Students Staff

Latest news

8 July 2020

Help us tackle hate crime

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 2:02 pm

To help tackle problems with hate crime, our Colchester and Southend campuses have been assigned as Hate crime Incident Reporting Centres (HIRC).

A HIRC is a location whereby our staff and students can receive support from trained Hate Crime Ambassadors (HCAs) in reporting hate crimes to the Police in a safe environment. HIRCs and HCAs also help to raise awareness as to what hate crime is and why it’s important that it’s reported. HIRCs are particularly beneficial to support people who may not feel confident or comfortable to go directly to the Police.

We would like to ensure that as many front-facing staff as possible are trained as Hate Crime Ambassadors (HCAs). Essex Police will be providing the training free of charge to anyone wishing to become an HCA via Zoom on Tuesday 21 July from 10am. The training will be around 90 minutes.

Please contact Suzanne Harrison for more details.

You can find out more about hate crime and the support we offer to people experiencing hate crime on our Report and Support platform.

 

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7 July 2020

Support our Hardship Fund

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 6:00 pm

The Coronavirus pandemic has raised a lot of challenges for everyone at Essex, but it has also seen our community come together to support each other.

We launched our Hardship Fund at the start of April and the Essex community has already raised over £140,000 to support those students who need our help most. We have received donations from £5 to £10,000 from a total of 345 people scattered across the globe and we are incredibly grateful for all your support.

Students receiving support from our Hardship Fund

It’s incredible to see teams finding novel ways to fundraise. Our Estates team recently auctioned off bikes, generating an impressive £1,235 for the fund. We want to thank them for their innovative efforts, and to anyone who bought a bike – you have made a huge contribution to helping our students.

We’ve been amazed to see how our students have responded to the challenges of this year and proud to see them rally together to support their peers and contribute to the fund. When given the opportunity to receive £30 for completing a recent ISER survey or donate this fee to the Hardship Fund, many students opted to donate their fee, raising a further £540 for the Hardship Fund.

We are grateful to have received donations from all over the world, from alumni, honorary graduates, local residents, students and staff. We have all come together to help as many students as possible, at a time when they have needed it most.

At the start of this campaign we set an ambitious target of raising £250,000. We are over halfway there, but there is more we can do. We want to support 500 students with £500 bursaries, making sure that they can overcome financial hardship and complete their studies here at Essex.

To make a donation to the Hardship Fund please click here.

If you have any questions about the appeal, or ideas about how you can fundraise to support Essex students, please email thankyou@essex.ac.uk

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1 July 2020

Your pathway to permanency during COVID-19

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 3:46 pm

We’re supporting new academic staff on their pathway to permanent positions by providing an extension to Pathway to Permanency (P2P) agreements.

The Covid-19 pandemic has created exceptional circumstances for the University which is impacting on everything we do. During this time, a priority remains supporting our community of new Essex academics who are at an early stage of their career and on our Pathway to Permanency (P2P) process.

Flexibility is already inherent within our current procedures but we appreciate that the current external environment may present colleagues with a number of challenges in achieving their specific agreed objectives and we want to be as flexible and supportive as possible. We also appreciate that individual circumstances and pressures will vary and that it is not always easy for colleagues to voice their concerns.

In order to ensure that P2P staff experience no detriment as a result of a likely 12 month period of disruption, we will apply a 12 month extension to complete P2P agreements. This will provide the additional time needed to reflect on, adjust and complete agreed priorities while supporting staff to work towards establishing their academic career.

An automatic 12 month extension for every colleague will ensure equality of opportunity and affirm our commitment to our people and communities as set out in the University Strategy 2019-2025.

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24 June 2020

Helping our students celebrate Graduation in 2020

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:23 pm

Graduation 2020 – how we are helping our students to celebrate this year

As you know, we’ve had to postpone July’s Graduation ceremonies but we still want our graduates to celebrate their achievements, wherever they are around the world.

While we are hoping that we can hold our ceremonies in 2021 when it is safe to do so, I’m writing to let you know about our online celebrations, certificates and HEAR arrangements for this summer.

The communications team will be using our central social media channels to share student stories on Wednesday 29 July. We want to share our students’ excitement at receiving their results and celebrate their success at Essex. We need your help to make this work.

Graduation online: Departmental events with a difference

This year things have to be different but it doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Graduation with our students. We would love our students to mark the occasion through virtual events.

Here’s how your department can get involved

1.Showcasing your students
Our communications team is working on a social media campaign to showcase exceptional student achievements. If you haven’t already sent through ideas of students with exceptional stories to tell, please send details to the communications team by Friday 4 July.

