Students Staff

4 May 2020

Things I’ve learnt to better appreciate during social distancing

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 1.53 pm

Elinor Nichols, Senior Residents’ Assistant for North Houses tells us what she has learnt to appreciate during social distancing and shares her top tips on making the most of this time alone.

Elinor Nichols

  1. Free time

Now that I’ve got time to myself and don’t have constant meetings and activities, I can enjoy time outside, or simply taking time to draw or sing. I’ve realised how much better I feel about myself and my life at the moment and I’m definitely planning, once things return back to normal, on making sure I defend my free time and don’t overcommit myself.

  1. Solitude

I thought all my friends moving back home and being alone on campus would be really lonely and depressing, but it’s been nice. Things are finally quiet and I have space to do things I really enjoy. Things only get lonely if you let yourself lose contact with friends and family, but so long as you spend a little time each day talking with the people you love, it’s really enjoyable to spend the rest of your time on your own.

  1. Timetables and routines

There are things I’ve discovered here. First, it’s important to have a daily routine, especially for the mornings to get you out of bed and start your day. The evenings are also important to have a routine for so that you can unwind, go to bed at a reasonable hour, reflect on your day and avoid everything blending into a monotony.

Second tip is to have an accountability partner; find a friend you respect and tell them at the start of the day what you intend to do, and promise by the end of the day you will send pictures of that accomplished task. It’s a really big motivator to actually commit to getting things done, whether it be going for a run, cleaning your room, or writing your dissertation.

My third tip is to have at least one scheduled meeting or commitment in the morning to make sure you get out of bed. Whether it be talking with a friend, a work-related meeting, or a webinar you’ve signed up for, having a firm time to start your day helps you get started on the right foot.

  1. Music for atmosphere

If you are totally alone on campus, make a few playlists for when evenings get a little too quiet for comfort.  Just because you’re stuck in the same flat all the time doesn’t mean you can’t create different atmosphere. Even better, have your friends send you some of their playlists and you’ll feel even more connected to them from far away as you listen to their favourite songs.

  1. Our global community

Do you have international friends? Or a club or society you were a part of during term time? Reach out to them and establish weekly meetings. Personally, as part of the Catholic Society it’s been really cool to see how we’ve been able to maintain our weekly prayer groups even though we’re now scattered all over the globe. Praying the rosary together is not only reassuring, but it reminds me that I have a community I can reach out to that is more enduring than university life; if we’re able to connect and stay together during this time, we’ll probably also stay connected and keep our virtual prayer groups going even after this whole thing is over. That’s a really exciting and encouraging thought. Now is the time to set up habits and routines to help your long-distance relationships endure.

  1. Purposeful social media usage

Hone in your ability to understand why you’re opening your Instagram or Facebook app. Is it because you genuinely want to be inspired or to connect with others? Or is it because you’re bored? Spending hours on Instagram or YouTube is not as fun as it might seem at first. If you start figuring out why and when you use social media the way you do, you can avoid being sucked down the rabbit hole of endless scrolling by checking in with your motivations when you open the app.

  1. Protecting your wellbeing

Working for ResLife and a local parish, my top priority the past few weeks has been reaching out to vulnerable people and trying to establish a sense of community and support those self-isolating. That means setting up lots of Zoom meetings and community networks. But it’s okay if you want to disengage. It’s okay to take this time to yourself to block out the noise of the world and just focus on doing the things you love or only talking with the people that really matter to you. So long as you are not feeling utterly alone and miserable, it’s totally fine to use this time as a sort of personal retreat. Just know that the support networks are there if you do need it and we’re all in this together.

The Residence Life team continue to offer support via email during office hours, and a telephone support service out of hours for each area of campus. Email to find out more.

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21 April 2020

Access the surgery during social distancing

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 4.37 pm

Want to know how you can access the University surgery during the covid-19 pandemic? Here’s a message from the medical team:

Repeat prescriptions

  • Prescriptions can be sent to pharmacies within England.  This will avoid the need for our patients to register as temporary residents at practices near their homes.
  • Prescriptions sent electronically should be available for collection from the nominated pharmacy that day.
  • For those on repeat medications, the easiest way to order them is to send an e-mail to the Health Centre stating what medications you would like issuing and which pharmacy you would like the prescription sent to by providing the postcode.
  • We can do reviews of medication and chronic conditions over the phone.


  • We are still offering telephone and video consultations with patients
  • If clinically necessary, we are offering face to face appointments for those still in the Colchester area.

