Students Staff

16 July 2020

Decolonising the social epidemiology curriculum

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 2:22 pm

Dr Cara Booker is a Research Fellow at the Institute for Social and Economic Research. Here she tells us why systemic racism is the missing factor to understand health inequalities.

Dr Cara Booker

Dr Cara Booker

When I describe what my research expertise is, I usually say social epidemiologist. Social epidemiology has been defined as “the branch of epidemiology that studies the social distribution and social determinants of states of health”. To do this, we examine the sociostructural factors of a society to determine how they impact the distribution of health and disease. Gender, social class, social capital, social policy, discrimination and race/ethnicity are just a few examples of the sociostructural factors that have been explored in their relation to individual and population health.

While these factors are inextricably linked there is an over-riding driver of some of these factors that is often overlooked: systemic racism. When I am analysing data on adolescent mental health, I often explore inequalities by ethnicity. However, what my and many other’s research have failed to properly account for are the laws, regulations or unspoken policies that have perpetuated the oppression of people of colour and may be better predictors of the observed inequalities compared to the ethnicity of the individual. There are several reasons for why systemic racism is not accounted for, but I will focus on two: lack of discussion in lectures and poor measurement of systemic racism.

I attended the University of Southern California (USC) which is located in South Los Angeles. A couple of years before I arrived, the 1992 riots occurred following rising racial tensions and the acquittal of the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating. These riots were close to the USC campus and the effects of the riots could still be seen two years later. The riots should have opened doors for discussion in my classes about the systemic racism that allowed these events to occur. Dialogues on redlining*, racial profiling, gentrification and racism in medicine should have been imbedded in lectures. Wider discussion of how these systems directly and indirectly impact health and the inequalities we observe in population health should have been taking place in our classes.

Ignoring systemic racism does a disservice to those who wish to examine social determinants of health and, in turn, to reduce health inequalities. We are trying to address this problem with only partial information. Thus we are not equipped to develop suitable questions nor can we include information in our analyses that sufficiently captures the ongoing impact of systemic racism. We were not trained to do so.

The past 5 months have highlighted this lack of training and poor measurement of systemic racism. The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted people of colour. While some of the reasons may be related to social capital, social class, or discrimination, there are also structural and systemic racist policies and laws that have driven these inequalities. Many of these laws have been repealed, but their impact lingers on. Explicit training which provides future social epidemiologist the tools and vocabulary to identify the structures within their society continue to contribute to inequalities and marginalisation based on race is necessary. Such training should not be limited to one or two classes, but should be embedded from the onset and underlie all training of social determinants of health. Graduates should not have to learn these lessons once they embark on their own career paths. We should all work to call out those structures to create meaningful change.

*Additional resources on redlining

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15 July 2020

Healthy from Home challenge success stories

Filed under: Latest news — Laura Mathias @ 3:16 pm

Stuart Henty, our Workplace Wellbeing Manager, shares your success stories from the ‘Healthy from Home’ challenge.

We hope you enjoyed and benefited from the recent four week Healthy from Home Challenge.

Stuart Henty

Stuart Henty, Workplace Wellbeing Manager

It isn’t finished however, as even if you didn’t take part you are still able to access Kaido Experiments. These are programmes that you can use to proactively manage areas of your health and wellbeing that are important to you. From kicking caffeine to breathing better to beat stress, Kaido Experiments can support you to make improvements to your health and wellbeing.

Congratulations to the 140 members of staff that took part in the challenge, forming 27 teams. In particular, well done to our the Pre-Award Team (REO), ISER Staff and Students and Team IADS who came in the top three. The Fab Four were also the lucky winners of Stonehenge Tickets in a milestone prize draw.

We have loved seeing you engaging with the programme and have recorded 275,075 minutes of physical activity, 30,409 minutes of meditation and 2,311 reflections.

Key highlights include:

  • 74% of staff noticing an improvement in their health
  • 88% feeling the challenge helped them to better cope with the current lockdown
  • 45% feeling calmer
  • 51% feeling more motivated to improve their own health and wellbeing

Thank you all again who participated in the challenge.

If you have feedback about the challenge or want to find out more about the Kaido Experiments, please email Stuart Henty.

 

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Celebrating our annual staff picnic

Filed under: Latest news — ckeitch @ 12:01 pm

For the first time since the 1990s, there will be no staff picnic this year. Mandy Borges, from our Organisational Development team, tells us more about the history of the picnic and what we have got planned. You can also watch our video to see some highlights from previous years.

Our staff picnic has always been a popular event, and it’s a great way for people to spend time with colleagues from across the University. The first picnic took place in 1997 and was designed to celebrate all the hard work that people put in over the course of the academic year. It was originally known as the VC’s strawberry picnic because the Vice-Chancellor at the time, Professor Ivor Crewe, agreed to pay for the strawberries out of his own budget as a ‘thank you’ to staff.

The first year we held the picnic, we arranged for musicians and buskers to entertain people. This included David ‘The Balloon Man’ and some people may still remember the balloon sculptured animals they were presented with. Since then we’ve enjoyed a variety of different entertainment. In 2010 East 15 performed a 15 minute adaptation of the Riverbank Scene from the Wind in the Willows, whilst in 2013 we marked our 50th anniversary with an ice cream van giving away free ice-cream.

The picnic has always been held at the beginning of July, originally by the lake nearest the library, although in recent years it’s moved to the lake near Wivenhoe House. The weather hasn’t always been kind and when rain has meant the picnic can’t be held outside, we’ve used various locations to make sure it goes ahead, including inside – with people sitting on their picnic blankets on the floor – and under umbrellas on the squares.

The picnic couldn’t go ahead without the help of people from across the University. Organisational Development co-ordinate the whole thing and Estates and Campus Services have always helped to make sure it goes ahead without a hitch. Over the years they’ve helped by providing a generator for the musicians, and transporting the strawberries to the venue, as well as making sure everything is set up on the day. Our Catering Section are responsible for ordering the all-important strawberries and, more recently, staff from the Sports Centre have been very creative with arranging sports activities for everyone to enjoy.

This year, we’re going to be celebrating the staff picnic virtually on Thursday 23 July, and we’d love you to join us by enjoying your own picnic wherever you can. To help us document the event, please email us your photos to develop@essex.ac.uk, along with your favourite strawberry based recipe, craft or drink, so we can share this very different picnic with our whole community.

We’re really sad that the picnic won’t be going ahead as usual this year, but hopefully we’ll all be back on campus again in 2021 for the next one.

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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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