2.Online celebrations
We know students feel at home in their departments, so we’re encouraging each department to host virtual celebrations, online and on social media, when students receive their results. This could be as simple as scheduling a message on your departmental Facebook page or streaming a live video congratulating them. Perhaps you could ask your students to share photos of their best moment here at Essex, or how they’re celebrating their achievements at home. We are not setting firm requirements but we are asking you to contact your students and let them know we are proud of them. If you have any exciting ideas for celebrating with your students, please let us know and we will support you.


Issuing certificates and awards

We’re not able to produce hard copy award documents whilst working remotely but we hope to return to campus over the summer to print certificates for all 2020 graduates. We will make sure certificates are sent to students’ permanent home addresses, free of charge.

HEAR transcripts

As usual, all undergraduate students will be able to access their transcript digitally via HEAR. We are also able to provide digital transcripts (PDF) for postgraduate students, if needed. We will be updating our final-year students with everything they need to know in the coming weeks. We will copy you in to any student communications to keep you informed.

We understand that this has been a particularly challenging year for all of our students and staff. I hope that your energy and efforts can still give graduates an opportunity to celebrate, and remind them they’ll be part of our University community for life.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this year’s Graduation. Please contact Chelsey Smith (Graduation and Awards Manager) by email with any comments, questions, ideas or suggestions: graduation@essex.ac.uk.

Richard Stock
Academic Registrar

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Congratulations to our Green Impact Award winners

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 3:11 pm

Our Green Impact Awards recognise the achievements of staff who complete sustainable actions throughout the academic year.

All the teams have worked so hard on making a positive contribution by reducing their impact on the environment and lockdown meant teams had to come up with creative ways to complete actions from home. From taking part in Zoom meetings to growing plants at home and talking walks out in nature.

An incredible 37 teams took part. 13 teams reached Gold, 9 reached silver, 8 reached bronze. We awarded 1 Green Contractor award, 3 Little Choices Big Change awards, and 3 Gold Project awards. When we are able to, we will be holding our annual awards ceremony to celebrate everyone’s hard work.

Gold awards
Academic Services
Albert Sloman Library
Faculty of Science and Health
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Humanities
School of Law
LiFTs
Maintenance and Capital Development
Student Development
Students’ Union
Sustainability
Vice-Chancellor’s Office
Workplace Health and Safety and Wellbeing

Silver awards
Accommodation South Courts A3
Essex Business School
Estates and Campus Services Marketing and Communications
Essex Pathways
Southend Students’ Union
The Gently Green Team
UK Data Archive
University Square

Bronze awards
Accommodation North 2
Bertrand Russell Tower
Central Stores
Essex Abroad
Grounds
HR Employee Relations and Rewards
Accommodation North Area 1
Accommodation South Courts A5

Little Choices Big Changes awards
Electricians
EMS Helpdesk and Mechanical Team
Rose Builders achieved the Green Contractor award for the third year running.

Gold Project awards go to teams who undertake work that directly addresses their operations, from design to implementation. This year, awards went to Event Essex Green Team who created a calendar of sustainability events, ISER who completed a Reduce Project and Soft FM Services who completed a Reuse and Recycling Project.

We are looking at running the programme a little bit differently in the new academic year, so if you want to stay up to date and haven’t already, make sure you’re signed up to our email newsletter. Just contact us via sustainability@essex.ac.uk.

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18 June 2020

Welcoming our new members of University Council

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 5:01 pm

We are delighted to announce three new external members of our University Council.

The University of Essex Council is our governing body comprising 25 members, the majority of whom are external. Council is responsible for the overall strategic leadership of the University.

Danny Lopez, Chief Executive Officer, Glasswall Solutions

Danny Lopez

Danny Lopez

An Essex graduate, Danny has enjoyed a successful international career in banking, marketing, diplomacy and technology. He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of Glasswall Solutions, an award-winning cyber security firm. Before moving to Glasswall, he was the Chief Operations Officer at Blippar, a UK-based technology company specialising in augmented reality. Between 2011 and 2016, Danny was the British Consul General to New York and Director General for trade and investment across North America. He is a Non-Executive Director at Innovate Finance – the UK industry body championing global FinTech – and a special advisor to New York-based venture capital firm, FinTech Collective.

