the last 18 months, but with the opening of Space Park Leicester in spring 2021, this strategic project now requires his full attention and leadership.

    IT equipment

    IT are expecting the arrival of nearly 300 new laptops next week. They are also now able to rebuild all-in-one PCs to work remotely and will be issuing these to make sure we can get equipment to staff who need it.

    Around half the laptops will initially be used for clearing with the rest issued for staff who need them to work remotely. Once clearing is over, the remainder will be available to staff.

    Issuing of the laptops will start week commencing 27 July. IT Services are working with colleges and divisions to prioritise allocation of the laptops and make appointments for staff so they can be handed over in a way that meets the current guidelines.

    If you would like to order accessories, which can be delivered to your home address, you can do so by following the process outlined.

    Laptop amnesty

    The challenges that we face because of COVID-19 mean that we need to minimise our costs and maximise the impact of everything that we do.

    We know that there are laptops at the University which are not being used. If you are aware of any unused laptops (perhaps in meeting rooms or offices) please let IT services know. They will collect the devices and get them ready for colleagues who are struggling without a University laptop. Please do not travel to campus to facilitate this.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    09 July 2020

    Email to students (12:45)

    Dear student

    We hope you’re safe and enjoying your summer break.

    There’s quite a lot to cover in today’s update:

    • volunteering to help in the Leicester lockdown
    • a chance for undergraduates to win £2,000 via the Career Development Service
    • we say goodbye to members of the Students’ Union executive team
    • updated guidance on the Leicester lockdown
    • advice for students still living in University accommodation
    • a reminder of the student support available to you and
    • how to get involved in this year’s graduation.

    Help Leicester Get Out of Lockdown – Volunteers Required Urgently

    Getting Leicester out of local lockdown is very important to us. You can help by volunteering to deliver COVID-19 testing kits.

    If you would like to volunteer to deliver the kits, and help stop the spread of the virus in the city simply complete the online form.

    By submitting the information on the form you are providing consent for the University of Leicester to share your information with Leicester City Council.

    Leicester City Council will provide all volunteers with PPE, instructions about the activity and support via planning workshops. If you live outside the local lockdown area, you can still offer your support – the Council has confirmed that all volunteers will be officially identified as critical workers.

    £2,000 Up for Grabs for Final Year Undergraduates

    In response to COVID-19, the Career Development Service has launched the Virtual Consultancy Challenge, part of My Student Journey, giving final year undergraduates the chance to gain hands-on experience working in a team to solve a real issue for a professional client from the comfort of your own home. The winning team receives £2,000, provided through our partnership with Santander. Applications close on Friday 10 July – apply today.

    Farewell to SU Executive Team Members

    We’d like to say a huge thank you and goodbye to Oge and Sana, who leave their roles as President and Wellbeing Officer. They’ve both played an integral part in improving the student experience at the University during their tenure. We wish them all the best on their future endeavours.

    Leicester Lockdown Latest

    As you know, last week the Government announced that Leicester and its surrounding area will have to follow stricter lockdown restrictions. If you are unsure if you are in the restricted zone, please use this handy postcode checker. The restrictions mean:

    • non-essential shops that re-opened on 15 June will be closed
    • bars, restaurants and hairdressers did not open on 4 July
    • schools are now closed except for vulnerable children and children of key workers -they will not re-open until next term
    • people who have been shielding should continue to do so.

    To protect yourself and others, please adhere to the following guidance:

    • stay at home as much as possible - leave only for work or essentials (such as food shopping or caring for others)
    • keep 2 metres apart from people outside your household at all times
    • wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser
    • always wear a face covering when on public transport or in any confined public space, including workplaces, where 2 metres social distancing is not possible.

    If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, please get tested as soon as you can. The main symptoms are:

    • high temperature
    • continuous new cough
    • loss of smell
    • loss of taste.

    The city has many test centres available. You can book a test online or call 119. When you go for your test, wear a face covering and take a photo ID as well as your booking number. If you test positive for coronavirus, you must stay at home for at least 7 days and until you feel better. People in your household should stay at home for 14 days.

    Students Living in University Accommodation

    University accommodation will continue to remain open and our 24/7 team will still be on-site to support your stay.

    If you are living with others in your flat, then they will continue to be your household. You should take care when leaving your accommodation and we suggest that you only do this for essential reasons, such as shopping for food.

    If your contract is ending and you want to stay longer with us, you should contact the accommodation team. You can book accommodation by the night.

    If you have left belongings in your room but you are not currently in Leicester, please contact the accommodation team directly. We have temporarily suspended the collection of items during the lockdown but we will be opening bookings again as soon as the guidance is updated.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support channels available:

    Graduation 2020 – Get Involved

    And finally, next week marks the graduation celebrations for our class of 2020. Under difficult and challenging circumstances, those who are graduating have accomplished their goals through hard work, desire and commitment. Well done to you all.

    Although we can’t celebrate in person, we will be hosting virtual celebrations for our graduates, as we did for our medic graduates. We’d encourage you all to help celebrate yours and your classmates’ achievements by getting involved via our social channels - Twitter, Facebook and Instagram - by including the hashtag #LeicesterGrad. The more creative, the better!

    Please continue to take care and stay safe.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    08 July 2020

    Email to staff (14:45)

    Dear colleagues

    Today, I’d like to share how you can help Leicester during the lockdown, update you on the COVID-19 resource hub and plans to open buildings, how to get involved with Graduation 2020 and also remind you of the Vice-Chancellor’s wellbeing message.

    Help Leicester Get Out of Lockdown - Volunteers Wanted Urgently

    Getting Leicester out of local lockdown is important to us. You can help by volunteering to deliver COVID-19 testing kits.

    If you would like to volunteer to deliver the kits, and help stop the spread of the virus in the city simply complete the online form.

    By submitting the information on the form you are providing consent for the University of Leicester to share your information with the Leicester City Council.

    Leicester City Council will provide all volunteers with PPE, instructions on the activity and support via planning workshops. If you live outside the local lockdown area, you can still offer your support – the Council has confirmed that all volunteers will be officially identified as critical workers.

    Resource Hub Updates

    I’m pleased to announce that the teaching site is now live on our lockdown exit resource hub. The guides available are:

    Please note that these guides will be updated on a regular basis. For any questions, support or feedback on the guidance please email askaboutignite@le.ac.uk.

    Last week, we added the Continuing to work from home guide. As colleagues know, the period of time that we will be working from home is longer than we planned when the University went in to lockdown. The short term arrangements we implemented back in March, where staff were encouraged to work with and adapt their home working environment, broadly followed advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE).

    As the period of time extends, we are introducing a package of support which includes revised guidance, an e-learning training package and an opportunity to either collect IT equipment from the University (when the current local lockdown period ends) or purchase equipment from IT Services for home delivery. This must be done in agreement with your line manager. We are keen to ensure the health safety and wellbeing of our staff whilst working from home, so please adhere to the guidance provided.

    Buildings on Campus

    Work continues to assess our revised teaching and research requirements and operating models in a COVID-compliant world. This work then drives which buildings we need to open alongside an assessment of which buildings we can make COVID-compliant. From next week we will be updating colleagues on which buildings will (and won’t) be operational next year and the associated plans to support changes.

    Graduation 2020 – How to Get Involved

    We begin our graduation celebrations on Monday and I’d encourage you to get involved and help recognise and celebrate our students’ achievements. This year, more than ever, the challenge to graduate under difficult circumstances emphasises the hard work and effort by our students to reach their goals.

    You can get involved through the University’s social media channels, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, with messages and images by including the hashtag #LeicesterGrad.

    Our Wellbeing Matters

    Yesterday, Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah emailed all staff to emphasise the importance of our health and wellbeing. He announced a number of the measures to support this including a digital detox, workload model review, bringing teams together safely post-lockdown, enhanced training and support and improved IT resources, in addition to the Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which is updated regularly.

    We’ve received a few queries about the digital detox from colleagues who have revised their working hours to manage personal commitments during lockdown (ie earlier starts and finishes). In order to operate a digital detox in this situation, please use the Delay Delivery function in the Options tab in Outlook. This allows you to set a date and time to send your email.

    We have already received positive feedback on these measures, but we are keen to hear how these initiatives are impacting and supporting you so that we can adapt and refine these ideas, if required. Please speak to your line manager or email us at covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    Please continue to take care and stay safe.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    03 July 2020

    Email to staff (16:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today I’d like to update you on the latest guidance around the extended lockdown in Leicester, give a reminder about the guidance for those working on campus and the additional guidance available on the resource hub.

    Leicester Lockdown Latest

    As you know, earlier this week the Government announced that Leicester and its surrounding area will have to follow stricter lockdown restrictions for at least another two weeks. If you are unsure if you are in the restricted zone, please use this handy postcode checker. The restrictions mean:

    • Non-essential shops that reopened on 15 June will be closed.
    • Bars, restaurants and hairdressers will not open on 4 July.
    • Schools will close from today except to vulnerable children and children of key workers. They will not reopen until next term.
    • People who have been shielding should continue to do so.

    To protect yourself and others, please adhere to the following guidance:

    • Stay at home as much as possible. Leave only for work or essentials (such as food shopping or caring for others).
    • Keep 2 metres apart from people outside of your household at all times.
    • Wash your hands regularly for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitiser.
    • Always wear a face covering when on public transport or in any confined public space, including workplaces, where 2m social distancing is not possible.

    If you have symptoms of coronavirus or you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, please get tested as soon as you can. The main symptoms are:

    • high temperature
    • continuous new cough
    • loss of smell
    • loss of taste

    The city has many test centres available. You can book a test online or call 119. When you go for your test, wear a face covering and bring photo ID as well as your booking number. If you test positive for coronavirus, you must stay at home for at least 7 days and until you feel better. People in your household should stay at home for 14 days.

    Safety on Campus

    For those that are required to work on campus, I’d like to remind you to adhere to the following guidance:

    • The 2 metre social distancing rule will continue throughout our campus and accommodation.
    • The wearing of face coverings inside buildings, unless there is a medical indication not to wear one, is mandatory (it is not necessary inside single occupancy offices). Please provide and use your own face covering. If you do not have one then we will provide single use masks. These are available from your School, College or Department. Reusable face coverings are on order and will be provided when they are arrive.
    • Wearing a face covering around campus and during travel to campus is advisory but not mandated (unless for example, using public transport where it is mandated by the transport carrier).
    • Those staff that are required to wear a PPE mask for their work should continue to do so following existing procedures.
    • This guidance has been reviewed in light of the changed local arrangements and following advice from our public health academics. We will regularly review this position.

    Lockdown Exit Resource Hub – Further Guidance Available

    Despite the extended lockdown in Leicester, we continue to plan our return to campus. We have added and updated the following guidance on the resource hub:

    Added

    Updated

    The resource hub is updated regularly. Next week we will be adding guidance around teaching to ensure students are supported during and in the aftermath of the pandemic.

    I would like to thank you all for your resilience and hard work during this frustrating and challenging time. The announcement of the Leicester lockdown has been very disappointing after all of the hard work that has gone into our response. I am confident that we will pull together with all of the Leicester community to find our way through the lockdown. It is more important than ever that we stand together as a University and play our part in supporting our great city.

    Have a great weekend.

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    30 June 2020

    Email to students (18:00)

    Dear student

    Last night the UK Government’s Health Minister Matt Hancock announced a lockdown of Leicester following a rise in COVID-19 rates in the City. Whilst we know local lockdowns are used throughout the world as a method to contain and stop the spread of the virus, it still saddens me that Leicester is the first city in the UK having to take such measures. However, without doubt, if there is ever a city and a university that can work together to overcome this pandemic it is Leicester.

    This remains a challenging time for everyone and my number one priority remains as it was in March, the health, safety and wellbeing of yourselves. However, at this time, I think you will also join me in ensuring as a university we also support our wider community in Leicester. This is an opportunity to build on our heritage of kindness and help save lives today.

    Please be assured that we are well prepared. We have everything in place to enable us to act swiftly to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community:

    • We continually review and monitor advice from Public Health England as well as seeking advice from our own Public Health experts here at the University.
    • We have established work streams whose focus is to create a COVID-19 compliant, safe campus, delivering the very best experience for our students.

    Therefore, in order for the University to adhere to the Government’s current guidance and restrictions for Leicester, to help stop the spread of coronavirus and to protect the community and our local NHS, we are now:

    1. Pausing our re-opening of some of our campus services in July, specifically our library - although we had been hoping to commence the re-opening of our library from next week with click-and-collect and book return services, this will now be paused as a consequence of the local lockdown in Leicester.
    2. Appointments for the collection of either belongings from accommodation or postal collections will be unavailable during these lockdown restrictions.
    3. We will also be limiting research on campus to essential research that includes COVID-19 and research essential to maintaining our financial and reputational sustainability.

    For specific student groups:

    Medical Students Placements

    We are planning to continue the return of our Year 3 and Year 4 medical students to placement. These students are defined as ‘critical workers’ by HEE, so will be allowed to travel both within and outside of Leicester.

    Student Accommodation

    Our students continue to be supported in University-managed accommodation and if assistance is required they can contact the accommodation team directly or contact welfare@le.ac.uk.

    Students Living in Leicester

    For students who live in Leicester there are four test centres and appointments can be booked nationally via nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or by calling 119. We encourage anyone who has symptoms or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, to get tested as soon as possible.

    If you live in Leicester we encourage you to report any COVID-19 symptoms or self-isolation to us so we can identify the best way to support you - complete the form online.

    For further COVID-19 support and information visit our dedicated coronavirus web area.

    Sadly, I am aware that some of our students and staff and the people of Leicester have been subject to racial harassment because of their ethnicity in relation to COVID-19. The University takes a zero tolerance approach to racial harassment, discrimination and hate incidents, and will not tolerate this behaviour. When such incidents occur, we will take strong, direct and immediate action to address them.

    Anyone who experiences or witnesses racial harassment, discrimination or any other form of unacceptable behaviour, on or off campus, is urged to contact the University about this. Please contact report and support.

    We are a resilient, adaptable and strong community and I hope you will join me in helping our great city. Thank you for your tireless efforts. You are true Citizens of Change, as ever.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

    Email to staff (16:00)

    Dear colleagues

    As you know, last night Health Minister Matt Hancock announced a lockdown of Leicester following a rise in COVID-19 rates in the City. Whilst we know local lockdowns are used throughout the world as a method to contain and stop the spread of the virus, it still saddens me that Leicester is the first city in the UK having to take such measures. However, without doubt, if there is ever a city and a university that can work together to overcome this pandemic it is Leicester.

    This remains a challenging time for everyone and my number one priority remains as it was in March – the health, safety and wellbeing of our staff and students. At this time, I would also like to extend this to include our wider community in Leicester. I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our staff and students to support the national effort to tackle the coronavirus and now we should support our city. This is an opportunity to build on our heritage of kindness and help save lives today.

    Please be assured that we are well prepared. We have the governance and operational teams in place to enable us to act swiftly to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our community:

    • We continually review and monitor advice from Public Health England as well as seeking advice from our own Public Health experts here at the University.
    • We undertake thorough and regular risk assessments.
    • We have established workstreams whose focus is to create a COVID-19 compliant, safe campus, delivering the very best experience for staff, students and visitors.

    Therefore, in order for the University to adhere to the Government’s current guidance and restrictions for Leicester, to help stop the spread of coronavirus and to protect the community and our local NHS, we are undertaking the following from immediate effect:

    Personal Safety

    • The 2 metre social distancing rule will continue throughout our campus and accommodation.
    • The wearing of face coverings inside buildings, unless there is a medical indication not to wear one, is mandatory (it is not necessary inside single occupancy offices). Please provide and use your own face covering. If you do not have one then we will provide single use masks. These are available from your School, College or Department. Reusable face coverings are on order and will be provided when they are arrive.
    • Wearing a face covering around campus and during travel to campus is advisory but not mandated (unless for example, using public transport where it is mandated by transport carrier).
    • Those staff that are required to wear a PPE mask for their work should continue to do so following existing procedures.
    • This guidance has been reviewed in light of the changed local arrangements and following advice from our public health academics. We will regularly review this position.

    Vulnerable Staff

    Staff who are shielding or clinically vulnerable should continue to work from home and take precautions to minimise risk of exposure. Vulnerable staff who are also classed as essential workers should not return to campus unless a department risk assessment and an Individual Clinical Vulnerability Risk Assessment have been carried out and assessed by Occupational Health.

    Managing Symptoms

    For staff or students who live in Leicester there are four test centres and appointments can be booked nationally or by calling 119. We encourage anyone who has symptoms, or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, to get tested as soon as possible.

    Campus Operations

    As was the case during the initial phase of lockdown, it is important that we maintain critical research services and essential research during this coming period. We obviously need to do this in a way that continues to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students, and that complies with the requirements of the local lockdown in Leicester. This means that we will need to hold off on our original re-opening plans and, in some cases, research which has restarted will need again to be paused. The research that does continue during this phase of local lockdown will be limited to critical workers and essential research that includes COVID-19 and research essential to maintaining our financial and reputational sustainability.

    Therefore, at this point:

    • Critical COVID-19 research should continue, as it has throughout the pandemic;
    • Other research which has been determined as essential according to the new criteria can recommence or continue, subject to a re-validated risk assessment;
    • PGR students, other than those carrying out agreed COVID-19 research, should not return to campus;
    • Those carrying out research that does not meet the new bar for approval will have until 5pm on Thursday 2 July to wind down their current work;
    • College Directors of Operations and Deans of Research will be in touch later today or early tomorrow with affected colleagues, including PGR students, to provide clarity on specific cases.

    Once again, Heads of School/Department as well as Deans of Research, the Dean of the Doctoral College and College Directors of Operations have come together to develop this list of projects and personnel.

    Alongside, the following key areas of University operations will continue: on-site security; providing wellbeing support and services, including the provision of food for students and any key workers who are living in our university accommodation; ensuring our buildings remain safe and compliant for other critical workers to continue their work as detailed above; attending to any emergency situations (eg loss of buildings or IT).

    All other colleagues should revert or continue to work from home (where possible). The following staff and student facing services will be paused with immediate effect:

    • General Click and Collect;
    • IT support on campus;
    • Library - although we had been hoping to commence the re-opening of our library from next week with click-and-collect and book return services, this will now be paused as a consequence of the local lockdown in Leicester. We will continue to monitor the situation closely and follow Government advice as it is published.
    • Bookable Team Meeting Space Booking – this was due to begin on 6 July but will be now be paused.

    If you have booked in slots or appointments these will no longer be taking place. Please do not travel to campus.

    Sadly, I am aware that some of our students and staff and the people of Leicester have been subject to racial harassment because of their ethnicity in relation to COVID-19. The University takes a zero tolerance approach to racial harassment, discrimination and hate incidents, and will not tolerate this behaviour. When such incidents occur, we will take strong, direct and immediate action to address them. Anyone who experiences or witnesses racial harassment, discrimination or any other form of unacceptable behaviour, on or off campus, is urged to contact the University about this. For students, please contact report and support and staff should email the Equality Diversity and Inclusion team or call 0116 373 6420.

    We are a resilient, adaptable and strong community and I hope you will join me in helping our great city. Thank you for your tireless efforts. You are true Citizens of Change, as ever.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    29 June 2020

    Email to students (22:20)

    Dear student,

    During the past 48 hours it has been reported that Leicester is currently experiencing an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus. Therefore, the City needs to control the virus. This means that Leicester will continue with the existing Government lockdown guidance for a further two weeks and not ease restrictions on 4 July.

    We appreciate the recent measures will cause some concern and anxiety. We want to re-assure you that Leicester is a safe City and that these measures aim to quickly control the spread of the virus to protect the community and our NHS. This approach is consistent with public health advice for controlling the local spread of the virus as we ease from lockdown.

    For students who live in Leicester there are four test centres and appointments can be booked nationally via nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call 119. We encourage anyone who has symptoms or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, to get tested as soon as possible.

    We will provide a further update tomorrow.

    Stay safe and healthy.

    Thank you,

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

    Email to staff (22:15)

    Dear colleague,

    During the past 48 hours it has been reported that Leicester is currently experiencing an increase in the number of people testing positive for coronavirus. Therefore, the City needs to control the virus. This means that Leicester will continue with the existing Government lockdown guidance for a further two weeks and not ease restrictions on 4 July.

    We appreciate the recent measures will cause some concern and anxiety. We want to re-assure you that Leicester is a safe City and that these measures aim to control the spread of the virus quickly to protect the community and our NHS. This approach is consistent with public health advice for controlling the local spread of the virus as we ease from lockdown.

    For staff or students who live in Leicester there are four test centres and appointments can be booked nationally via nhs.uk/ask-for-a-coronavirus-test or call 119. We encourage anyone who has symptoms or if you’ve been in close contact with someone who has had symptoms, to get tested as soon as possible.

    We will provide further updates tomorrow on what this means for our campus operations during the coming weeks. Only critical workers should travel to campus tomorrow. Everyone else should await further guidance.

    Stay safe and healthy.

    Thank you,

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    26 June 2020

    Email to staff (16:45)

    Dear colleagues

    Today, I’d like to update you on the appointment of a Dean of Personal Tutoring, highlight some great work being done by the health and wellbeing team, the latest Government COVID-19 guidance and give you the chance to watch yesterday’s Executive Board Q&A.

    Appointment of Dean of Personal Tutoring

    A key recommendation of the review of the University’s Personal Tutoring system which reported to Senate earlier this week, was the appointment of a Dean of Personal Tutoring. This role will provide strategic leadership and coordination of the University’s personal tutor system and, as chair of the Student Wellbeing Committee, will provide academic leadership across this key element of the student experience. Internal applications from academic staff members are invited for a four year term, with a closing date of 8 July. Further information is available on the internal job vacancies page.

    Your Health and Wellbeing

    Your health and wellbeing remains the priority, whilst we continue our plans to exit lockdown. The health and wellbeing team have been busy creating some innovative activities to occupy your time during lockdown. Check out their Yammer channel where you will find all sorts of activities such as recipes, coaching and mentoring options, inspiring quotes and a Happy Place Festival.

    Government Updates on COVID-19

    Earlier this week, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the Government’s plan to ease lockdown restrictions from 4 July as well as plans to ease guidance for those who are shielding. The Lockdown Exit Group is carefully reviewing the new guidance and seeking advice from public health colleagues in order to develop our plans. More detail will follow on this soon.

    Executive Board Live Q&A

    Yesterday saw the third instalment of the Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah and Executive Board’s live Q&A take place. 530 colleagues joined us for the Q&A; thank you for watching. I hope you found the session informative. We provided updates on key areas of activity across the University and then answered a number of questions. We couldn’t answer all your questions, but we will publish a selection of some we didn’t get round to soon. If you missed the last Q&A in May, the answers are now available.

    If you missed yesterday’s Q&A event or would like to view it again, you can do so.

    I hope you are all keeping well. Have a great weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    24 June 2020

    Email to staff (13:10)

    Dear colleagues

    Today I’d like to tell you about some additional resources that are available as part of our lockdown exit plans, how you can watch the ignite Q&A with our students, offer you the opportunity to watch the latest ExB update and remind you about Thursday’s live Q&A event with the Vice-Chancellor and the Executive Board. Plus if you're a parent to teenagers with questions about COVID-19, there's a chance for their questions to be answered.

    Our Lockdown Exit – More Resources Available

    As part of our lockdown exit strategy and approach to returning to campus safely, we launched our resource hub for guidance and information last week. Today we have added a staff return to work checklist. The list has everything those of you returning to campus need to know to stay safe. Please ensure that you have met all requirements from the list before sending to your line manager.

    Also available are FAQs focused on our lockdown exit planning, which we’ve taken from the lockdown exit documents. They will be updated on a regular basis.

    Ignite Q&A

    Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education, Professor Graham Wynn and Registrar and Secretary Geoff Green, along with medicine student Harriet, hosted a live event for students about ignite. Watch the event again to hear them answer some important questions.

    ExB in 3

    In our latest edition of ExB in 3, Geoff Green provides us with updates from the Executive Board meeting on Monday. Watch Geoff’s updates about student recruitment, our capital building projects and lockdown exit plans.

    VC and ExB Q&A

    The third Executive Board live staff Q&A will take place tomorrow at 10am. We will provide updates and look forward to answering your questions. Questions can be asked before and during the event. We look forward to seeing you there.

    Your Big COVID-19 Question: Public Engagement Event for Students in Leicester and Leicestershire

    Do your teens have questions about COVID-19 that leave you stumped? Help is at hand. Following a report by the British Science Association which showed that nearly 9 out of 10, 14 to 18 year olds feel left out of the COVID-19 conversation, Turi King, Professor of Public Engagement has organised an event to allow Leicester and Leicestershire students in years 7 to 13 to ask our University of Leicester experts their questions.

    So, if you have a teenager about the house who would like to record themselves asking a question please send them through to events@le.ac.uk by 5pm today. The questions can be about the virus itself, the impact of the pandemic on the environment, mental health during lockdown or anything else COVID-19 related.

    Between 29 June and 2 July, every day, from 11:30am to noon, BBC Radio Leicester is welcoming University of Leicester experts to take over the airwaves and answer their questions.

    Take care.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    19 June 2020

    Email to staff (17:15)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you’ve had a productive week.

    Today, I’d like to update you on our response to news that COVID-19 cases have risen in Leicester, lockdown exit plans, the importance of your work and lifestyle balance as well as a great initiative that the Centre for International Training and Education (CITE) is running.

    Keeping You Safe

    Firstly, I want to reassure you all that our priority remains your health, safety and wellbeing. I’m aware of news today that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in Leicester. As the lockdown exit plans begin to be put in place, we will continue to respond quickly to the epidemic and stay able to change them at short notice, should we need to.

