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4 June 2018

Tribute to Janet Noyes

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Communications Office @ 5:31 pm
Janet Noyes

Janet Noyes

Janet Noyes first joined the University of Essex in 1964 and soon became busy helping to set up the Department of Electronic Systems Engineering (ESE). In Janet’s case ‘helping’ can be taken to mean ‘leading’ and in 1972 she became the Executive Officer for the Department. Despite her work commitments in the early years she also found time to regularly enjoy playing tennis with a colleague on the courts, that were at that time, by Wivenhoe House.

The first, and subsequent heads of department, relied on Janet and in the early days Janet often made decisions that would now be taken by a head of department. In all Janet led the Department through 12 heads of department.

Janet was efficient, clear and organised. One past student of ESE noted how he and his “feckless fellow students”, were fond of Janet and her efficient way of organising them. Other past students and colleagues, “held her in high esteem”. One current member of the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering kindly remembered, as a probationary member of staff, how Janet “explained how this place worked to me’. Another Professor remembers how Janet would provide carefully prepared documentation for meetings, including briefing notes highlighting the important matters to be emphasised at the meeting. Janet reflected an earlier, no-nonsense time.

When Janet first joined the University, she lived with her parents and their Boxer dog. After her parents had passed away, Janet’s family became her colleagues, her friends outside work, and her animals. Janet had a love for animals, and on retirement acquired cats, of course in modest numbers, never having more than three. Janet loved her cats, and their personalities. She treated all living things as if they were human, the cats often being chastised for chasing birds in her beloved garden. Janet spent many hours in her garden on retirement and her efforts created a splendid place, admired by her friends. Summer would always involve friends being entertained in the summer house, with Janet delivering tea, and her homemade cake from the house. Her cakes were only one element of her culinary skills. She also regularly made marmalade and her own Christmas cake each year, to complete a pheasant Christmas dinner taken with her cats. All completed in time for the Queen at 3pm.

In her spare time Janet helped, several days a week, at the Hospice Bookshop. She enjoyed the atmosphere there, and it brought her company and closeness to books. In her last few years, health issues kept her close to Frinton. She did, however, find time and energy, to attend the monthly Arts Society lectures in Colchester, always rushing away afterwards to tend to her companion cats.

Janet died on May 1 after slipping into a coma after a stroke. Former Essex colleagues stayed in contact with her and just the day before her death she had been visited by two dear colleagues from ESE. Everyone who knew Janet will remember her with great affection. As a retirement gift her colleagues made her a quilt with every member of the ESE Department contributing to the project as a mark of their appreciation. Janet was a true English lady.

Janet’s funeral took place on Tuesday 5 June 2018.

This tribute to Janet was prepared by her friends and colleagues from the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering.

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25 May 2018

Innovative community arts project already reaping rewards

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 12:03 pm

Our Arts Education team’s groundbreaking three year project supporting undergraduates delivering their own art sessions in schools is proving a great success.

In 2017 the Royal Opera House Bridge granted £148,418 to the Arts Education team to create a new Cultural Employability and expand the Arts Education team and programme. This module  is the first of its kind in the country, replacing a standard employability module to give students the skills and experience to design and deliver their own arts education project in primary schools in deprived areas.

Art image 2 weeklyArts Education Manager Kate Beckwith said: “This unique employability module draws on the expertise of the Arts Education team and provides them with a unique insight into the cultural sector and hands-on experience teaching arts education.

“The children at our lead primary schools, Unity Primary Academy in Greenstead and Willow Brook Primary School in St Anne’s estate, have been a pleasure to work with and benefited hugely from working with our students.”

Free to schools

The project, which is free to schools, begins with the children coming onto the Colchester campus to explore exhibitions at Art Exchange, go behind the scenes at Lakeside Theatre and learn about an artist in our library. The undergraduates then go into the schools and deliver projects inhouse over four weeks.