Pravina Ladva

Pravina Ladva

Pravina Ladva, Chief Technology and Operations Officer, Swiss RE

Pravina joined Swiss RE in 2017 as their Chief Technology and Operations Officer. Before joining Swiss RE she worked in a variety of roles at Barclaycard, including Chief Operations Officer, Digital Marketplace and Chief Information Officer, Barclaycard Business Solutions. In these roles, she has established a successful track record in the financial technology sector, taking on complex roles with responsibility for strategy, delivery and results.

 

Obum Ekeke, Global Lead for University Relations and Educational Partnerships, DeepMind

Obum Ekeke

Obum Ekeke

Obum currently leads educational programmes and partnerships at DeepMind, aimed at building a stronger, diverse and more inclusive Artificial Intelligence community. Before joining DeepMind, he spent 12 years at Google, where he led international educational and technical skills development programmes in partnership with universities, NGOs and governments. Obum is a trustee of UK Youth – a leading national charity committed to ensuring all young people are empowered to build bright futures, regardless of their background or circumstances. He’s also a trustee of MetamorphoseAfrica – a charity that works to provide tech skills and opportunities to reduce unemployment among African youths.

As well as these new external members, the following internal members have been elected to Council:

Jane Hamilton, Chair of Council, said:

“All of our new Council appointments will bring an excellent new dimension to our University at a time when new ideas and ways of thinking will be essential in securing our future. Council plays an absolutely vital role in ensuring the University of Essex is well governed and their experience and talents will offer us invaluable insight and direction.”

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12 June 2020

Changes to the way we buy and pay – coming soon

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — Communications, CER @ 3:40 pm
Carol Saward

Carol Saward, Head of Income and Payments

Our University currently does not use a single, consistent route for purchasing and invoicing. Over the years different localised systems have been employed; reliant upon paper copies, local files, local knowledge and some good will.

In the coming weeks we will see changes to the way we buy and pay for things. 

Here, Carol Saward, our Head of Income and Payments, and Phil Sweeting, our Head of Procurement, tell us more about the changes and the benefits.

Tell us about the current situation with invoicing

Supplier invoices are distributed by different methods all over the University, often directly to departments with no central registration of these.

In a large number of cases, receipt of a supplier invoice generates the raising of a retrospective purchase order onto Unit4.

There is so much paper present in our current process too. Even if the supplier invoice received is in a pdf format, we print it off to complete our current manual paper based processing and sign-off business process before the invoice is sent to Payments for processing the payment to the supplier.

Why is the current system causing a problem for the University?

Currently, it is impossible to track any invoice, especially when dealing with supplier queries surrounding receipt of an invoice, or where an invoice is in the authorisation process for payment.

The raising of an official purchase order after the supplier invoice has been received means that the University is not able to meet its responsibility to provide a clear audit trail for authorisation of expenditure, whilst understanding its financial commitments for budget and forecasting purposes.

If the official purchase order is late in being raised, aside from not complying with our Financial Regulations, it slows down the payment to the supplier by making it difficult to take advantage of early payment discounts, can lead to late payment charges, and can even damage our relationship with the supplier.

Tell us about the benefits of the new system

We are introducing an ‘Amazon like’ ordering process known as a Marketplace.  This will enhance the current ordering process where we have compliant procurement frameworks with live stock levels and pricing through punch outs and catalogues to improve the end user experience. After the appropriate Unit4 authorisation workflow process, suppliers will receive an order electronically, will be able to process your order quicker and can send their invoices to us electronically via XML as opposed to current paper or pdf formats.

All supplier invoices will be received centrally whether in paper, pdf or XML format, which will include scanning and uploading onto Unit4 to enable paperless workflow processes to be completed.  This will improve our visibility over the entire purchase to pay process to track outstanding liabilities and have full visibility capabilities of the accounts payable process in real-time to improve supplier relationships.

The new system will increase transparency and usability of expenditure data for budgetary control and forecasting by using Unit4 as a centrally managed and controlled system that is accessible to multiple users.

Will it work with our existing systems e.g. Unit 4?

Yes, the new system will work and fully integrates with Unit4.

Tell us about the new marketplace. Do I go to it for all purchasing or just certain things?

The Marketplace enables access to supplier “punch outs” and catalogues which will enable an easier customer experience when placing orders.  Colleagues will be able to click a “go shopping” button in Unit4 which will enable them to access suppliers websites direct, showing live stock levels and improved pricing.  This will give colleagues an Amazon type shopping experience. The Marketplace will also compare prices across suppliers to help colleagues achieve best value.

Which suppliers are on it?

We will be going live with Office Depot, Fisher Scientific and Bunzl Cleaning initially but more suppliers will be added covering commonly purchased items.  We will give full guidance on the suppliers who will be available through the marketplace and release regular updates.