Got a question? Call the surgery on 01206 794484. 

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24 February 2020

We hear you!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Laura Mathias @ 10.56 am

Meet the student voice ambassador team – they’re supporting this year’s NSS, UKES and PTES student survey campaigns.

Emily Osborne, Robert Hay and Ryan Grosu are student voice ambassadors and part of the Student Experience Team led by Hannah Gott within the Academic Section. Emily has recently graduated in MA Curatorial Studies, Ryan was awarded his MSC Criminology with Social Legal Research and Robert received his BA in History and Film Studies with a Year Abroad.

Student Voice Ambassador Team

As such, they’re very well-placed to gather feedback from current Essex students on all aspects of the Essex experience, both academic and non-academic. Their primary responsibilities include promotion and administration of the National Student Survey (NSS), UK Engagement Survey (UKES) and the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) – all three of which the University is running until mid-April, reaching undergraduate students in their first, second and third years, as well as Masters students.

Their role also includes supporting our departments, schools and centres with their own campaign activities. This could be popping into lectures to talk about the surveys, decorating common room spaces, and holding pizza parties with some departments – as part of the effort to encourage as many students as possible to fill in their surveys and be heard.

Emily said: “Feedback provided by students is strictly anonymous. It’s really beneficial in helping the University and the Students’ Union find out more about what aspects of university life need to be developed or improved, based on the way current students see things – because you are the expert of your own experience! So, if something is going brilliantly or not so well, we want to hear what you’ve got to say about it.”

The team is also committed to sharing best practice across the University, such as adapting ideas about incentives that might work in one department and fit well in another.

The student voice ambassador roles are taken up by new graduates each year and offer some great experience and skills development to the graduates that are appointed. Emily added: “In terms of the job role, after graduating with BA and MA degrees at Essex, the experience that we are getting from this employment is a real benefit and looks excellent on our CVs! We are learning so many work-based processes and getting great employability skills – we definitely recommend applying for this role next year, so keep your eyes peeled over the summer vacation for the job ads with Essex Interns.”

This year the University is donating £1 for every survey completed. Emily said: “The numbers really add up – last year we managed to donate over £3000 – but that’s only possible if as many students as possible complete their survey.”

Can we beat last year’s total? If there’s a survey for you to complete, you’ll be sent an email, so just click the link and take a few minutes to have your say.

Find out more about the NSS, UKES and PTES surveys, and if you’d like to have a chat with the student voice ambassadors, pop in to room 5A.116 on Colchester Campus, or send them an email to

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6 February 2020

Enter the Spring Sustainability Photography Competition

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 3.40 pm

We are running a photo competition to showcase the biodiversity of our campuses.

Submit a photo taken on our Colchester, Southend or Loughton Campus that captures the nature and environment and you could win a £30 voucher.

Photo of bees

Previous winning entry by Ainsley Wilkins

We have two categories you can enter your photo into:

1. Spring into action

We are looking for photos that showcase individuals reducing their carbon footprint or completing a sustainable action.

2. Show the campus in a new light

We want images that showcase areas of campus that are not usually visited and which will encourage others to explore more of campus as we enter spring.

Two winning photos from each category will win a £30 voucher.

What you need to know:

  • This competition is open to all staff and students.
  • Photos must be over 1MB in size.
  • Submissions should be titled and include a short description in the email to provide context to the photograph.
  • You must be happy for the photo to be shared on our website and social media accounts.
  • If your photo is chosen you will be notified.

How to enter:

Photo of campus

Previous winning entry by Antonio Vivas

Photo of autumn on Colchester Campus

Previous winning entry by Greg Cadge









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National Apprenticeship Week

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 9.53 am

Fletcher Hurn is currently undertaking our Digital and Technology Solutions Apprenticeship at online games developer, Slingo Originals Studio.

The studio is based at our Parkside Office Village on the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park.

To celebrate National Apprenticeship Week, Fletcher kept a diary so you can get a real insight into a typical week in the life of an Apprentice Developer.

Fletcher Hurn, Apprentice

Fletcher Hurn


Monday morning started with our usual stand up meeting where the whole games team discusses what we did in the previous week and what we’re looking to do next.

These meetings are always useful as I get a sense of direction for the week ahead.

I spent the rest of the morning looking at a bug in the game `Centurion` which was currently being submitted to be certified for release. In our games we can force the outcome of the game during testing to make sure things are working correctly. After some investigation, we resolved the issue.