    Our Exit from Lockdown

    In The Citizen this week, we told you how the University plans to exit lockdown. As part of this we have created a resource hub which will house updates and guidance about returning to campus as well as the continued working from home. This week you will find our Working on Campus Guidelines, our current phasing document as well as details about our new signage to ensure our campus is safe and secure. More information will be added to the Hub so please check content each week for updates.

    Your Work/Life Balance

    As the months go by during the COVID-19 pandemic, we appreciate that many colleagues have a number of conflicting priorities and we understand that it is likely you will be experiencing constraints due to the pressures of home life. We would like to reassure you that we will continue to maintain a flexible approach during this time and we are understanding of the pressures that many colleagues are facing.

    We are aware that not all caring responsibilities will be in relation to children, so if you are struggling with balancing your personal commitments, we would strongly encourage you to talk to your manager. They will be able to discuss with you options relating to the use of your annual leave and the possibility of flexible hours, duties and work patterns to fit around your commitments and support you during this time. As we still do not know for certain the position regarding the re-opening of schools and nurseries, we will review this in mid-August when hopefully there will be clarity on the way forward.

    CITE Fundraising Auction

    This week is Refugee Week. As a University of Sanctuary we want to support refugees and asylum seekers (RAS) within our University and beyond.

    Like everyone, our RAS students have had to adapt rapidly to a new way of living and working. As the campus has been closed it has been difficult to access the tools they need to study and we want to make sure they have these tools to achieve their goals and dreams.

    Further afield, there are families and individuals in camps and on the streets of Greek cities who have seen much needed support dwindle due to COVID-19. Fortunately, there are still organisations supporting not only their basic needs but also offering them some hope and opportunity. One such group is Love without Borders for Refugees in Need. Watch the founder of the group Kayra Martinez talking about their work.

    To raise funds, CITE is organising an auction via Zoom where people can bid for paintings, free classes in all sorts of areas and special gifts. The money raised at the auction will be split equally to support RAS students and refugees in Greece.

    Is there something you could offer for the auction – a skill that you could share, a piece of art, something you think others might bid for? If so, please contact CITE for more information.

    Have a lovely weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (17:00)

    Dear student

    We hope you’re keeping well and enjoying your summer break so far.

    We will continue to send weekly emails during the summer to keep you updated with COVID-19 related information. The Citizen will also be issued every fortnight to keep you abreast of all the news and events taking place on campus and our preparations for the academic year in September.

    Today, we’d like to update you on:

    • Our response to news of Leicester’s COVID-19 cases
    • Additional assessment period
    • Postgraduate safety net FAQs
    • Complaints relating to industrial action
    • Summer events
    • Private accommodation advice and
    • Student support available during the summer.

    Putting Your Safety First

    You might be aware of news reports today that there has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in Leicester. We want to reassure you that your health, safety and wellbeing is our number one priority and we continue to monitor the situation closely, so we are ready to respond if we need to.

    Additional Assessment Period

    We advised in April that we were planning an additional assessment period for students who were not able to take their assessments in May, and had asked to defer them or for students who needed to retake some assessments. We can now confirm that the assessment period will take place from 17-27 August 2020. All assessments will be taken online and are expected to follow a similar format to those taken in May. If you are due to take assessments at this time, you will receive more information about them from your school.

    Postgraduate Safety Net FAQs

    A set of FAQs regarding the PGT safety net is now available and can be accessed via student FAQs in the PGT safety net section on our COVID-19 webpages.

    Complaints Relating to Industrial Action – Extended Deadline

    Students who submitted a complaint by the 31 March 2020 in relation to the industrial action in February and March should have received an outcome last month. We have received a number of messages since then from students indicating they had not realised that there was a deadline. We have therefore opened a final window for the submission of complaints from 22 June to 17 July. Further information will be published on Monday 22 June on our industrial actions complaints page.

    Students’ Union Summer Events

    The Students’ Union will be running events through the summer break, such as how to apply for additional funding for the new term or an enactment of the Yorkshire wartime experience – something for everyone! Find out what’s on and be sure to get involved.

    Private Accommodation

    If you are thinking of renting private accommodation next term, we have provided helpful advice. The advice isn’t professional or legal and should not be relied upon as such. Please consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstances and where necessary seek help. Further advice is available through our student support service on 0116 223 1185 or email studentservices@le.ac.uk. There is also Citizens Advice, council housing departments, and a free legal advice clinic available which is offered by law students, academics, local professionals and your Students’ Union housing advisor.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support channels that are available:

    Take care and stay safe.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    16 June 2020

    Email to staff (10:00)

    Dear colleague

    I hope this message finds you in good health and good spirits.

    There will be a Lockdown Exit Group takeover in tomorrow’s The Citizen, so today’s update is only brief.

    New look homepage for MyWorkspace

    Tomorrow we are launching our upgraded MyWorkspace front page.

    MyWorkspace will feature colours to reflect the new Citizens of Change identity, links to Teams collaboration spaces, become more mobile friendly and your Yammer feed will be more user friendly.

    ExB Live Q&A from May now available

    We received a high number of questions at the live Q&A with Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah and the Executive Board in May. The questions and answers have now been published and summarised for reference. Watch the Q&A video.

    I’d also like to remind you that the next live Q&A takes place on Thursday 25 June at 10am – please try and join us on the day. You can submit questions beforehand or during the event.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    10 June 2020

    Email to students (10:15)

    Dear student

    As the term has now ended, we’d like to thank you for your dedication and commitment through a challenging time. Adapting to a new way of learning isn’t easy, so well done to you all for staying devoted to your education.

    We will still keep you updated throughout the summer with any developments that will impact you. Please do check your emails regularly so you don’t miss any key information.

    Today we’d like to update you on ignite, private accommodation and remind you that student support is always available during the summer.

    Ignite

    By now, I’m sure you’ve heard about ignite – our blended approach to providing the education you deserve without compromising your safety. This will allow you to fully enjoy your university experience, both physically and virtually, and switch easily between the two. Ignite also includes flexible accommodation packages to suit your requirements. For more information, please visit our dedicated ignite page, which also includes accommodation information and some student experiences of dual learning.

    Additionally, I (Graham) will be hosting a Q&A event about ignite on Thursday 11 June at 10am. I will be joined by Geoff Green – the University’s Registrar and Secretary and Harriett – a current medicine student. Please join us on the day, where we will provide you with more details about ignite and give you the chance to ask any questions.

    Private Accommodation

    If you are thinking of securing private accommodation next term, we have provided some useful advice to help you secure accommodation. The advice provided isn’t professional or legal and should not be relied upon as such. Please consider whether the information is appropriate to your circumstances and where appropriate seek further help.

    Advice is available through student support service on 0116 252 2448 or email studentservices@le.ac.uk. There is also Citizens Advice, council housing departments, and a free legal advice clinic available which is offered by law students, academics and local professionals and your Students’ Union housing advisor.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support channels that are available:

    Take care and enjoy your well-deserved break.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    09 June 2020

    Email to staff (13:15)

    Dear colleagues

    In today’s update I want to focus on the Lockdown Exit Planning that is underway. This includes the current activity on campus, an update of our planning, making the campus COVID-compliant, working arrangements and updates on research and education next steps. This is a long and detailed update – please do read it in full to understand the plans and progress being made.

    I know many colleagues are keen to hear more about our future plans and the progress we are making. I’m also conscious that some colleagues are keen to get back on campus as soon as possible and others may have some reservations or are concerned about how they will manage this with increased caring responsibilities. Please be assured, we are considering these different scenarios, and more, in our planning.

    I wanted to remind you of the five principles we set to guide our return to campus and the plans for the University’s operating model in the coming months:

    1. Prioritise staff and student health, safety and wellbeing
    2. Follow Government guidance
    3. Adopt a phased approach, with key milestones in line with Government timings
    4. Learn as we go along – and deliver improvements
    5. Ensure all decisions align with our strategic priorities.

    Current Activity On Campus

    As many of you are aware, whilst a majority of people have moved to working from home, there are still a number of colleagues who have continued to work on campus to deliver critical research, to support students and to maintain a safe and compliant campus. When we went in to lockdown, risk assessments and new systems of work were put in place and training was made available to the University’s critical workers. This reflected Government guidance at the time and continues to be appropriate.

    As we move to bringing more colleagues back to campus we need to review and update our guidance, as well as ensuring we reflect the latest guidance from Government.

    Planning Processes

    There are a number of different groups who are working hard to plan for a safe return to campus for staff and students. A summarised governance map will be shared on MyWorkspace this week.

    Three guidance documents will drive the University’s approach to deliver safe campus operations:

    • Working on Campus (approved 4 June)
    • Studying on Campus (due end of June)
    • Living on Campus (due end of June)

    These documents will continue to be updated as Government advice changes. I am grateful to the members of the University’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee for approving the Working on Campus guidelines and the Return to Work Office Buildings Risk Assessment at its extraordinary meeting last week. This will now enable us to progress the detailed work to bring more research activity back to campus. Alongside these documents are a number of supporting documents - these document will be made available to all staff on MyWorkspace as they are approved.

    A COVID-Compliant Campus

    Detailed risks assessments and operating plans will be created for each building and the activities within each building. These will be completed locally in conjunction with the Health and Safety team.

    COVID-compliant signage will be used across all buildings and around campus, taking a consistent approach so that you can easily spot and follow the guidance. This covers all parts of the University’s campuses, buildings and locations. Hand sanitisers will be available at the entrance of each building.

    Plans will clearly set out social distancing requirements, revised procedures and processes for the building use (for example, the use of lifts, kitchens and bathroom facilities) and the enhanced cleaning activities in each building.

    Working Arrangements

    We expect many colleagues to continue to work from home for the coming weeks and months, and principles and additional guidance are being developed to support and inform staff about what to expect. These will be published on MyWorkspace when approved.

    We recognise that some staff will be unable to return to campus due to shielding or caring responsibilities and any individual circumstances should be discussed with managers so that appropriate arrangements can be put in place for individuals.

    Expanded staffing on campus will be carefully planned, tightly controlled and coordinated to mitigate potential risks and to ensure staff safety. No College, School, Department or Division should increase staffing levels without prior permission from the Lockdown Exit Group.

    If you are required to return to work on campus you will need to complete the Return to Work Checklist and mandatory training. These set out the processes you need to follow to ensure you understand what is required of you on campus to ensure we keep our campus COVID-compliant and everyone safe.

    Research Priorities – Plan and Next Steps

    In line with Government guidance, our first priority has been to extend access to laboratories for scientific research. Throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, we have maintained access to labs for those working on the virus and its effects and such COVID-19 related work, including newly funded work, will continue to be given priority.

    Over the last few weeks, Colleges, working with Departments and Schools, have carried out extensive work to identify priorities for further returns to campus-based research. These priorities are based on three broad principles developed by Deans of Research.

    The phased re-opening of some research facilities, in addition to those already open for COVID-related research, will commence from next week, ramping up gradually in accordance with College priorities. We are currently undertaking risk assessments for each building/work location and implementing necessary safe working adaptations (including signage).

    Deans of Research/College Directors of Operations will be in touch with the staff involved in research that meets the current priority threshold to confirm local arrangements for access. Staff accessing research facilities will need to have completed the steps outlined in the Working Arrangements section above, and have their access authorised by Head of Security prior to attending campus. These buildings will not be fully open to all staff who normally work in them, but only to named staff working on the specifically prioritised research projects.

    We will now move to prioritise the next phase of research activity and will monitor how this is going so we can learn from the process and adapt our approach as we go. We are also looking at the extent to which we can communicate likely timetables for return at a more granular level, but as Government guidelines change, and as our volume of COVID-19 research increases, any such timetable needs to remain flexible.

    For those requiring access to research materials held in the Library, a click and collect service will begin this month and next month we expect to begin limited, pre-booked, access to non-digital archives. We will make further information on these services available shortly.

    Education – Plan and Next Steps

    I am sure many of you are now aware of our approach to teaching next year. This was launched at the Executive Board Live Q&A on 14 May and the Education Planning Principles for 2020/21 were shared with Schools on 20 May. Following this, we launched the top level principles of ignite to all staff, current students and prospective students. Details of the exceptional curriculum planning process for the summer were circulated to Schools yesterday, 8 June.

    Many schools have been working on their plans for revised curricula in response to the Education Planning Principles and the curriculum planning guidance sets out the process to capture and approve structural changes to programmes for 2020/21. We have built in as much time as possible for Schools to consider their curricula for 2020/21 and formulate the best educational experience for students and staff.

    In addition to this, further, practical guidance on dual delivery is being finalised by our Flexible Dual Delivery Working Group and will be circulated to Schools this week. The guidance provides the practical context for the education planning principles for different disciplines, advice on synchronous (live) and asynchronous teaching activities, setting up clear module structures and example content and suggestions for various different types of teaching sessions. Following this guidance, more details on timetabling for both synchronous and asynchronous teaching sessions will be circulated to Schools next week.

    We are running a Live Q&A for Heads of School and Directors of Learning and Teaching on Wednesday 10 June. There will also be Live Q&As for current and prospective students on Thursday 11 June. Looking ahead, we will publish some ignite FAQS for staff and we will hold regular education “drop-in” sessions for staff to discuss ignite and all education related matters across the summer. We are also updating our students, both new entrants and returning students, who need guidance and reassurance of our plans to support their preparations for the next academic year.

    There is still much to do but good progress is being made and we will continue to share updates with you each week. Please keep up to date by reading these emails and The Citizen. If you have any further queries, contact the University’s dedicated COVID-19 support team.

    Thank you all for your hard work, patience and support during this time.

    Best wishes

    Kerry Law
    Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer
    (Interim Chair of Lockdown Exit Group)

     

    05 June 2020

    Email to staff (13:30)

    Dear colleagues

    Today, I’d like to remind you about the launch of ignite, stress the importance of showing each other respect during COVID-19, bring you updates about collecting your essentials from campus and tell you about our very first digital open day this Saturday.

    In Case You Missed It – Vice-Chancellor on BBC Breakfast

    Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, made a special visit to campus yesterday to talk to the BBC about ignite – our new blended learning model for students. This created great interest in the media – and as a result we saw a 42% increase to our website on Wednesday based on the same Wednesday last year. Watch Nishan on BBC Breakfast via our Twitter channel.

    Showing Respect during COVID-19

    As we continue to update our Virtual EDI Community, I’d like to make you aware of some key EDI-related issues and the associated support which you may find useful during these times. I’d like to share with you some guiding principles and practices for remote working with respect.

    Collection of Items from Campus

    We have now introduced a ‘click and collect’ service where you can book a slot to collect items from campus. Timeslots are available online, with more dates being added all the time. Timeslots for each day will close for bookings 72 hours before. We will use this time to check through bookings to ensure people will be visiting the site safely and ensure access to the relevant locations is reinstated to your staff ID for the time you will be on campus. If you have any queries please contact securityoffice@le.ac.uk or call +44 (0)116 252 2023. We also have a set of FAQs available online which may answer your question.

    Digital Open Day – Main Event on Saturday 6 June, 10am-4pm

    I am very excited for our first ever virtual open day on Saturday. The live events consist of live chats with academic colleagues, central services, and current students alongside a programme of live webinars taking place between 10am - 4pm, on subjects such as fees and funding, accommodation at Leicester, writing personal statements, international students Q&A and applying for 2020 entry.

    To get a peek of what our prospective students can expect, check out our 30 minute showcase from 2.30pm today.

    Regards,

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    29 May 2020

    Email to students (17:00)

    Dear student

    Today, we’d like to introduce you to Ignite - our approach to learning and teaching from this Autumn, update you on our lockdown exit plans, make you aware of the upcoming live career Q&A session and remind you of deadlines for information submission for graduation ceremonies.

    Switch Between Online and On-campus Learning

    The coronavirus pandemic has affected all our lives and we have been thinking hard about how we can provide you the best possible education in the new academic year. We want next year to be much more than a short-term fix, we want to develop a new and flexible approach to learning – that’s why we are introducing Ignite.

    Ignite will combine a commitment to an exciting, vibrant and safe on-campus experience with a blend of face-to-face and flexible digital learning. We will provide the education you deserve without compromising your safety, so you can continue to enjoy your university experience, both physically and virtually, switching easily between on-campus and online learning as needed. Ignite will open up new ways to engage with your studies, offering structured and clear learning patterns that you will be able to flex to accommodate your busy lives.

    You will continue to have access to your tutors, our COVID-safe campus, your circle of friends and the University of Leicester community. Our University accommodation will be open and providing new, flexible accommodation packages.

    How it will work

    1. Small and medium group learning sessions, such as tutorials and seminars, will run face-to-face and/or be Livecast online.
    2. Larger lectures will be delivered by Livecast and/or recorded, so you can login when you want and watch from the comfort of your room in halls or from home.
    3. Academic and personal support will be available to you either virtually or face-to-face to respond to your needs.
    4. Our student support services, from the library to careers to wellbeing, will be available both face-to-face and online with many of these available 24/7.
    5. New, flexible accommodation packages allow you to choose your on-campus living option to meet your study and student experience requirements.
    6. We will offer a vibrant and safe on-campus social experience to help you keep in touch with your friends and build new friendships.

    One of our students who has benefited from flexible learning here at Leicester is Harriet, watch her share her thoughts.

    During the coming weeks and months, we will be sharing further developments around Ignite. Please check The Citizen and emails you receive from us for further information.

    We will also be hosting a live Q&A on Thursday 11 June. This will give you the opportunity to ask any questions you may have about Ignite. Details of the event will be communicated to you soon via the channels mentioned.

    Returning to Campus – Lockdown Exit Planning

    Work is now well underway to make sure the return to campus is safe. Our current focus includes:

    • Exploring how to safely restart some high-priority research activities on campus.
    • Modelling our COVID-compliant teaching capacity across campus, to ensure the safety of our students and staff.
    • Producing “Working on Campus”, “Studying on Campus” and “Living on Campus” guidelines, which include how we will ensure our buildings are COVID compliant.

    Live Career Q&As

    The Students’ Union (SU) is working with the University's Career Development Service to bring you live Q&A sessions, covering a range of topics to help you with your next step. They will run every Thursday until 25 June.

    Right now, you may need support in finding opportunities, writing an effective application, interview tips, networking online, creating a great LinkedIn profile and making the transition from student to graduate life.

    Each session will be made up of a 10 minute presentation and then a 20 minute Q&A, where you will have the opportunity to ask questions. If you miss a session, don’t worry, they will be uploaded to the Students’ Union YouTube channel.

    This is a great chance to find out more about what the Careers Service can offer and how they can support you throughout your time at university, and once you graduate. We understand that in the circumstances you may be feeling even more overwhelmed or uncertain when it comes to careers and your next step, so hopefully these will ease any anxiety you may have.

    The sessions will be taking place on Microsoft Teams. To join and find out more information please visit the career support page on the SU website.

    Completion of Studies and Future Graduation Ceremonies – deadline 31 May

    Students who are due to complete their studies this term need to, if you haven’t yet done so, log in to MyStudentRecord by 31 May to:

    • Confirm details for your degree certificate and make sure we have the right address to mail it to.
    • Let us know your preference for the January and July 2021 graduation ceremonies.
    • Advise how you would like to receive communications from the University after you leave and join our Alumni Association.
    • Inform us about your future plans and interests so our Career Development Service can continue to provide support.

    In MyStudentRecord, select the Study tab, then Click here to Begin in the Register for Graduation box. It’s important that you log in and provide the information requested, by 31 May, even if you don’t plan to attend a future graduation ceremony.

    Postgraduate Safety Net

    We will be publishing further information about the postgraduate safety net along with frequently asked questions next week.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support that is available to you:

    Take care, stay safe and enjoy your weekend.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (10:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Today, I’ve focused today’s update into three themes: lockdown exit planning, student support and some day-to-day operational updates.

    Returning to Campus – Lockdown Exit Planning

    A number of work streams are now well underway. This week and next we are focusing on the following:

    • Finalising the Phase 1 research priorities with Colleges teams with the aim to get a small number of additional research activities on campus from w/c 8 June.
    • Modelling our teaching capacity across the estate which is a necessary pre-requisite to plan teaching in the Autumn.
    • Our Working on Campus Guidelines which we have now shared with the Trade Unions for feedback and will discuss these next week at a specially convened Health, Safety and Wellbeing Committee meeting. These guidelines include how we will ensure our buildings are COVID Compliant.
    • Consulting with team leaders on which teams will return to campus when – although our starting position is that a majority of colleagues will continue to work from home (if they are able to).
    • Transport Survey - as we plan our lockdown exit planning its vital we take into account how people commute to work and how this may be impacted by COVID-19. Please complete the transport survey, so we can assess future travel requirements for staff.
    • Collection of items from campus – from next week we are introducing a ‘click and collect’ type service where you can book a slot to collect items from campus. Timeslots will be available online immediately, with more dates being added all the time. Timeslots for each day will close for bookings 72 hours before. We will use this time to check through bookings to ensure people will be visiting the site safely and ensure access to the relevant locations is reinstated to your staff ID for the time you will be on campus. If you have any queries please contact securityoffice@le.ac.uk or call +44 (0)116 252 2023. We also have a set of FAQs available online which may answer your question.

    Supporting students

    Launching Ignite

    You may have seen in this week’s Citizen the articles about Ignite, our approach to teaching this Autumn. Ignite combines face to face, on-campus study with flexible digital learning. It’s a blended approach to provide the education our students deserve without compromising their safety. Students will be able to fully enjoy their university experience, both physically and virtually, and switch easily between the two as and when they need to.

    Watch Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Graham Wynn’s video and read his blog to find out more about it.

    I am also delighted to announce that Professor Roger Dickinson has been appointed to the post of Dean of Flexible & Distance Learning. This appointment will increase our leadership capacity to develop and deliver Ignite now and into the future as part of our long-term plans.

    Digital Open Day – Main Event on Saturday 6 June

    On Saturday 6 June from 10am – 4pm, we are running our first digital open day. We already have over 2000 prospective students signed up for the event. A full brief will be available in next week’s The Citizen along with briefing sessions ahead of the event. Many thanks to everyone across the University for creating new content to make sure we deliver a great experience.

    Building a Strong Community Spirit for Our Students

    It is a difficult time for most of us, especially students who are away from friends and family. The Accommodation team, Residence Life team and Student Support Services have been doing a fantastic job in supporting them.

    We have approximately 270 students in our accommodation at the moment, so they are not alone and have had the opportunity to ‘meet’ with fellow students and staff at the events that have been arranged (either using social distancing or virtually).

    The Residence Life team is running a number of events for students such as:

    • 3 Peaks Challenge. Students sign up to join in the 23 mile challenge whilst taking their daily exercise
    • Allotment sessions, observing social distancing and forming part of daily exercise
    • Netflix virtual parties
    • National Theatre virtual events
    • Virtual crafting tutorials.

    If you think there is anything else that could be done to support them, please get in touch with the Residence Life on 0116 252 2428.

    Day to Day Operations

    Executive Board’s next Q&A, Thursday 25 June, 10am

    Join Vice-Chancellor, Professor Nishan Canagarajah, and fellow members of the Executive Board on Thursday 25 June at 10am for University updates and a chance to ask questions. The event can be joined on Microsoft Teams and, as usual, you will be able to submit questions before and during the event.

    Keep Your University IT Account Safe

    During the next few weeks, you will see improvements to help you keep your University IT account safe. This is particularly important at this time, with many of you working remotely and an increase of attacks to IT systems reported in the media. As many University IT accounts have access to sensitive student, research and University information, with your help, we need to do everything we can to keep this information secure. To find out more, please view the ITS support page.

    Access Your Payslip Off-Campus

    As part of the University’s response to COVID-19, IT Services are pleased to announce that from Monday 1 June you will be able access your payslip while off-campus. This is particularly beneficial for staff with a University IT account, who don’t have access to University Remote access (VPN) or University Remote Desktop. To find out how this can be arranged, please view the IT Services page.

    Many thanks for your continued support.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    22 May 2020

    Email to staff (17:00)

    Dear colleagues

    As we approach the Bank Holiday weekend and with the COVID-19 lockdown across the UK beginning to ease slightly, I wanted to share a further update with you on developments related to research at the University.

    Firstly, many of you will have seen the announcement from our Chief Operating Officer, Martyn Riddleston, yesterday on our phased approach to return to campus which will begin in June. This is excellent news although our return to on-campus research will be gradual with some lab-based scientific research comprising the first tranche of activities. You will be aware that many of our efforts have continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with colleagues carrying out vital COVID-19 related research, maintaining critical research infrastructure, monitoring and analysis work, as well as providing front line services, including testing to the NHS. We can learn from these experiences as we move towards a phased reopening of research.

    The June return will be modest, the safety and security of our students and staff being paramount. Together, with colleagues in RED, College Research Deans and College Directors of Operations, we have been working hard to set priorities, aligned with the University’s core principles of research excellence, student experience, and financial sustainability remaining foremost in the process. College leads will be working with Schools and Departments over the coming days to agree specific research priorities for the June return, as well as for the other planned phases that Martyn mentioned in his update. In addition, we are also looking at whether we might begin to implement a bookable drop-in facility for colleagues to retrieve essential research documents and materials, in line with our safety and security imperatives.

    Secondly, and again in accord with our key principles and our developing University Strategy, we need to continue to ensure the sustainability and well-being of our researcher community. Earlier this month we announced a package of measures of support for our postgraduate research (PGR) students which we believe is sector leading. Today, I’m delighted to report that the Executive Board has decided, with immediate effect, to extend our Furlough scheme to those on time-limited research contracts, who have been unable to work since the COVID-19 crisis began. This will provide some much-needed reassurance to many colleagues, particularly our postdoctoral research assistants (PDRAs), who provide so much of our research firepower. Overall this will ensure greater security around future contracts and research delivery. We have taken a consultative approach to introducing this scheme, steered by College Research Deans, building on discussions with Schools and Departments, all our major research funders and other universities. Colleagues in RED and HR, working with Research Deans, will be working to roll the scheme out immediately. A guidance document explaining the scheme is available.

