Students Staff

Latest news

15 August 2017

Feast your eyes on this

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 11:55 am

Friday Night Feast webHere’s a chance to rub shoulders with the stars by bidding to appear on the new series of Friday Night Feast filming on Southend Pier throughout September.

Jamie Oliver and Jimmy Doherty are returning with their successful Channel 4 show, whose previous celebrity guests have included Usain Bolt, Orlando Bloom and Kate Hudson.

They will be recording throughout September, so if you like delicious foods served with a dash of celebrity, apply to join in the fun by emailing

More details can be found here.


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Simply a name change

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 11:41 am

Simply Gym is the new name for Rush Fitness in Victoria Avenue in Southend and they continue to offer special deals to University of Essex staff and students.

Staff membership is £14.99 for peak use, with no joining fee,  and you can pick up a one day guest pass at the Student Services Hub on the second floor in The Forum.

To join head up to Simply Gym reception with your staff ID.

simply-gym-logo story


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9 August 2017

Welcome 2017 needs you!

Filed under: Campus news, Latest news, Student experience, What's on — Communications, CER @ 12:17 pm
We can all do our bit to help our new students feel they belong at Essex.

We can all do our bit to help our new students feel they belong at Essex.

Welcome 2017 is fast approaching and this year we want to deliver an even bigger and better Welcome experience; giving everyone the opportunity to get involved in creating a warm and friendly atmosphere for our new students.

This year’s welcome theme is belonging. We want every student to enjoy a smooth arrival, to feel that we care about them, that we’ll help them settle in and find friends – and that they belong at Essex.

But creating a sense of belonging, in so many different people, from so many different places and with so many different backgrounds isn’t going to be easy – and that’s where you come in.

We would like everyone, no matter what their role or position within our University, to be part of our Welcome team. We want our new students to be greeted by smiling faces, by staff that are willing to help, to help them find their way around campus and to make them feel like an important part of our unique community.

Research conducted by our own Dr Gillian Sandstrom has shown that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies.

You can read more about Dr Sandstrom’s fascinating research in her interview on Essex Daily. Our Head of Residence Life, Victoria Frost, also shares her thoughts on how students who feel they matter to their university are more likely to succeed – and how all of us can play our part no matter what our role.

If you are able to take this one step further and volunteer for an official role as part of Arrivals Day, registration or Welcome, please fill in our quick form, letting us know your availability during the Welcome period and the kind of duties you’d be happy to perform. Take a look at Registration roles to see which you could volunteer for.

Graduation 2017 was a fantastic example of what a great event we can run if we all pull together. If you volunteered for Graduation – we’d love your help during Welcome, and if you didn’t – now’s your chance to lend a hand.

We very much appreciate any help you can give during this exciting time for our University. Welcome is our chance to show our Essex Spirit at its finest; to work together to show what a warm and welcoming place our campus is.

We hope everyone will embrace the chance to get involved.

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4 August 2017

Monster launch for new play

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 3:22 pm

East 15 Acting School graduate Ines Sampaio presents ‘Hey Billy, This is Just the Beginning’ a new site specific play about Southend outside The Forum on Saturday 12 August and Sunday 13 August.

On Saturday it will be performed at 4.00 pm ahead of the free outdoor screening of ‘Jurassic Park’. Bring your rugs and camping chairs and set yourselves up for the evening’s entertainment.

Ines was awarded £15,000 funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England to develop a new community play for Southend as part of the Borough Council’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

With this substantial funding boost, Ines worked  with local people to prepare this play in response to Billy Bragg’s words: ‘Southend’s the end’ in his hit song A13, Truck Road to the Sea.

Now with her army of performers she is bringing the play to life with the second performance on Sunday 13 August at 4.00 pm in the same location.

She said: “This is our chance to share our work with the rest of the community. These are just the first performances of a long term theatre adventure.”

The summer film season on the Big Screen continues on  Saturday 19 August with Labyrinth and finishes on Saturday 26 August with Finding Dory. All the films start at 6.00 pm.

Hey Bill poster

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2 August 2017

Meet our Transport Policy Manager

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 11:30 am

We spoke to Charlotte Humphries, the Transport Policy Manager at our Colchester Campus, to find out more about her work here at Essex.

An image of Charlotte Humphries

Charlotte Humphries

What are the main responsibilities of your role?

My role is to promote sustainable transport options and create policies that encourage people to travel to campus using sustainable transport where possible.