Kate added: “We have been incredibly proud of how the students have supported the children to take part in the arts and work towards their Arts Award Explore, an Entry Level qualification on the Regulated Qualifications Framework, which is open to children and young people aged up to 25.

“We recently welcomed the year 4 and 5 children and their families onto campus where children donned caps and gowns to collect their special certificates. Attended by over 200 people the evening also provided a fantastic opportunity for the children to see the giant billboard that had been erected in the heart of the University to celebrate the project.”

Kate explained how the undergraduates benefit from the module as much as the children. “The module equips students with attributes crucial to success such as divergent thinking, curiosity, creativity and adaptability and has increased students’ self-esteem, confidence and skills.

“Working in new ways with new people from other degrees and departments, forming new friendships and learning how to work as part of a team, students successfully overcame obstacles and adapted their activities to suit need. By helping school children develop, students in turn learn about and reflect upon their own strengths, skills and capabilities. ”

“it has helped me, personally, to progress, learn and grow”

Literature, Film and Theatre Studies student Rio Topley said: “It has given me the opportunity to help others and get involved with a community I live in and give something back. Not only was it great working with such a lovely bunch of children and inspiring them, it has helped me, personally,  to progress, learn and grow.”

Kate added: “Our qualitative data shows students enjoyed developing new practical skills and exploring and creating arts education projects. The module helps sustain and strengthen our students’ connections with the local community, nurturing a sense of belonging and togetherness.

“We’ve seen first-hand how students’ emotional intelligence has grown. Working in partnership with peers, developing skills in new art forms, working off campus, and volunteering were all regarded as important positive aspects of their learning.”

The students who worked with the children can opt to build on their experience during the second and third years of their degree by completing a placement at a local cultural organisation and delivering further enhanced arts education projects.

The Arts Education team’s wider programme offers high quality arts projects to schools, colleges and local community, ensuring regular opportunities for our Student Union V-Team volunteers, interns and Frontrunners to gain experience. For large-scale visits, we employ University Student Ambassadors, providing students paid opportunities to develop their skills and enhance their work experience. Please see for details of this year’s schools programme.

If you fancy trying out one of our activities you can book a place on one of thefree family days on Sunday 10 June. Please visit Eventbrite to book your place or join our mailing list for updates of future family activities.

Please contact Kate Beckwith  01206 873889 if you would like to discuss our programme.

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23 May 2018

Getting the most out of university open days

Filed under: Latest news — mh17332 @ 11:22 am


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18 May 2018

Donating your Pennies is now even easier

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 12:37 pm
Staff at the Celebrating Excellence fair

Staff at the Celebrating Excellence Fair

The Donate your Pennies Team enjoyed unprecedented interest during last week’s Celebrating Excellence Fair, boasting 25 new staff signing up to help student scholarships. This represents more signups than any previous month, and brings the total staff donating pennies to nearly 700 – over 20% of the total.

The idea for the stall came about after looking at the type of staff signing up and the reasons why, explained James Martin, who runs the Donate your Pennies scheme. “We’ve been crunching numbers and doing some research recently, and have discovered that of new starters to the University, over 90% signup to Donate your Pennies – via the new starter form. But of existing staff, only three per cent have signed up to the scheme.”

‘”When asked why this was, the recurring theme from staff was of ease and efficiency.  By holding a signup stall, it made the signup process instantaneous, and we had a great couple of days as a result.”

Sign up

To carry on making the process easier, signup sheets will soon by appearing around the University, but staff can also sign up through this article. Simply send the following to to sign up:

I wish to participate in the Donate your Pennies scheme and hereby authorise the University of Essex as my agent to collect each pay period from my salary such odd penny balances (to a maximum of 99p per pay period) and to distribute such amounts to the University of Essex Philanthropy Office. Funds will be then be given to support University of Essex scholarship initiatives on my behalf; however this is subject to change at any time.