After lunch, I played an upcoming game called `Advance` that is in development to see if any issues arose and to provide feedback on how the game plays. I also looked at the strategy for this game. Our games have a small element of user choice – this means that we have to make sure we know what the best strategy is so that we can identify the maximum a player could win. After some trial and error with testing we came up with a strategy that we thought was best and the game will now be developed with this in mind.Bottles game


I started my day by looking into another bug with the `Centurion` game we were certifying. Luckily, this was just a simple fix where some code had not been deployed onto the testing environment. After this I spent the rest of the day learning our front-end framework and working on a simple bottle toss game that I had started to create.


Today I spent the morning applying the finishing touches to the bottle toss game by adding sounds and some more animations. Once this was complete, I decided to undertake some university work; catching up on a lecture I had missed using Moodle and then finishing my lab work for the week.

I also completed the upcoming assignment for that module. Feeling very productive, I then picked up a previous project – working on the back-end/server-side of an upcoming game we are hoping to release in Q3 of this year. This was done in Java and looked at the logic of the game.


Thursday was a great day! There was a company-wide tournament on the upcoming game `Centurion` we were about to release which meant that the game was played by everyone in the company in both the London and Colchester offices.  After this, I continued working on the same project I picked up yesterday – with now most of the game logic written, it was time to begin running it and testing it to make sure it was working as expected.

FridaySlingo game

On my last day of the week, I finished off the project I was working on yesterday and added the finishing touches to it, including fixing any obvious bugs I had found (even though it will go through more rigorous testing later in the development cycle). After this I moved on to fixing some issues with some of the servers we have on-site at our office. We use these to run some of the bigger tasks we need to complete before releasing a game where we need lots of cores.

I spent the rest of the day working on optimising the `Advance` game we were looking to run on these servers as it was taking longer than usual. This involved making small changes and then timing the average amount of time each run of the game was taking.

Before the end of the day, we were able to take about 70% off this time. A fantastic result to end a busy week.

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3 February 2020

What do you think? We want to know!

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 10.55 am

As three major student surveys are going live today (Monday 3 February), Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, sets out seven takeaway facts about the surveys, why they matter, and why you should complete yours…

Here at Essex we believe in putting student success at the heart of everything we do.

This year, the NSS survey of final year undergraduates – plus the UKES survey for our first and second year undergraduates, and the PTES survey for our postgraduate taught Masters students surveys – give the University the opportunity to get direct, anonymous feedback from you about how we’re doing– and of course, this gives us an opportunity to improve.

So why bother completing your survey?

Please take a few minutes to read these key facts, as we strive to ensure all Essex students receive an excellent and transformational education.

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott

Professor Madeline Eacott, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education

Seven student satisfaction survey takeaways:

1. On Monday 3 February the 2020 NSS, UKES and PTES student surveys will launch.

All three run until Thursday 30 April, but we’d suggest you fill yours in as soon as you’re asked, so you don’t get more email reminders from Ipsos Mori! You’ll be invited by email to complete the survey that’s right for you, complete with a dedicated link to the survey website. If you get stuck, ask your departmental office or email for help.

2. We really value hearing from you. Essex response rates are usually good: last year we reached a 76.8 per cent. Can we do better this year? We think so!

Plus, for every survey completed £1 will be donated to local charities chosen by SU members in Colchester, Southend and Loughton – and those pounds really add up. Last year we raised more than £3,000 for local good causes – let’s beat this sum in 2020!

3. The results of these surveys are hugely important. At Essex, we really value your voice.

Your responses give us an opportunity to get valuable anonymous feedback, so we have the opportunity to listen, and respond, to do things better.

4. Once the results are in, this is what happens next. We make improvements, based on what you’ve told us.

Each department considers comments about their courses and will put quick and longer term plans in place based on your ideas and feedback. We also analyse results at university level to see where broader issues come to light, such as about library or IT services.

5. The results also become publicly available to help new students choose which university to study.

NSS results are made public at Discover Uni to help prospective students decide where to study. UKES results are used to help us understand other experiences of undergraduate students who aren’t eligible for the NSS and make improvements to your university experience whilst you are still studying with us. Meanwhile the PTES survey helps us gain insight from our PGT community, again to improve not only your experience but the experience of those that will follow you.

6. When it comes to making meaningful improvements, students are at the heart of the process.

Your feedback, plus continually working with the SU, helps us understand how we can use survey data to improve student satisfaction. For example, departments now hold student focus groups to understand how they can better support their students’ learning. One result from this has been the launch of gathering in-module feedback from you, to ensure that modules are going well.

