Students Staff

31 March 2020

Will COVID-19 make families stronger?

Filed under: Latest news — mh17332 @ 3:38 pm

Relationships expert, Dr Veronica Lamarche, from the Department of Psychology, explores what impact COVID-19 could have on the family.

For many people around the world, the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak represents uncharted waters. Unlike more localised crises, the global nature of this pandemic means  citizens are able to benchmark their own government’s response to the outbreak against the response by governments in other nations.

This can lead people to question whether their government is doing too little or too much in response to managing the outbreak. For example, in the UK, doubts over the government’s initial reticence to mandate “social-distancing” policies that had already been mandated abroad led to public outcry and letters from scientists requesting greater transparency regarding the science behind these policy decisions.

However, these feelings of uncertainty towards the government may have unintended consequences for families in self-isolation trying to adapt and coexist under the same roof morning, noon and night.

Recent work from our team accepted for publication in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology suggests people may cope with uncertainty in their socio-political relationships by affirming their faith in their close familial bonds, and vice versa.

Across two daily diary studies, a weekly study in the build-up to the 2018 midterm election, and a 3-year study of newlyweds, we found that people coped with feelings of uncertainty in politicians by affirming greater trust and faith in their spouses and children.

What this meant is that on days when people felt that the government had behaved in a way that violated what they expected from them, people compensated for this uncertainty by affirming how caring their spouses and children had been that day.

On the other hand, when it was their close family members who were the ones behaving out of the ordinary, people compensated by affirming that they believed the president had their best intentions at heart.

It is worth highlighting this research was all conducted in the USA, nonetheless, there are important implications that we can take away to better understand the current circumstances many of us find ourselves in.

Our research highlights the importance of realising that our social worlds are more connected than many people have previously believed or realised.

Typically, people think about their romantic relationships, and even their broader family networks, as closed systems. For example, people would anticipate that a fight between spouses would have consequences for their children, but not necessarily assume they would impact their neighbours.

However, our research suggests that the actions within our family networks can change how we think, feel and act socio-politically. These socio-political actions directly impact others by virtue of changing who we vote for and the policies we support. Likewise, our research shows that the actions of our politicians can shift whether we are more or less forgiving of a quarantine partner who refuses to close the kitchen cupboard.

Maintaining satisfying, cohesive, and conflict-free relationships is not only good for our mental health, but is also important for our physical well-being. When it comes to coping with a bizarre and constantly changing world, the extent to which we feel satisfied in our relationships can be an important buffer against feelings of uncertainty and unexpected behaviour.

So, is there anything people can do to fortify their relationships during these challenging days ahead?

One strategy may be to try and reframe recent conflicts with family members. In a marital intervention study declines in marital quality and satisfaction were eliminated when couples were asked to spend seven minutes every few months re-imagining a recent conflict through the eyes of a neutral, third-party observer. Likewise, taking the time to clearly communicate what we want and expect from our partners can pay dividends in the future.

In these unprecedented times, we need to be able to lean on those close to us for support, comfort, and safety. Perhaps there is some solace in knowing that the nightly news updates and their accompanying uncertainty may have the unintended side-effect of drawing us closer to our loved ones by the end of this.



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30 March 2020

Graduation 2020

Filed under: Latest news — Communications, CER @ 4:31 pm

Our Academic Registrar Richard Stock emailed all final year students on Monday 30 March to update them on Graduation 2020.

“I am writing with a very heavy heart, to provide what I know will be very disappointing news about our plans for Graduation 2020. We know that our graduation ceremonies are the highlight of the University’s academic year – and even more important than this, these are the culmination of your hard work, and an important opportunity for you to celebrate your achievements with your friends and family.

“As a consequence of public health actions to minimise the spread of the COVID-19 virus, we have taken the very painful decision to postpone our summer 2020 Graduation ceremonies. We will provide you with an opportunity to celebrate your achievements with friends and family as soon as we can, but I am sorry to say that we are not currently in a position to confirm new dates.