How many members of your team are there?

Although it’s only me that’s directly responsible for travel, I work with people from across the university from other Estate Management Teams, various focus and action groups, external organisations and the Students Union. Getting to campus effects everyone, so I try to engage with as many people as possible so I can ensure we have measures in place to enable people to make informed choices about how they get here.

How did you get into your current role?

I have worked in transport for over 30 years in one guise or another. I worked as a Travel Agent when I left school, then left to join to the railway where I stayed until I started in Travel Planning at Southend Hospital in 2006. Two years later, I moved to Essex County Council, where I worked as their Sustainable School Travel Manager. I was responsible for the delivery of the Sustainable Modes of Transport Strategy for Essex. I enjoy working within sustainability, as each day makes an impact to the world we live in.

So, how do you travel to campus?

Last July I took my car off the road and have been walking, cycling or catching the bus to work each day. I live 4km or 2 buses (each way) from campus, so with a little planning, I have not only saved money I have found time to become level 23 at Pokémon and I also like to geocache as I walk about!

What achievements are you most proud of?

Since starting at the University, I have received 20 transport related awards on behalf of the University for our Travel Plan measures and achievements and have secured over £100k of external funding for sustainable transport projects.

I am very pleased that the University has recently been awarded a Gold Travel Award by Essex County Council’s Sustainable Travel Team. The criteria for the award is very high and to achieve it I had to evidence the 59 measures that I use to promote sustainable transport at the University, like discounted bus tickets, our cycle maintenance service and car share scheme.

I am also tremendously proud of our Arrivals Day airport coach transfer service, which I have run for the past 4 years. With the help of our Student Ambassadors and EMS staff I have been able to personally welcome over 1400 international students to the UK and the University of Essex.

Why is travel planning so important?

If you use our car parks you’ll know that some days it can be hard to find a parking bay. Travel planning is essential for managing demand and helps us identify how we can make things easier for everyone coming to campus. It also helps us remove barriers to active and sustainable travel choices, so more people can get here without hopping in their car.

What other developments are currently happening on campus?

Well, we have a new cycle park under podia and which is located beneath Art Exchange, under square 5. Estate Management is continually developing sustainable travel measures to improve accessibility.

What is your top tip for working at the University?

If in doubt, ask. Someone will know the answer or at least give you some ideas.


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1 August 2017

Call for papers for China conference

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: — Communications Office @ 10:36 am

image of dataNew approaches in data science and analytics will be discussed by scientists, professionals and industry leaders at a special conference in China, co-sponsored by the University.

The first International Conference on the Frontiers and Advances in Data Science (FADS) takes place on 23-25 October 2017 in Xian, China.

Co-sponsored by the University’s Institute for Analytics and Data Science (IADS), the conference will provide the perfect platform for experts to share knowledge about advances in this field and new approaches for harnessing data which can bring huge benefits to fields as diverse as health, finance, the environment, business and public policy.

The event is being co-chaired by Professor Maria Fasli, Director of IADS and UNESCO Chair in Analytics and Data Science.

Submissions of original and previously unpublished theoretical and practical work in all fields of data science and analytics including methodologies and techniques for big data are welcome. The deadline for paper submissions for the general conference is 10 August while several special sessions have later deadlines. Staff and students who are interested in participating and presenting at the conference are encouraged to get in touch with Professor Maria Fasli ( for enquiries and further information. All submissions will be reviewed by at least two members of the Program Committee on the basis of novelty, technical quality, relevance to the conference theme, significance, and clarity of presentation.

Further information is available from the FADS 2017 website


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28 July 2017

Discount ticket offer to see GB’s top basketball stars

Filed under: Latest news, Sport, What's on — Tags: , — Communications Office @ 10:09 am
GB Basketball in action

Photo credit: Mansoor Ahmed/Ahmedphotos

The University is partnering up with British Basketball for the GB vs Greece Senior Men’s International game next month at the Copper Box Arena in London.

And as an official partner for the game on Saturday 19 August, staff and students at the University can enjoy a third off the price of the tickets.

The University is also extending its relationship with British Basketball as a training venue for its Under 20 Men’s team.

British Basketball Chief Executive, Lisa Wainwright, said: “The University of Essex has always provided us with outstanding facilities and services whenever we host camps or events there. We’re looking forward to working with them on the game.”

The University’s Director of Sport Dave Parry added: “The University of Essex is proud to be a commercial partner of British Basketball for the match against Greece. We are committed to supporting the game of basketball from grass roots to elite performance, through our community projects and junior teams, up to our basketball scholarship programme.

