Students Staff

28 April 2017

Loughton building update

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — Tags: — Heather Leathley @ 4:32 pm

Loughton update April webWork on the new building at our Loughton campus is progressing well and will be complete by 1 June.

The old refectory will be demolished in early June, when the new kitchen will come into play, serving the ground floor of the new building which will be a temporary refectory.  The new Library/IT Hub on the first floor will be up and running by the middle of June.

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27 April 2017

Meet our Subject Librarians

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — ckeitch @ 9:37 am

Our team of Subject Librarians are based at Colchester and Southend. Between them, they cover all of the schools and departments at the University. We caught up with Esther Wilkinson (EW), Sandy Macmillen (SM) Ai Gooch (AG) and Greg Bennett (GB) to find out more about the team and their work.

An image of our subject librarians.

Some of our Subject Librarians.

How many Subject Librarians are there? (EW): There are four of us based in Colchester – Ai Gooch (responsible for Business and Law), Greg Cadge (responsible for Sciences) and Sandy Macmillen (responsible for Economics, Government, Sociology and the Edge Hotel School). I’m responsible for Humanities.  Greg Bennett is based at our Southend campus and covers Health Sciences, East 15, the Centre for Psychoanalytic Studies and the Education Business School in Southend.

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

(EW): In a nutshell, we liaise closely with our respective faculties/academic departments to make sure that the library meets their learning, teaching and research requirements. This includes developing and delivering information and research skills training for their students, as well as identifying relevant print and online resources for purchase. The training we deliver covers a wide range of different areas, from referencing and reference management software to advanced research skills.

We also support students on a one-to-one basis through our Book a Librarian service, which we launched last year. This service has been really popular so far. It basically means that our students can get personalised help with their literature searching and finding relevant data, which they really appreciate.

(SM): We also contribute to other areas of the library’s work, which in my case includes the special collections and archives, and helping with space issues involving shelving, books and library furniture.

How do you make sure you’re up to date with the latest research coming out of our departments?

(SM): It’s important to try and keep up to date with teaching and research in our departments and more broadly in Higher Education in the UK and overseas. There are various formal and informal channels for ensuring that this takes place.

It’s equally important that research students and academic staff are aware of what the library is doing on their behalf and for their students on an ongoing basis. I make sure I’m in regular touch with all of my students, so that they should all know who I am and what I can do for them, and that they can contact me at any time with a question.

(AG): I think communication with individual academics is a key for me to understand their current research interest. I find that departmental meetings are quite useful. I also monitor book suggestions from researchers

(EW): The students we meet during our one-to-one sessions, particularly the postgraduates, are also helpful points of contact, as their research is often related to that of academic staff.

What difference does this make for our students?

(GB): It helps the students greatly if the resources we buy for the library are up to date with current trends. Also, our teaching of students and helping them to find the key information in their subject areas is far more effective when we are aware of things at the cutting edge of our subjects.

As Subject Librarians, what are you most proud of?

(EW): Historically there has been a focus in the library on collection development, but we’ve come a long way over the past 18 months in building relationships with academic departments and other professional services to develop the information and digital skills training that we offer, thereby equipping our students to succeed in their academic studies and increasing their future employability.

We try to make our training as interesting and engaging as possible, and we make use of audience response software and even Lego! In fact, Greg Cadge has recently been shortlisted for a national information literacy award, in recognition of the work he has done in developing sessions for first year Psychology and Sociology students. Although there is still more to do I think this is definitely something we should be proud of.

(SM): I know from experience that the input of subject librarians can be critical to students’ work and I think the thing we are most proud of is when we see that this has made a big difference to the quality of students’ work.

(AG): Like Sandy, I feel proud when I see our work has positive impact on students’ and researchers’ work and beyond. We have been actively trying to incorporate innovative approaches to our teaching and I believe we made quite a difference in the period of two years.

Tell us something funny or unique about yourselves?

(GB): We are a pretty diverse team of people. Esther is a keen Scottish country dancer, Ai used to practice Kickboxing but now enjoys Zumba and I have three different passports, but unlike Jason Bourne, they all have the same name.