7. The kinds of questions you’re asked vary depending on the survey you complete.

But, whatever the survey, NSS, UKES and PTES questions are designed to help universities understand more about your academic and wider living and learning experience as an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student – what is working well for you and what could be improved? We really do value the feedback and insight – not only to improve the student experience for current students, but those of the future too.

Find out more about the:

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24 January 2020

Refurbishing our paternoster lift

Filed under: News — ckeitch @ 11.26 am
Two people on the paternoster lift

The paternoster lift in the 1960s

We’re starting work on refurbishing our paternoster lift. We’ll be completely restoring the lift and taking the opportunity to introduce some new safety features, before it re-opens in September 2020.

The paternoster has been an important part of our library since it first opened in 1967.  It is one of just two lifts like it which are now left in the UK, so we’ve been planning the best way to make sure it can remain open and accessible for visitors to the Albert Sloman Library.

Work to refurbish the paternoster has already begun and over the next nine months we’ll be working with them to restore and update the lift.

These works will include:

  • Completely replacing the lifts drive gears and chain
  • Replacing the main control system with a modern high efficiency system
  • Installing a new vari-speed drive system, so the lift can easily be slowed down.
  • Updating all of the lift cars
  • Upgrading the lighting in the lift shaft
  • New safety features, like a traffic light system to help you get onto the lift

We’re working with ILECS, a specialist lift consultant, to manage this project. ILECS are one of the few companies who’ve previously worked on paternosters, including the one at the University of Sheffield. Updating our paternoster is a complex project and to undertake these works ILECS are working with a variety of specialist engineers, from specialist chain manufactures to steam engine engineers to make and cut the drive wheels.

The lift was originally built over fifty years ago by J&E Hall Ltd of Dartford, who manufactured paternosters from 1880 to 1968. Since then it’s been refurbished twice before in 1975 and 1995. Our lift is a chain of 14 open compartments that move in a loop up and down the library without stopping at about 20cm per second. Each compartment can carry two people and you can get on or off at any floor.

See the paternoster in action.

Keep up to date with all the works on the Library website.

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22 January 2020

We’re here to help you

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 4.33 pm

We chat with the newest member of the Student Support team, Fee Boon, to find out how she can support you.

You’ve just moved from your wellbeing role at East 15 to the Colchester Campus. What’s your new title?
Wellbeing Assessor

How many members are there in your team?
I am one of four Wellbeing Assessors and we have a whole host of other brilliant and supportive people behind the scenes.

How can you help students in your role?
I will support students with their mental health, wellbeing and disability and empower them to look after their wellbeing whilst making the most of University life.

I will be making referrals for in-house support and signposting to external services.

If you have any queries regarding consent or relationship issues then please pop and see me. I can also advise further on using our Report and Support system.

You will find me through our drop-in service at the Silberrad Student Centre which is open from 9am – 4pm.

Fee Boon, Student Support Team

Fee Boon, Student Support Team

Tell us something we don’t know about you…
How about three things?

1) I sing constantly. If it’s not coming out of my mouth, it’s happening in my head.

2) Outside of the University, I run a small business, as a way of supporting my own wellbeing as well as others.

3) I spend a lot of time drinking coffee with my in-laws as my family are all in Scotland. I’m very lucky, they’re great!

Are you excited to work with a new team?
I’ve worked for the University for a wee while so I know my team but, in my new role at Colchester Campus, I’ll be working more closely with them.

I’m excited to learn from them – to know their stories and find ways to develop my skills and hopefully share a few too. I’m also excited to find out who makes the best coffee and if they like quizzes. I love a quiz. By the time you read this, I’ll be learning all these vital things!

How did you get into this sort of role?
I’m moving to the Student Wellbeing team from Loughton Campus. I’ve always looked for supporting roles and I’ve been very lucky to work for some amazing organisations: Taunton Association for the Homeless, BUPA, National Youth Advocacy Service, The Mighty Creatives and most recently the University, working closely with East 15 students and staff to provide a support service.

I’ve worked with people who showed me how important a single interaction can be and how meaningful relationships can change everything.

If you could give one piece of advice for someone wondering whether they should ask for help what would you say?

Come and sit with us, decide what to say when you get here and don’t spend any more time wondering.

If you need information, advice or support to succeed here at Essex, please get in touch with the Student Support Team.


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17 January 2020

Our zero tolerance approach to sexual harassment and sexual violence

Filed under: Colchester, Loughton, News, Southend — Communications, CER @ 2.10 pm

We are committed to ensuring our University is a welcoming and inclusive place, where everyone is safe and treated with respect. Here is an update on our ongoing work in this area. 