“I want to  confirm that for all our students eligible to graduate this summer you will have your awards conferred as expected; you will have access to your certificates and transcripts this summer and the fact that we are not holing graduation ceremonies will not affect this in any way.

“We want to keep in touch with you and to let you know about ‘all things Essex’ after you officially finish. Please could I urge you to keep your external contact details up to date on ‘My Essex’ and do please  let us know how you would like us to communicate with you once you leave. You can update your preferences online, all you need is your PR_ID (formatted like ABCDE12345):

“I promise to be in touch with an update when we have more news. In the meantime, I wish you all the best as you prepare for the summer assessment period.”

Richard Stock

Academic Registrar

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16 March 2020

Changes to Essex Food outlets

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 5:06 pm

Following the start of a period of ‘Enhanced Protection’ at the University from Monday 16 March, Essex Food have introduced several new service developments to ensure the wellbeing of our campus community. Tim Morris, Deputy Director of Operations Estates and Campus Services, explains the changes.

Currently, and for the remainder of the term, we will be operating all restaurants and cafes as normal, with the exception of the street food huts – which will be closed until after the Easter break.

Please see the Essex Food website for updated opening hours.

Tim Morris

Tim Morris

Within the restaurants, you will notice tables have been spaced to ensure safe social distancing, we would also request customers queue using a safe distance apart (one metre).

All our cutlery and crockery will be single use to minimise risk, all food displays will be covered and some of our usual services such as fresh water jugs and glasses will be removed. These services however will be available on request, so please just ask a member of the team.

With concerns around group congregation, we are planning to operate more restaurants on a takeaway basis only, providing continued service whilst minimising risk wherever possible.

Clearly things are changing at a fast pace, and we will continue to react to these changes in line with University and Government guidelines. We apologise for any inconvenience caused, but remain committed to serving the University community.

For more information on COVID-19, please see our guidance for staff and students.

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10 March 2020

How we’re making aspirations happen

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 1:41 pm

We chat to Stephen Pomfret, Head of Collaborative Outreach for Make Happen, part of the Uni Connect outreach programme, run by the Office for Students and based here at the University of Essex.

What kind of work have you been doing this week?
I have just taken up my new role. I’m the new Head of Collaborative Outreach for ‘Make Happen’, the regional Uni Connect (formerly NCOP) programme, having just taken over from Danielle Booth. So, I’m getting to grips with some new tasks, projects and responsibilities…so far, so good.

Stephen from Outreach team

Stephen Pomfret

What kind of roles did you do before joining Make Happen?
My previous role was leading on Make Happen’s monitoring and evaluation. Prior to that, I have worked in access and participation at other institutions. I first became involved in outreach as a student ambassador, I then worked as an outreach officer before moving into the evaluation and the strategic elements of access and participation.

How has Make Happen been making a difference to young people in Essex since it began in 2017?
Working with our partnership 66 schools and 11 colleges from specific postcodes, on successful completion of the first phase of Make Happen in 2019 we had reached 66,500 students across Essex where progression to higher education is lower than expected given the GCSE results of the area, through events, workshops, tours – all kinds of activities.

Make Happen phase two has been running since August 2019, and continues until July 2021, delivering a varied programme of activities to the same partner schools and colleges. All of this work has been supported by continuous evaluation and data analysis to provide a rigorous evidence base for the programme’s effectiveness.

What are you looking forward to in your new role, and what do you think will be the challenges?
Beyond July 2021 Uni Connect, and Make Happen as its regional base in Essex, will become one of a network of outreach hubs serving more schools across Essex. We offer support and activities but also signpost to services. So, while there are changes ahead, I’m looking forward to the challenge of ensuring a smooth transition, as well as delivering and evaluating all our activities while still operating ‘business as usual’.

What kind of tasks have you been doing recently?
Two new staff members have started who I have been working with, as well as continuing to implement our new CRM system. We’re also launching our new website ( to help share good news and good practice, and better signpost students, teachers and carers to other sources of support.

