Students Staff

25 May 2017

Meet the Strategic Projects Office

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 10:38 am

We spoke to Debbie Brooke, a Project Manager in our Strategic Projects Office, to find out more about her and the work of her team.

How many members of the team are there?

An image of our Strategic Projects Office.

Members of our Strategic Projects Office

We currently have eleven team members in the Strategic Projects Office. Four support the Project Management Framework, Project Managers around the University, training and continuous improvement work.  Two work closely with departments and faculties on projects within their areas. And a further five are working on externally funded projects such as Learner Analytics, The Higher Degree Apprenticeships, and The Catalyst Project.

What is the main purpose of the team?

Simply put, the Strategic Projects Office is here to embed change and continuous improvement, by managing projects and supporting others to deliver projects. Quite a wide remit really when you think of all the projects and change within the University.

How has the team changed in the last year?

Over the last year, the team has increased from two members of staff to eleven. Some of these are replacement posts, as other staff had changed roles. However this increase has allowed us to focus on delivering a huge amount of project support materials, conduct a full review of the Project Management Framework, and deliver lots of Lean Facilitation training and start our Lean mentoring work.

How long have you been a part of the team

I’ve been a member of the team since the Strategic Projects Office was developed in 2013. Having been a project manager in IT Services for a number of years, I was asked to join the newly developed team and help to set things up and support the development of the new Project Management Framework.

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

Although I am sometimes involved in managing large strategic projects, my main role is to support staff at the University who are working on projects or delivering change. This involves developing and running training, supporting staff who need to complete mandates or business cases for projects, brainstorming approaches to projects, managing our Project and Lean Networks, and developing support materials. I’m also responsible for managing our Lean and SUMS programmes at the University which involves lots of facilitating workshops and running continuous improvement reviews, and writing lots of reports on all the work we do.

What other organisations have you worked for?

I’ve actually worked here at the University for 23 years. I’ve worked in Finance, Academic Section, IT Services and Strategic Projects and Change. I’ve had many jobs, including implementing one of the first electronic timetable systems and designing and coding web pages.

How did you get into your current role?

It was a gradual process for me. I worked in the web team in IT Services for a number of years, and I  increasingly got more involved in gathering the requirements for the work the team was taking on and organising the workload of the team and the resources they needed.  I was then asked to be the project manager for the redesign and build of the University website. It was a massive project involving external consultants and staff from all around the University. This then led to my moving over to the new Strategic Projects Office to help set things up there.

How can the Projects Team support other people working at the University?

Our new Project Manager One-stop-shop is such a fantastic new resource for anyone working on a project; it’s almost like a checklist for all the project work you should be doing, with templates and examples to help at each stage.  We can support you with anything from a kick start meeting to discuss a project idea, to running sessions at conferences or away days, and just about everything in between. We even have some fabulous games that we can come and run at team meetings to help introduce the idea of continuous improvement.

How can people get more involved in projects?

The Project Managers Network is a great opportunity to get more involved with projects; the network is open to everyone from experienced Project Managers to those who have never worked on a project before. We’ve just introduced a similar Lean Network  for staff working on delivering change or continuous improvement. If you have a question or need some guidance on a specific project, just get in touch.

What is your one tip for other working at the University?

Make the most of the people who work here. Often we’ll try and muddle through things on our own, but most people are really happy to help out and offer advice or experience. Phoning people up, or arranging a quick meeting to ask how someone might do something, how something worked in the past, or lessons learned from a project or piece of work can make a huge difference, and it also expands the network of people you know. Win, win.

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24 May 2017

Webinars to make the most of data

Filed under: Research impact, What's on — Communications Office @ 11:50 pm

Free webinars on making the most of data

The UK Data Service, based at the University of Essex, is contributing to a series of free one-hour webinars aimed at helping you get the most out of research tools and key national and international surveys, on topics ranging from politics to aging.

The sessions, aimed at beginners, include an introduction to bio-markers: what they are and how they can be used, and an overview on sharing data through the ReShare repository.

For details and bookings, see the links below.