This authorisation is effective from the date I submit this form and shall remain in force until cancelled in writing, or by emailing Payroll at

Thank you.


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11 May 2018

A new vision for our wellbeing services

Filed under: Latest news, People pages, Student experience — Communications, CER @ 11:16 am

Angela Jones is our Head of Student Support. Here she tells us about the new vision for our wellbeing services.

We have a new vision for our well being services which will mean a better service for our students.

We have a new vision for our well being services which will mean a better service for our students.

What sort of changes are going on in the wellbeing team/service?

Our team is made up of dedicated staff committed to student wellbeing – we are always reflecting on our services and thinking about how we can make them better for our students.  We’ve recognised that changes in society and growth in student numbers mean we need to develop our services. National (and international) research has identified new ways of supporting and promoting wellbeing and we want to be able to implement these innovations. We are therefore reconfiguring our offer – while we will continue to provide or support the services we offer at present, we are proposing to expand into new areas. We want to work proactively with the Students’ Union, Occupational Health and other internal and external partners to support prevention and help our students thrive and get the most out of their time at Essex.  Our new vision is, as part of the Healthy University Sub-strategy, to create a healthy and inclusive community in which every student has the tools to enable them to succeed:

Are these physical moves/changes?

No.  Our service will continue to be provided in Southend, Loughton and Colchester and accessed via the Student Hub is each of these locations.

How will the changes impact on staff/students?

The whole reason behind the changes is to respond to student need and demand.  Feedback via the SU change week has identified a clear desire for more interventions, a wider range of support and more counselling.  Feedback from students with individual needs has identified as need to make our community more inclusive.  Responding to this feedback, our proposed restructure will increase significantly the volume of counselling we can offer as well as create roles dedicated to launching new activities and working with academic colleagues in departments to improve inclusivity and support students.

Is there a period where we will be directed somewhere else for support? For the majority of students no.  Services will continue as normal. If changes may affect individual students eg, for some DSA funded provision,  we will work closely with them to support them through any change.

How will this impact support that students receive?

  • Availability for student counselling at Colchester Campus will increase by 30%
  • By increasing appointments with a wellbeing assessor, we will reduce the waiting time for students to be seen
  • More one to one and groups will be available – tell us what you think would be most useful to prioritise

Why is wellbeing so important?

Physical and mental health is important for all of us.  We all experience periods of feeling great, and times when we are below par.  In order to thrive and get the most out of life, we need to take care of our health.  That is why we are proposing to tackle the issue of wellbeing in a holistic and proactive way- we don’t want to wait until someone is unwell to act – as part of the broader agenda of being a Heathy University, epitomised by our new HUSS, we want to help our students be well, stay well and get well. We can then play a part in making sure every member of our community is given the tools to achieve their full potential.

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8 May 2018

Children enjoy space to explore

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 9:40 am

The new outdoor spaces at Wivenhoe Park Day Nursery are proving exceptionally popular with the children, who are able to head outside, whatever the weather.

Nursery garden 2 weekly

Nursery Manager Heleanna Phair said: “The garden was a blank canvas and we wanted to create spaces that met the needs of all our children, particularly the active learners.

“We worked very closely with the designers at a Sheffield based company, Play garden, to create different spaces that would encourage the children to be creative in their play.

“Both Essex County Council and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents have come to see our outdoor environments and they are very impressed.”

Plenty to do

The result is three different gardens for different age groups that  include massive wet and dry sandpits, with a pebble play stream,  tyre swings, gravel pit,  different surfaces and of course, plenty of shade.

Forest schools teacher Sarah Gunn has worked with the children to create and nurture an allotment, nature garden and pond.

The next stage is to add some animals into the mix.  Heleanna said: ““We are getting some rabbits, guinea pigs and some chicken eggs which will hatch into our own hens. This will  help the children embrace the real world and encourage their caring natures to blossom.”