The new website also has a teacher’s community sign-in area with Make Happen documents and a communications toolkit to help teachers, and we’re launching a new newsletter soon.

Plus, we’ve been telling our partners about the recent name change from NCOP (the National Collaborative Outreach Programme) to Uni Connect.

Name three things you love about your job…

1. Working with the team! We have a fantastic team of Collaborative Outreach Officers who deliver brilliant content across the county. Behind the scenes is an equally brilliant team of admin and evaluation support as well the senior team.

2. Seeing the impact on students; especially on long-term projects and sustained interventions, the difference is fantastic to see.

3. Being a part of something that makes a difference –  it’s lovely to know that everything we do is with the purpose of supporting schools, colleges and students across the region.

…and one you don’t!

Sometimes having to say ‘no!’

Check out the team’s new website to find out more about the programme of support for local students.

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9 March 2020

Changes to our postal service

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 5:59 pm

Linda McCanna-Doyle, Deputy Director of Services, talks about the positive changes we’re making to our postal service.

What changes are we making?

  • We have increased our counter opening hours to include lunchtime.
  • We have installed a bank of Amazon lockers (in the corridor at 3NE) to provide a wider collection choice to our customers.
  • Due to changing patterns of incoming and outgoing mail, from Wednesday 1 April, we will reduce the number of post runs to one a day. This will improve how we sort, store and process mail help us to provide a better counter service.James in post room

Why are we making these changes?

  • The past three years have seen a 23% increase in the number of items being delivered to the Post Room. These are mainly parcels for students that are sorted and stored at the Post Room for collection.
  • Outgoing mail from departments has decreased by 68%

Find out more about our post services here.

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4 March 2020

Behind the scenes with the mechanical team

Filed under: Campus news — Laura Mathias @ 10:50 am

The sustainability team chat with Andy Beales, Technical Manager Mechanical and Sam Merritt, Mechanical Supervisor, at the University. Andy’s team carry out plumbing and heating works across our campus making sure all systems run safely.

Tell us a bit about your team?
The team do a fantastic job of keeping all services running throughout the year. There are 74 Boiler rooms across Colchester Campus which the team maintain – we make sure the heating and water keeps flowing.

Mechanical Team at University of Essex

The University of Essex mechanical team

What have you been working on recently?
We’ve been in South Courts Accommodation swapping out old cold water booster pumps for new ones which are more energy-efficient and a lot quieter! We also got creative with some old shelving to create stands for these new pumps.

So you’re good at repurposing materials across campus?
We always try to find ways to reuse and recycle materials. When renovating the Bertrand Russell Tower we salvaged parts from sinks, toilets and radiators so if there are any faults with the remaining towers, we have what we need to fix it. This not only saves the University money but is a sustainable approach to maintenance works.

What can we all do to make our offices environmentally-friendly?
If you have a thermostatic radiator valve turn it down if you get too hot rather than having your ra

Boiler room at Colchester Campus

Boiler room

diator on full and then opening the window.

If you have a dripping tap or broken window, make sure to report it to Estates on 2959. This helps us save energy by making sure everything is running smoothly.

Want to discuss how your work is related to sustainability and the environment? Email the Sustainability team to share your story.

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31 January 2020

What do students think? How you can help us find out.

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 4:19 pm

As three major student surveys launch on Monday 3 February, Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, introduces eight key facts about the surveys, and why they matter.

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott

Here at Essex, we believe in putting student success at the heart of everything we do. The NSS, UKES and PTES surveys, give the University the opportunity to receive direct, anonymous feedback from our taught students on how they think we are doing. And, of course, this gives us an opportunity to improve.

Whether our roles involve encouraging students to explore new ideas, assessing their coursework, staffing the library, building new classrooms, fixing IT systems, or devising timetables, we’re all here to help students get the very best out of their time at Essex – and to encourage their feedback.

Please take a few minutes to read these key facts, so you can help and play your part in continual improvement at Essex – as we strive to ensure every one of our students receives an excellent and transformational education.

