Students Staff

19 July 2018

Welcome to our new Southend Campus Librarian

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 11:01 am

Hello, can you introduce yourself please?

My name is Sian Downes and I started in this role two weeks ago!

Where did you work before?

I worked at Royal Holloway as the Information Consultant for the Schools of Law, Management and Psychology?

What attracted you to this role?

I am looking forward to doing some teaching and getting to grips with the wider remit of subjects.  Working with colleagues in the public library in The Forum, where our collection is maintained, will be very interesting.

Did you know Southend before you came here?

No, but I really like being based in the middle of a High Street. It is great being able to pop out to the shops at lunchtime and I love walking down to the sea. I did my first degree at Aberystwyth, so it’s good to be back at the coast. 

Have you always worked in libraries?

Whilst I was at University I worked in a lovely ‘old man’ pub and Claire’s Accessories. Then I worked at Waterstones for 18 months before getting my first library job at the British Library when I was 24.

Who is your favourite author?

It may surprise you – Agatha Christie!



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13 July 2018

Making it happen – whatever the score

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 11:06 am

Our Make Happen students have been on campus for their residential summer school.

Year 12 students from Essex and beyond cheered for England from their residential summer school on Colchester Campus this week.

Their schedule was changed to allow them the chance to catch the game during their busy week –  living the student life,  staying in halls of residence and checking out what university offers them.

The summer schools are being run by the University of Essex and Make Happen – the collaborative outreach programme aimed at inspiring the young people of Essex to look at higher education as a route to achieving their ambitions.

The focus for some of the students at this week’s Make Happen residential  summer school is sport science – and the young people have been learning about working in elite sports, using movement and exercise to rehabilitate injuries and how to use cutting edge performance analysis techniques in coaching.

The students enjoyed watching the England match as part of their experience of living on campus

Make Happen’s Luke French said  “ It’s the dream of many of our guests to work in elite sport, you never know  we may have the England Football Team coach  or physio for the 2022 World Cup in our midst!”

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12 July 2018

Meet the Web and Digital Media Team

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:00 pm

We spoke to Ed Harris, the Head of Web and Digital Media (WEDM), to find out more about him and the team.

Some of our Web Editing and Digital Media team

Members of WEDM

Can you tell us more about your role?

My role is very varied, but broadly speaking I help to ensure that the external and internal digital presence of the University is as good as it can be, that it maintains our identity, and supports the strategy of the University. This might mean that on one day I am meeting with academics to help overhaul and improve the online experience for Postgraduate Research recruitment (keep your eyes peeled as this is coming soon), but on another day I’m sitting with colleagues in Marketing, Student Recruitment or Communications, discussing creative ideas for how we can make our website more engaging and exciting.

How long have you been in post?

Seven months, but before that I was a Web and Digital Media Officer in the team.

How did you get into this sort of role?

I sort of fell into the web world. I studied History and Philosophy at University, and when I left, my only criteria for a career was to work in the Museum and Heritage sector. Fortunately, I succeeded and started working as a PA to the Director of Communications for a major Art Collection and Heritage organisation in London. I wasn’t exactly the best PA in the world, and when the Director launched a web project I found an interest that I was reluctant to give up. Pretty soon, they realised they required more support in web, and I was lucky to take on the role of Web and Digital Projects Assistant. A few years on down the line I moved to Anglia Ruskin University as their Web Editor, and got a taste for Higher Education. I moved to Brightlingsea some months later, and when I saw the post of Web and Digital Media Officer become available at Essex, I saw a new challenge that I wanted to be involved in. I joined here in July, and nine weeks later I was promoted to Head of WEDM.

How many other people are there in your team?

The team is made up of eight members, including me and the Head of Web Personalisation, six of which report into me. We’ll be joined by three more team members in the coming months, who’ll be working alongside us to support our three faculties in getting information on the web.

Ed with a Common Carp

Ed Harris. What a catch.

Tell me something funny or unique about yourself.

I asked my colleague this, and they said “how small I am” is pretty funny. I am pretty small to be honest. But maybe that’s not what you were looking for. I love fishing. People often find that funny for some reason.

What is the main purpose of your team?

The main purpose of the team is to make sure that the website provides the best possible experience to people both internally and externally. This could either be how it functions, or behaves, or making sure that the right information sits on the right web page. Often people hear ‘web,’ and think ‘IT Services’, but knowledge of IT makes up about 5% of what the team really does. We look at how users get to our website, and how they interact with the site when they are there. This means that we look at both offline and online activity and review the user journey from someone seeing a poster or receiving an email, to someone applying for a course or reading a piece of research. Throughout that journey, we ensure that the content on the page – text, images, videos etc. is engaging and supporting the users needs, and that any functionality on the website is exciting and engaging the target audience. This means that depending on what we are doing, we need to consider a huge amount of factors to ensure that the user can not only find the site, but also that they can easily find the information they need to make their next decision.