If you experience any behaviour that does not uphold our values, report it online. Search Essex, Report and Support.

The University of Essex has a zero tolerance approach to all sexual harassment and sexual violence. We do not and will not tolerate such behaviour and, together with our Students’ Union, we are committed to making our University an inclusive and welcoming environment, where everyone is safe and treated with respect.

As a result of concern about how we have handled some of the complaints made by our students in the past, particularly the length of time these had taken to be completed, last academic year we undertook a full review of our policy and processes. This has resulted in a number of changes to our disciplinary and support processes.

The most important change has been the substantial revision of the Code of Student Conduct, which we strengthened to ensure we have the tools and policies in place to improve our handling of such cases. You will now be aware of the revised Code of Student Conduct and our expectations of behaviour, and this remains at the heart of us all making our University a welcoming and safe environment.

We have also enhanced our reporting platform Report and Support, which allows you to report any event or concern you have, and you can report anonymously if you feel you need to.

Alongside improving reporting and disciplinary processes, we have also introduced consent training; bystander training; additional security patrols at night and CCTV coverage across all our campuses; and have provided additional resources for our conduct team to ensure we manage complaints as quickly as possible.

Importantly, University Senate now receives a termly assurance report on the implementation of the Code of Student Conduct 2019-20. This report will be considered by Senate next week, with the information then shared with students through the SU.

We have taken independent external advice to ensure we are creating a fair and transparent process that supports students who make complaints and ensures their wellbeing is monitored, and will continue to do so, on an ongoing basis.

If you are the victim of, or witness to, an incident that you feel is a breach of the Code of Student Conduct; you should report the incident through Report and Support. The University’s conduct procedures are not intended to replace criminal proceedings and if the allegation you have made might be an offence under criminal law, you are expected to report the matter to the Police. More information about reporting a crime is on our student directory and support is available through the Student Services Hubs at each of our campuses.

This area remains a priority for our whole community, and we all need to play our part in ensuring we are a safe and inclusive environment. We are a community of supportive and courageous people who, working together can and will instigate change.

If you have any suggestions or feedback or if you need support with any of the issues raised above please contact our Student Services Hub.

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15 January 2020

Could your research win you £5,000?

Filed under: News — Laura Mathias @ 12.37 pm

Our Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education, Professor Sanja Bahun, tells us more about the Interdisciplinary Conference Fund and explains how you can apply.

Have you:

  • been excited about doing research that stretches across disciplines?
  • wondered how your research would be viewed from the perspective of someone working in a completely different research area?
  • wished you could network with researchers in other fields?
  • aspired to publish your research?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, we are delighted to invite you to apply for our PGR Interdisciplinary Conference Fund.

Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education

Professor Sanja Bahun, Dean of Postgraduate Research and Education

What is it?

To enhance research collaboration and networking at postgraduate level, last year, we launched an award fund of £5000 for the best proposal for an interdisciplinary research conference organised by postgraduate researchers.

The successful candidates delivered a wonderful conference which enabled bold thinking across disciplines, meeting the requirement to have PGR researchers from at least two different faculties and three different departments on the organising committee.

Due to its success, we’ve launched the fund again this year.

Why should I apply?

This is an opportunity for you to explore a research question or a research methodology that stretches across disciplines.

You can think about big overarching themes and challenges faced by the contemporary world or conference topics linked to specific methodologies used across disciplines. We want you to be courageous and innovative in choosing the most pressing subject and the most suitable model for your conference.

You may deploy different methods of presentation – from traditional panels and displays through visual presentations, performances, an exhibition, or any combination of these.

You may decide to invest the funds into bringing exciting external speakers – academics or non-academics – to campus, or gathering similar-minded researchers with the aim of producing a conference publication such as a book or a Special Issue. You may use it as a springboard to international research relevance and visibility through the use of research social media.

When is the deadline?

The deadline for your grant proposal is Tuesday 21 January at 5pm.

How/when will the winner be chosen?

The PGR Interdisciplinary Conference Selection Committee will evaluate proposals and announce the winner for this year on 30 January 2019. Every proposal will receive feedback from the Selection Committee. Your conference must take place and all funds be spent by 31 July 2020.

You can find more information on our website.

You can also email the PGRE team at To enable us to respond to your enquiry as quickly as possible, please include the heading “PGR Interdisciplinary Conference”.

Good luck with your applications!

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