    I believe that furloughing, together with a phased and prioritised return to work, and our previously announced PGR support measures, allows us the opportunity to look after our research students and staff.

    Let me close by wishing you all a safe and very pleasant weekend and, for many of you, an enjoyable half-term break.

    Professor Iain Gillespie
    Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise

    Email to students (17:00)

    Dear student

    Today marks the final day of assessments for many of you. We’d like to say a huge well done to those that have been taking their exams through this difficult period. Although this isn’t the way any of us imagined you’d be taking your exams, we are extremely proud of the way you have adapted to the challenges of the situation.

    Today’s updates are:

    Safety Net for Postgraduate Taught Programmes

    We are now able to share more detail about our work on the Safety Net for our students on postgraduate taught programmes. Designing a Safety Net for our postgraduate programmes has been very complex because our students are studying full-time and part-time, both on campus and by distance/flexible learning, so disruption has happened at different stages of their studies and sometimes at different times because of where they are located. We have therefore designed the Safety Net to be as flexible as possible whilst maintaining the academic integrity of your award. It will apply to all students who still had outstanding assessments when COVID-19 disrupted their studies.

    We will apply the Safety Net to as many programmes as possible, except in cases where professional bodies do not allow it, in which case your School will notify you. To access the Safety Net you must take all remaining taught module assessments and achieve a pass mark in each module from this period (please see Senate Regulation 6, paras 6.31-6.39 for information on the thresholds relating to the number of failed credits at 40-49% permitted for award). If you have failed modules, you can still access the safety net if you pass the modules following reassessment.

    For the taught modules, the safety net we will calculate a Benchmark credit-weighted average (CWA) mark using assignments submitted before COVID-19 and, in the case of some part-time and distance/flexible learning students, post COVID-19.

    The Benchmark CWA is the level below which a student’s CWA for the taught component of the course cannot fall for the purposes of the postgraduate degree classification calculation only (including any interim award).

    The benchmark calculation for individual students will vary because it is dependent on the stage, mode and type of study (i.e. whether you are studying full-time or part-time, on campus or by distance/flexible learning).

    For campus-based programmes, we will calculate a Benchmark CWA for all students based on marks achieved in the first semester of this year wherever possible, including marks from the first year of study for part-time students in their second year. Where there are insufficient completed modules to do this, in-module assessment elements from modules spanning semesters one and two may also be included.

    For distance/flexible learning programmes a Benchmark CWA will be calculated based on the modules undertaken prior to the University’s response to COVID-19 (and post-COVID-19 where relevant).

    We will provide further details on calculations for specific PGT programme types and formats in future updates.

    Application of the benchmark

    • Once assessments have been marked an initial CWA will be calculated for the student for the taught component of the course in the usual way
    • If the initial CWA falls below the benchmark CWA, then the benchmark CWA will be used to calculate your postgraduate degree classification
    • If the initial CWA is higher than the benchmark CWA, then the initial CWA will be used to calculate your postgraduate degree classification
    • The application of the safety net does not affect individual module marks. No marks will be changed by the Safety Net, only the degree classification will be affected, with the higher CWA applied to calculate your degree classification
    • We will calculate a benchmark credit weighted average (CWA) for all eligible students and provide this for all Boards of Examiners. We will not be able to provide benchmark calculations to individual students.

    Dissertations and Projects

    The Benchmark CWA described above applies to the taught modules of your programme only, but we will also be adjusting the requirements to the threshold mark required for dissertations in relation to the merit and distinction classifications. The mark required in the dissertation to achieve these classifications will be 3% lower for students whose dissertations were disrupted by COVID-19.

    Progression Regulations

    We have also amended the progression requirements for this year to allow students to progress and retake up to 90 credits, increased from the normal 60 credits.

    We will provide information on the finer points of detail of the policy in the coming week, with more information, including Frequently Asked Questions, available by 29 May on information for students page on our COVID-19 webpages, in the Postgraduate Safety Net Policy section.

    Completion of Studies and Future Graduation Ceremonies

    Students who are due to complete their studies this term need to log in to MyStudentRecord, if you haven’t yet done so, to:

    • confirm details for your degree certificate, making sure we have the right address to mail it to
    • advise us of your preference for either the January and July 2021 graduation ceremonies
    • let us know how you would like to receive communications from us, after you leave and join our Alumni Association
    • inform us about your future plans and interests so our Career Development Service can continue to provide support.

    In MyStudentRecord, select the Study tab, then Click here to Begin in the Register for Graduation box. It’s important that you log in and provide the information requested, by 31 May, even if you don’t plan to attend a future graduation ceremony.

    Upcoming Events

    During these unprecedented times, it’s important that we do occupy our time as best as we can. Next week a few events to look out for are:

    • Tuesday 26 May 4pm – Student Voice Awards. These awards celebrate and recognise individuals who have enhanced student experience, education and equality at the University of Leicester. The event will be streamed live on the Students’ Union Facebook page.
    • Thursday 28 May 4 – 5.30pm – Global Café – Eid. Eid is celebrated at the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and is a special time for those celebrating. If you would like to join in the celebrations, please email the Student Experience team for further details.

    Please check in regularly on our events page for upcoming events.

    Financial Support

    We are aware that with the pandemic, many students are personally experiencing financial hardship in ways that could not have been anticipated or expected. Additional funds to help support students with immediate hardship and living costs have been allocated from the University and donations made by our valued supporters.

    If you are experiencing financial hardship as a result of being impacted by COVID-19, please contact Student Welfare Service on 0116 223 1185 or email welfare@le.ac.uk to discuss you circumstances in more detail.

    Additional Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support that is available to you:

    Take good care and enjoy your Bank Holiday weekend.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    21 May 2020

    Email to staff (13:30)

    Dear colleagues

    In today’s update I want to share more information with you on our plans to return to campus and also outline our approach to teaching in the Autumn.

    I appreciate many people are keen to return to campus and ‘get back to normal’ but there are a huge number of considerations and activities required to achieve this in order to run the University and keep everyone safe and well. It is taking time but it is important we get this right.

    Lockdown Exit Planning

    I have established a task and finish group to oversee the lockdown exit planning. Five work streams report into this group. The key difference to the campus closure planning is that we are not running this project as a major incident and will be using the established university governance processes for consultation and approvals. This ensures key groups of staff, including the trade unions and Students’ Union, are engaged in the process.

    We have established five principles to underpin our planning and decision-making. We will:

    1. Prioritise staff and student health, safety and wellbeing
    2. Follow Government guidance
    3. Adopt a phased approach, with key milestones in line with Government timings
    4. Learn as we go along – and deliver improvements
    5. Ensure all decisions align with our strategic priorities.

    Currently, there are four phases in the project. Until the end of May we are in the early planning phase. This phase includes reviewing the approach we have taken so far for the critical research that has continued throughout the lockdown period, as well as reviewing our operating guidelines to manage social distancing and run our buildings in a safe way. We are now part of the way through that process. We are producing three sets of detailed guidelines: Working on Campus, Studying on Campus and Living on Campus, starting with Working on Campus. User-friendly communications will also be created to provide quick access to the key ‘need to know’ information (ideas include short instructional videos/animations or infographics).

    The remaining three phases continue our planning but also see the phased return of some staff to campus. In phase 1 (June), following Government guidelines, we will re-start more scientific, lab-based research. A group led by Professor Iain Gillespie, PVC Research and Enterprise, is prioritising which research returns to campus and when. He is working with the Colleges to establish this priority order. We are not planning for any other staff to return to work on campus in this phase – so please continue to work remotely if you have been. We are developing a bookable drop-in system for staff to collect any items they need from campus. Further details will follow on this.

    Phase 2 (July and August) will see further research activities re-start, planning for confirmation and clearing operations on campus, and some key teaching and student experience preparations taking place. These activities will be prioritised (working with Colleges and Professional Services teams) and colleagues will be advised if they are to return to campus. Again, we anticipate a large number of staff will continue to work remotely if they have already been doing so.

    Phase 3 (September) sees further activity on campus as we prepare for the Autumn term. More research will re-start, critical student-facing roles that need to be on campus will return and more buildings will open.

    I appreciate that this does not yet provide the detail many of you are keen to see, but I wanted to share with you an outline of our approach. Over the next few days we will review the priority lists for research and student-facing activities to plan which building/labs/rooms needs to be prepared for staff to return. As part of these plans we need to ensure we have finalised our operating guidelines, considered staff commuting/transport and have appropriate staff wellbeing support in place.

    We don’t yet know how we will be operating in September, if we will still have some elements of lockdown in place or how many students we will have on campus. However, we need to plan to return to campus but we also need to be flexible and adjust our plans as the situation unfolds.

    Whilst the campus is currently closed for all but critical operations, the University is still operating. It is a minor point but if you are using your out of office to advise people of this I’d be grateful if you could make it clear that the University is still operating and not closed.

    Autumn Term

    Firstly, we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your tremendous efforts to support all our students throughout these difficult times.

    Planning for the next academic year is challenging but we are making good progress. Professor Graham Wynn, PVC Education is leading the work on adapting our education provision. Although we cannot currently say with certainty when different cohorts of campus-based students will be able to return to campus, we will provide as much of an “on-campus” experience for our students as we can safely offer in 2020/21. This will involve a blend of online and face-to-face teaching, when it is safe to do so, that is likely to adapt to the changing conditions over the course of the year. We are calling this new education model Ignite.

    While responding to the COVID-19 situation, we want to ensure that our educational development work is fully aligned with our education strategy and is part of a move to develop a more inclusive, flexible education for our students during and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. A set of principles outlining our current approach to planning for our education in 2020/21 was circulated to academic schools and professional services divisions yesterday (Wednesday 20 May), with further detailed updates to follow on curriculum planning, timetabling, etc.

    This week we have seen a number of universities begin to announce their plans for the next academic year. We will be announcing our plans as follows:

    • Wednesday 20 May - Heads of School and Directors of Teaching and Learning received the Education Principles for Ignite. This will be followed by consultation with colleagues on the approach, including an update and discussion event on Wednesday 10 June.
    • Friday 22 May – soft launch of Ignite at the Virtual Teachers and Advisers Conference (345 attendees).
    • Wednesday 27 May – an education ‘takeover’ of The Citizen will provide more detail to all staff and students on our plans. This will include both the staff and student editions of The Citizen.
    • Monday 1/Tuesday 2 June – offer holders, applicants, agents, teachers will be advised. This will be our formal, external launch date for Ignite.

    Briefing packs, FAQs and marketing materials are being prepared and will be shared over the next week.

    I hope this provides some more detail on what the future looks like at this point in time. I will continue to keep you updated on planning and the progress we are making through these updates and The Citizen.

    Thank you for your continued support and patience.

    Best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    19 May 2020

    Email to students (17:00)

    Dear student

    We hope this message finds you in good health.

    Today we’d like to update you on the support we are providing to students who have remained in halls of residence during lockdown and we also wanted to remind you all of the support available to you.

    A Strong Community Spirit

    It is a difficult time for most of us, especially being away from friends and family. The Accommodation team, Residence Life team and Student Support Services are doing all they can to support the students currently in our halls of residence.

    We have approximately 270 students in our accommodation at the moment and lots of support is in place during this challenging time. The Residence Life team have been running a number of different events. These include:

    • 3 Peaks Challenge. Students signed up to join in the 23 mile challenge whilst taking their daily exercise
    • Allotment sessions, observing social distancing and forming part of daily exercise
    • Netflix virtual parties
    • National Theatre virtual events
    • Crafting virtual tutorials.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support that is available to you all:

    Best wishes,

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (09:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Last week we held our second live Q&A session and I was delighted that over 800 colleagues joined the event. If you missed it don’t worry, you can watch the live Q&A video.

    This email follows up on the Q&A to set out more fully the actions we are taking.

    The Higher Education sector is, and will continue to be, severely impacted by COVID-19. Two things are clear at this point: 1) we are dealing with huge levels of uncertainty and 2) we face significant challenges ahead. With no Government bail-out in place, each university must take forward their own set of measures to deal with the impact of COVID-19.

    Securing our Future

    We are making good progress to deliver the required in-year savings to balance this year’s loss of income. Thank you to everyone who is contributing to this.

    However, our biggest challenge is still to come and no one could have predicted this. We don’t yet know when the lockdown will be lifted and we won’t know our financial position until September, when we know how many students will be joining the University. We are also aware that any drop in undergraduate recruitment will have consequences for the next 3-4 years. The recent announcement by the Government on student number controls means we will have 400 fewer students than 2019/20 and 800 fewer than the target we set to meet our financial challenges. Add to this a significant predicted drop in international student recruitment and we are facing a substantial loss of income (£25-50m). In such a scenario, we should do everything we can not to run-out of cash, so that we avoid any form of intervention by the Office for Students/Government.

    The level of uncertainty we are dealing with means that it is not possible to make firm decisions at this time. However, we should use this time to consider various scenarios and explore our options, so that we can successfully deal with any eventuality. I am absolutely certain that whatever the future holds, we should be in control of our own destiny and we should all play a part in shaping the future of this great University.

    We will have difficult decisions to make to secure our future. As mentioned previously, I would like to ensure our decisions are aligned with our long-term strategy and they should be underpinned by three guiding principles:

    • We will enhance our position as a world leading research-intensive university
    • We will deliver an exceptional educational experience for our students
    • We will be financially resilient in the short-medium term.

    I would like to reassure you that we will follow formal governance processes and engage with staff, including our trade unions and the student body. Since starting my role six months ago, I have had the pleasure of visiting every School, Department and Professional Services division. However, I am not coming into this process with any pre-conceived ideas to deal with this unprecedented crisis.

    We will undertake this work carefully and thoroughly and provide regular updates. History will judge us by the decisions we make, but also by the decisions we failed to make. My sincerest wish is that we emerge as a strong community with the confidence and knowledge that we did our best in one of the most challenging periods in the history of the University, our city and the country.

    Next Academic Year

    It’s vital we continue to look forward to ensure that we deliver the best possible experience for our students next year. As part of this we are launching Ignite, a new flexible study model which allows students to rotate between on campus face-to-face learning and online study.

    This means that not only will we still be able to provide an ongoing university experience for our continuing students, but we will present an enhanced option to our offer holders which should strengthen our recruitment this year. PVC Education, Professor Graham Wynn is leading the work in this area through the establishment of a Student Support and Transition Board and he will provide more details on Ignite later this week.

    I recognise that these changes may require us to adapt our programmes or change how we work, which is why I have established a new task and finish group to review workload during this crisis period. I have asked Professor Henrietta O’Connor, PVC/Head of College (CSSAH) to lead this to ensure that we can support our staff to manage workloads appropriately but also assess the impact this crisis may have on career development and promotions.

    I recognise this is an anxious time for everyone and you may have many questions and concerns about the future. Please don’t hesitate to contact your line-manager or a member of the Executive Board with your concerns or ideas for the future - we will do our best to respond to you.

    I have every confidence that collectively, as Citizens of Change, we will rise to this challenge and protect the University of Leicester for future generations. We will come out stronger, united in our ambition to make our University successful for the next century.

    Thank you for your continued support. I hope that you, and your loved ones, are keeping well.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    18 May 2020

    Email to staff (17:45)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you had a restful and relaxing weekend and are keeping in good health.

    Today, I’d like to highlight Mental Health Awareness Week, the chance to watch the Executive Board’s live Q&A again, a furlough update for PDRAs, an ITS update on equipment and a reminder of the finance team’s response to COVID-19 presentation.

    Mental Health Awareness Week

    Today marks the beginning of national Mental Health Awareness Week and this is particularly pertinent as we all adjust to a new way of working in lockdown.

    Your health and wellbeing remains a top priority and I would like to remind you that help is on hand. We have our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which has new resources including fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas and advice about working from home with links to our carer and parent web pages.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider on 0800 358 4568.

    Executive Board Live Q&A

    Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah hosted our second live and interactive Q&A session, on Thursday 14 May.

    Nishan was joined by the full Executive Board team who provided updates on the University's lockdown exit strategy, plans for the next academic year and the University's financial plans. Thank you for your questions throughout the broadcast – we were able to respond to many of your queries. Answers to questions not addressed on the day will be posted online shortly.

    If you weren’t able to watch the Q&A live, you can watch it online.

    Furlough Information for PDRAs

    Professor Iain Gillespie, PVC Research and Enterprise and the Dean of the Doctoral College, Professor David Lambert have provided an update on the University’s thinking on opportunities for furloughing Post-Doctoral Research Associates (PDRAs) and staff on externally funded research contracts during the COVID-19 crisis. The update in full can be found here.

    For more information including FAQs, including FAQs specifically relating to PDRAs please visit our COVID-19 webpages, under the Job Retention Scheme section.

    ITS Equipment Update

    Due to the pandemic, the manufacturing and supply of IT hardware equipment has been impacted. If you have a member of staff working in a business critical area that needs equipment such as a laptop, please contact the IT Service Desk on (0116) 252 2253 or email them in the first instance. Due to availability and unpredictable lead times of equipment, ITS will work with you as best they can to provide the equipment.

    If you are leaving the University, please call the IT Service Desk via the channels provided above to talk through the options that are available for returning University property. During the campus closure, IT Services will also be happy to take in non-IT equipment to send back to departments too.

    Finance’s Response to COVID-19

    Last week, we shared the finance team’s presentation to tackle COVID-19.We need to make the University as financially resilient as possible, including offsetting income shortfall.

    To find out more on our plan to deal with this challenge and the different scenarios we are preparing for, please read our response to COVID-19 presentation. The presentation also includes commentary with an overview of the response from Paul Gowdridge, Director of Finance so please ensure your speakers are on.

    With best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    15 May 2020

    Email to students (18:00)

    Dear students

    We hope you’re keeping well and positive and that your assessments are going well.

    Today we’d like to update you on the live student Q&A, the PGT safety net policy, the support available to you and upcoming events.

    Student Q&A

    On Thursday 7 May, members of the University’s Executive Board, along with the Students’ Union, hosted the first live Q&A for students. The aim of the session was to provide updates on changes to this year’s teaching as well as giving students the opportunity to ask questions.

    During the event, we received questions on the safety net policy, tuition fees, support options and lots more! Don’t worry if you missed the event, you can watch the student Q&A and hear what the panel had to say.

    PGT Safety Net Policy

    Work continues on our safety net policy for PGT programmes and we will share more information about this next week.

    Mental Health Awareness Week

    Mental Health Awareness week, which is celebrated nationally, starts on Monday. Student Support Services have been working hard to organise webinars and recommend resources for you to explore. The week will culminate in a live Q&A session, with panel members from Student Support Services, Security, the Chaplaincy and others.

    Throughout the week, please check @leicstudentlife on Twitter and Instagram and Leicester Student Life on Facebook for a full rundown of events.

    In addition, week commencing Monday 1 June, be sure to check out The Citizen, which will be a wellbeing special.

    Working Together To Highlight COVID-19 Data

    In the name of building community spirit and to track COVID-19 cases nationally, student computer scientists Biraj Adhikary, Ridhay Vanza, and Shreya Subramaniam have created a tracking website. The website allows you to see where coronavirus cases are within a locality as well as highlighting self-isolating or vulnerable individuals.

    Under the supervision of Dr Karim Mualla, Lecturer and Senior Tutor of Computer Science, the website received 120 registrations in just 48 hours.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind you of the support channels that are available.

    If you haven’t done so already, please update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority. This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    Take care and enjoy your weekend.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    14 May 2020

    Email to staff (18:00)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you are all keeping well and are having a productive week.

    Today, I’d like to remind you where we are regarding lockdown exit planning as well as highlighting the Executive Board’s live Q&A, sharing a COVID-19 finance update and reminder of the health and wellbeing support available to you.

    Lockdown Exit Planning

    I’d like to remind everyone that the University’s current position on remote working remains unchanged – please do not come into the University unless you are already on the agreed critical operations list.

    I appreciate that many colleagues are keen to return to campus as soon as possible. Please be assured that we are working hard to ensure that the campus is safe and complies with Government guidance. Staff and student health, safety and wellbeing is our top priority so it is vital we do this carefully and thoroughly.

    We will share an outline plan of a phased return to campus as soon as we can. In the meantime, I will share regular progress updates in these updates.

    Executive Board Live Q&A

    This morning, Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah and members of the Executive Board, including myself, took part in the second live, virtual Q&A.

    More than 800 colleagues attended the event - I’d like to thank you everyone for joining and participating by asking questions. We couldn’t answer all the questions, but we will publish an overview of those which we didn’t have time for, with answers next week.

    If you missed the event, it can be watched again here/we will publish a recording of it in the coming days.

    Finance

    As many of you will be aware, the sector faces unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic and one of the key challenges is financial sustainability. We need to ensure the University is as financially resilient as possible whilst maintaining our world leading research and delivering an outstanding student experience.

    To find out more about how the University’s finances work and how we plan to deal with this challenge, please see our finance presentation.

    Your Health and Wellbeing

    I would like to repeat that your health and wellbeing is very important to us. Support is on hand with our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which has new resources including fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas and advice about working from home with links to our carer and parent web pages.

    Additionally, if you require advice or have concerns, email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 employee assistance provider on 0800 358 4568.

    Thank you for your continued efforts.

    Regards,

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    13 May 2020

    Email to students (10:20)

    Dear students

    Today’s update provides information on the University’s response to the Prime Minister’s announcement on Sunday, completion of studies and graduation ceremonies, the safety net policy and also safe accommodation for those students who need it.

    Government Update

    During the last few days, the Government announced its ‘road-map’ out of lockdown. Planning to phase our return to campus began a few weeks ago so we will now use this new guidance to inform these plans. The campus remains closed for all but critical operations and will update you soon on our plans to re-open campus. Our top priority is the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students and there is much work required to prepare to safely re-open campus.

    Please check your emails regularly and The Citizen for updates.

    The latest Government advice can be found on its dedicated COVID-19 page.

    Completion of Studies and Future Graduation Ceremonies

    Students who are due to complete their studies this term will have received an email from the graduation team on Monday 11 May asking you to log in to MyStudentRecord to:

    • confirm details for you degree certificate and make sure we have the right address to mail it to.
    • let us know your preference for the January and July 2021 graduation ceremonies.
    • advise how you would like to receive communications from the University after you leave and join our Alumni Association.
    • inform us about your future plans and interests so our Career Development Service can continue to provide support.

    In MyStudentRecord, select the Study tab, then Click here to Begin in the Register for Graduation box. It’s important that you log in and provide the information requested even if you don’t plan to attend a future graduation ceremony. Please look out for this email and contact graduation@le.ac.uk if you think you should have received it and haven’t.

    Safety Net Policy

    We updated you last week about the safety net policy that will apply to our undergraduate students. The aim is to ensure you achieve at least the degree you were on track for before COVID-19 disrupted your studies, or to enable you to progress to the next stage of your programme.

    The policy will take account of your progress during the years that count towards your final degree classification (for example, years 2 and 3 on a 3 year degree programme) and will use it to set a benchmark against which your performance in the summer assessments can be compared. The principles underpinning this are as follows:

    • the policy applies at the level of the credit weighted average (CWA) for the current year of study (years 2, 3 or 4 depending on the length of the programme).
    • the CWA for the level of study cannot fall below the benchmark determined on the basis of achievement in the first semester of the 2019/20 academic year and, if necessary, the previous year.
    • the benchmark CWA is the level below which your CWA for the year cannot fall for the purpose of degree classification.
    • to access the safety net policy you must attempt all semester 2 assessments and achieve at minimum a pass for credit grade in each of these modules.
    • once assessments have been marked an initial CWA will be calculated.
    • if the initial CWA falls below the benchmark CWA the benchmark CWA will be used to calculate your degree class.
    • if the initial CWA is higher than the benchmark CWA the initial CWA will be used to calculate your degree classification.
    • the application of the safety net does not affect individual marks. No marks will be changed by the final CWA, only degree class will be affected with the higher CWA applied to calculate your degree classification.

    More details about the policy, including frequently asked questions and examples of how benchmarks will be calculated can be found in the information for students page on our COVID-19 webpages, in the safety net policy section.

    Work is ongoing on our safety net policy for PGT programmes and we hope to be able to send you more information about this soon.

    Safe Accommodation

    Whilst the situation surrounding COVID-19 changes frequently, one marked effect of the lockdown restrictions is the increase of incidents and experiences of domestic violence around the UK.

    As a University, we have been Standing Together against unacceptable and deplorable behaviours such as domestic violence since 2015, through our University-wide initiative. This includes support through our report and support service. Support for such experiences can be provided sensitively by trained case workers in Student Support Services, even without having to formally report incidents.

    Given the increase in cases of domestic violence in line with lockdown restrictions, we have committed to provide temporary accommodation for our students who need to leave home and have nowhere else safe to stay. It will be provided at no cost to student and the length of stay will be agreed on a case-by-case basis. To access temporary accommodation for those requiring safety from a domestically abusive lockdown household, or to discuss your support options, please complete a disclosure via the report and support system.

    We hope you are all keeping safe and well. Please continue to follow government advice as we transition out of lockdown.

    Take care and best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    11 May 2020

    Email to staff (13:30)

    Dear colleagues

    Planning a phased return to campus started last week and we will now take time to digest the guidance from Government following the Prime Minister’s announcement last night and the detailed information to be shared later today. Please continue to operate as you have been since lockdown and further updates will be provided as soon as we can. I’d like to reiterate our position that all decisions will ensure that the health and wellbeing of our staff and students remains a priority.