See more photos of the children enjoying the outdoor space

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26 April 2018

Meet our Sustainability and Grounds section

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 4:50 pm

We spoke to our Sustainability and Grounds section to find out more about them and their work at Essex.

You’re a new team aren’t you? How many of you are there?

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Our Sustainability and Grounds team

Yes, we’re a shiny new section which has brought together a number of teams that now, broadly, has a focus of environment and energy across our three campuses. We are collectively responsible for grounds, transport, carbon reduction and sustainability engagement, creating a dedicated focus on improving the experience of staff and students at the University.

The team is packed with names you probably already know: Rob Davey (Head of Sustainability and Grounds), Marcus Clayton (Grounds Manager), Charlotte Humphries (Transport Policy Manager), Dan Dempsey (Carbon Change Advisor), Daisy Malt (Sustainability Engagement Officer), plus of course the Grounds team. We also currently have an intern, former Essex student Charles Ballardini. In total there are 16 of us.

Why have you all been brought together?

The creation of a dedicated Sustainability and Grounds section was part of a wider restructure in Estates and Campus Services, showing a clear commitment to the importance of sustainable development in its strategic vision. The University has made a commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 43% against a 2005 baseline by 2020, and while this is a substantial challenge, it creates so many opportunities to try new things and make the University more efficient. Beyond this, as an educational institution teaching the leaders of the future, we have a responsibility to inform students of the importance of valuing our environment, and taking that knowledge into their careers. We have big plans and we are so excited about the opportunities we have to make our University a leader in Sustainability.

What are your  main responsibilities? Can you tell us a little bit more about each of your roles?

Our mission is to make our campuses fantastic places to study, work and live. With a variety of responsibilities we have a wide remit overall, but our focus is to consider environmental impacts and social responsibility at all levels – from the strategic development and management of our 230 acres of diverse, historic parkland, to encouraging everyone travelling to our campuses to do so in the most sustainable way. Some things go on behind the scenes, while others are more about engagement and raising awareness. For example, last year the Grounds team installed new equipment to wash down machinery that recycles water, saving us around 100,000 litres of water per year. Dan has overseen lighting upgrades in academic areas and South Courts accommodation which will result in a reduction of 600 tonnes in CO2 emissions, and cut energy costs by £120,000 – every year. Meanwhile, Daisy manages the Green Impact programme which is going from strength to strength.  At the moment, staff in 37 teams are busy completing their actions to embed sustainability in their operations.

Is there anything we can be doing to make your jobs easier?

Respect and care for your surroundings. The Sustainability and Grounds teams’ focus is to improve our environment for everyone and to make sustainability the mainstream. Simple things like putting litter and recycling in the correct bins, switching off unused equipment and travelling sustainably are the small actions that add up to make a significant impact.

Also, just talk to us! Not sure what a carbon footprint is? Had an idea? If you have any questions, thoughts or comments, we’d love nothing more than to hear from you. We will be increasingly visible on campus and our mission is to empower everyone to become more aware of how they can reduce their impact on our environment.

Tell me something funny or unusual about your team?

The Grounds team is an adventurous bunch, and between them they have visited over 50 countries. Continuing the global theme, Dan speaks Japanese, Charles has lived in New Zealand and Daisy has a worryingly large collection of snow globes from most of the countries she’s visited!

What big projects do you have coming up?

The Grounds team are embarking on revamping more areas around South Courts to make them more inviting. They are also working on exciting improvements to the entrances at our Colchester campus. We have another project that is just getting under way assessing opportunities to reduce our carbon footprint and introduce new energy metering systems. Plus, we are developing transport measures to improve sustainable travel options for everyone.

What projects are you all most proud of?

Winning the Green Flag Award was a huge triumph for the Grounds team, with the maintenance of Wivenhoe Park being praised as one of the best sites for environmental practice that the judges had seen.