“We are delighted that we are again hosting Great Britain teams for training camps at our facilities, and hope to continue to do so in future, particularly when our new £11m three-court facility opens later this year.”

• Check the British Basketball website for further details of tickets with the discount code.

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Loughton library opens

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 9:21 am
An image of our new Library

Our new Library at East 15

The new library and IT hub at Loughton has opened on the first floor of our new building at the Hatfield House campus.

The purpose-built room improves the capacity of the library by a third and also provides IT facilities for the students. The opening hours are being extended from 8.30am to 11.00pm  every weekday and it will also be open from 10.00am to 5.00pm every Saturday.

Tucked away on the first floor there is also space for a snug, where students can relax or practise read-throughs for their next performances. Take a look at our photos on Flickr.




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26 July 2017

Welcome 2017 – your role in helping new students feel they belong

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 3:40 pm

Did you know that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree, and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies? During Welcome 2017, we can all play a part in helping students feel that they belong. 

We spoke to Dr Gillian Sandstrom and Head of Residence Life, Victoria Frost, about how even saying “hello” to someone new can make a big difference to their experience settling in at Essex.

Dr Gillian Sandstrom

Dr Gillian Sandstrom

  • Tell us about your study Social Interaction and Well-Being: The Surprising Power of Weak Ties.

When I first arrived on campus there was quite a distance between the research lab and my supervisor’s office, and that walk took me past a hot dog stand. Somehow I developed a “relationship” with the lady who worked there; I would smile at her and say “hi” whenever I walked past. I realized that this always made me feel a bit better, like I belonged on campus. I ended up studying this phenomenon for my PhD.

I found that people who had, on average, more daily interactions with weak ties (i.e acquaintances) than other people were, on average, a little bit happier. Also, on days when people had more interactions with weak ties than they usually did, they tended to be a bit happier than they usually were.

I’ve been at Essex for two years now, and almost every time I walk across campus now, I see someone I know. It makes me feel at home here.

  • What can staff do to build these weak ties with students?

Just say “hi!” I ran a study involving my students. For one group, I stood at the door and greeted students as they arrived. Another group wrote their names on name boards, which were displayed on their desks. The third was a control group, which received no greeting and no name boards. Students in both of the experimental groups reported higher interest/enjoyment than students in the control group. This is something simple, that any instructor can do. Just make sure it’s genuine; if the students think your heart isn’t in it, it probably won’t be effective.

It’s not just academic staff that can build these connections with students. I stood on the pavement outside Starbucks, and bribed people to help with my research, by giving them Starbucks cards, which they had to use right away to buy a coffee. I asked some people to have their money ready and avoid unnecessary conversation.  I asked other people to have a genuine social interaction: smile, make contact, and have a brief conversation. When surveyed I found that people who had a minimal social interaction were in a better mood, enjoyed their experience more, and felt more connected to other people. This means everyone can make a difference, whether you’re in food services, cleaning services, security, or anything else.

  • What are the benefits to weak ties – apart from wellbeing?

Besides making both parties feel good, weak ties can provide a sense of belonging. One of my undergraduate students ran a survey assessing students’ campus involvement, use of support services, and social relationships, and how these were related to interest/enjoyment and belonging. Students who reported that more staff greeted them on campus also reported greater interest/enjoyment and a greater sense of belonging. This is crucial, because research shows that students who feel a stronger sense of belonging are more likely to complete their degree, and demonstrate higher achievement in their studies.


Victoria Frost is head of Residence Life and Student Development as part of our Student Support service.  She plays a vital role in the smooth running of our Arrivals and Welcome programmes and believes that we all have a part to play in creating the right welcoming atmosphere for new students.

Victoria Frost

Victoria Frost

Tell us about the “belonging” theme being applied to Arrivals and Welcome this year – what are we trying to achieve?

There’s a student development theory by Nancy Schlossberg called Mattering and Marginality. If a student feels like they matter to someone at the university, they get more involved in their university experience and develop and learn more. Feeling marginalised can be defined as a sense of not fitting in and can lead to self-consciousness, irritability, and depression. People are more likely to feel marginalised during transition periods, like starting university. It’s so important that students feel like they belong at the University of Essex.

  • How can the principles of “weak ties” be applied to Arrivals Day and Welcome?