    Today, I’d like to give you updates on the next Executive Board live Q&A, campus updates, financial support for our students, further information on Professor Stephen Wood’s survey, our medical students’ virtual graduation last week and the support options available to you.

    Executive Board Virtual Live Q&A – Thursday 14 May at 10am

    Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah will be hosting the next Executive Board virtual live Q&A on Thursday morning.

    Updates will include early planning on exiting from lockdown, plans for the next academic year, financial challenges and the revised planning process.

    The Q&A will take place on Microsoft Teams and you can join the event by clicking here on the day, where you will be given the opportunity to ask questions.

    Campus Updates

    The University has several significant construction projects on site. Understandably, progress on these projects has been affected, to a lesser or greater extent, by COVID-19. Where works have continued on site, we have impressed upon our contractors the importance of working safely and within Government guidelines for the construction industry.

    Brookfield

    We expect to reach practical completion in the next few days. This will see the contractor hand the site back to the University, and enables us to progress with the installation of furniture and AV/IT equipment when it is safe to do so. We have created a fantastic, high quality facility for the School of Business and we can’t wait for our staff and students to see their new home.

    Percy Gee

    Work has continued on the Percy Gee project despite the lockdown, however there has been an inevitable slowdown in progress. We are working with the contractor to understand the impact on the completion date.

    Freemen’s Common

    The contractor temporarily shut down the Freemen’s Common site a few weeks ago, but has now resumed work, and is operating within Government guidelines. The project is at a relatively early stage and we don’t know the full impact on completion date. We are working with the contractor to gain a better understanding of the position.

    Student Hardship Funds

    The University is committed to supporting all our students during these challenging and uncertain times and that includes our PGR community. Specific funds have been made available by the University and through the generosity of our alumni and donors through philanthropy to support students who are experiencing financial hardship due to the impact of COVID-19.

    We are encouraging PGR students who are currently experiencing financial hardship to access support by contacting the Student Welfare service directly or calling 0116 2231185. Please support students by signposting them to the welfare team.

    Working from Home Survey

    Thank you to those who have completed the survey by Professor Stephen Wood and Dr Elizabeth Hurren, which focuses on your experience of working at home during the pandemic.

    It is possible that the second weekly diary or even the previous week's email was misdirected to your junk folder. Please could you check and complete the survey. If you cannot locate the requests, please email Stephen directly.

    Congratulations to our Medicine Graduates

    I would like to offer my warmest congratulations to our medicine graduates - our newest doctors who graduated last Thursday. This is a fantastic achievement - especially under the current circumstances. Nishan has written a blog, recognising the efforts of those students.

    Supporting You

    Through these challenging times, it is vital that we look after ourselves and those close to us. Your health and wellbeing is the top priority and help is on hand if you ever need support. Please check out our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which has recently been updated with new resources including fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas, advice on working from home with links to our carer and parent web pages.

    Additionally, for any advice or concerns you have, please email Occupational Health or Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 Employee Assistance Provider on 0800 358 4568. As usual, if you have work related questions please raise these with your line manager.

    I appreciate there is some uncertainty following yesterday’s announcement, but try not to worry and please continue to work as you have been doing over recent weeks. We will review the detail as it is shared and will be in touch soon with the University’s plans.

    Thank you for your continued support.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    10 May 2020

    Email to students (20:50)

    Dear students

    Many of you will have watched the Prime Minister’s announcement tonight on plans to phase the UK’s exit from lockdown. In his statement he advised that those who are not able to work from home can now do so with the appropriate social distancing measures in place.

    The University’s current position remains unchanged – please do not come into the University tomorrow.

    We will email you on Tuesday with an update about our plans but until then, please carry on as you have been doing during the last few weeks.

    Stay safe and healthy.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    06 May 2020

    Email to students (17:20)

    Dear students

    We hope that you are keeping in good health and your assessments are progressing well.

    Safety Net Policy

    We are now writing to share more information about the Safety Net policy that will apply to our undergraduate students. The aim of this is to ensure that you achieve at least the degree you were on track for before COVID-19 disrupted your studies or to enable you to progress to the next stage of your programme. Developing the policy has taken some time because we want to be fair to all students. We also need to ensure the academic integrity of your award both now and in the future.

    The structure and length of degree programmes differ, so we have had to ensure our policy is flexible enough to accommodate all programmes. Therefore, we have agreed some key principles that can be applied to all programmes. In addition, academic Schools have some discretion to propose specific criteria to apply to a particular programme.

    We will be applying the safety net policy to as many programmes as possible, but in some cases where professional body requirements do not allow it, for example, programmes in Medicine or Allied Health, we are unable to do so. Your School will let you know if this is the case.

    The safety net policy will take account of your progress over the years that count towards your final degree classification (for example, years 2 and 3 on a 3 year degree programme) and will use this to set a benchmark against which your performance in the summer assessments can be compared. The principles underpinning this are as follows:

    • The policy applies at the level of the credit weighted average (CWA) for the current year of study (years 2, 3 or 4 depending on the length of the programme)
    • The CWA for the level of study cannot fall below the benchmark determined on the basis of achievement in the first semester of the 2019/20 academic year and, if necessary, the previous year
    • The benchmark CWA is the level below which your CWA for the year cannot fall for the purpose of degree classification
    • To access the safety net policy you must attempt all semester 2 assessments and achieve at minimum a pass for credit grade in each of these modules
    • Once assessments have been marked an initial CWA will be calculated
    • If the initial CWA falls below the benchmark CWA the benchmark CWA will be used to calculate your degree class
    • If the initial CWA is higher than the benchmark CWA the initial CWA will be used to calculate your degree classification
    • The application of the safety net does not affect individual marks. No marks will be changed by the final CWA, only degree class will be affected with the higher CWA applied to calculate your degree classification

    We are unable to issue individual benchmarks to students, but Boards of Examiners that make progression and award decisions will receive this information in their reports and will use it to determine the correct award and degree classification for you.

    More details about the policy, including Frequently Asked Questions and some examples of how benchmarks will be calculated can be found in the information for students page on our COVID-19 webpages, in the Safety Net Policy section.

    Work is ongoing on our safety net policy for PGT programmes and we hope to be able to send you more information about this by 15 May.

    We hope that your remaining assessments go well.

    Virtual Q&A

    A reminder that a virtual Q&A will be held tomorrow at 3.30 – 4.30pm. The event will be hosted by members of our University Executive Board along with members of Leicester Students’ Union.

    We will provide updates on the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. You will then have the opportunity to ask questions to the panel around the response.

    The event will take place on Microsoft Teams and you can join the event by clicking here on the day. The event is limited to 10,000 attendees, so it will be based on a first come, first served basis.

    We look forward to seeing you there.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn, PVC Education
    Louise Masterman, Academic Registrar

     

    05 May 2020

    Email to students (13:35)

    Dear student

    Yesterday saw the beginning of the examination period for Semester Two, which ends on Friday 22 May. We know this isn’t the way any of us imagined you’d be taking exams, but we’d like to wish those sitting exams, a huge good luck.

    We have four updates for you today.

    Virtual Q&A with members of Executive Board and the Students’ Union – Thursday 7 May 3.30pm–4.30pm

    This Thursday all students are invited to attend a live Q&A session with members of the University’s Executive Board and the Students’ Union. They will provide updates on education and the student experience and there will be the opportunity to ask questions.

    The event will take place on Microsoft Teams and you can join the event by clicking here on the day. The event is limited to 10,000 attendees so it will be based on a first-come, first-served basis.

    Career Development

    Career Development Services has many online resources, available 24/7, including workshops, tailored career advice and the My Careers jobs board. All one-to-one appointments are now delivered on Skype and telephone, Monday to Friday, to enable you to get the support you need from the comfort of your own home.

    Safety Net Policy

    We will be providing further details on the operation of our Safety Net Policy for undergraduate students, including on benchmark calculations, as part of a special update tomorrow, Wednesday 5 May. An update for students on postgraduate taught programmes will follow shortly after.

    Student Support

    Student Support is always on hand, if you are experiencing any issues. This includes:

    If you haven’t done so already, please update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority. This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    Please don’t forget our Q&A session on Thursday - we look forward to seeing you there.

    Best wishes and take care,

    Graham WynnPVC Education
    Louise Masterman, Academic Registrar

     

    04 May 2020

    Email to staff (18:00)

    Dear colleagues

    We have five key updates for colleagues today:

    1. Wellbeing at Work Questionnaire

    Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of all our staff has been at the centre of many of the actions and decisions we have made over the last six weeks of lockdown. Today, we have launched our Wellbeing at Work Questionnaire. The questionnaire will help us to understand how COVID-19 and the changes that we’ve all have had to make to our working arrangements have affected everyone. It will allow us to share ideas on support required now as well as to seek your input to shape future university’s staff health and wellbeing plans.

    Your health and wellbeing remain our priority during these unprecedented times. The Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit has been updated with new resources including fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas, advice on working from home with links to our Carer and Parent web pages.

    Please complete the Wellbeing at Work Questionnaire by 21 May 2020. The results of the questionnaire will be published on the Staff Health and Wellbeing web pages at the end of June 2020.

    We are also supporting our colleagues Professor Stephen Wood and Dr Elizabeth Hurren in promoting the more wide ranging survey of Work-Life Balance & the Pandemic so thank you to all those in who have participated in this valuable survey.

    Please be reminded that for any advice or concerns you can still email Occupational Health and Staff Health and Wellbeing. You can also contact Validium, our 24/7 Employee Assistance Provider on 0800 358 4568.

    2. Research Time

    We are a research-intensive university and it is essential that we remain so. However, our clear priority in the near term must continue to be on student-facing activities. Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Iain Gillespie has agreed that until the end of December 2020, staff should spend no more than 20% of their time on research activities unless these are externally funded, or have a very clear and agreed line of sight to external funding. In the latter case, research should continue to be taken forward in a way agreed with Heads of Schools/ Departments.

    3. REF, TEF, KEF Submission Reminders

    I thought it might be helpful to remind colleagues of the current situation for the REF, TEF and KEF frameworks:

    • The original REF submission date was 27 November 2020 and we are waiting for a revised submission date to be published – we expect to hear eight months prior to the new deadline.
    • Plans to develop and consult on a new framework for the TEF during the first half of 2020 are also up in the air and we await information from the Office for Students.
    • Revised deadlines for KEF submissions is Friday 16 October 2020.

    4. Finance Update

    The Finance team continues to operate as normal despite the University closure due to COVID-19.

    Without doubt the pandemic does give the University a significant financial challenge, which the team are managing. As a reminder, to be effective in the current climate, changes to operations and controls have been put into place. We are aiming to significantly reduce our spend in the current financial year and you will be aware that we are expecting the next financial year to be very challenging.

    To find out more, please visit the new finance section on the COVID-19 webpage. Here you will find updates on purchasing controls, procurement regulations as well as a FAQ section for payrolls/payslips and general finance related questions.

    More information on the University’s financial position will be shared over the coming weeks and there will be an opportunity for colleagues to share ideas on how we can make savings and generate income.

    5. Examinations Begin

    Today sees the beginning of the examination period for semester two, which ends on Friday 22 May. During this challenging and difficult period, I would like to thank those involved in Colleges, Schools, Departments and Student and Academic Services for their hard work in making the required changes to ensure that exams can take place on time.

    Take care and best wishes,

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    01 May 2020

    Email to students (16:35)

    Dear student

    We hope you’ve had a productive first week back and are in good health.

    Updates today are:

    Ramadan Mubarak

    Firstly, we would like to wish Ramadan mubarak to those who are celebrating. With Ramadan being a time of fasting, spiritual reflection, prayer, doing good deeds and spending time with family and friends, this year proves more of a challenge. Hamza Rehman, Activities Inclusion Co-ordinator for the Students' Union (SU) provides his top tips and advice on how to get through Ramadan this year in his blog.

    Showing Respect

    We are aware that some of our students have been subject to racial harassment because of their ethnicity in relation to coronavirus COVID-19 by fellow students. The University takes a zero tolerance approach to racial harassment, discrimination and hate incidents, and will not tolerate this behaviour.

    We are very proud to be part of a city full of diversity and culture. It is our responsibility to show each other respect in any capacity during this difficult period.

    If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any form of harassment or discrimination, please contact our Report and Support team, as support is on hand.

    Safety Net Policy

    You may have seen from my (Graham) welcome back video, I discussed our Safety Net Policy for undergraduate students. We are now in the final stages of finalising the policy and will inform you of the full details very soon. Please note that it is not possible for the policy to apply to some programmes, for example, in Medicine or Allied Health. Your School will let you know if this is the case.

    We are also working hard on our Safety Net Policy for postgraduate students and will keep you updated on any developments.

    Assessment

    As we enter the summer assessment period next week, we would like to wish you well with the assessments you will be taking. In our update on 3 April, we indicated that students, whose personal circumstances were such that they could not study or take their assessments, should contact their School to discuss their options, and if necessary, make a request to defer all their summer assessments to the next assessment period. At present, we expect this to be in August. If you are in this position, and have not done so already, please contact your School as soon as possible. If you decide that you wish to defer all summer assessments, you will need to inform your School by no later than 8 May.

    Student Events

    The Leicester SU have been creative and innovative in continuing its fantastic work during COVID-19. From Online De-stress to Quarantine and Chill to Leics Celebrate You awards, there is something for everyone.

    To find out more on this and so much more, please visit the SU website.

    Additionally, the University is hosting a number of virtual events. For a list of upcoming activities, please visit our student events page. Look out for Chatty Tables at 1pm, on Tuesday 5 May and Creative Access – Staying Job Ready During COVID-19 webinar on Thursday 7 May, at 3pm.

    Student Support

    Student Support is always on hand, if you are experiencing any issues. This includes:

    • Student Support Services can be contacted on (0116) 223 1885 or emailed via welfare@le.ac.uk.
    • COVID-19 issues can be reported by completing this form.
    • Hardship funds are available to students experiencing financial difficulty. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk for information.
    • For accommodation queries, please email accommodation@le.ac.uk
    • For any private accommodation queries, please email Sulets at enquiries@sulets.com
    • Queries can be answered by visiting the FAQs on our COVID-19 webpages.

    If you haven’t done so already, please update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority. This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    Best wishes and enjoy your weekend.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    30 April 2020

    Staff email (16:10)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you’re in good health and having a productive week.

    I would like to update you on some health and wellbeing information including an update on COVID-19 testing for essential workers, furloughing staff and our plans for exiting from the lockdown.

    Health and Wellbeing

    With health and wellbeing being of utmost importance during isolation, Professor Paul Monks reflects on his own personal experience in isolation. Read his blog which combines isolation with research, rugby and the Swiss mountains.

    Support is available with our Staff Health and Wellbeing Support Toolkit, which includes fitness plans, mindfulness apps, learning ideas, advice on working from home with links to our pages for carers and parents. Additional support is available through Validium, our employee assistance programme and staff counselling provider.

    I would also like to remind you of our responsibility to show each other respect in any capacity during this difficult period. If you, or someone you know, is experiencing any form of harassment or discrimination, please visit our respecting each other page, as support is on hand.

    The Government has revised the eligibility criteria for testing for coronavirus COVID-19 including: ‘Anyone with symptoms whose work cannot be done from home’. This means our essential workers who have come onto campus to undertake business critical functions are now eligible to be tested if they or their household have symptoms of coronavirus. Testing is most effective within three days of symptoms developing and is arranged through the self-referral system on the Government’s website. The University does not need to refer you to the system. For more information, visit the Government’s coronavirus page and follow the link to ‘testing for coronavirus’ and select ‘apply for a coronavirus test if you’re eligible’

    Furlough Update

    We know that there are difficult financial decisions ahead but we will ensure that the University has the right number and balance of staff to deliver the University strategy.

    We are currently proceeding to furlough around 700 employees and have been coordinating with departments. The University will be paying all furloughed employees at 100% (the University is covering the additional 20%). Staff are being temporarily furloughed when they are no longer able to carry out their duties during lockdown and this has no reflection on their value to the organisation.

    For research-funded staff, the position regarding access to furlough funding is complex and still remains uncertain. However, following a scoping exercise with Heads of School we are now reviewing the information.

    Lockdown Exit Planning

    Early planning is underway to prepare for a safe and phased return to campus, once we are given approval to do so by the Government. More detail will follow as we work with colleagues across the University to ensure that we plan this carefully and prioritise appropriately. Where possible we will adopt the benefits gained through remote working on a permanent basis where they enhance staff wellbeing and help to deliver our environmental goals, without impacting on student support and our research endeavours.

    Take care and best wishes,

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    29 April 2020

    Email to students (10:15)

    Dear student

    Welcome to the summer term 2020. We hope you found time to relax during the break and that you are in good health through these challenging times. We remain committed to ensuring your health and welbeing is the main priority and that the impact on your studies is minimal under the current circumstances.

    Updates today are:

    Welcome Back

    I, Graham, would personally like to welcome you back with this video message, which includes a note on the University’s safety net policy as well as student support options and extra-curricular activities the University is providing. This includes:

    Help is on hand, so don’t hesitate to check out these options.

    Additional Student Support

    Further to above, we would like to remind of you of the additional student support available:

    • COVID-19 issues can be reported by completing this form.
    • hardship funds are available to students experiencing financial difficulty. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk for information.
    • Queries can be answered by visiting the FAQs on our COVID-19 pages.

    If you haven’t done so already, please update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority. This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    Counselling Provision for International Students

    Student safety and wellbeing is our absolute priority and we want to make sure we can support you in the right way. However, we are only able to offer full counselling services to students whilst they are living in the UK. This is because there are different regulatory requirements for counsellors according to the country in which they are working. We are therefore offering ‘wellbeing checks’ to students whilst they are abroad. This check will explore practical support to enhance wellbeing, and signpost academic and welfare support that is on offer from the University. Please liaise with your counsellor for more details.

    Letter to International Students

    In case you missed it, the Minister of State for Universities Michelle Donelan MP has written about steps the Government has taken to mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19 on international students.

    She emphasises the health, safety and wellbeing of international students as of utmost importance, provides an overview of the latest guidance, and links to a set of resources that may be of particular utility. It also contains further information for students about their visa status. The letter can be read in full here.

    Best wishes and good luck for the term ahead.

    Prof Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    27 April 2020

    Staff email (17:30)

    Dear colleague

    Today marks the beginning of the summer term for students but it will be a very different term for everyone. I am very proud of how we have all worked together to provide the best possible support to our students whether they have returned home or remain on campus. Let’s keep this going this term as students continue to adjust to their 'new normal'.

    I would like to update you in four areas today.

    Postgraduate Research Funding Commitment

    The University has made a substantial commitment to award up to three months of stipend extension to those students in receipt of a stipend administered or funded by the University. The University is also matching UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) position for all students within Doctoral Training Consortia. We are exploring in the process of exploring support options for other PGR students who do not meet this criteria.

    We believe this is one of the most comprehensive and extensive pledges to extending funding for research students in the sector.

    To find out more regarding postgraduate research during COVID-19, please visit our COVID-19 webpages in the Postgraduate Research (PGR) Students section.

    COVID-19 Testing

    Following the Government’s announcement last week to extend the offer of COVID-19 testing to the country’s essential key workers, we have had a handful of enquiries from members of staff who have been carrying out critical work whether they qualify for testing.

    We have reviewed the Government guidance on the proposals and while it does refer to essential workers, this is further qualified by a list of the UK essential workers that are required to keep the UK infrastructure operational, rather than what individual businesses (in our case the University) class as key workers to keep their operations going. In addition, the testing is only for those displaying symptoms and their immediate families. Therefore, the University is unable to facilitate any form of testing at this stage. We will keep this under review.

    Thank you for your continued work during this period.

    COVID-19 Symptom Tracker App

    Have you downloaded the COVID-19 Symptom Tracker app? The app is designed to contribute to advance vital research into COVID-19. It is used to study the symptoms of the virus and track how it spreads.

    Tim Spector, Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King’s College London, has described it as a ‘citizen science success story’ which millions of people are updating daily . By gathering this data and its patterns, it will allow the Government to decide when to relax lockdown restrictions.

    It takes two minutes to update, to help fight COVID-19.

    Back up your files regularly

    As many of us are now working remotely, it’s really important to back up files regularly.

    If you use a University staff laptop and store files on the Personal Z: drive, connect to University Remote Access (VPN) at least a few times a week. Once connected, synchronise your files manually using the Sync Centre.

    You can also store files on OneDrive or within a Team Collaboration Space, which synchronise files as they are saved. If you don’t have access to VPN, use OneDrive to back up your files.

    Take care and best wishes

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    23 April 2020

    Staff email (16:00)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you’re having a productive and positive week. In today’s update we’re covering a number of topics including a reminder of the new financial policies and how to access some great University online learning and development tools. I am also sharing a link to an online survey regarding home working being undertaken by academics in the School of Business, that I encourage you to complete.

    Finance Operations and Controls

    The Finance team and the services they provide, covering management accounting, financial planning, payroll and pensions, accounts payable, income management, procurement and tax advice, continue to operate as normal during COVID-19.

    Due to the current climate, there have been changes to some of policies such as purchasing controls, suppliers, supply chains and contracts as well as financial management and planning. These changes have been updated on the Finance team’s FAQ page relating to COVID-19.

    Health and Safety for Critical Workers

    Our critical workers continue to provide important services for the University whether it be associated with statutory compliance work, security, porterage, housekeeping, cleaning, research, or other valuable tasks. As the general precautions issued by the Government and Public Health England continue, I thought it would be useful just to remind you of some key health safety and welfare messages, useful links and risk assessments.

    Organisational Development Support

    The Organisational Development (OD) team have created an Online Learning & Development Portal to consolidate the University’s online learning resources.

    The portal provides useful workbooks, tools and techniques to support your professional development. Colleagues are encouraged to make use of these free resources either in their own time or with support of line managers as appropriate.

    In addition, the OD team have created an Organisational Development Yammer Group where they will be posting additional content, such as useful TEDtalks, webinars and other information. The group is open to all staff, so please use this group to find topical content, but also request, discuss or comment on resources.

    Working From Home Study

    Working at home is something new for many of us. To find out exactly how we’re responding to this new normal, Professor Stephen Wood from the School of Business and his colleague Dr Elizabeth Hurren have published a survey which they’re asking us all to participate in. The survey is published in collaboration with colleagues from the University of East Anglia.

    Questions will focus on your experience of working at home during the pandemic, how it compares with your regular work pattern and it also discusses returning to work after the pandemic. The questions are broad-ranging – they cover the nature of our work, wellbeing, work/life balance, and how technology aids or constrains home working.

    Stephen and Elizabeth would like all staff, academic and non-academics, including key workers who continue to work on site, to respond to their independent study. A fully rounded response will enable them to compare people who normally work solely on campus with those who regularly work at home.

    If you would like to participate, you can complete the survey online.

    The Vice-Chancellor’s live Q&A Session

    The Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah hosted a virtual live event for all staff on 7 April 2020. Nishan was joined by members of the Executive Board, who all provided relevant updates. The event also gave staff the opportunity to ask questions, which are now available to view with the answers.

    Take care and best wishes.

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    20 April 2020

    Staff email (16:30)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you are in good spirits and enjoyed your weekend.

    Today, I’d like to update you on three areas.

    #WeAreTogether campaign

    Staff and students across Leicestershire, and the country, are involved in the fight against coronavirus. Universities UK is championing the exceptional work of healthcare professionals, including those still training, via their newly launched #WeAreTogether campaign.

    If you know of a colleague or student who has been actively involved in the coronavirus fight, please let us know so that we can spread the good news. And if you’re sharing stories on social media, remember to use #WeAreTogether so that University of Leicester staff and students are recognised and supported for all their wonderful work at this difficult time.

    #WeAreTogether began on World Health Day (Tuesday 7 April) with a show of appreciation to university students and staff involved in the national effort against COVID-19.

    The initial focus on healthcare professionals, students and researchers is set to broaden and include further strands, including the provision of resources and work to support our communities.

    Vice-Chancellor’s update

    Vice-Chancellor Nishan Canagarajah updated us this morning with the University’s immediate priorities in response to the pandemic; student recruitment, student-facing activities and externally funded research. Read in full here.

    A Letter to International Students

    The Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan MP, has written about steps the Government has taken to mitigate the worst effects of COVID-19 on international students. She emphasises the health, safety and wellbeing of international students as of utmost importance, provides an overview of the latest guidance, and links to a set of resources that may be of particular utility. It also contains further information for students who are worried about their visa status.

    The letter can be read in full here on our COVID-19 pages in the 'International students including visa information' section.

    Take care and best wishes.

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    17 April 2020

    Staff email (16:00)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you had a restful and relaxing Easter break and managed to enjoy some of the good weather.

    I know many colleagues continued to work on campus or in the NHS during the Easter period to support staff and students, so I want to re-iterate my thanks to everyone involved.

    From next week we will be reducing the number of COVID-19 updates you receive to two each week. Updates will be shared on a Monday and a Thursday. The Citizen will continue to be published each week.

    COVID-19 Guidance

    Yesterday the Government announced the current lockdown is to be extended by three weeks. We continue to follow Government and Public Health England advice to help try and reduce the spread of coronavirus. Please check the advice on a regular basis, to ensure you remain vigilant and safe to fight COVID-19.

    Also check our FAQs for any questions you may have.

    Reporting COVID-19 Symptoms

    I’d like to remind you of the process for reporting COVID 19 symptoms during the University closure period. An on-line form has been developed if you need to report symptoms of COVID-19, have a confirmed case by a health professional and/or unwell displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Please speak with your manager at the earliest opportunity if you are unwell so options for support can be discussed. If you are unwell due to a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, you are required to record your sickness absence.