Wednesday 7 June – 2pm

Data in Europe: Political behaviour

Tuesday 13 June – 3pm

Guided walk through ReShare

Wednesday 14 June  – 3pm

Data in Europe: Ageing

Thursday 15 June – 2pm

Introduction to Biomarker data

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Study spaces for students

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — ckeitch @ 1:36 pm

During exams we make extra spaces available for our students to use as places to study.

At our Colchester Campus, we’ve made seminar rooms available to students during the day and in the evenings, until the end of exams on 9 June.

Students can also revise in teaching rooms when they’re not being used, but they will leave the room if you already have it booked for something else. You might want to arrive 5 minutes early, if you want to make sure the room is free and to get set up ready for your meeting or event.

How can we help maximise revision space for students during exam weeks?

  • Do you have a department room that is not being used for a day or more?
  • Could the room be used by colleagues from other departments?
  • Do you have a room booking that now might not be needed?
  • Could you arrange for your meeting to be held in a non-teaching space?

Please contact if you can help us to free up teaching rooms to support student revision

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17 May 2017

Emeritus Professor highlights films from the margins for LGBT+ TV

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Communications Office @ 11:32 am

Image from Tales from the MarginsProfessor Rainer Schulze has created a new film series for LGBT+ TV looking at films from around the world.

Professor Schulze said: “Tales From The Margins is a different kind of LGBTIQ film programme: it is not only showing films on LGBTIQ issues from around the world, but I am also talking with the filmmakers about their films: why they made them, the problems they faced and the impact their films had.

“The programme has a global outlook and focuses on struggles and issues which LGBTIQ communities in the western world often believe, rightly or wrongly, they have long overcome. It includes both documentaries and narrative films, short films as well as feature films, and over time it aims to cover all the six letters of L, G, B, T, I and Q.”

The first introductory series comprised films on LGBTIQ communities in a number of African countries and is now being repeated. It opened with the disturbing Ugandan feature film ‘Outed: The Painful Reality’ which, based on a true story, looks into the life of Vida, a man outed by a Ugandan tabloid as one of the “top homosexuals” in the country and as a result loses his job and his house and is hunted by the authorities.

Professor Schulze said: “The next series of Tales From The Margins will shift the focus to South Asia where LGBTIQ people are also still struggling for legal equality and social acceptance. Tales From The Margins wants to stimulate discussion, create solidarity in our global community and, hopefully, be entertaining as well.”

  • Tune in to Tales From The Margins, Mondays and Fridays at 9.00pm on LGBT+ TV, Virgin Media 159, Freeview 7 or
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16 May 2017

Meet Marcus Adams

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 11:06 am

Marcus Adams is the new singing tutor at East 15. Based primarily at our Loughton campus, he will also be teaching at our Southend campus on Fridays.

Where did you train? 

An image of Marcus Adams.

Marcus Adams.

I completed my degree in music at Newcastle University and then went onto the University of St. Andrews to do a Masters of Science, before heading to the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where I completed a Masters in Musical Theatre, Musical Directing last autumn. I’m from Scotland originally. I was born in Melrose and grew up in Perth.

What have you been working on since graduating? 

I have been touring Europe as Musical Director of The 12 Tenors. It’s the tenth anniversary tour and we’ve been to Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and Austria, performing concerts in loads of towns and cities. I was meant to start at East 15 in January, but the date had to be delayed while the tour was ongoing.

You are working at the University part-time what are you doing the rest of the time?

My long term goal is to be a Musical Director for shows in London’s West End, so on my days away from East 15 I head up there. I’m working as an audition and rehearsal pianist for West End shows, as well as helping run workshops for professional performers and performing arts students in the city.  While I was studying, I worked as a vocal coach and a  pianist and keyboard player, as well as conducting.

East 15 students are here on acting courses. Are they good singers?

There are now three music staff at East 15.  I wasn’t sure what to expect from the students. Some of them are very strong singers and some of them have never sung before.  It is great to work with such a diverse range of abilities.

Tell us something unusual about yourself?

I love playing hockey! My Dad had played hockey for Scotland at junior level so I decided to take it up at school. I went onto coach at a high level and now play in a corporate league as a forward for a London team made up of some alumni from St Andrews.