What is your one tip for working at the University?

(EW) Always be open to opportunities for collaboration. Also, take advantage of the beautiful campus we have here. I know that’s two tips – sorry!

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19 April 2017

Meet the Capital and Development Team

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 5:08 pm

Our Capital and Development team deliver the strategic building and refurbishment programme at our Colchester Campus. We spoke to Project Manager Matt Brown to find out more about the team and their work.

An image of Matt Brown

Matt Brown

How many members are there in your team? There are seven members of the team, including the Space Management Team and Secretarial support.

How long have you held this position at the University? I  was appointed as Project Manager in November 2016.

What are the main responsibilities of your role? I form part of the Capital and Development Team. My role involves managing the University’s construction projects across the Colchester Campus. This consists of talking with departments and staff to understand their requirements and then looking after the construction process from start to finish. I am also involved in ordering furniture and other fittings to ensure the building is usable.

An image of the Capital and Development Team

Some of the Capital and Development Team

What is the main purpose of your team? The main purpose of the Capital and Development Team is to facilitate and deliver the University’s major building and refurbishment projects. From their inception and design, through tender and construction, to handover and fit out. The team are also involved in space management requests, where we look at existing department space, and now we can best reallocate and repurpose the available space. This happens at our Colchester, Southend and Loughton campuses.

Tell me something funny or unusual about yourself I can spend up to a day cleaning my car.

What about the rest of your team? One of the team is an avid Scuba Diver and has been diving with Great White sharks and another once looked out their window to find a monkey sitting on the fence in their back garden. It showed its teeth and looked a bit angry, so they left for work by the front door! The monkey had escaped from its owner’s house and was reunited with them later that day.

What big projects do you have coming up? We are very busy. We currently have the new STEM centre, sports facilities and Innovation Centre being constructed on site. Coming up the team are working on Parkside phase 3, the Innovation Centre phase 2, and Health and Human Sciences lab refurbishment and relocations. There’s also the library and teaching centre refurbishments and the annual Space Management programme for relocation and reconciling departments.

An image of Keith Miller

Keith Miller, Deputy Director of Capital and Development

What projects are you most proud of? I have been involved in many projects during my time at the University, and I am proud of all of them. The ones that stand out the most are North Teaching Centre and Parkside Office Village.

North Teaching Centre was probably the toughest due to its close proximity to our  accommodation and the tight timescales we were working to, to make sure the building was  operational in time. The building is not as complex or aesthetically pleasing as the Essex Business School or Silberrad Student Centre, but has provided functional space that meets the growing needs of the University.

An image of Sarah Grant

Sarah Grant, Capital and Development Secretary

Parkside Office Village has provided office space for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and was the first commercial office space on the Knowledge Gateway. It was a new experience for me to provide offices for external tenants, as previously I’d delivered projects that were very much geared towards teaching, learning and life on campus.

The most unusual project I have been involved in is was the No. 64 routemaster bus. When I started at the University I never thought I would be accepting delivery of a bright red bus!

How did you get involved in this sort of role? I was employed by the University as a trainee and over the last nine years I have completed my degree and qualifications and have progressed to become a  Project Manager thanks to this training and experience.

What is your one tip for others working at the University? The best time to travel around the University is usually 10 minutes past the hour as all students (should have) gone into their lectures by then!

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18 April 2017

Improving our beautiful lake

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:39 pm
An image of the new barbecue area.

The new barbecue area

Work is about to begin on transforming the barbecue area around the Lower Lake.

The improvements will include seven new barbecues and lots of new seating, as well as a fire pit and improved lighting, so small groups and larger gatherings can make the most of the area.

Other improvements will include a new recreational path connecting the south side of the lake to the back of the Silberrad Student Centre, and a new drainage system which will allow us to reduce the risk of flooding between the two lakes.

The main construction work begins on Tuesday 2 May and everything will  be ready for the start of the new academic year.

You will still be able to use the barbecues whilst this work is carried out and the barbecues will temporarily be relocated to the opposite side of the lake, near the sculpture at the top of the hill. To book a barbecue, just visit the EMS Helpdesk.

