Should the university be endorsing day-time drinking in the work place?

QUESTION:
Recently there has been a warming welcome in the Beacon Foyer of hot chocolate and grab and go tasty meals, however it was rather disconcerting on Monday to see that this was supplemented by large cans of larger – possibly traditional accompaniment to pie and peas for English diners but not warming, not conducive to afternoon study and probably not what a lot of the new MSc students were expecting to see.

Should the university be endorsing day-time drinking in the work place especially when alcohol is a major health hazard. Those who want to drink do have bars to go to including on the premises, should those who those who don’t or who abstain for various reasons have it so in their face? The larger has now relocated to Dolche Vita – again it doesn’t seem entirely appropriate.

 

ANSWER:
This was a one off and we appreciate now with hindsight, that it wasn’t an appropriate location for the sale of alcohol. The Commercial Services team would like to apologise if any offence was caused and reassure everyone that this was not our intention.

How do you apply for a University ‘disabled parking’ permit?

QUESTION:
My colleagues and I have noticed that some cars are parking in disabled bays but do not have blue badges, instead they have a university permit allowing them to do so.

The permits do not have expiry dates on them and so it would be extremely useful to obtain one. Could you tell us the criteria for obtaining these permits as I would assume that it requires some degree of infirmity, also could you inform us who makes the decision as to how disabled you have to be to acquire one if this is the case.

 

ANSWER:
The University recognises that from time to time, our colleagues and students may have a temporary situation that causes mobility issues but isn’t covered by the blue badge scheme. In such circumstances, we are happy to work with the Student Enabling Centre or individual faculty or service management teams to provide a short term solution by way of an accessible parking permit.

These are managed by Skip Edwards in the Campus and Commercial Services team. While details are not printed on the permit, they are logged and recorded so as to be active only as long as is necessary.

What is being done to improve the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon?

QUESTION:
What is being done to improve the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon?

 

ANSWER:
Planned work to fix the problem with the poor heating and lack of hot water in the Octagon has proven to be far greater than first anticipated due to the fragile condition and old age of the building’s services, with many new associated faults identified as part of the initial investigation.

The many faults have now been corrected and since March 2012, the Estates Department have carried out the following improvement works at a cost of £300,000.

•Replacement of two new boilers;
•Progressive replacement of the obsolete Building Management System;
•Replacement of the main intake and return fans to the Octagon’s main air handling plant;
•Replacement of existing valves throughout the Octagon which were not fully functioning;
•Initial commissioning of the system;

The system is now in full operation with far higher heating and hot water temperatures available from the new boilers as of Monday 21st January 2013.

Engineers will however be on site for the next 2-3 weeks to balance the system and raise temperatures in any localised cold spots. This work will go on in the background. Disruption will be minimal and any affected users will be notified in advance.

I would take this opportunity to apologise for the uncomfortable conditions experienced within the building and highlight that the University is committed to investing in the buildings and fabric to ensure an improved student experience.

Clarification on Friday closure due to snow

We have had a number of questions relating to personal circumstances regarding the closure of facilities, lectures etc on Friday as a result of the worsening weather conditions.  We are aware that this affected our staff in different ways and therefore we advised that individual circumstances and options should be discussed with your line manager.

It is important to us that we have a consistent and flexible approach in these circumstances, however, it is not appropriate to respond to individual queries more generally and without context.  Personnel Services have also received a number queries and have provided advice to managers and members of staff.

Should you have further concerns regarding your personal position please contact Personnel Services for advice. Thank you.

When will BHL be cleared of snow?

QUESTION:
Could you please tell me when Blackheath Lane car park will be cleared as it very dangerous today?

 

ANSWER:
The Grounds and Campus teams make every effort to grit and clear the main roads and pavements on campus but we don’t clear parking spaces as the only way to do this without a snow plough is to do so by hand. If there are areas of the campus that are of particular concern at any time then these should be reported to the Campus team in the appropriate lodge.

The Stafford Campus team have spread some more grit at Blackheath Lane this afternoon and will do so again first thing in the morning when there are no cars parked.

Are there any planned incentives to encourage more people to car share?

QUESTION:
The University is regularly promoting ‘sustainable travel’ and being ‘green’.

With this in mind, are there any planned incentives to encourage more people to car share?

Lots of people work similar hours and live in close proximity so it would make sense. However there is currently nothing in place to encourage more staff to do this.

 

ANSWER:
The University has been a member of the Staffordshire Share-a-lift scheme for several years now. This car share database will allow individuals to search for car sharers either from the University or the wider community, the latter increasing the possibility of finding a car share partner. In addition, as part of the sustainable travel plan, a guaranteed lift home scheme provides car sharers a lift home in the event of an emergency. (Terms and conditions apply.)

Looking forward, once the landscaping improvements have completed and the car park management strategy has embedded, the University will be in a position to investigate guaranteed parking spaces for car sharers, although the exact mechanisms for managing this process will need to be considered in the future.

Do staff have to submit annual leave for Friday’s closure?

QUESTION:
Following Michael Gunn’s decision to close the University on midday last Friday, are staff expected to submit half day annual leave?

 

ANSWER:
The decision taken on Friday to close the University facilities, lectures, tutorials and exams at midday was taken as a result of the worsening weather and travel conditions. Members of staff were asked to consult with their line manager with regard to their individual circumstances. You would not need to book annual leave if your early finish on Friday was agreed with your line manager in order for you to travel home safely.

When will students get a fully working wireless network?

QUESTION:
When will our students get a fully working wireless network to work with (wireless printing, wireless mapped H-Drive, wireless student login), rather than just a wireless internet connection?

 
ANSWER:
The Airnet wireless service allows students to access the internet, email via Webmail, access H drives and print documents. Further details can be found within the Airnet User Guide.

We are constantly striving to develop our mobile offering to all of our staff and students as is illustrated by the recent launch of the new AirNet-Secure service.

*This is a question that we did not have time for during the last Executive Question Time.

What are Executive doing to reduce the impact of power cuts?

QUESTION:
Given the repeated power cuts in Stoke what is the university executive doing regarding business continuity and reducing the impact of power cuts?

 
ANSWER:
The University has invested significantly in upgrading the back-up systems for the Data Centres in Stoke and Stafford to minimise the impact of power cuts.

*This is a question that we did not have time for during the last Executive Question Time.

Why was ResNet outsourced?

QUESTION:
The student residential network (ResNet) has just been outsourced to a 3rd party company. Can you please explain how an IS run service that generated over £100,000 per year has just been outsourced especially since other local universities’ students envy the service offered to our students?

 

ANSWER:
We wanted to offer our residential students the best level of service that we could from the provision of internet speeds, telephony and IP TV coupled with a 24/7 helpdesk. We decided to engage with a contractor for a fully managed service including the associated investment requirements with the support of IS – Cablecom were the successful company. Many universities have chosen to outsource this provision in order, like us, to provide a service that meets students expectations both now and in the future.

*This is a question that we did not have time for during the last Executive Question Time.