I was the only Scottish person who worked on the Ball Patrol  for the hockey matches at the London 2012 Olympics and my claim to fame is that I placed the ball that the German centre forward hit to score the winning goal in the Men’s Final.

After the Olympics, I went  on to head up Ball Patrol at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

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15 May 2017

Students get insight into working of European Parliament

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications Office @ 11:39 am

BrusselsAbout 40 students got the chance to meet members of the European Parliament during a special trip to Brussels.

The trip was funded by the Opinion Multiplier Scheme, which aims to encourage more interest in the European Parliament. During the trip the Government and Language and Linguistic students met people who work at the European Parliament and also visited the European External Action Service, which manages the funding for charities, third world countries and relief aid for natural disasters.

Professor Han Dorussen, from the Department of Government, said: “The visit to the European Parliament and the European External Action Service has given Essex students a unique opportunity to learn about the day-to-day activities of the EU. EU officials gave an honest introduction to the ambitions and challenges of European cooperation and fully addressed questions. They also informed students about internships and working in Brussels.”

Lexa Olivera-Smith, from the Department of Language and Linguistics, said: “We are very grateful to Essex Abroad and the Opinion Multiplier Scheme for this wonderful opportunity. Our students felt privileged to have first-hand experience of the inner workings of EU institutions. For the MA Translation students it was particularly exciting to learn more about the linguistic side of operations and to have a close look at the impressive interpreting facilities.”

Jan Spalek, Short-term Programmes Manager at Essex Abroad, said: “We were delighted to receive a grant from the European Parliament Opinion Multiplier Scheme to take 40 students to Brussels to visit the European Parliament and European External Action Service. We have been able to visit the voting chamber, listen to engaging presentations and learn a lot about how these important organisations operate. As a very engaged group – we have also debated variety of issues including Brexit, and the future of Europe as well as the recent changes in the European political climate. We were also pleased to meet Essex alumnus Georgi Nenchev who now works at the European Parliament and who delivered an excellent talk.”

Klaudijus Jarusevicius, who is studying international relations, said: “I enjoyed my time in Brussels. I learned about the European parliament, all its values and the day-to-day agenda. It’s a perfect eye-opener as to where I want to work, and it gave me a glimpse into the future job I would like later on in life.”

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10 May 2017

And the winners are…

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Communications, CER @ 2:31 pm
Julie Storey won a Windows tablet. Congratulations Julie!

Julie Storey won a Windows tablet. Congratulations Julie!

As part of our Celebrating Excellence events this week, our Finance and Procurement teams ran competitions.

And the winners are:

  • Winner of the Windows tablet was Julie Storey – the correct answer to “How many printers on campus” was 870, Julie’s answer of 857 was the nearest.
  • Winner of the STA Travel vouchers was ticket number 72 drawn by Keith Miller and the winner was Kate Beckwith.
  •  Winner of the Afternoon Tea for Two was Kai Yin Low – the correct answer to “Total value of assets insured for the UoE at 1st August 2016” was £724.5 million, Kai Yin was the nearest with £750 million.

Finance/Procurement would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who kindly donated prizes and stationary, including: Wivenhoe House Hotel, Print Essex, STA Travel, Stone Computers, Office Depot and Dell Computers.

The teams would also like to say a big thank you to Event Essex, and all those who visited our stand and entered the competitions, it is through you that this was such a great success.

Kate Beckwith won the STA travel vouchers. Congratulations Kate!

Kate Beckwith won the STA travel vouchers. Congratulations Kate!

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A sneak preview of our new website

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Communications, CER @ 1:51 pm

The first phase of our new-look Essex website will launch soon.

The new design is much more modern and fully responsive for mobile and tablet users.

The initial launch will include the homepage, Course Finder, news and events, and the top-level sections on studying at Essex, research, business and about the University.

Academic department sites will follow in Autumn Term 2017 and the web team will then work with other teams to bring content into the new site.

None of the current website content will be lost when the new site launches. Pages that aren’t in the initial launch will remain online in their current format. Our digital partner Delete is building the site at the moment.