We are also incredibly proud of all the teams participating in the Green Impact programme. This has gone from strength to strength each year, and has developed a community of socially responsible colleagues who are able to identify ways to run their offices with sustainability in mind.

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

If you’re buying a takeaway hot drink on campus, take your own coffee cup to save 10p, and more importantly, you’re helping to reduce waste.

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25 April 2018

Remembering Dr John Tilley

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 9:45 am

The people who knew him, share their memories of Dr John Tilley.

Dr John Tilley

Dr John Tilley

John joined the University of Essex in the Autumn of 1965 as a new member of the Department of Physics, one of the University’s founding departments. John was one of our best teachers in the Department of Physics, perhaps the best. Illness, which eventually confined John to a wheelchair, did not impact on his dedication and even made him an early adopter of the ‘state of the art’ technology at the time, namely using transparencies on an overhead projector. John quickly realised that the danger was flashing too many transparencies past the bemused students, and rationed himself to a certain number of slides per lecture and figured out other techniques for keeping the pace down.

John was always generous with his time for students, and many of them had great affection for him. He had an open door policy both to colleagues and students. As well as being an excellent teacher, John provided strong leadership in mentoring and was influential in the construction of degree courses and modules, acting for many years as the undergraduate course director.

John’s biggest academic achievement, alongside one of his colleagues was the book they wrote together on Superfluidity and Superconductivity.  The first edition came out in 1974 and the book is still used, quite likely due to the section John wrote on the Bose-Einstein condensation.  It really is a definitive account, and of course Bose-Einstein condensation is still of current interest.

John did not confine his activities to the Department of Physics but also found time to be a founder of classical musical programmes on campus. Funds were allocated to enable The Gabrieli String Quartet to be engaged and this became the backbone of a series of concerts open to the local community, called The Subscription Concerts. The Subscription Concerts were a series of around ten concerts a year, based around the Gabrieli, but also included many well-known established musicians, such as John Lill, Julian Lloyd Webber, Leon Goossens, Peter Pears and many others.   John, alongside another Physics colleague, became largely responsible for the programmes, the choice of artists and the running of the concerts. Besides the Quartet, musicians included the pianists John Ogden and Vladimir Ashkenazy – this concert was filmed and shown on TV.  By this time the university had purchased a second-hand Steinway Grand Piano to supplement a rather fragile Bosendorfer. On the strength of the Subscription Concerts the University also acquired a musician in residence for two or three years, the composer Gordon Crosse, who greatly helped John and his colleagues, in choosing artists and programmes. Through John’s efforts, popular free lunchtime concerts were also held in what was then the Maths Common Room.

A former Physics student described John as, “warm and kind and quick to laugh. I loved his calm, consistent presence directly across the corridor from my lab. I am truly honoured that both he and Jean became my friends.”

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20 April 2018

Welcoming look for new Campus entrances

Filed under: Latest news — Heather Leathley @ 10:30 am

As work on the entrances to the Colchester Campus nears completion, Rob Davey, Head of Sustainability and Grounds tells us more about the project.

Entrance pic weekly

Artist’s impression

Tell us about the overarching strategy for the project?

The Campus Entrance Improvement Project covers four main elements:

  • Arrival Experience. The aim is to create an arrival experience befitting a world class university. We want people to know when they enter our Colchester Campus and that they have arrived. We want this to be both physical and visual and we are doing this with fencing, hedging, thresholds, new signs and landscaping.
  • Boundary Definition. As a landowner we have duties and we need to discharge these appropriately. The project will clarify our boundaries at our entrances. By installing thresholds in the roads and new fencing and hedging, not only will we be properly defining our boundaries but also creating a defined arrival experience.
  • New Signage. At present the signage at both our entrances is a little disjointed and unclear. The proposed signage aims to rectify this with a new sign at both the Colchester and Wivenhoe entrances. The design is in keeping with the university’s brand toolkit and we hope will reduce confusion for visitors coming to campus and being clear on which entrance to use.
  • New Landscaping. The Colchester Campus is blessed by being set within an historic parkland. We are therefore installing some new landscaping, but just enough to let the new signs sit comfortably in their setting. We believe the existing historic trees and views should be the focus landscape wise.