Eight key facts about the upcoming 2020 student surveys

1. On Monday 3 February the 2020 NSS, UKES and PTES student surveys will go live, running until Thursday 30 April. Each year, University-wide effort encourages students to complete their survey. Our response rates are usually good: last year we reached a 76.8 per cent NSS response rate compared with a national average of 67.4 per cent. This year we’re aiming for at least 70 per cent for all departments, and 76 per cent institutionally. We’re also hoping to achieve 25 per cent participation in UKES and PTES institutionally, with all departments above 15 per cent. We donate £1 to local charities in Colchester, Southend and Loughton for every survey completed; last year we raised £3,000 for local good causes.

2. The results of the annual National Student Survey (NSS) the UK Engagement Survey (UKES) and Postgraduate Taught Engagement Survey (PTES) are hugely important. We believe in putting student success at the heart of everything we do. These surveys for all levels of taught study give us an opportunity to receive direct, anonymous feedback from our own students on how they think we are doing. And, of course, this gives us an opportunity to improve. The National Student Survey (NSS) – whose campaign theme this year is “What do you think?” – is for most final year undergraduates. The UK Engagement Survey (UKES) is for all other undergraduates. And, to support our postgraduate taught community better, this year we’re also running the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES).

3. Once surveys are complete, and the results are in – this is what happens next. We make institutional improvements, informed by what the results are telling us. Results are scrutinised in many places. Each department, for example, considers the results from their own students and agrees a plan of actions with their Executive Dean in relation to improving their courses. Alongside this departmental scrutiny, the results are considered at an institutional level to see whether there are any broader issues raised. For example, the library examines results across departments to see how we can improve the library services we offer to our students and the Student Experience Committee considers all the free-text comments to pick out any common themes which could be addressed.

4. NSS results are also made publicly available as an aid to potential students choosing their university.
NSS results are made public at Discover Uni to help prospective students make informed decisions about where and what to study. They also make a significant contribution to our rankings in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide, as well as other UK ranking systems. The results from the UKES and PTES are used internally to help us understand the experiences of our undergraduate students who aren’t eligible for the NSS, as well as those of our PGT community.

5. A coordinated, university-wide response to our results is really important. Our Student Satisfaction Surveys Coordination Group – attended by Executive Deans and senior colleagues from Academic Section and CER – ensures a coherent approach across the University. Together, we deliver on various action plans that arise from our results, with the ultimate aim of ensuring we offer our students an excellent education, and achieve great student satisfaction.

6. When it comes to making meaningful improvements, students are at the heart of the process. Current students and the SU also help us understand how we can use the survey data to improve student satisfaction. For example, departments hold student focus groups to understand how they can better support their students’ learning. One outcome has been that many departments have launched for the first time this year in-module feedback to allow students to give feedback early in the module so that action can be taken to rectify any issues before the module ends.

7. Whatever job you so, you can help to encourage a student to take part in their survey. The NSS, UKES and PTES are a snapshot of our efforts, through the eyes of our students. When the 2020 surveys launch, we should all be ready to play our part. That means coordinating our efforts to achieve the best response rate and attain the best results. Once the results are in, we will then act with renewed energy to make continual improvements towards excellence in education.

8. Be briefed! Familiarise yourself with NSS, UKES and PTES. The three surveys ask a range of questions on all aspects of academic and wider university experience. It is important we support good practice and do not impose inappropriate influence. For more details on supporting the surveys, and for details of the NSS survey questions, visit

Got any questions?

The Student Experience Team within Academic Section are overseeing arrangements for NSS, UKES and PTES.  Please contact Mira Dragieva, Student Voice Manager via ext 4639.

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Research Support Sessions at Southend

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 3:38 pm

Need some scholarly communications and research support?

We’re hosting workshops at Southend Campus on Monday 10 February.

Study space

The sessions are aimed at Early Career Researchers, but anyone with an interest in the topics is welcome to come along.

Find out more and book your place:

We look forward to seeing you there.