    I appreciate that you and your manager may have difficulties accessing the relevant system for sickness recording (eg they are off site with no access to MSS), and request that the system is updated once back at work. At this time, a ‘fit note’ is not required, as per Government advice. The sickness reason categories have been updated to allow you to record the category as suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

    Annual Leave Purchase Scheme

    In order to balance staff taking their leave and operational pressures during COVID-19, the University will not be offering staff the opportunity to purchase additional leave this May. We do hope there will be an opportunity to buy leave via ‘ALPS’ in the normal way in November, for the 2021 leave year, but we will review this and inform everyone should a decision be made not to proceed.

    Home Use Programs

    IT Services have been working with their suppliers and are now able to offer the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite, which includes Acrobat and Photoshop, EndNote, EViews and Stata to staff and students using their own devices during the lockdown. For more on how to access these programs, please visit the existing Home Use programs page.

    Take care and have a good weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    08 April 2020

    Email to staff (17:00)

    Dear colleague

    As the short working week comes to an end, I would like to thank you for your hard work and commitment throughout this challenging period. I would also like to thank those who are working during the Easter period to provide continued support to students and staff.

    Today, I would like to provide you an update in three areas.

    Research blog

    Earlier today, Professor Iain Gillespie, PVC Research and Enterprise, sent an email outlining our commitment to world changing research and also what the University is doing to fight COVID-19.

    If you missed it, please read his blog.

    Remote Working

    The vast majority of you are now working from home. For some, this will be new, for others, it will be an extension of your typical working arrangements.

    Irrespective, the operational support available and the way you interact with colleagues will feel very different and will take some adjustment.

    Under ordinary circumstances, the University would look to support people required to work from home for extended periods to ensure their home workspaces are reflective of those in the University.

    However, these are not ordinary circumstances and having taken advice from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), and considering the temporary nature of the working arrangements and/or space restrictions, the University cannot practically look to recreate your usual workstations in your own homes.

    Instead, colleagues must do what they can to create a suitable place to work at home and look to offset any deficiencies in this set up with more frequent breaks or spells away from the workstation. We have developed some guidance on our COVID-19 webpages in the remote working section, so please take time to read it.

    If, after taking into account the advice and the temporary nature of this work, you have significant concerns, please outline the nature of your issue to your line manager. We’re all having to adapt to our temporary arrangements which I appreciate is unsettling. By following this advice, you can minimise your discomfort and continue to work to the highest standards your personal circumstances allow.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Live Q&A

    Yesterday, Vice-Chancellor Professor Nishan Canagarajah hosted his first live and interactive Q&A session. With remote working the new normal for many colleagues, this innovative solution allowed Nishan and the other Executive Board members the chance to engage with you all.

    Nishan was joined by Chief Operating Officer, Martyn Riddleston; Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research, Professor Iain Gillespie; Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Life Sciences Professor Philip Baker; Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of College of Social Sciences, Arts and Humanities Professor Henrietta O’ Connor; Pro-Vice-Chancellor Education, Graham Wynn; and Chief Marketing and Engagement Officer, Kerry Law.

    The Board members provided updates on student recruitment, re-opening of the University, ongoing research and more. Thank you for your questions throughout the broadcast – Nishan and the Executive Board team were able to respond to most queries.

    If you didn’t get a chance to watch the live Q&A, you can watch it online. There will be another live interactive broadcast again soon – look out for an update.

    For another opportunity to engage with Nishan, join his next virtual coffee morning on Tuesday 23 April at 11am–12pm.

    Take care and enjoy your Bank Holiday break.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to staff (15:45)

    Dear colleagues,

    I would like to update friends and colleagues on our continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) challenge. As a research-intensive University we know that solutions to the current situation lie both in the research endeavours and dedication of staff and students at universities like ours, both in the UK and across the world.

    With significant strengths in biomedical research, and in understanding the impact of huge challenges like this on cultures, societies and on people, we are well-placed to support global and national efforts through our research and expertise. I am already immensely proud of our University community’s response to calls for help and assistance from local, regional and national bodies, including the NHS, research funders and policy makers.

    Supporting the national effort

    We are doing a great deal  to support the NHS. We are donating thousands of essential items for hospital staff, such as masks, disposable aprons, handwash, sanitiser and gloves. We’ve lent medical equipment worth £100,000 to the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust and we are working with the Trust to put our laboratory facilities in the hospitals at their disposal for the testing effort.

    Our staff and students are volunteering to support the national response to COVID-19, and in particular our staff and postdoctoral students from the College of Life Sciences will volunteer at one of three new COVID-19 UK Diagnostic Hubs playing a critical part in facilitating higher volumes of accurate testing for COVID-19. We have already donated five PCR machines vital to run this testing. It has been incredible to see our community come together to offer this support. And we are on the front line of research to test the effectiveness of PPE to keep our wonderful NHS staff safe as they protect us.

    Prioritising essential research

    We need to be unwavering in our determination to deliver world-changing research and to further our knowledge to save, improve and enrich lives. This has never been more important than now. Whilst I recognise our on-campus research is significantly hampered by the closure of our laboratories and workshops, I know that many of you, where you can, continue your work at home.

    Writing theses and papers, developing grant applications and working (where possible) on research remotely, generating ideas and looking for innovative ways to continue with your research. Whilst our professional services colleagues are undertaking vital work to enable our research efforts to continue. It remains important to ensure the sustainability of research at this time in the best ways we can. I admire you all hugely for the efforts you are continuing to make.

    At this time, we are prioritising and maintaining only essential research and critical support on campus and in University hospital facilities - research that focuses on efforts in both the diagnostics and understanding of COVID-19 and that absolutely requires access to facilities only available on-campus. I appreciate very much the spirit of community you have all shown in making this reduction in access to on-campus work.

    To turn the tide of this virus, we must continue to show great fortitude in resisting the temptation to return to our offices and labs except under the most essential circumstances. Meantime, we must find innovative ways to intensify our research efforts to further support efforts to combat COVID-19. You may already know that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has launched two calls with this goal.

    The first invites PIs holding existing UKRI standard grants to consider whether they could be re-purposed for COVID-19 research, addressing and mitigating the health, social, economic and environmental impacts of the outbreak. The second is a ‘fast track’ open call for research and innovation ideas to address COVID-19, again covering health, social, economic and environmental impacts. The list of live funding opportunities related to COVID-19 can be viewed here.

    I have asked the Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies (LIAS) to launch a new programme to support ambitious, challenge-led interdisciplinary research focused on the COVID-19 crisis. This pandemic is challenging healthcare, society, and the economy in extraordinary ways. LIAS will provide a platform for colleagues from all three Colleges to explore ambitious approaches to addressing this key contemporary challenge, and build a thematic research community who will, together, develop and deliver transformative research.

    Supporting your research

    All functions in the Research and Enterprise Division (RED) have been established remotely and are operating as normal at present. A detailed FAQ has been developed and is updated regularly to answer your questions at this time in relation to research grants, funding, access to facilities, governance, REF2021, support for PGRs and much more. I would encourage all researchers and postgraduate students to access the FAQs here.

    REF2021

    As you will be aware Research England has postponed the REF submission from 27 November 2020 until further notice and intends to consult on next steps. Universities will be given at least eight months’ notice of the revised re-submission date. While this will be welcome news in the current situation, it is important to note that changes have yet to be announced to the final dates for impact or outputs.

    There is no change to the 31 July 2020 staff census date. In light of this considerable uncertainty and the significant challenges we currently face, we have taken the decision to pause our REF preparations in Schools and Departments until the end of April. By which time we hope to have had further clarity from Research England and to have evaluated our own priorities in light of that.

    Supporting you

    Many of you, PGR students and those on time-limited research contracts in particular, are of course concerned about what this crisis will mean for you and your research. Together with the Doctoral College, staff around our University and many of my contemporaries in other research-intensive universities, are working intensively to find appropriate and sustainable solutions.

    UKRI tell us matters are “in hand” and I expect we will be able to make some progress on these matters soon, though it is current impossible to say precisely what that will be. Meantime, I would like to pay tribute to colleagues in the extended Doctoral College who have been working incredibly hard to support our PGR students, and I thank you all for your patience.

    Finally, your health and wellbeing remain an absolute priority for the University. We are all getting used to different ways of working and recognise that this brings challenges. It is tempting to be always available and as we adjust to what is an extraordinary shift in just a matter of weeks, we should remember to take the time to care for each other and ourselves.

    I’m also aware that some colleagues may be working in less than ideal circumstances, attempting to work from home along with childcare and caring responsibilities. Please continue to be supportive and understanding of others. It’s been wonderful to see how we are continuing to keep in touch with each other through inventive ways in this new virtual world we now all occupy.

    We have made huge progress and transitioned our research endeavours and efforts in a way I’m not sure any of us thought possible just a few weeks ago. I am proud of our collective entrepreneurial spirit in the face of this crisis and I have confidence that together, as Citizens of Change, we will continue to support the national effort and each other through the weeks ahead.

    With best wishes to you and your families at this this time and I urge you all to find what relaxation you can over the Easter vacation.

    Professor Iain Gillespie
    Pro-Vice-Chancellor Research and Enterprise

    Email to students (15:00)

    Dear student

    We really hope you are keeping safe and in good spirits during this vacation period and hope you have a good Easter weekend.

    The University will be closed from Thursday 9 April and will open again on Wednesday 15 April. If you do need to get in touch in case of an emergency during the closure period, please contact the security team via securityoffice@le.ac.uk or control@le.ac.uk. You can also contact them on (0116) 252 2023. The team will be able to contact other colleagues for support and advice if necessary.

    If you’ve not done so already, please download the SafeZone app, which enables you to notify University security if you need urgent assistance.

    Although the University is closed for its Easter break, we will continue to support our students who are living in University accommodation in the usual way. If you have an urgent query you can contact covid19help@le.ac.uk and it will be referred to the relevant team for response. If you have a non-urgent query, please use the same email address and staff will respond when they return to work.

    Student Support

    We’d like to remind that you that help continues to be on hand from our existing student support channels, and staff will respond to emails when they return to work after the Easter closure from Wednesday 15 April:

    • Student Support Services continues to operate as normal. They can be contacted on (0116) 223 1885 (after the Easter closure) or emailed via welfare@le.ac.uk.
    • Hardships funds are available to students experiencing financial difficulty. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk for further information.

    If you haven’t done so already, please update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority. This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    Spirit in the Community

    Community support groups have been popping up in all corners of the UK with many who are able and willing finding ways to support their elderly or vulnerable neighbours. The response seen across Leicester has been fantastic, supported largely by the newly formed COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK.

    We are aware that a number of you have been getting involved with the COVID-19 Mutual Aid UK group and we’d like to say a big thank you for helping your community and making a real difference.

    If you’d like to get involved, visit the Leicester COVID-19 Mutual Aid Facebook group or for another area in the UK, please visit the UK COVID-19 Mutual Aid groups finder to find your nearest group.

    Take care and enjoy the Bank Holiday.

    Best wishes

    Prof Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    06 April 2020

    Email to staff (15:35)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you had a good weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. It’s a short working week for many of us this week and I hope everyone takes the time to switch off from work over the Easter break. I am also very mindful that there will be many of you working in support of the NHS and other community projects, as well as colleagues still working on campus. I do hope you find the time to have a break in due course and we thank you for your efforts.

    Today, I would like to provide you an update in five areas.

    Join the Vice-Chancellor’s live Q&A tomorrow at 11am

    Nishan will be joined by members of the Executive Board for our first virtual Q&A staff tomorrow, from 11am - 12pm.

    Nishan will provide an update to the University’s response to COVID-19, as well as running a question and answer session. It will be delivered via ‘Teams Live’, which will be recorded for those who can’t make it.

    If you have any questions you can send them via the Teams event platform, either in advance or whilst the broadcast is taking place. As many as possible will be shared with colleagues during the event.

    You can join the session by clicking on the Microsoft Teams link here.

    Our Second Digital Offer Holder Day

    Our second digital offer holder day was held on Saturday. It was a successful event with 551 offer holders joining the event and 305 of those students signing into the live chat with academics and students. In total, 5,500 messages were sent and responded to within the two hour live chat, compared to 3,000 at the previous event. We’ve also seen an improvement in conversion rate, with an increase in students going to UCAS track to accept their offer from the event pages. A big thanks to everyone involved. We are now looking at adding in an additional weekday event in early May to encourage as many offer holder as possible to select us as their firm choice.

    Purchase Order Process

    Further to the update on process and sign off last week, please find the updated ‘No Purchase Order, No Pay’ policy.

    Online Leave Calculator

    The online annual leave calculator has now been adjusted and updated to take into account the additional closure day awarded in August 2020. You can visit the online calculator and re-input your working pattern, and your leave will be adjusted proportionately. You are entitled to a pro-rata equivalent of the ‘total leave allowance’, which is made up of bank holidays, closure days, and bookable leave days ensuring part-time staff who are not scheduled to work on a Friday are not placed at a detriment compared to a full time staff member.

    Thank you to our key workers

    As I said at the start of this update, we have many colleagues who are not homeworking and are still working on campus to deliver critical operations. This includes those supporting our students who remain living in our accommodation and those colleagues overseeing the upkeep of our laboratories where critical research, in some cases into COVID-19, is being carried out.

    Alongside these activities colleagues also manage our buildings to keep them compliant and continue to provide security services providing 24/7 patrol of our whole campus. Risk assessments have been carried out and we continue to review our position to ensure that the only staff that are asked to attend work are those that are providing critical support. We thank them for all their work.

    With best wishes.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    03 April 2020

    Email to staff (16:30)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you’ve had a good week. Today, I would like to provide you an update on four areas.

    Vice-Chancellor’s staff Q&A

    On Tuesday, between 11am and midday, our Vice-Chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah, will be hosting a live broadcast, along with other members of Executive Board. Nishan will provide an update on our response to COVID-19, as well as running a question and answer session. This will be delivered via ‘Teams Live’ and we will also record the session.

    You will have the opportunity to send in questions in advance – written or by video. Please send filmed questions to communications@le.ac.uk or written via the event platform. To join on the day, please follow this link to Nishan’s internal webpage.

    Annual Leave

    Following on from the Vice-Chancellor, Nishan Canagarajah’s email yesterday, I would like to remind you of the key points around annual leave:

    • To thank you for all your hard work over the past few weeks, there will be an extended closure day on Friday 28 August.
    • Your manager will be in contact to discuss and agree a plan for you taking a proportionate amount of annual leave for the rest of the year, in line with operational requirements. This should be agreed by the end of April.
    • 60% of leave should be taken by mid-September. This equates to 14 days for full-time staff and a proportionate amount for part-time staff, unless there is a specific agreement to vary this approach. This should only be in exceptional circumstances – for example, where a member of staff is currently working (full-time) to support the NHS.
    • We will consider extending current annual leave carry over to 10 days in agreement with your manager. This is in the instance, if leave cannot be taken this year due to operational commitments.
    • For further information, please liaise with your line manager or email hradvice@le.ac.uk. There is also FAQs on the COVID-19 webpages.

    I would also like to echo Nishan’s view on the importance of taking annual leave. A break from work is important to your health and wellbeing and gives you the chance to refresh and recharge.

    Planning and Finance

    Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Edmund Burke is leading the planning process for the University in a new environment. Please read Edmund’s blog to find out more about the plan and what our immediate actions and priorities are.

    There is also a COVID-19 purchasing spends controls page, which provides more detail about spending controls. The page includes FAQs and information about the No Purchase Order, No Pay Policy.

    Student Assessments – Safety Net Policy

    We have written to all students today to provide them with more information on plans for this year’s assessment. The full information can be found here.

    Thank you for all your continued efforts this week. Enjoy your weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (15:15)

    Dear student

    We really hope you are keeping safe and well.

    The international situation that has developed in response to the COVID-19 virus has meant it has been a challenging time for everyone. All of our staff have been working hard to ensure your education continues and that you can progress to the next stage of your learning or career on time and with the qualifications you have been working so hard to achieve.

    We fully appreciate that this may have been an anxious time for you all and we hope our regular communications have helped ease some of your concerns. Your wellbeing and future success have always been the focus of our planning and we would like to thank you for your patience and support.

    As promised in our email on 27 March, we would like to update you on the work we have been doing on assessment to ensure that you can progress and achieve the awards for which you have been working. Below we update you on the principles we have used to design your remaining assessments, give more information on our “Safety Net” policy for students, outline your options to defer your assessment and tell you where you can find support if you have difficulties with IT access on any other issue.

    Assessment Principles

    Early in the development of the current situation, we established a set of guiding principles to help us review our assessment policies and practices. All Schools have been working to these principles when designing their remaining assessments for this academic year. We would like to emphasise that these principles apply to all of our students, undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning alike.

    Please note that, because of the requirements of some external accrediting bodies, we have been required to adjust some of the principles for some courses. Your School will let you know of any such adjustments.

    The principles are:

    1. The health and well-being of our students and staff is paramount
      All of our planning for assessment for the remainder of this academic year has placed the health and wellbeing of all of our students and staff above all else.
    2. There will be no campus-based examinations in May/June
      All of our planned examinations for the May/June period have been moved to online, open book assessments to ensure timely progression for all of you.
    3. Our priority in delivering assessment will be to ensure finalists can receive their awards in July
      We are working very hard to ensure our finalists are able to receive the award of the degrees on time, to take up the offers you hold for jobs or postgraduate study.
    4. Online assessments should not have high IT access demands and should be accessible to as many students as possible
      To reduce pressure on internet access for students, we have adopted a minimum 24-hour submission window for all of our online assessment. Although you will have at least 24 hours to complete your assignments, they are designed to take much less time to complete than the designated submission window and we do not expect you to work for more than a few hours at a time to complete them. We are also designing assessments that can be accessed and completed without demanding IT access requirements wherever possible.
    5. The assessment load on students will be no more than needed to make a clear academic decision on degree classification and/or progression
      We wish to reduce pressure on our students and staff as far as possible and all schools have reviewed their assessment plans to ensure we are asking no more than necessary of our students.

    In addition to these principles, we have introduced a range of other supportive measures. These have included:

    • Wherever possible, requiring no further formal exams or assessments of our first-year and foundation-year students, but instead offering the opportunity to take formative assessments for the second semester on which you will receive feedback on your academic progress.
    • Providing extensions to deadlines for work that had been set before the current situation wherever possible.

    You will receive further details about all of your assessments and their timing from your School.

    A Safety Net Policy

    In addition to the principles underpinning our remaining assessments, we have been working hard on the development of a “Safety Net” policy (sometimes referred to as a “No Detriment” policy) for all of you studying in years where your marks count towards your degree. In our email of Friday 27 March, we let you know we were working on a policy to ensure that disruptions to study this academic year did not disadvantage our students. We have now further developed our safety net policy and would like to share more with you.

    We have focused our work on designing a policy that ensures you receive at least the degree classification that you were on track to achieve before the COVID-19 situation developed. To meet this aim, we will use the marks you received in previous years and completed modules in the first semester of the 2019/20 academic year to set up a “benchmark” grade for each student. This benchmark will be the minimum overall year mark (also known as a credit-weighted-average year mark) that you will receive for this academic year, i.e. your performance in semester 2 assessments can only improve your credit-weighted-average year mark (for this academic year) from the benchmark.

    Please note that to access the Safety Net policy we will need you to take your semester 2 assessments as usual and obtain the minimum pass mark in all semester 2 modules.

    For finalists, the credit-weighted-average year mark derived using the Safety Net policy will be used to calculate your degree classification, along with all other contributing year marks. For non-finalists the credit-weighted-average year mark derived using the Safety Net policy will feed into your degree classification calculation at the point your degree is awarded, if this year’s mark counts towards the award for your degree.

    The Safety Net policy will ensure that you will not be disadvantaged by the disruption you have experienced, by protecting your mark should your assessments not go as well as expected. However, if your results improve you will receive the full benefit of that improvement.

    It is important to note that the detailed calculation of the benchmark depends on the structure of your course and the number of credits you completed in semester 1 this academic year. In particular, undergraduate students on 3-year and 4-year programmes, finalists and non-finalists, and postgraduate Masters students, will have different calculations. Benchmark calculations will also differ between disciplines of study, because the number of credits completed during semester 1 varies between programmes. We will provide more details on how the benchmark calculation will work for you soon. In the meantime, we would like to reassure you that the benchmark we use for you will be as supportive as possible.

    Please also note that in some circumstances professional accreditation or regulatory requirements may mean we are unable to apply the Safety Net policy to a given programme. You will be contacted directly by your School in this case.

    A Choice to Defer your end of year Assessment

    If you feel that you are not in a position to take your summer assessments, and would like to consider deferral, we will offer as much flexibility as we can to accommodate your situation. We will be happy to arrange a deferral but would suggest that you talk to your Personal Tutor or another member of staff in your School so we can consider the best options for you. If you still feel deferral is the best option, you can make a request to your School and will not need to provide any documentation to support your request. At this stage, we cannot give exact dates for the next assessment period but we would expect it to be before the end of the summer vacation.

    If you do choose to defer your assessment, your award or progression decision will be delayed. However, it may still possible for you to graduate with your cohort and friends in the 2020 cohort degree ceremonies in January or July 2021.

    Students without Reliable Access to Blackboard

    While we are designing our online assessments to be accessible without significant IT demands wherever possible, we also recognise some students may have very limited access to Blackboard in their current situation. If your personal situation means that you will be unable to download and upload a particular assessment within the given assessment window, please contact your School or covid19help@le.ac.uk and we will work with you to find the best way to support your studies. If you are experiencing major problems, you can also contact the services detailed below.

    Student Support

    We would like to remind that you that help continues to be on hand from our existing student support channels:

    • Student Support Services continue to operate as normal. They can be contacted on (0116) 223 1885 or emailed on welfare@le.ac.uk.
    • Any COVID-19 issues can be reported by completing this form.
    • Hardships funds are available to students experiencing financial difficulty. Please email welfare@le.ac.uk for further information.
    • You can also visit the FAQs on our COVID-19 pages, which may answer any queries you may have.

    We hope that this helps to reassure you that we are working hard to make sure you progress in your studies or receive your award during these unprecedented times.

    Please stay safe and take good care of yourselves.

    With best wishes

    Prof Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    02 April 2020

    Vice-Chancellor's email to staff (15:40)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you are well and adjusting to working and living in a different way.

    The purpose of my email is to provide you with an update on the University’s plans for this year’s annual leave.

    I am very grateful for the extraordinary efforts and contributions from all University staff during the COVID-19 crisis. To recognise this, we will extend the August bank holiday weekend, and award all staff with an additional university closure day on Friday 28 August 2020. Thank you for all that you have done over the last few weeks and for your continued efforts moving forward. 

    Taking annual leave is essential for our health and wellbeing, especially when we are working from home in these unprecedented times. Your manager will be in contact to discuss and agree a plan for you taking a proportionate amount of annual leave for the rest of the year, in line with operational requirements. 

    I’d like these discussions to take place, and a plan to be in place for taking leave, by the end of April. The expectation is that 60% of leave will be taken by mid-September (ie 14 days for full-time staff members and a proportionate amount for part-time staff) unless there is a specific agreement to vary this approach.

    This should only be in exceptional circumstances – for example, where a member of staff is currently working (full-time) to support the NHS. Whilst we may not be able to get away on holiday for the time being, a break from work is still important for our health and wellbeing.

    The University will also flex, in discussion with members of staff and their manager, the current annual leave carry over arrangement of a maximum of 5 days – by allowing the carry forward of up to 10 days where operationally the leave cannot be taken this year.

    I hope this clarifies the position on annual leave this year. Please liaise with your line manager if you have any questions. Alternatively, please email hradvice@le.ac.uk

    Finally, I will be running a live Q&A session for all staff on Tuesday 7 April from 11am until 12pm. Please refer to tomorrow’s Daily Update for more information.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

    Email to students (10:32)

    Dear student 

    On Tuesday we announced that sadly, the graduation ceremonies planned for this July have been postponed. Since then we have received a number of questions and requests for clarification from students. This email provides more detail on our plans for the class of 2020.

    We know that many students and their families are disappointed at the news that our July 2020 graduation ceremonies will not be going ahead. It was not an easy decision to postpone the ceremonies, as we know that graduation is an important day of celebration for our students and their families and friends, when achievements are recognised and lifelong memories are formed.

    We would like to reassure everyone that all our students will still have the opportunity to attend a graduation ceremony. Additional ceremonies are being scheduled for January and July 2021 which will only be for the class of July 2020, so that we can all celebrate the achievements of the class of 2020 in its own right. We do not intend to hold ceremonies where students from 2020 and 2021 graduate together.

    We have carefully considered when to hold the additional ceremonies for the class of 2020. We know that many international students have visas that expire during September or October 2020, and we considered whether we could schedule the ceremonies to take place before standard visa expiry dates. However, given the ongoing uncertainty around how long restrictions on travel and large gatherings may remain in place, we felt that it was safest for everyone to postpone the events until next year.

    We also want to ensure that the class of 2020 have the same graduation experience as other Leicester students, and that includes holding the additional ceremonies in De Montfort Hall. We have been liaising with the venue team to check availability for September to December and unfortunately, owing to other bookings they were unable to offer us any alternative dates in 2020 and the earliest availability is January, and so we are not able to schedule ceremonies for later this year.

    We have therefore decided to hold ceremonies in January and July, at similar times to, but separate from, our 2021 ceremonies. This will give those affected the greatest flexibility, including those of you who may have to retake modules and can therefore still graduate with their friends. It will also mean that, in due course, we will be able to provide students with as much notice as possible of the dates of ceremonies for their Schools, so that they and their family and friends can plan to attend.