Tell us more about the thresholds? 

The thresholds are a key part of the overall project, not only creating an arrival experience both physically and visually but also to assist defining our boundaries. By using a natural granite sett the feature will be robust while also offering longevity.  The threshold is a fairly standard feature within highways and roads and is used widely.  There are two different types of granite setts – a slightly undulating unit and a smoother unit. The smoother unit is being used for the areas nearest to the kerbs  to allow for cyclists which was a key consideration. They, of course, meet industry standards and are slip resistant.

As they highlight when you arrive on campus, we hope that, to some extent, the thresholds in the roads will clearly signal when you have entered a 20 mph speed limit zone.

Who has designed the work?

The thresholds have been designed by The Landscape Partnership and are being installed by Rose.

Who has been consulted to ensure safety?

Due to the location of the threshold works we are very conscious of safety. We have therefore consulted with Highways on the impact our work may have on local roads and had a specialist traffic management company design the warning signage and traffic management. Only one carriage at a time is affected to limit the impact on our community. A conscious decision was also  made not to use traffic lights for the works as these were deemed too rigid for our traffic patterns.  Instead a priority system is in place whereby priority is given to traffic entering the campus in the morning and leaving in the evening.

What are the benefits of this work?

We believe that once the project as a whole is completed, it will really give us entrances to be proud of for current staff and students as well as visitors and future students.

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29 March 2018

British Council Newton Fund calls opening in early April

Filed under: Latest news — Sarah Calver @ 11:50 am

The Newton Fund (NF) builds research and innovation partnerships with partner countries to support their economic development and social welfare, and to develop their research and innovation capacity for long-term sustainable growth. The fund has a total UK government investment of £735 million up until 2021, with matched resources from partner countries.

All known details of participating countries and priority areas for the upcoming Spring 2018 British Council Newton Fund calls are listed below. This round of calls are due to open the week commencing 9 April, for around 8 weeks. All details will be confirmed when the calls officially open.


Institutional Linksgrants to facilitate research tackling local development challenges:

Egypt: TBC – but as a minimum, one of the NF priority areas as listed for Egypt

Indonesia: All NF Indonesia priority areas, plus Social Humanities – Art of Culture – Education – Identity – Art and creative economic development – Community life

Latin America regional call: Biodiversity call to open to applicants from Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Peru and Argentina (non NF country)


  • Energy
  • Agritech
  • Future Cities


  • Water
  • Health
  • Biodiversity


  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Improving environmental resilience
  • Improving energy security
  • Future cities
  • Agritech
  • Digital, innovation and security


  • Big data, Artificial Intelligence
  • Innovation-oriented education research for capacity building
  • Demographic change, and rural / urban development
  • Governance, society and conflict
  • Innovative and Sustainable Competitiveness in Food & Drink Technology
  • Health & Life Sciences
  • Energy


  • Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)
  • Energy Efficiency Technologies
  • Health Technologies
  • Transportation
  • Agriculture: Precision Agriculture and Precision Horticulture
  • New Approaches and Methods in Social Sciences and Humanities
  • Education: Teacher Education and Learning Outcomes
  • Economic development, family studies, urban studies and living together
  • Optics, photonics, laser, semiconducting technologies
  • Environmental Management and Policy

Vietnam: TBC- but as a minimum, one of the NF priority areas as listed for Vietnam


Researcher Links travel grants and funding for workshops:

Newton partner country to UK only


  • Water
  • Health
  • Biodiversity


  • Health and Life Sciences
  • Improving environmental resilience
  • Improving energy security
  • Future cities
  • Agritech
  • Digital, innovation and security

South Africa: NF South Africa priority areas

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