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Latest news

12 October 2018

Paperless – Coming to a Committee Near You

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:33 pm

Karen Bowlby from our Governance team tells us more about the Paperless Committees project, which is now underway, and which will be going live this academic year.

Since 2016, SharePoint sites have been developed for a variety of committees across campus. These committees have served as the preliminary test subjects for the paperless committees system the Governance team will be rolling out across Essex over the next academic year.

Utilising our newly acquired Box (a cloud based document storage and collaboration system similar to Dropbox) licence along with the standard that has been tested and approved for committee SharePoint sites, each committee will be moving to paperless operations by the end of this academic year.

Besides the obvious benefit of reducing costs associated with the production and distribution of committee papers, adopting the paperless operations of committees will see

  • an increased efficiency in the creation, amendment, storage, distribution and destruction of committee papers
  • there will no longer be the requirement to add blank pages for seamless printing, and the days of putting hundreds of papers together in neat packs for committee members will be a distant memory that will join the likes of the Rolodex, or the ink blotter
  • External committee members will share the benefit of an improved ease of access to review papers
  • both committee members and secretaries alike will benefit from improved information security as papers will be accessed via links requiring passwords rather than being mailed out in their entirety to personal email addresses or in hard copies via the post

Staff involved with committees will be contacted for an initial consultation by the Paperless Committees’ project manager in the coming months. Following this consultation, a SharePoint site will be developed according to your committee’s specification and a plan laid out for as seamless a transition as possible.

For more information, please contact the Governance team at Governance@essex.ac.uk.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

Say hello to the College Director for the new University of Essex International College

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:38 am

Meet Danny Martin, College Director for Kaplan’s new University of Essex International College at Colchester.

Danny Martin

How long have you worked for Kaplan?

I’ve been with Kaplan for just over three months. Prior to that, I spent a decade in China working for Pearson with Wall Street English. I was responsible for the daily operations of 25 language training centres, involving 23,000 students.

My original plan was to stay in China for one year, but I really loved teaching. I loved going to work every day knowing I was helping students to open the door to future opportunities.

 What attracted you to this role?

After I returned to the UK, I saw this opportunity with Kaplan which has brought me to Essex.  I wanted to continue working with international students and I was looking for a role with a company that shared the same common values. I felt that with Kaplan, and when I came to Essex I was really impressed by all the people I met at the campus and the prospect of working with a really great university.  It was a perfect storm of opportunity.

How many people are there on the UEIC team?

We have four people in the support team and 17 teachers.  Between the team , we speak Mandarin, Cantonese, Greek, Italian,  Arabic, French and Russian. I’m afraid to say I don’t speak much Mandarin after all my time in China!

How many students do you have?

We currently have 115 students on three different courses. The first programme is a foundation certificate for students who have completed their high school education in their home country. They come to us to work on their academic skills, their English and subject knowledge before progressing to their undergraduate degree at Essex.

In addition, we offer two International Year One programmes which allow students to progress to the second year of Business or Economics degrees at Essex.

Finally we offer pre-Masters courses to help develop English language and study skills.

Why is Essex so attractive to internatlonal students?

It really depends where you come from. For some students they want to work abroad and a UK degree is easily recognisable.

For many though, they want to work with international companies in their home countries. It is more prestigious, and more highly thought of, to achieve a degree from a good university abroad.

The students are also looking forward to embracing a new culture and environment.

What do you think of your new home in the Constable Building?

We are privileged to have such a great working environment. Estates and Campus Services, the Academic Partnerships team and the IT team have been tremendous, a lot of thought has gone into this.

For instance, all the classrooms have natural light which helps you mentally and physically and the rooms are designed to encourage collaborative learning.

What extra curricular activities are you arranging? 

We are trying to run at least one major outside activity a month for the students. The next trip is to Fright Night at Thorpe Park. We have been to the zoo and we will head to some museums. In the long term we will look to go further afield, perhaps to Edinburgh or Cambridge.

I’m looking forward to seeing our first cohort progress through to the university and to seeing their friendships form. We are looking to recruit student reps. I am a thorough believer that we can always improve.

What did you miss the most when you were in China?

I will be stereotypically Scottish and say Irn-Bru!

 

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5 October 2018

Thank you

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 1:00 pm

We’re nearly at the end of Welcome Week and we’re sure like us, you are ready for the weekend!

