Will dangerous tree stumps be tidied up?

QUESTION:
Over by the Ashley building there is a grass embankment between the road and the Law building on the other side where they cut down the trees which were along the ridge. However, a lot of these were left without a ‘clean cut’ across the trunks so there are many which have quite substantial ‘spikes’ sticking up from what is left of the trunks. Are there any plans to tidy these up? I’m sure they must be considered as dangerous – apart from being a real eyesore.

 
ANSWER:
The work on the embankment referred to was being undertaken by the Landscaping Project team, AA projects.
All tree root stumps have now been removed (grubbed-up) as part of the Contract Works – thank you.

Open Day V’s Intake Weekend

QUESTION:
I would like to ask Executive about the reasoning behind the decision to go ahead with an Open Day on Intake Weekend (21st Sept) – one of the busiest weekends of the academic calendar.

Over the past couple of years our Open Days have been buffed and polished so that everyone has a successful enjoyable experience. Likewise the welcome, enrolment and intake activities have been developed into a slick, customer focused weekend which offers a stress free start for our new students.

Our new students and Open Day Visitors each have the right to expect the University’s full attention when they come to move in/view the University.

In these times of reducing student numbers it seems silly to spread ourselves too thinly and fail.  Surely at this early stage (5 ½ months to go) it would be better to re-arrange?

 
ANSWER:
We do not believe either the Open Day or Intake Weekend will be impacted by having both events on the same day.

Both events require the best customer service – and we believe they will complement each other.  With 5 months preparation we can ensure the best delivery.

Will defibrillators be installed at the University?

QUESTION:
As defibrillators are in the local news yet again, are they any plans to install them at the University?

 

ANSWER:
The University Health and Safety Unit is currently working with the West Midlands Ambulance Service, our first aid training provider, with a view to submit a business case for the provision of Automated External Defibrillators for use within the University during the academic year 2013 – 2014.

Will performance problems with Blackboard be resolved?

QUESTION:
What is the situation regarding the performance issues that are sometimes / often experienced by Blackboard users?

 
ANSWER:
Since September 2012 the Blackboard system has been delivered via an externally hosted managed service provided by Blackboard in Amsterdam. Following reports of a number of performance issues impacting on student learning and University staff, Information Services have been working with Blackboard as upmost priority to resolve these problems.

As part of the investigations, discussions have taken place with other institutions that use Blackboard (Keele, Liverpool, Manchester, and Leicester); sharing experiences and best practice and facilitating comparative tests from other campuses to our Blackboard environment in Amsterdam.

As a result of investigations, a number of performance issues have been resolved which related to the configuration of the hosted server environment in Amsterdam.

However, more recently on-going testing has established that there was also an issue relating to a network device within the University. This has recently been resolved and the latest tests undertaken this week indicate a very significant decrease in the time taken to download files from the Blackboard server. Further monitoring and investigation will take place to ensure that performance is at the optimum level possible.

Information Services appreciate the support given by colleagues across the institution during the investigation which has proven very difficult to resolve.

Why has the IP telephony system made such an impact?

QUESTION:
I would be grateful to know if Executive are aware of the impact the current telephone setup at the University has on day to day operations. While the IP phone system used more than likely provides cost savings, the call quality when making calls is inconsistent, with lags and poor lines being a common occurrence.

Additionally, mobile users cannot see our number when they are called, and colleagues in some departments need to make outbound calls requiring replies that are at worst ignored, or at best delayed by the individual having to check voicemail and call back.  Additionally some commercial and residential landline users block callers that are unknown. This may seem like a small problem but at grass roots level it adds up to a big issue for any institution wishing to make its practices more business-like.

 
ANSWER:
Information Services are currently in the process of deploying IP telephony across buildings at the University. This system was installed to replace the current phone system which is 13 years old and no longer fit for purpose. There is currently a fault on the system that is resulting in a delay of approximately 3 seconds when connecting external calls. This fault has been logged with our service providers who are working with us to resolve this. We are not currently aware of any issues with this system that that have resulted in poor call quality. If issues with quality are being experienced then these should be reported to our service desk for investigation.

The University system does not currently advertise a telephone number outside the University so anyone with a mobile phone or caller display feature will see the incoming call displayed as “unknown”. This has not been a conscious decision by the University but this has always been the case since the system was installed 13 years ago. It is possible to advertise a telephone number externally but progression of this would need to be approved by the University.

How did we choose colours for academic dress?

QUESTION:
I have been looking at the academic dress for the university. How were the choice of colours chosen and given the wide range of different awards with different academic dress, why is the M.Phil not differentiated from other Masters awards?

 

ANSWER:
The academic dress for the University, including MPhil awards, was selected at the time the University was granted its own degree awarding powers in the early 1990’s. There are currently no plans to review this.

Why are more trees being cut down?

QUESTION:
I am just watching more really established trees being cut down on College Road…why is this? Just because they are in the ‘wrong’ place?

I know more are going to be planted, but surely there is no need to clear out all the trees that don’t fit the plan.

 
ANSWER:
Three trees have been removed close to the College Rd car park entrance by our University Grounds team. Two of these trees were dead and another showed signs of disease. We will be replacing these trees with a more suitable species that doesn’t carry the same disease risk, as we recognise the importance of trees to our environment.

Does the University remember it has a Lichfield campus?

QUESTION:
I would like to know if the University will one day remember that it has a Lichfield Campus. (In partnership with South Staffordshire College).

It seems that for years Lichfield has been forgotten or worse treated with indifference by the University. The learner’s at Lichfield have to use out dated, painfully slow computers in the learning resource centre and have to be taught in excessively hot computer rooms due to an aging air-conditioning system that is no longer fit for purpose. (Site surveys and quotes for replacement have been gathered many times over the years – still nothing has been actioned)

Both of these issues have been raised many times by staff and students without resolution. Surely one would think that the University could work more effectively with their college counterparts to provide a suitable learning environment for all of its students?

 
ANSWER:
We have recently agreed with our College Partner to invest in a much needed upgrade to the air conditioning system and this project is now being progressed. With regards to the PC’s, we are looking at how they can be developed to meet the differing requirements of both College and University students. As a short term measure and to deal with the performance issues, we have agreed with the College to invest in new PCs for the heavily used areas.

The Lichfield Campus remains an important part of the University and we are looking at how we can improve the student experience. The recent increase in use of the facility by our Education Team is an example of our commitment to the location and the partnership.

 

Are the ‘campus move’ survey results ready?

QUESTION:
Hello can I ask if the results are known yet regarding the outcome of the staff/student survey regarding any possible campus moves?

 

ANSWER:
The survey received an incredible number of responses including a significant number of free text comments. All the responses are being analysed and the comments will be taken into account in developing the next stages of the consultation. We have already identified areas for further research/evaluation and will be engaging further with staff, students and other partners over the next few months.