We would love it if staff helped students find their way around, showed them the Find Your Way app, engaged them in conversation or introduced them to other students. If you see someone who looks lost, scared, or uncomfortable, go up and ask if you can help. Think about what you can do to help students get to know each other, in departmental events, in lectures, while they’re waiting in a queue. Even just smiling and saying hello can make a difference.

  • What about those who aren’t in student-facing roles? Can they play a part?

Absolutely! Everyone is involved in making students feel like they matter. Most staff will encounter students at some point in their day. You’re likely to pass someone walking to your office, or back home again. It might be during lunch, or walking to a meeting or someone else’s office. Wherever you see a student, there’s an opportunity to use a weak tie, to make them feel like they matter.

  • If I see someone looking lost or alone – should I approach them? Even though that isn’t my job?

Please do. Colchester Campus can be really confusing to navigate for new people (actually, sometimes even for those of us who have been here for years!). It can make a big difference to just offer some help. Whatever you’re able to do.  Helping a student to build confidence and develop competence can help them feel like they belong here.

  • If I don’t know how to direct someone – who should I refer them to?

If it’s about trying to find a location and you don’t know it, walk the student to the Information Centre if you can. For a lot of student service queries, refer the student to the Student Information Desk on the first floor of the Silberrad Student Centre. They’re a really knowledgeable team and can answer a lot of questions or make a further referral if appropriate.

  • Does the “weak ties” theory apply just to Arrivals and Welcome? Or does it apply all year round?

It’s definitely applicable, throughout the year and actually throughout the student’s entire time at the University of Essex. It’s applicable for undergraduate and postgraduate students too. It is particularly important at the beginning of each year; there’s evidence that the first six weeks are the most important time period for making sure a student feels that sense of belonging.

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19 July 2017

Meet the Administrative Data Service Research Support Team

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 5:07 pm
An image of the Administrative Data Service Research Support Team.

The Administrative Data Service Research Support Team.

What is the Administrative Data Service?

We co-ordinate a UK-wide organisation, the Administrative Data Research Network, which makes it possible for social and economic researchers to use government data to carry out research that has a public benefit.

How many of you are there in the team?

There are six of us: John Sanderson, Research Support Manager, Mika Fowles, Danielle Gomes and Sabrina Iavarone, Senior Research Support Officers, Rowan Lawrance, Research Support and Communications Officer, and Linda Winsor, Research Support Assistant.

What does the team do?

Mika: We support social science researchers who want to use the administrative data government departments hold.

Danielle: We make sure their projects have the potential to improve people’s lives in the UK, advise them on what type of data they can access and how, and negotiate data access for them with government departments.

Rowan: We also make sure they have the information they need to understand the application process and how we can help.

So, what is ‘administrative data’?

ADRN_logoRowan: These are collections of information about people, businesses and other organisations that government departments or agencies collect when they’re delivering day-to-day services. They can include tax records, school records, and health information, for example.

Sabrina: Unfortunately, there’s never been a clear route to access administrative data in the UK before, and the Network was set up to change that.

Linda: There can be sensitive information about people in the data, so we have very strict security standards to make sure we’re respecting people’s privacy. All the information that can directly identify anyone – like names, addresses, date of birth, National Insurance number and so on – is removed.

Can you give us an example of some of the Network’s research?

John: There’s a project at the Administrative Data Research Centre in Wales* looking at a Welsh government programme to support vulnerable people so they can live independently. The preliminary research showed that people using the programme were getting the help they needed. The Welsh government were really pleased with the results, so they’re going ahead with a full study now to find out more. There are loads of examples on our website.

What project are you most proud of?

John: Setting up the Network has been a massive project in itself. We’ve been going since 2014, and we’ve got the point now where our colleagues from across the UK often pick up the phone to us as the first port of call for information or advice, which is a great reflection of the good work we’ve done.

Danielle: Getting permission to access administrative data is not easy, so when we succeed it’s very rewarding, because every project has the potential to improve somebody’s life.

Is there anything funny or unusual about your team?

Rowan: Well, we’re all passionate about data, which is pretty odd.

An image of a toy duck.

Ducky, the stress-relief duck.

Mika: We have a stress-relief duck. When one of us gets stressed, someone presses the button on his back and he quacks and sings.

John: The organisation’s quite new, so not many people have left, but when someone does, the team writes a special song for them and performs it at their leaving do, often with a dance routine.

Linda: There are videos, but you can’t see them. Like I said, we’re very strict about protecting privacy.


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