    In addition to these changes, we are reviewing our financial assistance for graduating students. Last year we introduced a bursary scheme to cover the costs of graduation gown hire for students in financial hardship, and we are now developing a scheme to support some students with some other costs of attending graduation, including support for some international students.

    We hope this provides more detail on our plans and hope you understand that this is not a decision any of us wanted to have to take.

    Please take care and look after yourselves.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

     

    01 April 2020

    Email to staff (16:00)

    Dear colleague

    I hope you are all keeping in good health.

    Today I would like to give you an update on two areas.

    Planning and Finance

    Whilst our main focus has been to deal with the medical and societal impact of this global pandemic, like the rest of the world, like all businesses and like all individuals this week we have had to turn our focus on the economics of this world-changing virus.

    The next couple of years are not going to be easy for the University, but we believe if we continue to work together, like we are at present, we will get through this. Prof Edmund Burke, Deputy Vice-Chancellor is leading the planning process for the University and has written a blog outlining our immediate actions and priorities.

    This is also accompanied with an initial set of FAQs to help inform you with the detail. Please take the time to read the blog. Following its publication we will be providing opportunities for further presentations, meetings and discussions around our plans.

    Remote Working

    I hope you’re adapting to a new way of working. If you feel like you need further guidance please check out our FAQs on our COVID-19 pages in the remote working section. Here you will find guidance on working from home as well as some top tips.

    Take care and best wishes

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    31 March 2020

    Email to students (16:31)

    Dear student

    We hope you’re keeping well and adjusting to this new way of living and studying. We have a number of updates to share with you today.

    Graduation

    Sadly, after careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone our graduation ceremonies which were due to be held from 14 to 17 July 2020.

    We know that this will be disappointing news for our final year students and some of our postgraduate students as this is an important moment to celebrate your achievements.

    With the ongoing uncertainty around how long restrictions on travel and large gatherings will remain in place we feel we have no choice but to postpone.

    However, we are still planning to award degrees by no later than the end of July. The award of your degree is not dependent on attendance at a graduation ceremony so we will aim to issue degree certificates as soon as possible after award.   

    Please be assured that all students will still be given the opportunity to attend and celebrate at a future graduation ceremony in January 2021 or July 2021.

    We will also look at extending our graduation gown bursary to support some travel costs so that students who need financial assistance are able to return to the University. Further information will be available in due course.

    Ongoing support

    We’d like to remind that you that help is on hand from many of our student support channels:

    Assessment

    We will be sending you an update about all the plans we have made on assessment during the past two weeks, including more information about our ‘no detriment’ policy on Friday.

    MyStudentRecord

    Please would you ensure that you update your ‘HOME’ details on MyStudentRecord as a priority.

    This will ensure our records are current and help us identify students in need in the Leicestershire area.

    The Citizen newsletter

    We will continue to send out the weekly newsletter to keep you up-to-date. Please do check in to find out some useful resources, tips and activities whilst studying from home during this period.

    We would also love to hear from you and find out what you’re doing to help within your community. Are you doing something out of the ordinary to help others? Are you studying in a more innovative way? Please do get in touch with us at communications@le.ac.uk. Pictures are welcome too.
    Take care and stay safe.

    Please take care and look after yourselves.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (16:00)

    Dear colleagues

    Whilst I don’t have a full update for you today, I want to share our graduation plans with you.

    Sadly, after careful consideration, we have taken the difficult decision to postpone our graduation ceremonies which were due to be held from 14 to 17 July 2020. 

    I know that this will be disappointing news for our final year students as this is an important moment to celebrate their achievements. With the ongoing uncertainty around how long restrictions on travel and large gatherings will remain in place, I feel we have no choice but to postpone.

    More details will follow in due course.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    30 March 2020

    Email to staff (15:32)

    Dear colleagues

    Welcome to another week, I hope you are all keeping well.

    Last Friday, we held the final Major Incident Meeting(MIM) as we declared the Major Incident, in terms of moving the University to home and remote working and closing the University, as finished.

    It is important that we move from ‘crisis mode’ to management mode through our established structure and processes as soon as possible as we try and make this unusual situation we find ourselves as business as usual.

    I would like to thank the members of MIM for their energy and input and to the members of the sub-groups that were created who focused on key areas of our move to a ‘lockdown’. Executive Board are meeting regularly and announcements, guidance and decisions impacting staff and students will once again be made by ExB.

    Today, there a few topics to cover off.

    Payslips

    We have had a number of queries about how staff will receive their payslips whilst the campus is closed - there is now a FAQs section.

    Please be assured that payroll runs will continue during campus closure. 

    If you do have any further queries, please email the team on payrollandpensions@leicester.ac.uk

    A virtual EDI community

    The EDI team have been responding quickly to understand the different types of support that staff and students across the University will need during COVID-19. They have developed an inclusive virtual community to ensure that all staff and students are connected and supported through this period.

    If you have any questions regarding the EDI virtual community, please email the team on equalities@le.ac.uk.

    University of Leicester GCRF Urgency fund - COVID-19 focussed research proposals

    In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, we wish to invite urgent proposals for coronavirus focussed research and impact related to developing countries from staff who have the appropriate expertise. Projects will be funded by the University of Leicester’s QR GCRF institutional grant from Research England. 

    Proposals can include, but are not limited to, clinical and non-clinical research centred on responses to the disease and mitigating its short-, medium- and long-term impact.  

    Projects can be undertaken with established partners in any DAC list country on the condition that proposed activities are ODA-compliant and do not include travel or face-to-face contact.

    Funding of between £5-£25k is available for individual proposals and all activities must be undertaken and funds must be spent before 31 July 2020. Applications are welcome on a rolling basis until 7 May.

    Further information and the application form.

    Our coronavirus experts

    Our researchers are committed to supporting the national and international effort, providing expert comment and sharing their understanding of the current challenges to support the lives and wellbeing of our communities.

    We now have a dedicated section on the COVID-19 webpages, where you can find out what some of our researchers are doing to help tackle COVID-19.

    Take care and be safe.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    27 March 2020

    Email to students (17:11)

    Dear student

    We want to provide you with a brief update about our current work towards developing a “no detriment policy” to protect your grades this academic year. 

    A number of universities are now beginning to make policy announcements – we are working on this too and will let you know as soon we have further details.

    We would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are actively considering and working through the best form of a no detriment policy for Leicester. We have been committed to this from the start of the crisis. The wellbeing and attainment of our students is always paramount in our planning and there is nothing we want more than success for you all.

    There are a number of forms that no detriment policies can take and we have been exploring which would work best for you. We hope to make a statement about this next week, along with a summary of everything we have announced and are planning on assessment through the rest of this academic year. 

    We need to also take note of the guidance on assessment that will be provided for universities by the Government’s Office for Students next week. However, our commitment to a no detriment policy will not waiver. 

    Please stay safe and well. We hope you enjoy your weekend.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (16:50)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you’ve had a good week and are making most of the sunshine, where possible.

    There are a number of updates for you today.

    Health and Wellbeing

    The wellbeing of staff and students remains the University’s key priority and are now looking at how support staff with the challenges that home working brings. The biggest challenge so far seems to be the change to our daily routines and realising there will be a shift in how people work, how we work together and what is feasible working remotely. For FAQs and more information online here.

    • With schools and nurseries now closed, some of you may have children at home or have other caring responsibilities that mean that you are unable to commit to your usual full day of work or working pattern. We fully understand this – thank you for your continued best efforts.
    • If you are unable to fulfil your previous working hours because of caring responsibilities, you do not need to take annual leave to cover the hours you are unable to work. Please discuss with your line manager what hours you are able to work and if you are unable to work at all because of caring for dependents and talk to your line manager about special leave.
    • The University’s Special Leave Policy has been extended to leave with pay at present to reflect this unique situation and our commitment to supporting staff who have caring responsibilities.

    In addition to your own networks, please also make use of the University’s Carers and Parents Network which is for staff and students with any type of caring responsibilities. During this time, you can stay connected with the Network through:

    The Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team can also still be contacted at equalities@le.ac.uk and the Staff Health and Wellbeing and Occupational Health Team can be contacted via e-mail at staffhwb@le.ac.uk or ochealth@le.ac.uk.

    Additionally, the Staff Health and Wellbeing team have updated their toolkit with some top tips and resources to help you through this period.

    Key Workers and University Critical Workers

    The Department for Education (DfE) has published a list of “key workers” whose children will be prioritised for schooling during general closures because of coronavirus. The University has also identified a colleagues who are deemed a critical worker and essential to the business continuity of the University. There are two types of critical workers:

    1. Where the work is required to fulfil Home Office responsibilities in respect of animal welfare, essential research work including maintaining cryogenic storage, supporting NHS activity, and ongoing research in relation to COVID19.
    2. Where they are required to support the above activities and to reduce the burden of need on the emergency services. These services include: on site security; providing wellbeing support and services, including the provision of food for students and any key workers who are living in our university accommodation; ensuring our buildings remain safe and compliant for other critical workers to continue their work as detailed above; attending to any emergency situations (eg loss of buildings or IT).

    All of our critical workers have been contacted by letter and advised of their status. We thank them for their continued work on campus. Further information regarding critical workers will be available on the COVID-19 webpages next week.

    Reporting self-isolation or sickness due to COVID-19

    We would like all staff to be familiar with the process for reporting, which continues even if you are homeworking. Reporting is required for a confirmed case of COVID-19, displaying symptoms of COVID-19, or if there is a requirement to self-isolate. Line managers should be contacted and an on-line form completed. This will provide us with an opportunity to stay in touch and provide staff members with support and guidance.

    University Operations

    I can confirm that the University will be closed for Easter from Thursday 9 April to Tuesday 14 April. The University will re-open on Wednesday 15 April. Staff who are identified as a critical worker may be required to work over the Easter closure period and rotas are now being established.

    Our ITS colleagues have advised that a previous policy whereby you had to visit campus once a month to maintain your VPN connection no longer stands.

    Learning and Teaching

    The University intends to start all courses in September as normal. We will continue to monitor Government guidance and advise accordingly if the situation changes.

    Further information regarding CITE spring and summer programmes will be available on the COVID-19 webpages next week.

    Currently we are have not changed our IELTS qualifications for any of our subjects. We are looking at all options which we will share shortly with our academic colleagues.

    To protect students grades this academic year, we are actively considering and working through the best form of a no detriment policy for Leicester. We have been committed to this from the start of this crisis. The wellbeing and attainment of our students is always paramount in our planning and there is nothing we want more than success for them all. We are currently working on this and will share with colleagues as soon as possible.

    Students in University accommodation

    The Minister of State for Universities, Michelle Donelan, has instructed that all students currently in student accommodation need to stay there and this is their self-isolation home. Students in accommodation will be sent a letter from the Accommodation team with further advice and guidance.

    The good work continues

    During this challenging time, I would like to say how impressed I am with our community’s attitude and commitment in making the University function in the best possible way. You are all finding innovative ways of working. Some highlights include Professor Paul Monks interview with The Guardian and Videographer Hayley Evans top tips on how to make a short film.

    If you are doing some amazing work you’d like to share, please do get in touch with our Communications team.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages.

    Enjoy your weekend.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    PS Don't forget you can access all staff and student communications on the COVID-19 website.

     

    26 March 2020

    Email to students (14:32)

    Dear student

    We hope this message finds you in good health.

    We will continue to email you twice weekly and will also issue The Citizen (our students’ newsletter) each week. The updates today are:

    Assessment

    You should have received, or will soon receive from your School, more information about assessments that will replace the exams which were due to take place on campus in May. We are doing all that we can to introduce flexibility at this difficult time which is challenging for all our students and staff, whilst still allowing the opportunity for you to progress into the next year of study or receive your degree and ensure the integrity of your award. This includes extending deadlines for the submission of work and revising the type of assessments.

    If you find that you are not in a position to take an assessment we have amended our mitigating circumstances policy for this period so that you can make a claim for any circumstances without needing to submit any evidence.

    If you haven’t received an update please contact your personal tutor.

    International Students

    For those of you studying on a Tier 4 visa, please note that the Home Office has released more information about visas including visa extension to the end of May for those unable to return home due to COVID-19 which will be kept under review, and allowing students in the UK to study remotely in light of the current advice on self-isolation and social distancing.

    Student Support Services

    Student Support Services are on hand to help you. For further information and advice, please visit our webpages, contact the Student Support team on 0116 223 1185 or welfare@le.ac.uk. For queries relating to COVID-19, send a message to the University's dedicated email address

    If you need to report COVID-19 issues such as self-isolation or symptoms, please fill out this form

    Government guidance available in various languages

    Government guidance about social distancing and self-isolation are available on its pages in various languages. Please share with anyone who you feel may benefit from it.

    Summer Term Accommodation

    We are committed to supporting you with the best arrangements to manage your education and financial commitments during this period of change and uncertainty.

    We would like to remind you that you have two options:

    1. Students who have already returned home do not have to pay the third instalment for the summer term if they do not wish to. Please notify us by 5 April. If you have already paid your full accommodation fees then please visit the FAQs for information about how to request a refund. 

      When travel restrictions are lifted you will be able to return and empty your rooms. Please follow the instructions in the FAQs to advise the accommodation team of your plans.

    2. For students who cannot return home, University accommodation remains open and operational support in place.

      If you have not received an email from the accommodation team and are unsure what to do next, please email accommodation@le.ac.uk

      Take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages. Information on reporting illness and self-isolation is also on the webpages. If you do have any further queries, email us at covid19help@le.ac.uk

    Take care and thank you for all your support.

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman

    Academic Registrar 

    Vice-Chancellor's email to staff (14:29)

    Dear colleagues,

    As a society and University community, we are all having to change the way we live and work to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of us are adjusting to working from home (as well as home schooling our children and/or looking after a loved one), key staff continue to support our critical operations on campus, and our valued colleagues and students in healthcare are on the frontline supporting the NHS in the fight against the coronavirus. It is a challenging time for everyone and my number one priority is the health and wellbeing of our staff and students. I know that many of you will be worrying about balancing working from home with other important personal commitments. Please don’t worry – I only expect you to do what is possible. 

    I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our staff and students to support the national effort to tackle the coronavirus. It is clear that our heritage of kindness lives on today. Our support includes providing lab space, undertaking research into COVID-19 detection, staff and student volunteering, providing equipment, donating masks, and arranging accommodation for NHS staff. I am incredibly proud of how the University of Leicester is making its own contribution to this national emergency. Thank you everyone!

    I have also been impressed by the proactivity, creative spirit, and the ingenuity you have shown during a time of great uncertainty. You have remained calm and pulled together, which has enabled us to be one step ahead of Government decisions and be in charge of our own activities. I would like to ensure that we maintain that collective ambition to be in control of our own destiny.

    Looking forward, as a society we will face considerable challenges. Therefore, is it vital that we keep that proactive spirit and continue to collaborate and support each other. Our priorities must now focus on how we deliver a fulfilling experience for our students, many of whom have had significant disruptions to their studies. We need to deliver assessments at a distance and ensure that our students receive the qualifications they deserve. And we need to continue to support our staff and keep our University operational.

    I continue to work with Universities UK (UUK) and the Office for Students to ensure that we are lobbying Government to support the HE sector. I am confident that we will get through the immediate crisis and come out stronger as a University community – and as a nation. We cannot take Government support for granted and therefore we should continue to take the necessary steps to prepare the University for the future.

    It will not surprise you to know that, in the wake of this crisis, a number of our income streams have been impacted seriously, or will be impacted, making it challenging to continue to provide financial security for our staff. This is not what I expected when I became your Vice-Chancellor four months ago. However, I am determined to develop plans to overcome these challenges, but we can only realise them by working together. We need to be creative and find opportunities to maximise income and reduce expenditure wherever possible. This will be challenging, but I have every confidence that the University of Leicester community can do this.

    This crisis will end. Organisations that plan now for their future will come out strong and be better placed to realise their collective ambitions. I want us to be one of those organisations – we must not be left behind. Compared to many others in the sector, we are already in a strong position with our online and Distance Learning expertise and this bodes well for our future.

    The current crisis provides us with the opportunity to deliver our ambitious plans – but we now need to accelerate them. Recently, we have seen significant improvements to our student recruitment strategy, marketing, events and activities – but we will need to do more. The speed and creativity of colleagues to switch our provision to online delivery has been impressive and we will need to build on this to deliver greater flexibility in course delivery and in designing innovative programmes over the next year to 18 months. 

    I am asking you all, as Citizens of Change, to work with me and our leadership teams to protect and strengthen the University at this unprecedented time. The University of Leicester has had a transformative impact during the last 100 years and it is imperative we ensure that this University continues to be successful during our second century. I want us to make future generations proud of how we responded to the current and future challenges to make this an even stronger and more supportive university – Ut Vitam Habeant.

    Please be reassured that this University remains as dedicated as ever to delivering the highest quality teaching, research, and support for our students and staff in these most difficult of times. 

    Whilst we are dispersed, it is important that we connect and maintain the sense of community by which I have always been so impressed at Leicester. I miss walking around the University campuses and meeting you physically. I am keen that we maintain good communication during this period of uncertainty and respond to any questions or concerns you may have about the University. You will continue to receive practical updates about university operations and I will keep in touch via video, written communication like this one, and a live Q&A session – details to follow!

    Wherever you are, and whatever challenges you may face in the coming days, I send you all my best wishes. Take care and stay safe.

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    25 March 2020

    Email to staff (17:26)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you are all keeping well and adjusting to the new way of working, if you are now working from home.

    There are four key areas to update you on today:

    Research focus and REF update

    We are very mindful that the response to Government requirements regarding the Covid-19 pandemic is leading to very significant additional tasks for many of our staff across the University, both directly and indirectly. The Science Minister, Amanda Solloway, has written to the sector asking us to continue to focus, insofar as we are able, on delivering essential research, especially related to Covid 19, and we have put in place processes to do this which staff are being extremely supportive of. 

    On REF, Research England has written to Vice Chancellors announcing that the exercise is to be put “on hold” until further notice. There is clearly much detail to be worked through by Research England and they have undertaken to provide eight months’ notice to institutions prior to a revised submission date, though there is understandably no indication of when this might be. 

    In light of this considerable uncertainty and the significant challenges we face, we have taken the decision to pause our REF preparations in Schools and Departments in the first instance until the end of April, by which time we hope to have had further clarity from Research England and have evaluated our own priorities in light of that. Clearly work on REF will pick back up and we will of course keep all staff and their representatives informed of any changes to REF as communicated by Research England.

    Our role in supporting the NHS

    The University’s loan of qPCR testing machines to support national coronavirus testing has been extremely well-received and have also donated 800 masks to hospital staff. We are now considering others ways to help – volunteering to support the NHS, car-parking for NHS staff and also providing accommodation for NHS staff. If you have any ideas for further consideration contact Aash Khadia, Director of Planning in the first instance. Aash and Phil Baker are working closely with our NHS colleagues to optimise our support. It is also important to share any activity and support that has already taken place or been provided.

    Digital Recruitment Events

    External Relations and academic colleagues delivered a digital Offer Holder Day on Saturday 21 March. Everyone worked very hard to develop this event in a short time frame and it really highlighted the ingenuity, creativity and support of many colleagues across the University. Over [redacted] students viewed the event online and [redacted] students logged into the live chat. Over the weekend [redacted] students firmly accepted their offers and we are confident that this event played a role in moving those students to that position. There is a PG digital event tomorrow evening (Thursday 26 March) and another UG offer holder event on Saturday 4 April.

    Procedures for reporting sickness and COVID-19 related issues

    Although the majority of colleagues are now homeworking it is important that the documentation provided to record COVID-19 related illness/isolation and normal sickness need to be continued. Details can be found here.

    Who to contact with a query

    Please email covid19help@le.ac.uk – we have a team triaging the queries to respond directly or via an FAQ.

    Work continues by teams across the University to ensure COVID-19 information is easy to access and kept up to date – if anything remains unclear please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    24 March 2020

    Email to students (16:04)

    Dear students

    We hope you are all well and taking care of yourselves.

    We will continue to email you twice weekly and will also issue The Citizen (the student newsletter) each week to keep you up to date. We have a number of updates for you today so it’s a long email – please read it in full.

    Summer Term Accommodation

    We have been working with our Students’ Union regarding the payment of accommodation fees for the Summer term. We are committed to supporting our students with the best arrangements to manage their education and financial commitments during this unprecedented period of change and uncertainty.

    As many, but not all, students have been able to return home we have been reviewing how to best manage the accommodation payment options so that it works for all students. We still have nearly 1000 students in our own accommodation both at Oadby and our City accommodation and despite us being on ‘lockdown’, we are committed to supporting those students who are unable to be at home at this time. Students will continue to be supported for as long as is needed.

    We have two options for you to choose from:

    1. Students who have already returned home do not have to pay the third instalment for the Summer term if they do not wish to. Please notify us by 5 April. If you have already paid your full accommodation fees then please visit the FAQs for information on how to request a refund. 

      When travel restrictions are lifted you will be able to return and empty your rooms. Please follow the instructions in the FAQs to advise the Accommodation team of your plans.

    2. For students who cannot return home, University accommodation remains open and operational with support in place.

      However, we may ask you to move into a different hall so that we can best support your wellbeing, enable social distancing and support staff who will remain on campus to ensure the safe running of our accommodation. If you are asked to move to a different location, we will move you to a room which is at least the equivalent of your current room, if not better, and there will be no additional cost to you. Payment will be required as planned.

      We are working closely with our Students’ Union to lobby private sector accommodation providers to relieve students of their summer term rent commitments. We will be releasing a joint media statement this week and will continue to encourage private providers to consider their tenants during this exceptionally difficult time.

      If we are able to reopen campus and you wish to come back, accommodation will be available for you to book through the accommodation team. More information on how to book will be included in future information if campus reopens during the third term.
       
      You will receive a detailed email with information from the Accommodation Team this afternoon – please read this in full and take the necessary actions set out in relation to your plans. 

    Thank you for your patience as we continue to respond to queries and questions during this challenging time. For any further information, please contact the team on accommodation@le.ac.uk

    New Government Guidelines

    Please ensure you adhere to the new Government guidelines announced on 23 March. In summary you should only leave your home for one of four reasons:

    • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible;
    • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with;
    • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents' homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school;
    • Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home.

    Social Distancing

    You will have seen in the press this weekend many incidences where the 2m rule for social distancing was being ignored. Please follow this guidance - especially those still in university accommodation. The Government issued a new update yesterday and can be found here.

     
    NHS Volunteers

    To support the NHS during this national crisis we are now asking staff and students, at the University of Leicester, to volunteer. If you wish to volunteer to support the NHS please complete the form. We recommend that, where possible, you discuss this with your family first. By submitting this information you are providing consent for the University of Leicester to share your information with the NHS. 

    Teaching and Assessment Updates

    Our overriding concern is to be as flexible as possible for you, whilst still permitting us to calculate end-of-year outcomes and graduate our final year students. You will be provided with further details by your academic School in the coming days:

    • All academic schools are now considering adjustments to published deadlines for assessments due between now and the start of the Summer term to take account of the range of circumstances in which students now find themselves;
    • Schools will either implement deadline extensions of 1-2 weeks or inform students that, where you are unable to submit on time, there will be no penalty for late submissions for a specified period;
    • You can submit any work completed as soon as it is ready, you do not have to wait for the deadline;
    • If, for whatever reason, you are unable to complete an assessment during these exceptional times you can submit a claim for mitigating circumstances and no supporting evidence will be required.

    University Operations

    • The Library is now closed, but all services are available online. Please use Library Search on the Library Homepage to search and access digital resources. You will need to use your IT username and password. The Library enquiry service remains open. Please email library@le.ac.uk or visit their website;
    • We have contacted all our students who live in the UK and are currently travelling abroad undertaking an overseas study or work placement, and advised them to return home immediately while there are still commercial travel routes available. The Study Abroad Unit is supporting these students. 

    Students’ Union

    Our Students’ Union is here to support you during this difficult time.  It has created a virtual, light-hearted, community group on Facebook that is providing active support for students, gathering questions from the community and running activities to distract from the challenging time we find ourselves in.

    Health and Wellbeing

    The Student Services Centre remains open as a digital service and is now supporting students remotely via digital platforms and telephone. Counselling, welfare and AccessAbility staff have been equipped to work remotely from home. Appointments can still be booked and will be delivered in a digital format via Zoom. Any student requiring support should contact welfare@le.ac.uk in the first instance. Further details about contacting the services.

     
    Financial hardship funds

    The University operates a range of financial hardship funds, and these have been extended to provide more support to students during this time. Funds are available to UK, EU and International students. If you are in need of emergency financial support during these times, please contact welfare@le.ac.uk.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages. Information onreporting illness and self-isolation is also on the webpages.

    Take care and thank you for all your support. 

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:22)

    Dear colleagues

    Due to the announcement last night by Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, we have further updates for you and so have re-instated today’s Daily Update.

    Government Guidelines

    You will all be aware of the new Government guidelines which we now have to adhere to – both as individuals and as a University community.

    In summary we should all only leave our homes for one of four reasons:

    • Shopping for basic necessities such as food and medicine. Shopping trips should be as infrequent as possible;
    • One form of exercise a day such as a run, walk or cycle. This should be done alone or only with people you live with;
    • Any medical need, or to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. This includes moving children under the age of 18 between their parents' homes, where applicable. Key workers or those with children identified as vulnerable can continue to take their children to school;
    • Travelling to and from work, but only where work absolutely cannot be done from home.

