Can staff watch the Olympic Torch Relay?

QUESTION:

With the Olympic flame coming to Stafford on the 30th May, and a lot of the main roads being closed, and therefore anticipating congestion, does the University have any plans on allowing staff to leave before it commences to watch the flame go by?

 

ANSWER:

Thank you for getting in touch. We do not intend to close the University early on Wednesday 30 May.  However if staff wish to be part fo the event they should speak to their line manager about the possibility of taking time off of work, subject to us still being able to provide services for our students and customers.

Any time off, will be managed in accordance with our normal arrangements or flexitime arrangements where this applies. It promises to be a once in a lifetime event, so find out how you can get involved.

With regards to your concerns about traffic on the day, there have been advanced warnings of road closures and disruption due to the Olympic Torch Relay.  However, suggested alternative routes have been highlighted by the council:

Road closures in Stoke on Trent
Road closures in Staffordshire
 
We hope this helps you in planning your day around this exciting event.  More information about the Olympic Torch Relay can be found on the Staffordshire County Council website

Can we have benches installed by the Stafford campus bus stop?

QUESTION:
Please can Executive consider installing one or two outdoor wooden benches on the green space, under or near the trees, by the Beaconside Bus Shelter at the Stafford Campus.

Although the bus shelter does provide some indoor seating, when the weather is good, it would be nice to sit down, in the fresh air, on a bench outside and wait for the next bus. You can find yourself waiting some time for a bus to arrive, as the time keeping of the service does vary.

Thank you and regards.

 
ANSWER:
Thank you for your suggestion. Making improvements to our campuses is an important and ongoing process and we appreciate any feedback and suggestions we receive throughout this journey.

To make the most of the beautiful weather we are currently enjoying, the Estates team have responded to your request in record time – two benches have this morning been taken out of storage and placed next to the bus stop as suggested, and are already being used by people to soak up the sunshine.

We hope that you too enjoy the benches (and the fresh air!) next time you are waiting for the bus.

 

Change to approval process for HEIF applications

QUESTION:
It is my understanding that within the last two months there has been a change to the approval process for HEIF applications such that, rather than ECD seeking Executive approval via Rosy Crehan outside of the formal themed application window that Faculties must comply with, Faculty management must now secure Executive approval within this four week window. This is in addition to proposers gaining approval from their own Faculty management team.

Combine that with the fact that ECD require that any application must be discussed and supported at the themed workshops that they host, regardless of whether there is a cross-faculty aspect or not, and that those workshops typically consume the first two weeks of the four week application window, it is clear that this additional process overhead is unhelpful at best.

It is my opinion that something has to give and, without further intervention, the most likely aspect to give will be the actual quantity of applications submitted. This implication helps no-one.

In addition, it escapes me why any member of Executive should review any application that may not be supported by ECD in any event. Whilst I am not a member of ECD, it strikes me as a waste of resource and potentially disenfranchising to ECD, the very entity that Executive has trusted as custodians of £4.8m of HEIF funding in the first instance.

 

ANSWER:
Thank you for your comments. It is always good practice to reflect on our processes. On reflection we don’t believe the timeframe from the opening to the close of each internal call is restrictive.

Although the themes have a four week window it is expected during the three or four workshops beforehand and outside of these that individuals will work on these ideas so when it comes to applying it is just a matter of putting it on paper.
ECD are not sure even if we extended the application period that this would help, as generally ECD don’t receive any applications for calls until the last day.

The HEIF strategy which outlines the overall direction and highlights the themed calls has been available and communicated widely since August 2011. The themes and the knowledge exchange deliverables won’t change. Thinking and planning aligned to the strategy is encouraged and can occur at any time, including discussions with ECD.

The opening of the call is meant to act as a catalyst and a focus towards completing the proposal by the deadline. Most calls actually have an open window of up to three months. The full list of all deadlines was circulated by email and posted on SUN on 13th March to enable planning ahead. So for example whilst the Security call opened on 1st May and closes on 25th May, it was notified to staff on 13th March (and was originally signalled in August 2011)

The workshops have been very successful in stimulating cross Faculty collaboration, which is a key aim of HEIF, and will continue to be an enabling part of the process. Work in progress can be brought to the workshop and used as a basis for discussion and feedback.

In order to facilitate forward planning and early notification, we have started running workshops now for the Health and Wellbeing theme even though the call isn’t open until September. Going forward ECD are trying to arrange the workshops to start at least 4 months before the call goes out to allow time to develop the ideas,find partners etc., before completing applications.

HEIF is a four year programme and the development of good collaborative projects should be a process that occurs amongst forward thinking business focussed academics as part of their normal activities.

HEIF calls are not unlike the Customer Service Awards, whereby Managers can choose to think about their Team and Individual submissions throughout the year or they can wait right up until the deadline.