Hannah Lamb and Hannah Gott

Hannah Lamb and Hannah Gott

Welcome week is University-wide effort involving every department, school, professional service, and of course the Students’ Union. Staff and volunteers have clocked up the hours this week, with many working Arrivals Day on Sunday as well as through Welcome week to ensure that activities run smoothly.  We’ve had volunteers working in force in registration, helping students to find their way around campus, queue-busting and supporting events.  It’s been great to work with you all and to see so many of the University community coming together to support new and returning students.  The positive energy you create is palpable and is key to the happy welcoming atmosphere on campus, showing Essex off at its hospitable best.

So whatever your usual job, or what you’ve stepped up to do at Welcome, a massive thank you to you!

Whilst Welcome Week might be nearly over, students are still arriving on our campuses and we will continue to work with colleagues across our University over the next few weeks to ensure that these students are welcomed and inducted.  So, as you go about your normal day, please remember to smile and be helpful by supporting students to find their way, an making sure they have a warm welcome into the autumn term!

Still fancy volunteering?

It’s not too late to get a green ‘Welcome’ t-shirt or volunteer as a Welcome helper to support registration and induction activities over the next couple of weeks.  Give us a call on 3459 or pop in – T-shirts can be collected either from the Student Engagement Team office (4.403 on square 2 in Colchester) or the spare office in TF.2.24 in Southend, either by individuals or on behalf of a group.  Just remember to return T-shirts, so we can use them for future Welcome weeks.

Want to offer some feedback?

We’re keen to hear your feedback in order to inform planning for Welcome in future years. We want to know what has gone well, what hasn’t gone so well and what could be done differently to improve the Welcome experience for students and staff. Perhaps you’ve overheard a student making a particularly positive comment and want to feed that back, or you’ve received the same query a number of times and you think communications to students could be improved for future years. Please tell us all about it.

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Attention Committee Paper authors

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 9:55 am

Is that blinking cursor on that blank screen the bane of your existence?

Do you wish you had a template or guidance that might help you get started on that report that’s due to that committee secretary that keeps sending you “Sorry to chase, but…” emails?

Wish there was just one standard cover sheet that would work for every committee across the University?

Can’t remember where the University’s Diary of Meetings got moved to on the internet? Kicking yourself for not bookmarking it when you had the chance?

Did you know there is now a Committee Portal on SharePoint dedicated to providing you with all of the information and guidance you might need for that upcoming paper, along with loads of useful links to obscure corners of the University website? No, you didn’t?! Well, no wonder that cursor is so lonely on that blank screen!

Using the experience and feedback of committee secretaries and paper authors across the University, the Portal has been designed with your needs in mind. Broken up into three sections:

  • Resources for paper authors and sponsors
  • Committees, sub-committees and groups
  • Resources for committee secretaries, each deals directly with the questions that have come from various committee roles and the resources that have provided the most assistance over the years.

So, what are you waiting for? Check it out!

For more information, feel free to contact Karen Bowlby or another member of the Governance team at Governance@essex.ac.uk, subject: Committee Paper Authors

 

 

 

 

 

Using the experience and feedback of committee secretaries and paper authors across Essex, the Portal has been designed with your needs in mind. It is dedicated to providing you with all the information and guidance you might need for an upcoming committee meeting, along with useful links to relevant University webpages, including the University’s Diary of Meetings.

The Portal is broken up into three sections

  • Resources for paper authors and sponsors
  • Committees, sub-committees and groups
  • Resources for committee secretaries

Each deals directly with the questions that have come from various committee roles and the resources that have provided the most assistance over the years.

For more information, feel free to contact Karen Bowlby or another member of the Governance team at Governance@essex.ac.uk, subject: Committee Paper Authors.

 

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4 October 2018

New online system for extenuating circumstances and late submission

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 10:58 am

A new online system is being launched that will digitise extenuating circumstances and late submission claims. Here, project manager Kevin Delves tells us more about the project and the benefits of new system.

Tell us, briefly, how this new system/approach has come about. What problem was it setting out to tackle?

We wanted to make the experience as easy as possible for students – modernising the process by moving from a paper form that needs to be handed in to an online form. We also had feedback from colleagues that processing extenuating circumstances claims at the busy exam board time was a real pressure point. We developed the idea for the system through consultation with the Students’ Union and with colleagues.

When will the new system go live?

Monday 15 October.

Where can students access it?

Via My Essex, Faser, and the Essex University Website.

Where can staff access it?