    Campus Operations

    A number of other critical operations will need to continue on campus:

    • Supporting students still in halls
    • Skills training labs required to support the NHS;
    • Statutory research safety and compliance duties;
    • Keeping campus secure and ensuring we don’t breach health and safety regulations.

    Everything else will be closed, including the University of Leicester Archaeological Services sites, College Court and Print Services.

    We are mindful that we will still have colleagues who are required to be on campus to undertake their work to support these critical operations. For that we are very grateful.

    University risk assessments will be carried out to ensure that those staff that we are asking to work, are only those that are critical to provide this support during this extraordinary time. Where staff are available for work we will contact them regularly to ensure that they are fit and well to attend work. Members of staff will be working on their own and will not be asked to work with others. In addition, guidance will be issued to staff to ensure they take the necessary precautions whilst working on campus during this time.

    Research

    Last week we put in place steps that would see the rapid phased withdrawal of research activities so that by 5pm on Friday 27 March, only those essential activities, such as COVID-19 research, equipment maintenance and compliance activities, would continue beyond this date. This managed withdrawal allows time for experiments to conclude by Friday 27 March.  In addition, we decided that some other work could continue by strict exception, based on a case made to College Directors of Operation and Deans of Research.

    In light of the Prime Minister’s announcement last night, our approach remains, noting the following:

    • After 3pm today, the campus will be inaccessible to any research staff who have not already been authorised;
    • Those involved in concluding experiments by 27 March or involved in essential activities that will continue beyond the 27 March will be issued a letter from the University COO authorising their travel and work.  The list of those to receive a letter will be coordinated by the College Directors of Operations together with the Deans of Research;
    • The College Directors of Operation will contact staff involved in the very small number of activities, which were scheduled to finish by 27 March, to discuss whether closure could be accelerated;
    • Any new essential research, likely primarily to be new research associated with COVID-19, will need authorisation from the College Dean of Research and Director of Operation first, followed by the COO, where necessary in consultation with the PVC Research.

    There is a letter from the Science Minister on the UKRI website published last night, providing headline guidance to all Universities and it is important that the steps being taken by our University are consistent with this.

    Student Accommodation

    We still have nearly 1000 students in our own accommodation both at Oadby and our City accommodation and despite us being on ‘lockdown’ we have a commitment and obligation to support them. These students will be supported for as long as needed.
     
    Students will be advised later this afternoon that there are two options available to them:

    1. Students do not have to pay the third instalment of the accommodation fees if they do not wish to. When travel restrictions are lifted they will be able to return and empty their rooms;
    2. For students who cannot return home, University accommodation remains open and operational with support in place.

    For students who cannot return home, University accommodation remains open and operational with support in place.

    If we are able to reopen campus and students wish to come back, accommodation will be available for them to book through the Accommodation Team.

    Student will receive details in their Daily Update today and will also be sent a detailed email from the Accommodation Team this afternoon. The FAQs on the COVID-19 webpages have also updated to include these changes.

    Who to contact with a query

    Please email covid19help@le.ac.uk – and we have a team triaging the queries to respond directly or via a FAQ.

    Work continues by teams across the University to ensure COVID-19 information is easy to access and kept up to date – if anything remains unclear please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages.

    Kind regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    23 March 2020

    Email to staff (15:22)

    Dear colleagues

    I hope you all had a restful weekend and enjoyed the Spring weather (whilst social distancing). The Major Incident Management (MIM) group met this morning to review areas of planning that are a priority and where further work is required. The key areas were:

    MIM update

    • Ensuring we continue to monitor the latest movements of all our students – including those in our own accommodation and our Study Abroad Students, to make sure everyone is safe and accounted for;
    • Assessing enquiries coming through covid19help@le.ac.uk and to check whether there are emerging themes from staff or students in order that we can respond quickly;
    • Finalising allocation of the desktop application and laptops;
    • Supporting PGR, PGT and UGT students with extensions: with a process and guidance to be issued this week;
    • Creating guidance and support for critical workers who will still be accessing campus after Friday March 27;
    • Detailed work on assessments still continue with an update to be provided this week.

    Now that we have moved to predominantly working from home, discussions and planning will begin to re-focus the work of the MIM to create an operating model based on this current way of working.

    Minister’s Letter

    We also received a letter from Michelle Donelan MP Minister of State for Universities at the weekend. The key messages are around ensuring the provision of online learning for social distancing and also to ensure that we are providing support for students who are vulnerable at this time, specifically:

    • International students currently on campus, for whom there is no alternative accommodation easily available or who are not able to get home;
    • Care leavers;
    • Estranged students;
    • Disabled students;
    • Students who live with people in high-risk groups, such as grandparents or family members with suppressed immune systems. 

    If you’re aware of any students falling into these categories who you don’t think are being supported please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    NHS Volunteers

    To support the NHS during this national crisis we are now asking any member of staff or students, at the University of Leicester, for volunteers. If you wish to volunteer to support the NHS, please complete the form. By submitting this information you are providing consent for the University of Leicester to share your information with the NHS.

    Health and Wellbeing

    During this time it is vital that you look after yourselves both physically and mentally. The health and wellbeing team have been working tremendously hard to create a toolkit to support your physical and mental wellbeing and we recommend everyone takes a look.

    You will have seen in the press this weekend many incidences where the 2m rule for social distancing was being ignored. Please follow this guidance - especially those still on campus to stick to the guidance. The government has this morning issued a new update.

    University Research

    In case the link didn’t work for some of you on Friday, please find Iain Gillespie’s note for setting out our procedures for the orderly ramp-down of research in his letter further down this page titled 'Update for researchers (14:30)'.

    Student Recruitment

    Many thanks to everyone who supported the creation and delivery of the digital Offer Holder day. It was very well received and we saw a significant increase in applicants putting us as a firm choice as a result! Work is now taking place on future events.

    We are now reducing these updates to Monday, Wednesday and Friday, unless we have time-sensitive information to publish. 

    If you have a question please email covid19help@le.ac.uk – we have a team triaging the queries to respond directly or via an FAQ.
     
    I hope you have a productive week.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    20 March 2020

    Email to students (15:47)

    Dear students

    As the University breaks for Easter a week early, we finish off an extraordinary week for the world, the University and us as individuals, today’s daily update provides further detail on teaching and University operations. As usual, please read this email in full and continue to refer to the FAQs on our webpages. If anything remains unclear, please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    We will continue to email you The Citizen (the student newsletter) each week and we will send you twice weekly updates on COVID-19 planning from next week.
       
    We understand that this is a difficult time for you all and want you to know that we are working hard to ensure your education continues and that finalists receive the degree they have earned on time.

    Teaching and Assessment:

    • We will continue to support your learning and preparation for online assessment through the coming weeks and months;
    • Digital learning materials will continue to be made available for you to access at your convenience, to support your online assessment;
    • There will be no campus-based exams in the May examination period. Exams will be replaced with alternative, online assessment for all except first and foundation year students;
    • You should submit any assessments already set by published deadlines unless unable to due to illness or some other reason in which case a claim for mitigating circumstances should be submitted;
    • Please check the details of published deadlines regularly;
    • Except where already set, as explained above, there will be no further formal assessment for first or foundation year students but you will be given the opportunity to undertake formative learning exercises to ensure you are able to make continued academic progress;
    • We will be waiving the requirement to provide evidence to support mitigating circumstances claims during this exceptional period. Further details can be found in our FAQs.

    University Operations:

    • The University campus buildings are now closed until further notice. We will review this position based on Government advice and we will send regular updates to you via email;
    • Our student residences at Oadby Village and in the City remain open and operational for students who are not able to return home. The Residence Life team will be in touch to advise what support is available to you – please do not worry we will look after all students who remain in residence;
    • Students who return home do not need to fully vacate their rooms;
    • We understand that our international students will have particular concerns and questions at this time, and we are still here to support you. We have set up adedicated area of our FAQ pages where you can find further support information;
    • Whilst we hope to be able to hold graduation ceremonies in July, if the current situation continues, this looks highly unlikely. We are currently exploring various other options so that finalists can still celebrate the completion of your degree. We will provide an update based on government advice and practical considerations in the coming weeks;
    • Please use Library Search on the Library Homepage to search and access digital library resources. You will need to use your IT username and password. The Library enquiry service remains open. Please email library@le.ac.uk or visit their website.

    Student Health and Wellbeing:

    • If you feel unwell and have a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough, than stay at home for seven days and call NHS 111 (or take the NHS questionnaire if you are unsure). Do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy. Further advice is here. Please look out for each other during this difficult time;
    • If you remain in student accommodation, please download SafeZone, the safety app which allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you need urgent assistance or first aid;
    • The Student Services Centre in the Charles Wilson Building will be closed from 5.00pm today. All services will continue to support students remotely via digital platforms and telephone. Key email addresses are: concerned@le.ac.uk, accessable@le.ac.ukwellbeing@le.ac.uk and welfare@le.ac.uk. Student Counselling and Wellbeing Services will offer digital appointments for all students where necessary, and will maintain a face-to-face pop-up service at Oadby and Nixon Court for students who remain in residence.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages. Information on reporting illness and self-isolation is also on the webpages.

    Take care and thank you for all your support. 

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:03)

    Dear colleagues

    As the University breaks for Easter a week early and we finish off an extraordinary week for the world, the University and us as individuals, today’s briefing has been created to signpost to, and remind you of, key decisions and actions taken. This is a detailed update full of tips and guidance – please read this email in full. Work continues by teams across the University to ensure COVID-19 information is easy to access and kept up to date – if anything remains unclear please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    Weekend and wellbeing
    This has been a tough week and everyone has pulled out all the stops to respond quickly to the changing environment. As a community, we are only now beginning to really deal with the reality of coronavirus - medically, economically and societally. A key action for everyone is to ensure you take the time to relax, spend time with your loved ones over the weekend and put work ‘to one side’. Please take a break.

     

    The health and wellbeing team have been working tremendously hard to create a toolkit to support your physical and mental wellbeing and we recommend everyone takes a look.

     

    Where to access information 

    Our specially developed webpages are now packed with information for staff and students. Work is taking place to further improve navigation but within these pages you can find: 

    • All staff and all student communications, dated and timed, are published in the Staff and Student News and Updates section;

    • Information for students includes dedicated sections for international students, study abroad, distance learning and PGR students and those staying in university-managed accommodation;

    • Information for all staff includes permanent, fixed-term and temporary with a dedicated area for those working in research;

    • Postponed or cancelled events;

    • Useful contacts, guides and resources.

    Today we will have dedicated sections for: 

    • Remote working (including IT guidance);

    • Guidance for managers;

    • Guidance for teaching and learning.

    Summary actions with Easter vacation commencing today 20 March: 

    • All staff to prepare to leave campus by 5pm today with everything you need to work from home;

    • The University will be open for staff to collect anything they need on Monday 23 March and Tuesday 24 March until 3pm;

    • From Monday 23 March only critical workers - authorised by their Director of Operations or Head of Division - will have access into the University. Arrangements have been made for named research teams to be assigned as critical workers in order to complete research. If you are unsure whether you are a critical worker you should check with your line manager;

    • Consider when leaving your desk or area you will be away from your office or area for an extended period, so please take with you any books, papers and personal items you may require;

    • If you have a work laptop, you should synchronise it before taking it home;

    • You may wish to forward your desk phone to your mobile;

    • Please remember GDPR regulations: you must not take any personal data off site where the security of the information may be inadvertently compromised;

    • Please refer to the following documents for guidance on how you can work from home:

      Guidance for working remotely from home (PDF, 856kb)
      Guidance for the practical application of working from home due to COVID-19 (PDF, 815kb)
      Ergonomic workstation setup (PDF, 544kb)
      Top tips for working remotely from home (PDF, 437kb)

    HR Update - COVID 19 Reporting Process 
    Please remember to follow the HR reporting process if you are unwell or self-isolating.  

    University Teaching

    • An initial set of detailed advice, including assessment principles for the rest of the academic year, has been sent to Heads of School and Directors of Learning & Teaching;

    • Campus exams will not take place in May/June and will be replaced with online alternatives in most cases;

    • Digital learning materials which are being developed can still be made available to students for asynchronous access. This should be done in a supportive way and it should be made clear to students there is no obligation for them to access the materials until next academic term;

    • Digital assessments and amended assessment deadlines which have been developed and which are particularly crucial to the academic progress of students should continue as planned in the run up to the May/June assessment period;

    • Whilst we hope to be able to hold graduation ceremonies in July, if the current situation continues, this looks highly unlikely. We are currently exploring various other options so that finalists can still celebrate the completion of their degree.  We will provide an update based on government advice and practical considerations in the coming weeks.

    University Research

    • As we move to closure it is essential that we take the time to deliberately and rationally complete ongoing lab-based research in an ordered way whilst at the same time ensuring the continued functionality of our essential research and services, not least those employed in the fight against COVID-19. We are, after all, a research-intensive institution and we must continue to play our full part in the current emergency. Iain Gillespie sets out our procedures for the orderly ramp-down of our research in his letter - just below this update.

    Student Recruitment

    • With the announcement of the cancellation of A Level examinations we are now reviewing the options and approaches while we await further instruction from UCAS. We have contacted all offer holders and applicants with a letter from the VC offering our support to them and we are now on working on stronger conversion activity;

    • If you have a future student that has a question you aren’t sure about please do refer them to Admissions on admissions@le.ac.uk;

    • Our digital Offer Holder day takes place tomorrow;

    • After considerable consultation we have taken the decision defer all PhD start dates to 28 September 2020 and will be issuing all offer holders and applicants new offer letters. They will be contacted today Friday 20 March and new offers will be issued in the coming days. Updates will go live on the website today for future students and for supervisors.

    Who to contact with a query
    Email covid19help@le.ac.uk – and we have a team triaging the queries to respond directly or via a FAQ.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages

    Take care and have a good weekend.  

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Update for researchers (14:30)

    Dear Colleagues

    At this time our thoughts must most of all be with the health and well-being of all of our colleagues, your families and your friends. First, we are a community at our University and now, more than perhaps at any time since our foundation, we must remember that and practice the values that we espouse. 

    Hugely important amongst our values and our shared identity as 'Citizens of Change' is the brilliant research that we carry out. Along with the outstanding student experience that we offer and our engagement with our stakeholders, particularly our amazing city, it’s our research that makes us the University we are – a world-leading research Intensive. We all want to see our brilliant research remain brilliant and do everything we can to deliver its impact, including in the fight against COVID. Our research is absolutely vital and is the heartbeat of a research intensive

    That said, we and others in the sector are all facing the same situation. How do we maintain essential lab-based and campus-based data services research whilst responding to the COVID emergency. We are in continual touch with our colleagues in other institutions and the majority are taking steps to close, including access to all but “essential” research. In some cases, this has already happened. 

    With your support, we have been working to identify our “essential” research and services. As you may know, we have re-tasked significant amounts of our effort, clinical and non-clinical, to support NHS front-line operations, including many of our colleagues volunteering their considerable contributions. We are also contributing, in response to a call by the Prime Minister, to provide equipment in support of the centralised national effort to test people for COVID 19. Leicester is doing “its bit” as befits a community such as us. 

    We need too to maintain as much as our research effort as we can during these testing times. It is vitally important that we maintain our excellent efforts that have grown the prominence of our research in recent years. Most research funders are continuing to run research calls (though deadlines are shifting) and we should continue with our efforts on grant applications and research that doesn’t rely on lab access. We should also maintain efforts to publish, though we know that timings may become problematic on turn-around, and we are monitoring this carefully. We will keep our COVID 19 web pages up to date with all the latest information and if colleagues do hear useful intelligence please do pass it on.

    As to access to campus-based labs and data services that are not available beyond the campus, we have faced some difficult decisions.  We have decided on an approach which:

    1. Closes 'normal' access to campus at 5pm today;
    2. Invokes our Lone Working Policy and mandatory use of the Safe Zone App after 5pm. We know that some departments are already doing this locally;
    3. Allow access to buildings on campus to collect materials, belongings etc will continue until 3pm on Tuesday 24th March;
    4. Envisages access to designated buildings with substantial laboratory facilities (Adrian, Maurice Shock, Henry Wellcome, PRF, Hodgkin, Bennett, George Porter, Physics & Astronomy, Michael Atiyah, Engineering, Materials Centre. Informatics, College House, and off-campus, RKCSB, CSW, CVRC & BRC at Glenfield) until 5pm on Friday 27th  for the sole purpose of completing research that is dependent on laboratory access or access to campus-only data services. After this point, access will close;
    5. Provides for exceptions to (iv) to be made on the basis of “Essential” research and services or on a case-by-case basis subject to agreement of College DoRs/ DoOs and subsequently subject to our Lone Working policy;
    6. We will keep this under review as the situation develops.

    I hope you agree that this strikes an appropriate balance between keeping our research going and the safety of our staff and students – particularly our PGRs.  But I don’t for a second claim this is at all perfect.

    Thank you all so much for the incredible spirit in which you have all responded to the unique times we find ourselves in. You are a true inspiration. Please do contact me if these arrangements cause you and your research particular undue challenges and, together with my colleagues, we will do our very best to continue to support you to continue to give of your best. 

    All my warmest regards to you and your families.

    Prof Iain M M Gillespie
    Pro Vice Chancellor, Research & Enterprise

     

    19 March 2020

    Email to students (16:00)

    Dear student

    I am writing to advise you that, based on the rapidly changing position in relation to COVID-19, I have decided to close the campus and finish term from 5pm tomorrow (Friday 20 March). 

    If you are able to go home, then please make preparations now. Please do not worry if you are unable to return home, we will continue to look after and support you during this period. The accommodation team and Student Support Services will continue to operate. International students should follow the advice of their national governments, and if their advice is to return home, students should make arrangements to do so. Please be reassured that your academic progress will not be affected by this, and further details will follow.

    We can confirm that physical examinations scheduled for May/June will not take place. These will be replaced by alternative online assessment. We want to assure you that our priority will be to make sure finalists will graduate in July, and we are actively working to minimise the assessment requirements for all students. Further details about this will follow very soon.

    More information will follow and we will share updates via the FAQs on the COVID-19 webpages - please refer to these pages in the first instance. If you are unable to find the information you need, please email covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    We will continue to review this position based on Government advice and we will send regular updates to you via email.

    Please take care of yourselves and your families and I look forward to seeing you all soon. 

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

    Email to staff (15:38)

    Dear colleagues

    I am writing to advise you that, based on the rapidly changing position in relation to COVID-19, I have decided to bring the end of term forward by one week and will close the campus from 5pm tomorrow (Friday 20 March). I have made this decision to protect and support all colleagues and also to make life a little easier during this difficult time now that schools, nurseries and colleges have closed. I apologise for any inconvenience this may cause.

    From Friday 20 March all campus buildings will be closed. Students will be advised to return home if they can. If any students are unable to return home then we will, of course, continue to support them at Oadby Village and Nixon Court. 

    I recognise that we rely on a number of colleagues who keep key functions operational throughout every area of the University during this type of closure operation and we have plans put in place to ensure all those colleagues are properly supported. Thank you to everyone in advance.  

    A working from home checklist is here – please review for guidance. More information will follow and we will share updates via the FAQs on the COVID-19 webpages- please refer to these pages in the first instance. If you are unable to find the information you need, please email covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    In the meantime, please liaise with your line manager and prepare to leave campus by 5pm tomorrow with everything you need to work from home. If you are not in tomorrow and need to collect items, the University will be open for staff to collect anything they need on Monday and Tuesday until 3pm. 

    After that only staff who have been deemed as critical workers, which has been authorised by their Director of Operations or Head of Division will have access into the University. If you are unsure whether you are a critical worker you should check with your line manager.

    We will continue to review this position based on Government advice and we will send regular updates to you via email.

    I would like to extend my sincerest thanks to you all for your hard work, support and resilience. Please take care of yourselves and your families and I look forward to seeing you all soon. 

    Regards

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    18 March 2020

    Email to students (16:52)

    Dear student

    Work continues on the University’s response to COVID-19 and this update provides further detail on plans and new information. There is a lot of detail in this update - please read the email in full and continue to refer the FAQs on our webpages. 

    We hope you are all well and looking out for each other. If you are feeling unwell then please ensure you accessing the support that is available.

    University Teaching:

    • A University Working Group is co-ordinating work in the academic Schools to re-plan taught student assessment over the coming months.  Advanced contingency plans are in train to implement alternative assessment where practicable, including moving assessment online.  These contingency plans are particularly important in preparation for the summer exam period in May.  The Working Group will be reviewing School plans in the next few days, with further information being made available to students next week.
    • The Medical School will be running Finals as those students are required to work as soon as possible to support the NHS. More details to follow.
    • Study Abroad students currently on a semester or year abroad have been contacted to advise them that if they wish to return home, they will not be penalised academically. Based on the latest travel advice from the FCO, we have advised UoL students overseas who wish to return home to make immediate plans to do so, as further travel restrictions and border closures can be expected. Further information is on the COVID-19 webpages.
    • Detailed advice for International students is being developed and will be available via our FAQ pages tomorrow.

    University Operations:

    • The University remains open but services are being scaled back.
    • University Sports Centres closes today.
    • The Nursery in the Sports Centre will remain open unless we are unable provide the required staffing to keep it operational/meet safeguarding requirements.
    • The Library will remains open but we are considering further scaling back and will update tomorrow.
    • Percy Gee remains open at this time.
    • The Student Service Centre, Student Support Services and Occupational Health remain operational on campus, with virtual appointments where required.
    • University student accommodation remains open.
    • Catering outlets have been scaled back from today. The Atrium at the George Davis Centre, Brookfield, Starbucks, the Library Café and Chi/Deli remain open. All other outlets are now closed.
    • All catering outlets are cashless from today.

    Student Health and Wellbeing:

    • If you feel unwell and have a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough, than stay at home for seven days and call NHS 111 (or take the NHS questionnaire if you are unsure). Do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy. Further advice is here. Please look out for each other during this difficult time.
    • If you are living in a shared flat or shared house student accommodation, and someone else in your flat or house develops coronavirus, then you should self-isolate within the flat or house.  All students within the shared accommodation should self-isolate for 14 days. 
    • If you are living within University-managed accommodation, University staff will ensure essential supplies are delivered to students.
    • If you are not living within University-managed accommodation, you may still contact the University accommodation office, for support and advice.
    • We encourage you to download SafeZone, the safety app which allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you need urgent assistance, first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages. Information on reporting illness and self-isolation is also now on the webpages.

    Take care and thank you for all your support.

    Best Wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:53)

    Dear colleagues

    Work continues on the University’s response to COVID-19 and this update provides further detail on plans and new information. There is a lot of detail in this update - please read the email in full and continue to refer to the FAQs on our webpages.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all colleagues for their flexibility, creativity and hard work in responding to the challenges we face. We are particularly impressed by how quickly our academic community have moved to online delivery – much of this work has been done over the weekend and out of hours and we are very grateful for this focused effort.

    Information on reporting illness and self-isolation is now on the webpages. Please ensure you follow this process for reporting.

    University Teaching:

    • The Academic Continuity Working Group, led by the Academic Registrar, College Deans of Education and PVC Education, is co-ordinating work in the academic Schools to re-plan taught student assessment over the coming months. Advanced contingency plans are in train to move assessment online, or implement alternative assessment where practicable. These contingency plans are particularly important to have in place for the summer exam period in May. The Working Group will be reviewing School plans in the next few days, with further information being made available to students next week.
    • The Medical School will be running Finals as those students are required to work as soon as possible to support the NHS. More details to follow.
    • Study Abroad students currently on a semester or year abroad have been contacted to advise them that if they wish to return home, they will not be penalised academically. Based on the latest travel advice from the FCO, we have advised UoL students overseas who wish to return home to make immediate plans to do so, as further travel restrictions and border closures can be expected. Further information is on the COVID-19 webpages.

    University Research:

    University Operations:

    • The University remains open but services are being scaled back.
    • University Sports Centres closed from today.
    • The Nursery in the Sports Centre will remain open unless we are unable provide the required staffing to keep it operational/meet safeguarding requirements.
    • The Library will remains open but we are considering further scaling back and will keep under review.
    • Percy Gee remains open at this time.
    • The Student Service Centre, Student Support Services and Occupational Health remain operational on campus, with virtual appointments where required.
    • University student accommodation remains open.
    • Catering outlets have now been scaled back from today. The Atrium at the George Davis Centre, Brookfield, Starbucks, the Library Café and Chi/Deli remain open. All other outlets are now closed.
    • All catering outlets are cashless from today.
    • We recommend no UK travel for university purposes with immediate effect. If you have any queries relating to travel, please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk
    • The Botanical Gardens will be closed from Friday 20 March 2020.
    • This weekend was meant to be our third Offer Holder Day, instead teams across the University have produced a digital version which will be ready by the end of this week. The virtual offer will include a live element delivered by academics and students through Unibuddy, as well as bespoke subject webpages. The live event will take place from 12pm to 2pm on Saturday 21 March.
    • The dedicated site for future students is now live so please refer to this if you have any questions or queries in the first instance.
    • If you have a future student that has a question you aren’t sure about please do refer them to Admissions on admissions@le.ac.uk
    • The University’s construction schemes at Brookfield, Percy Gee, Space Park and Freemen’s are continuing at the present time. These sites are controlled, managed and secured by the respective contractors. We have met each of them and are aware of their actions to prevent the spread of coronavirus, as well as business continuity and contingency plans. We continue to monitor and will update as matters change.

    Working Practices:

    • We now have guidance for remote-working and are developing a new area on the website for us to house updates, guidance and advice. This will be in place this week.
    • The University’s stock of laptops has been deployed to support the remote working of those staff needed for business critical functions.
    • We realise that we still have many staff working on campus and have produced guidelines to support colleagues.