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11 April 2017

Meet Print Essex

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:48 pm

Print Essex offers a high quality  print, design and graphics service for staff and students. You can see examples of their work all over our three campuses. We spoke to Chris Lewes, the General Manager at Print Essex, to find out more about their work.

What are the main responsibilities of your role? 

An image of some of the Print Essex team.

Some of the Print Essex team.

To ensure that Print Essex offer a friendly, approachable, professional service.

How long have you held this position at the University?  Over 10 years.

Tell me something about yourself As a pastime, I enjoy shooting people! Playing a game call Airsoft.

What big projects do your team have coming up? Coming up, we’ll be designing and printing the latest undergraduate prospectus. We’re also designing and producing graphics for the hoardings at the Innovation Centre.

How many members are there in your team? 14.

Tell me something funny or unique about your team  The team enjoy playing mini table tennis together, so much so that we have converted our staff meeting room table into a dual purpose table tennis court designed and printed by us.

What projects are you all most proud of? I’m proud of all our projects, but especially ones that benefit the decoration of our campus. There are too many to pick just one.

How did you get into this sort of role? What other organisations have you worked for?  I have always worked at the University and am proud of what it has achieved in the period of time I have worked here. Much has changed for the better.

What is your one tip for others working at the University? Try to get on with your fellow colleagues across campus as you never know when you might need their help!

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It’s easy being green

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:17 am

An image of a bike.The University’s Sustainability team will be in Southend on Tuesday 25 April promoting all that is good about being green.

From 11 am till 2 pm in the reception of The Forum they will be joined by a team from Southend Borough Council promoting sustainable travel. Then, from 2 pm until 5 pm,   Southend’s waste services contractor, Veolia, will be on hand to encourage people to recycle at home.

In the Gateway building, Southend based bike company, Comfy Saddle, will be giving advice about cycling and bike maintenance and the Sustainability team has some sturdy bike locks to give away in a competition.

More details will be confirmed nearer the time.


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6 April 2017

Help accelerate our impact – join our new IAA Challenge Labs

Filed under: Research impact — Communications Office @ 1:53 am

A series of Challenge Labs are taking place from this week thanks to support from the University’s ESRC Impact Acceleration Account (IAA).

The IAA Challenge Labs are aiming to respond to the Government’s announcement about the new Industry Strategy Challenge Fund, which will be delivered by UK Research and Innovation – which the Government wants to create to bring together the seven Research Councils, Innovate UK and the research and knowledge exchange functions of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

We spoke to Dorian Hayes from the Research and Enterprise Office about the the Challenge Labs and why researchers should get involved.

What are Challenge Labs and how do I get involved?

“The Essex IAA programme is holding a programme of themed and facilitated Lab events to bring together researchers, businesses and other organisations to explore key priorities and challenges in particular sectors; to develop innovative solutions based on the application of research in practice; and to create real-world projects to test those solutions.

“You can take part in these events by looking out for invitations (via Heads of Department, Directors of Research, and Impact) and signing up through the IAA email address:

“After our initial Challenge Lab on the Digital, Creative, and Cultural Industries on Thursday 6 April and Friday 7 April, the next event, focused on Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, will take place on Thursday 20 April and Friday 21 April. The event will involve a range of industry partners working in different aspects of the high-tech industries, and will explore not just the technical, but also the ethical, political, legal, and cultural implications of these new technologies. It is open to researchers from across all of the University’s faculties and departments. This opening pair of events will be followed by Labs later in the summer on Leading Edge Healthcare, and Big Data Analytics, as well as other sectors, to be confirmed.”

Why is the Government’s New Industrial Strategy important to researchers at Essex?

“In support of the publication of the Government’s new Industrial Strategy in a Green Paper in January 2017, a new Challenge Fund will offer a range of new funding opportunities to be delivered through Research Councils. The Industrial Strategy seeks to build on strengths and extend excellence into the future, increase productivity and drive growth across the whole of the UK, making the UK one of the most competitive places to grow a business.