So, who are the team and what are their roles?

We’ve essentially got two arms to the team. The Content side – Darren David (Web Editor), Ella Dines (Web Content Officer) and Lisa Haynes (Web and Digital Media Assistant) and the Development side – Georgia Chatsiou (Web Developer), Stephen Bewers (Web and Digital Media Officer) and Sophie Ward (Web and Digital Media Assistant). These two arms work together to essentially ensure that everyone who hits the website finds what they need and if they can’t, we fix it.

The team has changed quite a lot over the past year, hasn’t it? Can you tell us a bit about the new roles and responsibilities of the team.

Massively so really. When I joined back in July 2017 there were four of us. A month later Georgia joined, and then the whole team changed around when I took on the role of Head of WEDM. The new roles were really about bedding in the best digital practice. When the new website was launched it gave us a huge amount of opportunity, so we needed individuals who could focus their attentions on building new and exciting methods to captivate our audiences, as well as creating a personal experience online for users. Whilst the team has grown, these roles are there to ensure that we fully utilise the potential of our website. The digital environment has changed so much since the early days of online, and the team now are in the position to support that.

Which project are you most proud of 

One of the things I’m most proud of, although it’s not complete yet, is the PGR online recruitment project. It’s been a huge piece of work, and we’ve worked with colleagues across all academic departments as well as the REO and IT Services. It’s been a great example of how a problem was recognised and the whole University has got together to find a suitable solution. WEDM have worked extremely hard keeping people informed and involved in the solution that’s coming and I’m really looking forward to looking at the results in a couple of months.

What else do you have coming up? 

We’ve got loads coming up.  East 15 are about to get a new website powered by the same content management system as the main Essex site, we’ll be launching the improvements to the online PGR recruitment journey, and we’re about to start work on improving the digital experience for all of our students.

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

Get to know everyone. The University is a big place and there are teams all over the place that can help you. If I’ve learnt one thing since I’ve been here it’s that working collectively with colleagues across the University makes a huge difference.

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Our Green Impact Award winners

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 9:54 am
Some of our Green Impact Award winners

Some of our Green Impact Award winners

Staff from across the University gathered at Wivenhoe House on Tuesday 10 July  for our annual Green Impact Awards ceremony.  The awards recognise the achievements of staff who have been completing sustainable actions throughout the academic year. Hosted by Daisy Malt from the Sustainability and Grounds Section, the event brought together our Green Impact network and highlighted just how many people are already working hard to lower the impacts their departments are having on the environment.

“It’s always such a pleasure to recognise everyone’s hard work on Green Impact. The community is going from strength to strength and everyone’s effort makes such an important contribution to the University’s sustainability targets,” Daisy said.

Guest speaker, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Jules Pretty, discussed the importance of addressing single use plastic and the University’s current vision for cutting its use and this year we also welcomed contractors Rose Builders to our Green Impact family, for completing a set of specific criteria focused on the environmental commitments of their organisation.

Also speaking was Zoe Arnold, project officer from the National Union of Students, who was able to give an update on our place in the wider Green Impact community, which is made up of 290 organisations in the UK and Europe, ranging from students’ unions to NHS Trusts.

To find out how you can get involved with our own Green Impact community, contact Daisy Malt.

Take a look at the full list of this year’s winners and see all the photos’s from the event on Flickr.

Green Contractor

Rose Builders

Working Towards Bronze



Academic Section

Accommodation South Courts A3

Accommodation North 2


Employability & Careers

Essex Pathways

Language & Linguistics


Occupational Health

Print Essex

Sports Centre

Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Science (SRES)

Southend Campus

UK Data Archive (UKDA)

University Square


Accommodation Operational Office

Albert Sloman Library

Institute for Social and Economics Research (ISER)

Literature, Film and Theatre Studies (LiFTS)

Organisational Development

Talent Development Centre

Vice-Chancellor’s Office


CER Central Team

Essex Food

Estate Management

Event Essex

Faculty of Science and Health

Faculty of Social Sciences


Humanities Faculty Office


Special awards

Luke Nash (Academic Section)

Louise Buxton (Accommodation)

Dilly Meyer (Talent Development Centre)

The Department of Psychology

Organisational Development

School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Science

The Albert Sloman Library

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