    It’s important during these challenging times that we take the time to understand and respect everyone’s role and the part they play at the University. We are a community and everyone is equal and our differences make us stronger. Anyone who experiences or witnesses racial harassment, discrimination or any other form of unacceptable behaviour, on or off campus, is urged to contact the University about this.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages.

    Take care and thank you for all your support.

    Regards,
    Martyn

     

    17 March 2020

    Email to students (16:32)

    Dear student

    In our second daily update on COVID-19 we are sharing further changes to university operations and also more advice and guidance on your health and wellbeing.

    Please read this email carefully. If you have any questions please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk

    • The University remains open but services are being scaled back.
    • University Sports Centres will close from tomorrow – Wednesday 18 March.
    • The Nursery in the Sports Centre remains open.
    • The Library will remain open.
    • The Student Service Centre, Student Support Services and Occupational Health remain operational on campus.
    • University student accommodation remains open.
    • Catering outlets will be scaled back from Wednesday 18 March. The Atrium at the George Davis Centre, Brookfield, Starbucks, the Library Café and Chi/Deli remain open. All other outlets will close from tomorrow.
    • All catering outlets will be cashless from tomorrow Wednesday 18 March.
    • All O2 student events have been cancelled until further notice.
    • We are urgently looking at upcoming assessments, including the May examination period, and will provide you with further information on assessment planning in the next few days.
    • If you are a Medical student, please follow the guidance you receive from the Medical School, which may differ to the information we share in our general updates.

    Student Health and Wellbeing:

    • If you feel unwell and have a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough, than stay at home for seven days and call NHS 111 (or take the NHS questionnaire if you are unsure). Do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy. Further advice is on the Information for students page. Please look out for each other during this difficult time.
    • If you are living in a shared flat or shared house student accommodation, and someone else in your flat or house develops coronavirus, then you should self-isolate within the flat or house. All students within the shared accommodation should self-isolate for 14 days.
    • If you are living within University-managed accommodation, University staff will ensure essential supplies are delivered to students.
    • If you are not living within University-managed accommodation, you may still contact the University accommodation office, for support and advice.
    • We encourage you to download SafeZone, the safety app which allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you need urgent assistance, first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus.

    Our number one priority is the wellbeing of you all. We are challenged with a pandemic none of us have experienced before, but your patience and support is appreciated – thank you.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (16:05)

    Dear colleagues

    Yesterday the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson announced a series of new measures to tackle COVID-19. This included the measure “to stop non-essential contact with others and to stop all unnecessary travel. We need people to start working from home where they possibly can.” We have already been preparing to change how we work and study – yesterday’s announcement means that we are now have to expedite those plans.

    Today’s daily update provides information on further changes to University operations and also our plans for remote working. Please read this email in full.

    University operations:

    • The University remains open but services are being scaled back.
    • University Sports Centres will close from tomorrow – Wednesday 18 March.
    • The Nursery in the Sports Centre remains open.
    • The Library will remain open.
    • The Student Service Centre, Student Support Services and Occupational Health remain operational on campus.
    • University student accommodation remains open.
    • Catering outlets will be scaled back from Wednesday 18 March. The Atrium at the George Davis Centre, Brookfield, Starbucks, the Library Café and Chi/Deli remain open. All other outlets will close from tomorrow.
    • All catering outlets will be cashless from tomorrow Wednesday 18 March.
    • All O2 student events have been cancelled until further notice.
    • Research activities continue. The Research and Enterprise Division has created guidance for research staff on the COVID-19 webpages.
    • All staff recruitment (except externally funded research posts) will be paused.
    • We recommend no UK travel for university purposes with immediate effect. If you have any queries relating to travel, please contact covid19help@le.ac.uk

    Remote-working:

    In the light of changed Government advice yesterday, we have now completed a review of our guidelines for remote and home working. The following principles will be applied with immediate effect:

    • The following staff members should work from home/remotely with immediate effect:
    • All other staff should work from home where possible and where agreed with your line manager. Remote and home working will be facilitated by the University for as many staff as possible, recognising that not all staff duties can be performed from home whilst the campus remains open.
    • Where staff are unable to work remotely at this stage, the University will introduce measures on campus to facilitate social distancing, and further guidance is being developed to support staff and line managers.
    • The University’s stock of laptops is being deployed in the first instance to support the remote working of those staff needed for business critical functions. This will be prioritised centrally.

    In all cases of remote and home working, staff members should discuss and agree this with their line manager in advance. The arrangement should be reviewed on a weekly basis between the staff member and line manager. Further guidance on home working will be available on the COVID-19 webpages tomorrow.

    All staff on permanent contracts will be paid during this period – whether they are working on campus, at home, off ill, self-isolating, caring for dependents or unable to work from home due to the nature of their role. At this point, there will be no redundancies as a direct result of COVID-19. We are currently making arrangements around pay for temporary staff and are in discussion with the Unions on this matter.

    We realise that the information you are receiving is changing daily and may not have the immediate level of detail you need but please be assured that we are continuing to work through the finer detail.

    Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other and follow the advice from Public Health England and information on our webpages. Information on reporting illness and self-isolation is now on the webpages.

    Our number one priority is the wellbeing of you all. We are challenged with a pandemic none of us have experienced before, but your efforts to work together, to find solutions, to remain optimistic and to be resilient is powerful – thank you.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    16 March 2020

    Email to students (16:44)

    Dear student

    We want to keep you up-to-date on plans and guidance as we respond to the COVID-19 situation. You may have received some of this information before but please read this email carefully.

    The University remains open and the end of term is Friday 27 March.

    University Teaching:

    • The key change to our operations is that there will be no face-to-face lectures from today and we will move to online delivery.
    • Seminars and small group teaching will be delivered by Blackboard Collaborate
      Please follow any other instructions communicated by your School.
    • The Library and Sports Centres remain open.
    • Students are able to return home if they wish and continue their studies remotely.
    • Schools are currently considering imminent assessment deadlines as a priority and changes will be communicated as soon as possible. Please contact your personal tutor to re-arrange any meetings over telephone or Microsoft Teams.
    • All on campus events are currently being reviewed and decisions about whether to go ahead will be made this week. Some events have already been cancelled or postponed – the current list is here.

    Student Health and Wellbeing:

    • The Student Services Centre remains open and continues to support students.
    • If you have any appointments with the Student Support Services they will be in touch will be in touch to arrange an alternative method of contact if you are unwell.
    • You can contact personal tutors for support, virtually in the first instance but face-to face is still possible if you are feeling well.
    • We courage you to download SafeZone, the safety app which allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you need urgent assistance, first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus.
    • If you feel unwell and have a high temperature (you feel hot to touch on your chest or back) or you have a new, continuous cough, than stay at home for seven days. Call NHS 111 (or take the NHS questionnaire if you are unsure) if your symptoms worsen or are not resolved in seven days. Do not go to your GP, hospital or pharmacy.

    This is a rapidly changing situation so please check the COVID-19 website for the latest information. If you cannot find the information you need on our webpage, please email any enquiries to covid19help@le.ac.uk

    The safety of our staff and students remains paramount and informs all our decisions. On behalf of the University, I want to stress how much we appreciate your help and understanding at this challenging time.

    Best wishes

    Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to staff (15:28)

    Dear colleagues,

    As we respond to the rapidly changing situation relating to COVID-19, we will provide a short daily briefing to share updates and decisions.

    This is the first daily briefing – please take time to read it and keep up-to-date. The central place for all information related to COVID-19 is on our webpages

    I am very grateful to everyone for the work that has gone in to making sure that we are able to keep the University operational.

    A huge amount of work went on over the weekend in finding ways to ensure that we are as prepared as we can be for providing online delivery, to plan for remote-working as and when necessary and to ensure support is in place for our staff and students. It goes without saying that the thanks I extend in this email are universal – everyone is contributing to keeping us up and running. 

    Key updates as of today:

    University Operations

    • The University remains open;
    • The key change to our operations is that there will be no face-to-face lectures from today and we will move to online delivery;
    • We will use Blackboard for small group sessions;
    • Students are able to return home if they wish and continue their studies remotely;
    • Assessments may need to be adjusted in the light of these and other changes. Schools have been asked to consider imminent assessment deadlines as a priority. Work is currently underway to assess the feasibility of May examinations, and further information will follow next week;
    • Vivas and in-person assessment should be organised using remote access tools wherever possible;
    • Research will carry on as normal unless we have to close the University – research specific communications will follow later this week;
    • The Offer Holder Days on Saturday 21 March and Saturday 4 April will be digital events – attendees will be advised today and we will email Heads of School and Admission Tutors later today with more information;
    • All on campus events are currently being reviewed and decisions about whether to go ahead will be made this week. Some events have already been cancelled or postponed – the current list is here;
    • The Library and Sports Centres remain open at this time;
    • The Attenborough Arts Centre will close from Saturday 21 March for the foreseeable future. We have taken this decision to protect the users and visitors of the Centre, many of whom have under-lying health conditions.

    Staff Health and Wellbeing

    • HR guidance is being updated – this includes information for colleagues with pre-existing health conditions, processes for managers on reporting and supporting colleagues who are self-isolating and information for UNITEMPS staff;
    • Where, possible conduct meetings virtually/by telephone or in very small groups; 
    • Meetings with 20+ people should be postponed,  undertaken using Microsoft Teams/on-line or through our conference call facility;
    • Plans for remote-working are being developed and will be shared later this week.

    As we all know, the situation in which we find ourselves is completely unprecedented. It’s not always clear what we should or should not be doing and inevitably we will need to change and adapt things as we go. I’d like to ask everyone to be patient and supportive of each other during this time as we rise to the challenges ahead.   

    Thank you again for your support and hard work during this difficult time.

    Regards

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

     

    13 March 2020

    Email to staff (17:15)

    Subject: COVID-19 University Update

    Dear colleagues,

    Following a Major Incident Group meeting today we have now advanced scenario planning and can update you on actions and new measures.

    1. Teaching

      Standard Lectures

      Lectures will be replaced by online delivery. Staff should attend timetabled sessions and deliver a Panopto-recorded lecture with no students present, or the same using IT facilities in your office or remotely. Further guidance on how to do this is available here. Blackboard content should be updated to reflect the changed mode of delivery as soon as possible. 

      Seminars and Small Group Teaching

      This should also be delivered remotely using Blackboard Collaborate. Further guidance can be found here. Staff should re-arrange events if there is insufficient time to prepare digital alternative in time for the start of the week. Blackboard content should be updated to reflect the changed mode of delivery as soon as possible. 

      Laboratories

      We are consulting with all Schools on laboratory provision with an expectation that all sessions will be cancelled. 

      Attendance Monitoring

      The AMS work flow will be switched off with effect from Monday 16 March for the rest of term. 

      Students returning home

      Students are able to return home if they wish and continue their studies through the above mechanisms. 

      Assessment and Exams

      Assessments may need to be adjusted in the light of these and other changes. Schools have been asked to consider imminent assessment deadlines as a priority. Work is currently underway to assess the feasibility of May examinations, and further information will follow next week. 

      Vivas and in-Person Assessment

      These should be organised using remote access tools wherever possible, such as Microsoft Teams (vivas) or Blackboard Collaborate (in-person assessment). Large-scale events, e.g. poster presentations, should be cancelled and re-arranged virtually or alternative assessment provided. 

    2. University Closure

      We remain open with some changes to how we operate (such as teaching). If the Government requires us to close we will move to our standard Christmas holiday operating mode, although we expect colleagues to work from home where possible.

    3. Remote Working

      We are preparing for colleagues to work from home. Information and guidance on how to get ready for this will be published on the COVID-19 web pages early next week.

    4. Easter

      Term ends on Friday 27 March. If we decide to bring the closure forward we will advise you next week.

    5. Student Recruitment

      UCAS fairs for March have been cancelled. We are currently reviewing whether the 21 March Offer Holder Day will go ahead and will advise early next week. Digital open days/visit days are under development and increased digital marketing communication plans are also under development.

    6. PGR students

      Communications for current and future PGR students will be developed and sent early next week.

    7. Research

      Research will carry on as normal unless we have to close the University.

    8. Events

      Please visit the COVID-19 website for up to date information on which events are cancelled. 

    We will keep the web pages updated so please regularly check this for information. Please email any enquiries to covid19help@le.ac.uk

    Regards,

    Martyn Riddleston
    Chief Operating Officer

    Email to students (16:41)

    Subject: COVID-19 Teaching Update

    Dear students,

    We are writing to share further information on plans for teaching from Monday 16 March.

    Students should not attend any timetabled sessions next week unless specifically requested to do so by your School. However timetabled events will not be removed from your calendar, but the attendance management system will be deactivated for the rest of this term.

    Standard Lectures
    Lectures will be replaced by online delivery. Students should not attend lectures and where possible these will be delivered as a Panopto-recorded lecture instead. Content will be made available on Blackboard as soon as possible after the scheduled event.

    Seminars and Small Group Teaching
    These events will also be delivered remotely, where possible, using Blackboard Collaborate. Blackboard content should be updated to reflect the changed mode of delivery as soon as possible.

    Laboratories
    The expectation is that all laboratory sessions will be cancelled from next week, and any exceptions to this will be communicated by your School.

    Attendance Monitoring
    The attendance monitoring work flow will be switched off with effect from Monday 16 March for the rest of term.

    Students returning home
    Students are able to return home if they wish and continue their studies through the above mechanisms.

    Personal Tutor meetings
    If you were due to have an appointment with your personal tutor, you are advised to contact your personal tutor and arrange for this to take place over the telephone or via MS Teams

    Advice, Guidance & Support
    If you have an appointment booked with Counselling, Careers, Welfare or AccessAbility, this can continue as normal, unless you are feeling unwell in which case it should be cancelled. You may also elect to attend the appointment by telephone - please contact the Student Services Centre.

    Assessment and Exams
    Assessments may need to be adjusted in the light of these and other changes. Schools have been asked to consider imminent assessment deadlines as a priority. Any changes will be communicated to you by your School as soon as possible. 

    Library
    The Library will remain open next week as a student study space. This is a rapidly changing situation so please check the COVID-19 website for the latest information.

    Work is currently underway to assess the feasibility of May examinations, and further information about this will follow next week.

    We emphasise again, that students should not attend any timetabled sessions next week unless specifically requested to do so by your School.

    If you have any queries please email covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    Best wishes,

    Professor Graham Wynn
    PVC Education

    Louise Masterman
    Academic Registrar

    Email to students (13:44)

    Subject: COVID-19 Update

    Dear students,

    As the UK makes preparations for the imminent move to the ‘delay’ phase in the fight against COVID-19, I want to reassure you that everyone at the University is working hard to ensure we are ready to respond. We remain open as normal and our number one priority is your safety and wellbeing.

    Our Major Incident Team has been meeting for several weeks to plan and prepare the University for a potential closure. Today we are completing the planning, running through the many scenarios we could find ourselves in, and by the end of the day, will provide an update on plans and decisions. Please read this email fully or access via the website here

    University Teaching

    From Monday 16 March until the end of term we have made the decision to suspend ‘normal’ lectures and will deliver this activity online through lecture capture. We are now working to ensure academics provide materials online through Blackboard in the normal way. Please do not turn up to lectures from Monday 16 March.

    This decision has not been taken lightly and is similar to those taken at other leading universities around the world. It is designed to reduce the immediate risk of infection to yourself, our staff and the wider community.

    We are now working to develop further guidance. We are also planning for other types of teaching and we will advise you of our plans relating to smaller teaching groups etc next week.

    The Library will remain open as usual.

    With immediate effect all student field trips planned between now and the end of May will no longer take place.

    We are currently planning for Summer assessments and will come back next week with a detailed plan.

    Staying Healthy

    This is our number one priority and I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to do everything they can to stay healthy and to not transmit anything to others if you do feel unwell. Our campus teams are increasing cleaning frequency of communal and busy places, but please wash your hands regularly, cough into your elbow or a tissue and avoid touching your face, mouth and eyes

    Absolutely no one should come onto the university if they feel unwell.

    Anyone with a dry cough and fever should self-isolate immediately. 

    If you have these symptoms, please contact NHS 111. Do not go to a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy or hospital. If you need to self-isolate or are referred for testing at any stage please also notify Security on (0116) 252 2888. They will take some basic information and contact details in order to notify the appropriate support services in line with national infection prevention guidance. All cases will be treated with strict confidentiality and you will not be penalised.

    If you become unwell and are unable to submit an assessment you simply need to complete a claim for mitigating circumstances in accordance with the University’s policy. You do not need to claim for mitigating circumstances if you are self-isolating.

    Travel Guidance

    For students travelling internationally during the Easter break we ask you to follow the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance to make an informed decision. For those who decide to travel and need to return to the UK, when term starts again on Monday 27 April, please refer to FCO advice and for international students who plan to go abroad- you will need to make sure travel plans don’t affect your visa. If you have any queries about this, please contact the Student Immigration Advice and Compliance team before you leave the UK. For domestic travel in the UK, please carry on as you would; all public transport services are running as normal.

    Events

    It saddens me to also inform you that it has been decided, after discussions with DMU, that Varsity 2020 will be cancelled. Hopefully a future date can be found, but at this stage we have decided not compete. I realise that many of you as individuals and teams will be upset, but the wellbeing of you all is more important. On this basis we have also decided to cancel The Big Sleep charity event planned for the end of the month. 

    Communicating Updates

    We have reviewed how best to communicate with everyone - and starting today we have brought together all the information, advice from our experts and updates in one central location

    It’s easy to find – right on our homepage

    We have Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) for students, as well as dedicated information areas for Travel, Event cancellations, as well as links to health and wellbeing guidance.

    We have also created a new central enquiry email covid19help@le.ac.uk and have a community of specialists ready to offer advice and seek the answers you require. This launches today.

    Dignity and Respect

    I am aware that some of our Chinese students have been subjected to verbal abuse whilst within the city centre, linked to COVID-19 - anyone who experiences or witnesses discrimination or is affected by it, on or off campus is urged to contact the University’s wellbeing team for help. Your health and wellbeing remains the University’s top priority.

    Safezone

    I encourage everyone to download SafeZone the safety app which allows you to alert University Security via your mobile phone if you ever need urgent assistance or first aid, or if you have an emergency while on campus.

    The system is privacy-protected, so will never share your location unless you summon assistance or if you use the check-in function. SafeZone uses high-speed push messaging to allow Security to send you important notifications in the case of an emergency or critical incidents on campus. The check-in function also allows you to let Security know where you are (It does not track your location - you only become visible on the system once you have raised an alert or checked in).

    I recommend you sign up to SafeZone today, it’s simple-to-use and free to download.

    Lastly, I want to make sure you are getting the answers you need. If you have a question that you need more information on or that no one has yet addressed, please submit it to covid19help@le.ac.uk.

    We will update you later today.

    Let's work together to stay safe and healthy.

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor 

    Email to staff (13:38)

    Subject: COVID-19 Update

    Dear colleagues,

    We have big challenges facing us and society at present due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). Cases continue to rise, various countries and governments around the world are tackling it in different ways and, over the last 24 hours, we are seeing universities around the UK articulating their plans and approaches. Our priority remains the same as when we first heard about this virus: the safety of all of our community, our staff, our students and anyone who engages with us. We are citizens of change and need to pull together, offer support, take this challenge one day at a time and continue to conduct our daily lives – and we are open for business.

    Our Major Incident Meeting, chaired by Martyn Riddleston, has been meeting for several weeks to plan and prepare the University for closure. Today, we are completing the planning, running through the many scenarios we could find ourselves in, and by the end of the day, will deliver our actions and commitments. Please read this email fully or access via the website here

    University Teaching

    From Monday 16 March until the end of term we have made the decision to suspend ‘normal’ lectures and will deliver this activity online through lecture capture. We are now working to ensure academics provide materials online through Blackboard in the normal way.

    This decision has not been taken lightly and is similar to those taken at other leading universities around the world. It is designed to reduce the immediate risk of infection to yourself, our staff and the wider community.

    We are now working to develop further guidance. We are also planning for other types of teaching and we will advise you of our plans relating to smaller teaching groups etc next week.

    The Library will remain open as usual.

    With immediate effect all student field trips planned between now and the end of May will no longer take place.

    We are currently planning for Summer assessments and will come back next week with a detailed plan.

    Staying Healthy

    This is our number one priority and I cannot stress enough how important it is for everyone to do everything they can to stay healthy and to not transmit anything to others if you do feel unwell. Our campus teams are increasing cleaning frequency of communal and busy places, but please wash your hands regularly, cough into your elbow or a tissue and avoid touching your face, mouth and eyes.

    No-one should come onto the university if they feel unwell or have a pre-existing health condition.

    All managers have been advised to provide options for you to work from home, if possible. If not possible, you should still not come in if you are unwell. Instead, contact your line manager or HR to discuss your options. For staff members who feel vulnerable due to underlying health conditions, we advise them to speak to their line managers or HR to discuss your options. We realise it will be distressing and worrying for some staff members and their families.

    Anyone with a dry cough and fever should self-isolate immediately.

    If you need to self-isolate or are referred for testing at any stage please notify Security on (0116) 252 2888. They will take some basic information and contact details in order to notify the appropriate support services in line with national infection prevention guidance. All cases will be treated with strict confidentiality.

    We will be reviewing working from home practices as part of our major incident group planning.

    Travel Guidance for staff and students

    All staff international university travel has now been stopped as of 16 March 2020. If you are unsure about how to cancel or to reclaim costs please email covid19help@le.ac.uk and they will point you in the right direction. Whilst UK travel is currently unrestricted every effort should be made for meetings to take place over the phone/video conferencing, wherever possible. We will be putting together advice on virtual meeting options as part of our major incident group planning.

    For students, we have provided them with advice for travelling internationally during the Easter break asking them to follow the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance to make an informed decision. For those who decide to travel and need to return to the UK, when term starts again on Monday 27 April, we have directed students to FCO advice and for international students who plan to go abroad we have reminded them to make travel plans that don’t affect their visa.

    Events

    All events are being reconsidered and yesterday it was decided, after discussions with DMU, that unfortunately Varsity 2020 will be cancelled as well as The Big Sleep charity event. Further updates on events will be made available on the web section.

    Communicating Updates

    We have reviewed how best to communicate with everyone - and starting today we have brought together all the information, advice from our experts and updates in one place. Visit le.ac.uk/coronavirus for daily updates.

    It’s easy to find – right on our homepage.

    We have Frequently asked Questions (FAQs) for students, as well as dedicated information areas for Travel, Event cancellations, as well as links to health and wellbeing guidance.

    We have also created a new central enquiry email covid19help@le.ac.uk and have a community of specialists ready to offer advice and seek the answers you require. This launches today.

    Dignity and Respect

    On a final note, I am aware that some of our Chinese students have been subjected to verbal abuse whilst within the city centre, linked to COVID-19 - anyone who experiences or witnesses discrimination or is affected by it, on or off campus is urged to contact the University’s wellbeing team for help. Your health and wellbeing remains the University’s top priority

    Lastly, I want to make sure we are providing everyone the answers you need but as you can imagine the situation changes throughout each day. If you have a question that you need more information on or that no-one has yet addressed, please submit it to covid19help@le.ac.uk

    As I am sure you can imagine, we have made many of these arrangements in very short time and would appreciate colleagues support and understanding if you experience minor inconveniences as a result.

    Many thanks for all you do and thank you to all colleagues who have worked on these preparations. 

    We will updating everyone later today. Let’s work together to stay safe and healthy.

    Professor Nishan Canagarajah
    President & Vice-Chancellor

     

    12 March 2020

    Email to students

    Subject: Coronavirus – further advice and guidance

    Dear students,

    I wanted to check in with you all to reassure you that we are monitoring the coronavirus spread closely and continue to follow advice from Public Health England (PHE) and NHS guidance to protect yourself from COVID-19.

    I appreciate that this is an important time in your studies and the University will continue to operate as normal, unless advised otherwise. If official Government guidelines change, we will reach out to you with the next steps. For now, I encourage you to attend lectures, teaching events and supervisions and prepare for upcoming exams and assessments.

    Travel during the Easter period

    I’m sure many of are you are thinking about your travel plans during the Easter break. If you are planning to travel internationally, please follow the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO) guidance. I would advise those of you who are thinking of travelling to the following destinations to consider your travel plans particularly carefully:

    • China
    • Italy
    • South Korea

    For those who decide to travel and need to return to the UK when term starts again on Monday 27 April, please check the FCO advice first – this advice is subject to change.

    Those international students among you who plan to go home should make sure that your travel plans will not affect your visa. If you have any queries about this, please contact the Student Immigration Advice and Compliance team via visas@le.ac.uk before you leave the UK.

    For domestic travel in the UK, carry on as you would; all public transport services are running as normal.

    Self-isolation

    If you need to self-isolate as advised by the NHS 111 service follow the NHS guidance on self-isolation. The symptoms to look out for are:

    • cough
    • high temperature
    • shortness of breath.

    If you have these symptoms, please contact NHS 111. Do not go to a doctor’s surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

    The University has a coronavirus support page, which includes the latest advice and FAQs. If you have any further enquiries, contact Student Support Services on 0116 223 1185 or email them.

    Please follow the guidance above to protect yourself and reduce the impact on your studies.

    If you need to self-isolate or are referred for testing at any stage please also notify University security on 0116 252 2888. They will take some basic information and contact details to notify the appropriate support services in line with national infection prevention guidance. All cases will be treated with strict confidentiality and you will not be penalised. 

    Respecting each other

    On a final note, I’m aware that some of our Chinese students have been subjected to verbal abuse whilst in town, linked to COVID-19 - anyone who experiences discrimination or is affected by it is urged to contact the University’s wellbeing team for help. Your health and wellbeing remains the University’s top priority.