“At Essex we’re responding positively to the Government consultation on the green paper by using new funds made available through our existing IAA to engage with the development of the Challenge Fund, and to work with our regional partners to highlight our strengths and pave the way for research and innovation collaborations. By participating in our Challenge Labs programme, you have a unique opportunity to influence and shape the University’s response to this new landscape of challenge-led funding for research and development, and to enhance the impact of your own research.”

What happens next?

Our first event takes place from Thursday to Friday, so watch this space for updates on the propositions and projects that emerge from this engagement with the digital and cultural sector, which will be supported by new IAA project funding. There is still time to sign up for our second event on 20-21 April by emailing or

After that stand by for the announcement of the next events in May-June.

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5 April 2017

MyTutor – Supporting Students’ Success

Filed under: Latest news — Communications, CER @ 10:53 am
L-R Linda Hanna and Hannah Lamb

Linda Hanna and Hannah Lamb

Linda Hanna from Strategic Planning and Change and Hannah Lamb from the Student Engagement Team have become a familiar sight in many departments as the MyTutor system is rolled out University wide.

Piloted in Essex Business School, the system allows personal tutors and other staff to make notes of their meetings with students and share them via My Essex. This ease of communication and transparency has been welcomed by the Students’ Union and departmental staff, who are also using MyTutor for postgraduate supervision and other meetings.

MyTutor was created as a tool to support academic staff in their roles as personal tutors. It gives tutors easy access to information on student progress (such as marks, attendance, modules studied) and gives students easy access to notes of tutor meetings, saving time and effort in many cases as follow-up emails are no longer required.

Following the success of MyTutor in the Business School, it was decided that the system would be rolled out to all departments. So far, staff in 12 departments have been trained and have access to MyTutor and over 4,000 meeting records have been created across the University. Plans are in place to deliver training to the remaining departments during April and May 2017.

Linda is now working on a project that will improve on MyTutor and deliver even more useful information to students and staff. She explained: ” As a University we already collect lots of data and we are looking for ways to use it to better support our students. We are exploring how data analytics can help us target services to benefit students more. We will be consulting widely with staff and students as part of this project over the next few months.”

Anyone who missed the MyTutor training in their department can come along to extra sessions that are being run during May. Please contact the Student Engagement Team to book a place on one of the following:

  • Thursday 4May 2017                   10am-11am        Teaching Centre TC 2.6
  • Monday 8May 2017                    2pm-3pm            Teaching Centre TC 2.14 + TC 2.15
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4 April 2017

Are you Lean?

Filed under: Latest news — gemmachilds @ 2:48 pm

Want to streamline your workload and improve your productivity? Then come to the first Lean Network meeting to find out how it can help you. It takes place on Wednesday 19 April, 11am – 12.30pm in EBS.2.65.

The Lean Network

Lean is a process improvement methodology which emphasises the concepts of continual improvement and respect for people..

The Lean Network has been designed to support staff trained as Lean Facilitators to embed Lean and continuous improvement processes confidently in their teams, departments, sections and the wider University. This is an opportunity for like-minded professionals to get together to share best practice and lessons learned from previous reviews and to help enhance your knowledge and develop your skills. The network is open to everyone, no matter your experience level, although you will find it beneficial to have some knowledge or experience of Lean. Find out more about Lean.

How can the Network support you?

 The Lean Network is about supporting you to deliver lean and continuous improvements in your own areas, this session will be an open discussion to establish:

– Participants areas of interest

– Sessions that you would like to see at the Network

– Support methods, including Champions, buddying up, mentoring and shadowing

We want the Lean Network to be driven by you and your ideas, this is an ideal opportunity to hear about any session ideas you have for future lean network events as well as the areas you are interested in conducting your own reviews.

Case Study

Wendy Clifton-Sprigg will take the group through a case study based on a previous lean review within the University. This is a great opportunity to see the benefits of lean in action and think about how the lessons learned can be applied to work in your own area.

How to book

The first Lean Network will take place on Wednesday 19 April 2017 from 11:00 to 12:30, you can book your place here

Further information

The Strategic Projects Office is here to support you. Please contact us if you have any questions, or suggestions for future networking sessions.

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