Here’s a sneak preview of our new look. For more information about the project, contact or check out the project webpage.

web white

Our new look website.

web black

Our new website will be compatible with tablets and smart phones

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3 May 2017

The Digital Economy Bill – a game-changer for research

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 5:06 pm
An image of Melanie Wright

Melanie Wright, Administrative Data Service.

The Digital Economy Bill could be good news for researchers – making it a lot easier to use government data for social and economic research – and it’s just been passed in a last-minute flurry of parliamentary activity before the election.

The Bill was one of several at what’s known as ‘ping-pong’ stage – meaning it had had its final reading in the Lords, and was bouncing between the Commons and the Upper House in search of a final agreement.

The Digital Economy Bill covers a lot of ground – including minimum download speeds, copyright infringement, age-verification for ‘adult’ websites, and ticket-touting, among other things. But it’s data sharing that most concerns me, because the new law could make life easier for researchers at universities across the country.

Benefits for society

I’m a director of the Administrative Data Service here at Essex which co-ordinates a UK-wide network of universities and national statistics agencies working together to help researchers get access to de-identified, linked administrative data.

Government and other agencies collect administrative data for registration, transactions and record keeping, usually when delivering a service (such as TV licences). We want to link different data together to give us a deeper, richer picture of society than any one data set on its own can.

The Index of Multiple Deprivation, for example, brings together health records, unemployment and tax data, and benefits information to pinpoint disadvantaged areas. This allows government, local councils, voluntary organisations and others such as the Big Lottery Fund to target money where it’s needed most.

Protecting privacy

Researchers can focus on specific neighbourhoods or populations, but they’re not interested in individuals. They look at society as a whole, and before they can see any data, all the information that can directly identify you or me is taken out: name, address, exact date of birth, National Insurance number, National Health Service number and tax reference number, for example.

We worked with the Cabinet Office during the government’s consultation on data sharing last year, and when the Bill was published, they adopted our model as best practice for accessing and linking administrative data for research.

As a citizen, I feel I have a responsibility to allow my data to be used, because research has the potential to influence government policy not with ideology, but with evidence. You may not be quite as enthusiastic as I am, but as long as the research is done securely and for public benefit, I hope you’ll agree that what is now the Digital Economy Act 2017 could have a real and positive impact on our lives.

Melanie Wright, Co-Director, Administrative Data Service (co-ordinating body of the Administrative Data Research Network).

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Better tools for our researchers

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 3:24 pm

Academic colleagues are set to benefit from a new system; providing a single place for managing all academic activities. Phineas Wenlock, Research Systems Manager at the Research Enterprise Office, tells us more.

An image of Phineas Wenlock

Phineas Wenlock

Everything in one place

The new Research Information System (RIS) will allow academic staff to manage their publications and research outputs, track the impact of their research, create detailed profiles for the web and complete annual research monitoring- all in one place.

Saving you time

The new system will significantly reduce the number of internal systems that researchers need to access and minimize the time they need to spend entering information into different systems.  Instead of depositing publications in the Institutional Repository, maintaining web profiles in the Staff Information Database (SID), completing annual research monitoring via emailed word documents and  keeping an eye on citations in Scopus and other research mentions via Altmetric, our academics will be  able to do all this and more in one place using their normal university login.

Getting used to the new system

To help everyone get used to the new system we won’t be doing all this from day one. This week we have opened up access to the RIS so colleagues can get used to the new system and start managing their publications. In June we will switch on depositing to the Intuitional Repository so you won’t need to login separately to deposit your publications.

Improving research visibility

Another key aim of the RIS is to improve the visibility of our research and in the autumn, full profile management will become available.  We are working with the Web Redevelopment Project to deliver profiles managed from the RIS, so you no longer need to use the Staff Information Database (SID). We will also be migrating information from your existing SID profiles plus getting details of your teaching responsibilities and grants automatically, so you won’t need to add them in manually.

Other benefits – coming soon

There will be other benefits too, including linking to ORCID profiles, automatic CV creation and a place where you can track research impact and link it to grants and publications.

We have recently completed a pilot phase with Directors of Research from all departments. The feedback has been positive and the system is now open to all academic staff.

Any questions?

Please look out for further announcements about the RIS and send any questions to me at


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