When will this all be launched? All at the same time?

The solution will go live in September for invoicing with a few marketplace suppliers but further suppliers will be added regularly.

Will training be available?

We will be running training sessions covering the new system along with any changes in existing processes.  It is likely these will be through Zoom sessions.  We will also have champions across the University who will be able to help with queries.

Any new considerations?

  • Paper invoices will be a thing of the past and there will be no need to handle paper invoices or keep local copies of them.
  • We will implement a no purchase order no payment policy with our suppliers, therefore, it is essential that purchase orders are raised before buying goods or services

How do I get involved with the project?

  • Regular updates will be provide to all staff via Essex Weekly
  • If you are interested in becoming a champion for your area, please contact Carol Saward or Phil Sweeting.
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11 June 2020

Decolonising the curriculum at Essex: What? Why? How?

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 11:29 am

Dr Hannah Gibson and Dr Kyle Jerro are leading a project to decolonise our curriculum, here they tell us more about that work and how you can get involved.

Recent years have seen the growth of movements calling on educational institutions to acknowledge their role in shaping assumptions about racial hierarchies, and perpetuating racial inequalities. These fall under a wide range of titles, including ‘decolonisation’ and ‘transformation’ and are linked to international movements such as #RhodesMustFall, #LiberateMyDegree and ‘Why is my curriculum white?’

This is the first in a series of blog posts exploring some of these ideas and highlighting work that is currently under way at Essex on these issues. This post explores some of the ideas and assumptions on which much of this work is based.

What does decolonising the curriculum mean?

The term ‘decolonisation’ means different things to different people. In this context, we are using it to highlight the link between present-day racial inequalities and broader historical processes of colonialism.

In the context of education, it is based on the observation that global histories of Western colonial domination have impacted on – and limited – what is considered knowledge and whose knowledge is recognised. This has in turn affected both what we teach and how we teach.

By decolonising the curriculum, we seek to engage with what are in many instances the problematic historic origins of our disciplines, unpack diverse bodies of knowledge and approaches to learning, and to explore ways to make education as equal and just as possible.

Why decolonise the curriculum?

A central part of the call to decolonise the curriculum is linked to addressing racialised disadvantage in higher education.

Black students and students from minority ethnic backgrounds are impacted by racial inequalities at all stages of higher education, through admission to university, progression and degree awarding. Rather than continuing to operate within inequitable power structures, decolonising the curriculum seeks to address inequalities, as well as to use education as a tool for liberation and transformation.

The inequalities in our society are often reflected in and perpetuated by our educational systems. This means that not all students have equitable experiences of education. Many of us have not had teachers whose gender identities reflect ours, teachers who look like us, or teachers who talk like us. And, regardless of the identities of our teachers, whether we feel able to fully express ourselves in these contexts can also have a profound impact on our experiences of education.

So what does this process look like? What can I do?

There are important steps here involved in looking at the content of courses, at which authors are cited (Are they all white? Are they predominantly male? Are they cis-gender?). Visibility is crucial in terms of recognising the work of marginalised and racialised people, as well as providing a range of resources which is reflective of the diversity of the student body and our communities.

However, what these lists look like is only part of the concern here. We encourage educators to also explain who is on their reading lists, and why? Providing some discussion of why specific texts are crucial, as well as acknowledging that you are aware that certain voices are missing, can be an important part of bringing these issues to the foreground and addressing inequalities.

Similarly, do the tasks that students are asked to do allow them to bring themselves and their experiences into the learning environment? Does the work allow for reflection? Does it allow for diversity of experience and diversity of opinion?

Here we are thinking about teaching and assessment, but there have been calls more widely to decolonise the university – to look at who is teaching, who is managing the university structures? What structures are Higher Education Institutions connected with and contributing to? Do these links support racist power structures?

What is happening here at Essex?

There are a number of ongoing initiatives that have been taking place at Essex, at both departmental and University level. Recently, as part of the Education Strategic Fund project ‘Decolonising the curriculum and anti-racist pedagogy: teaching and learning for all’ we have set up a working group looking at embedding some of these ideas into our work at the University.

We are putting together a ‘decolonising the curriculum’ reading list which has resources for educators looking to engage with some of these ideas, as well as broader reading on the topic. There are some guidelines, checklists and toolkits developed at other universities which people might find helpful.

There is also on-going work seeking to address racial inequality at the University of Essex and Higher Education more broadly. There is an anti-racist reading group (and an associated Talis reading list). The Students’ Union has been very proactive and have taken a leading role in trying to address many of these issues.