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30 January 2020

Update on our new print services

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 5:29 pm

As per Christopher Oldham’s update in December, CDS have taken over the University of Essex Copy Centre, Graphic Design and Print functions. Take a look at some of the changes below.

Print Essex ordering process

New orders and amendments

From January 2020 we are encouraging all orders and amends for Print Essex to come through the online form which you can find here:

This form will be sent to the CDS client service team who will review and process your order.

Any content or amends can be attached to the online order form which will speed up the process.


Going forward, CDS will quote costs before starting any work. This will give you a chance to review and agree to costs, avoiding any amounting costs to be paid at the end of the project.

In order to be transparent, CDS quotes will be fully inclusive with no hidden fees. Quotes will state what is included and if you need more time than is quoted for amends, we can requote based on your requirements.

All quotes will need to be approved prior to CDS starting any work – a reply email simply stating your approval of the quote will get the team started on your project.

Contacting CDS Print Essex

To contact CDS regarding an order, email

You can also call the CDS client service team on 01206 87 3141.

We do request that any new orders or amends are requested through the online order form to enable us to track your order more efficiently.

The Essex university email accounts will no longer be monitored from Monday 3 February 2020.

Further updates to the Print Essex process

As we move forward into the contract we will be updating and refining the process for orders to be processed by Print Essex. These will be communicated via the Essex Daily newsletter and blog.

Volunteers for helping to shape the future process

CDS are looking for volunteers to share their findings of the Print Essex process to help CDS shape the future process.

If you are interested in helping, we will be conducting workshops and one-to-one meetings to gather as much information as possible. All information is welcome!

To register your interest please follow the instructions below and we will be in touch about setting up a session in due course.

  • please email
  • with the subject: “Print Essex: the good, the bad, and the ugly”
  • detailing in the body of your email;
    Email address
    Job title
    Happy to attend a workshop or prefer a one-to-one session
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24 January 2020

Copyright Licensing Agency collection exercise Jan-Feb 2020

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — Communications, CER @ 4:39 pm

What’s happening?

The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA) is doing a periodic collection of data relating to the type and quantity of paper copies we make for educational purposes.

What is the CLA?

The CLA is one of the UK’s intellectual property licencing agencies. They undertake periodic data collection to inform the payment of royalties for authors. The University holds a licence for copying and digital scanning and so is included, among other organisations for the data collection.

When is the data collection taking place?

For six weeks between 13 January to 21 February 2020.
If you are printing packs using a local printer, please print an extra copy and deliver it to the Copy Centre, where all paper copies will be collated. If you are printing a pack from an electronic original, please upload the electronic version to the CLA Cloud –  Login Name: UniversityofEssex  Password:Monday14!
Packs ordered from the Copy Centre will be automatically collected.

What is the purpose?

Once every five years the CLA requires us to tell them approximately how many paper copies we are making for educational purposes. Their motive for collecting this data is to ensure that the authors of the publications we copy and use are paid the correct amount of royalties. It is not an audit to check our use against our licence. As many of our academics are published authors, you will understand the importance of accuracy in this exercise.

Who does it apply to?

It applies to anyone making copies for teaching; including academic and professional services staff and Graduate Teaching Assistants.

What do I have to do?

This exercise relates to publications copied onto paper for educational purposes only – you are not required to declare copies made for personal or private research purposes. Yellow boxes have been installed next to some our printers. When you copy something for teaching, simply make a copy of the back page including the bar code, fill in a CLA label and pop it into the yellow box. Anyone making copies for teaching will be required to take part. If you are making paper copies on a local printer, please create an extra copy and deliver it to our Copy Centre who will collate them all. Alternatively, if you are creating a paper copy from an electronic original, please upload the electronic version to the CLA cloud. Copies ordered from the Copy Centre will be automatically collected.

What about digital scanning and born-digital copies?

Scanning of paper items for digital use is not included. Copies of copies are included. Paper copies of digital born materials are to be included. Course packs that are printed are to be included.
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