In the first phase staff will be notified of Extenuating Circumstances and Late Submission claims via email to a central inbox that is department specific. In subsequent phases of the project, which will be delivered during this academic year, we will enhance the staff screens with additional functionality to support the management of claims.

What are the main changes?

The main change for students is the ability to complete the form online and submit supporting evidence as part of the same application. The online system has also combined Extenuating Circumstances with Late Submission so that it is now one form for both claims.  The system will also improve communication with students about progress with their claim.

What are the benefits to students?

Ease of use and more convenient and better communication throughout the process.

What are the benefits to staff?

Improved consistency in the management of claims, reduction in the number of claim submissions mislaid/misfiled, reduction in administrative time to manage the process, reduction in time and costs associated with a paper based process, and better information on the understanding of issues affecting students.

For anyone who doesn’t know, what are: “Extenuating Circumstances?” and how do they differ from “Late Submissions”?

Extenuating circumstances are circumstances beyond your control which have an impact on your assessed work. Extenuating circumstances can fall into the following categories:

  • Circumstances which cause you to perform less well in the assessment
  • Circumstances which cause you to miss an assessment event or not to submit an assessment

The University has a specific policy and guidance on Late Submission:

  • Circumstances where you are unable to submit coursework by the deadline or to attend a summative assessment event
  • Circumstances which mean you need extra time to submit a dissertation (taught postgraduate students only)

In general, extenuating circumstances will be of a medical or personal nature affecting you for any significant period of time and/or on the day of the assessment event, or immediately preceding the time of the deadline.

How will streamlining the process save time and improve the experience?

The solution is aiming to enhance the student experience of submitting a claim by making it easier to use, and ensuring communication at all stages. It will also support staff in the more effective management and processing of claims by reducing inefficiencies in the paper process by moving it online.

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28 September 2018

Essex STEM Centre – putting Essex in the lead with 21st century facilities

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news — Communications, CER @ 3:30 pm

Professor Anthony Vickers is the Head of the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering (CSEE). Here, he talks about our new STEM Centre and the difference it will make to teaching and learning within CSEE.  

Professor Anthony Vickers, Head of the School of CSEE.

CSEE will be using the exploratory space within the STEM Centre – can you tell us more about the facilities in that space and what you’ll be using it for?

CSEE will make use of the computer laboratory floor which includes the new Exploratory Space, specifically designed for team working. The School has three core modules running in years 1, 2, and 3. These are team work modules in years 1 and 2. The ability to teach a large group (~150 students) of teams on one floor, supported by academic staff, and graduate laboratory assistants, using top class computers and AV facilities put us in a leading position regarding 21st century facilities. We are very excited by the new exploratory space and will be using this both for team work and for a break out area to enable staff to guide groups with similar blocks in their understanding. We will use the floor for the whole of Week 2 as a base for our 1st Year Challenge Week, recently presented an Excellence in Education award. Later in the year the whole computer floor and the Event Space on Square level will be used for our Final Year Project Open Day, an event designed to showcase capstone project work to companies and recruitment agents.

Is this an improvement on the facilities you had before? What difference will it make to the type of work you can do with students?

As a growing School, and one focussed on the use of computers, the added facilities in STEM gives us additional top quality machines for students to use 24 hours a day. In addition to STEM we have completely rebuilt our electronics/embedded systems/electronics laboratory in the Networks Centre Building, and created a new student centred computer laboratory across the Square from STEM. This new laboratory will also be open 24 hours and will not be timetabled for teaching, providing a true 24 hour availability for CSEE students. This laboratory will also house a new Techical Support School Office, providing 9-5 support on a range of technical matters from coding to 3D printing, to PCB design.

What sort of events will you be running in the event space? What do you hope to achieve with them?

We will use the Event Space for applicant Days and later in the year the whole computer floor and the Event Space will be used for our Final Year Project Open Day, an event designed to showcase capstone project work to companies and recruitment agents. Out of term time the event Space will be used for Conferences, such as our locally run CEEC conference, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year in September.

Do you think a dedicated science square will help encourage more young people to study science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) subjects?

Square 1 will become known as the Science Square as all Schools and Departments in the Faculty of Science and Health utilise the Square and create events using it. In Week 2 we will have a marquee in the square acting as a point of contact for all CSEE first year students undertaking our Challenge Week. We look forward to working with colleagues across the Faculty to develop whole Faculty Science Square events.