In subsequent posts we will look in more detail at issues related to decolonising the curriculum and highlight a range of voices who are engaging with this work.

How can you get involved?
If you want to get involved in this work email Hannah Gibson and Kyle Jerro to be added to the ‘Decolonising the curriculum and anti-racist pedagogy’ mailing list.

Please also consider having a look at this growing list of anti-racist resources which have been compiled in light of recent events in the US but which have ongoing global relevance.

The next blog post in this series will be by Samira Diebire, the 2019-20 Black Student Community Officer.

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10 June 2020

Standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement

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

University of Essex Global Forum statement in support of Black Lives Matter:

The members of the Global Forum staff network at the University of Essex stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement. We strongly condemn police brutality and systemic racism that infects societies throughout the world.

George Floyd’s murder by the Minneapolis police is only one in a series of recent deaths in the US due to police brutality and racism. Prior to George Floyd’s murder, Tony McDade, a Black trans man, was shot and killed by Tallahassee police in Florida, Breonna Taylor was shot and killed by Louisville Metro Police in Kentucky after they broke into her home and Ahmaud Arbery was shot and killed while out jogging near his home in Georgia. Since George Floyd’s murder, David McAtee, a business owner who was known to give out free meals to the police, was killed during police enforcement of a curfew, by police who were not wearing body cameras. These are just a few of the incidents that have occurred in the US over the past few months.

We recognise that issues of police brutality and racism are not exclusive to the US and as a staff network with members around the world we have similar stories from our countries, including our chosen country of residence, the UK. The victims of the systemic racism of the ‘Windrush’ scandal and associated ‘hostile environment’ policies still await appropriate compensation. Ethnic minorities are overrepresented in the UK Criminal Justice and prison system. Ethnic minorities are also more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, experience excessive force within those encounters and be detained under the Mental Health Act compared to white people.

Within our own university and community, we are aware of the inequalities that minority ethnic students and staff experience as a result of systemic racism. We support and stand in solidarity with statements issued by the Students’ Union, the BAME Forum and the LGBTQ Forum in support of Black Lives Matter and anti-racism. We will work with our staff and students to stop racism and dismantle racist systems within the University and within our communities.

The Global Forum is a place where we celebrate our cultural diversity and share our experiences and support our colleagues. We are committed to ensuring that our staff and students are able to work and study in an environment that is anti-racist. We will work together with staff and students in our University to break down the systems in which it operates that leads to all experiences of inequality and oppression.

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4 June 2020

Response from our BAME Staff Forum to recent events

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

The BAME Staff Forum aims to provide a space for staff who identify as BAME/POC to talk about their experiences, share ideas and visions, as well as to support colleagues where this may be needed.  The Forum was founded in order to ensure that racial inequality and racial justice are on the agenda at the University. 

We want to issue the below statement in response to recent events taking place across the world.

The Black Asian and Minority Ethnic community Staff Forum condemns in the strongest terms the killing by the police of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

This comes off the back of a series of racist killings that have taken place over the last couple of months. This includes Tony McDade who was shot and killed by Florida police, Breonna Taylor who was shot and killed by Kentucky police after they broke into her home and Ahmaud Arbery who was shot and killed while out jogging near his home in Georgia.

These are just the most recent of a growing list of Black people who have been killed as a result of police brutality and as a result of racism. And these are just some of the names we know. These are the names that have made the headlines.

In the UK, we know that people from BME backgrounds are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police, are more likely to be subjected to force by the police, make up a disproportionate part of the prison population, receive harsher penalties and longer sentencing, are more likely to be detained under the Mental Health Act, are more likely to be prescribed medication for mental unwellness, but are less likely to receive appropriate treatment for pain. In our own educational context, we know that BME students and staff experience a range of inequalities that result from systemic racism. We also know that many existing power structures continue to marginalise People of Colour and perpetuate anti-Blackness.

We support the protesters fighting for justice for those who have been murdered. We stand in solidarity with the statement issued by the Student Union in support of Black Lives Matter, and acknowledge also our students’ experiences of racism both on and off the campus.

Our Forum provides a place for people who identify as Black or Asian or who are from ethnic minority communities, to share our experiences, discuss ideas and visions, as well as to provide support for colleagues where this is needed.

The Forum was founded in order to ensure that racial inequality and racial justice is on the agenda at the University. We are committed to anti-racism and seek to overturn systems of oppression and inequality at the University and in our communities more broadly.

University of Essex BAME Staff Forum

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