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Simpler system for external speakers and room bookings

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 3:11 pm

A new user friendly external speaker and room booking system is being launched on Thursday 4 October.  We explain how it works.

Why was a new system needed?

It should make booking rooms for non-teaching events and notifying the University about an external speaker simpler and easier as they are now two separate forms.

What is an external speaker?

An external speaker is a person (or organisation) who is not a staff or student member of the University of Essex, the University of Essex Students’ Union or the University of Essex Multi-Faith Chaplaincy, who is invited to speak at an event.

An event is any meeting or activity which is organised by a staff or student member of the University of Essex, the University of Essex Students’ Union or the University of Essex Multi-Faith Chaplaincy which does not form part of a programme of study leading to an award from Essex.  An event might take place at one of our campuses or an off-campus event in the University name.

Why are they important to Essex?

External speakers play a key role in university life, giving staff and students an opportunity to hear a broad range of views and beliefs and allowing students to develop their own informed opinions.  The external speaker notification system ensures that external speakers are aware of our expectations that they promote academic freedom, freedom of speech and equality and diversity, and remain within the law.

Who will give approval?

Since 2016 designated staff from the University and the Students’ Union have reviewed the external speaker notifications.

Is there a deadline for submitting a request to book an external speaker?

External speaker notifications should be submitted at least 15 days ahead of the event, and will normally receive the outcome of their review after five days.

You can find the forms here:

Who do I contact?

If you have any questions about the new forms, please contact:

Central Room Bookings:  rooms@essex.ac.uk

External Speaker Notifications:  externalspeaker@essex.ac.uk

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New network for university committee members

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 3:00 pm

Did you know we have our own Committee Management Network (CMN)? Launched in March 2018, this network is for anyone who may find themselves working on or around University committees as a part of their role, or who may wish to do so in the future.

Meetings are informal and designed to promote discussion and community, as is the CMN SharePoint site and blog, Spotlight. Former topics of discussion have included guidance for committee paper authors and sponsors, information security, gender neutral language, committee observation opportunities, and updates on various projects taking place around the University.

Future meetings will include a ‘Creating a Standard’ Workshop designed to cover various aspects of committee life like minute-taking, standardising agendas, paper organisation, and etiquette; an in-depth look at the Strategic Risk Register, an exploration of the new Project Management Framework and a study of what goes into creating two of the University’s most widely-used documents: the University Calendar and the Diary of Meetings.

To join the Committee Management Network and be added to the mailing list, or for more information, feel free to contact Karen Bowlby or another member of the Governance team at Governance@essex.ac.uk, subject: Committee Management Network. You may also sign up for the Committee Management Network events on HR Organiser.

The University of Essex will moderate comments and there will be a delay before any posts appear.

New entrance signs for the new year

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 8:30 am

New entrance signs are being installed at the Colchester Campus in time to welcome our new students on Arrivals Day, Sunday 30 September.

The signs are at the Colchester and Wivenhoe entrances and, together with surrounding landscape improvements, will help define where the Campus begins and the overall arrival experience.

The new signage at the Colchester entrance

Head of Sustainability and Grounds Rob Davey said: “We wanted to create entrances which made it clear that you are arriving at a world class University. It was also important that the signage was in keeping with our parkland setting.

“We worked closely with a landscape architect, a sign specialist, our stakeholders and our brand management team before commissioning the new signs.

“They have been designed to last for at least 25 years and to be low maintenance.  They also had to be large enough for drivers to see so they could prepare to turn onto Campus in plenty of time. “

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25 September 2018

Housekeepers share some flat-sharing tips.

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 9:19 am

Gemma, Tina and Angela, some of our fantastic housekeepers, reveal their top tips on successful flat-sharing.

Gemma

  1. Encourage your students to share essentials, so they don’t double up where it is unnecessary.
  2. Remember that everyone is in the same boat.
  3. Always say hello to the housekeepers!
  4. Bring cutlery and crockery for one – not enough for a dinner party!
  5. If anything in the kitchen or living room is broken or faulty report it as soon as possible.
  6. Encourage students to tidy up after themselves in the shared areas.
  7. The Residents’ Assistants are on hand to help with any issues.
  8. Out of hours the security team is available 24/7.
  9. The housekeeper’s role is to clean the shared living space, including the kitchen and bathrooms. They won’t do washing up or clean bedrooms and ensuites.
  10. Supervisors will do spot checks on bedrooms. Regular tidy ups mean things don’t mount up.

    Angela and Tina

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