Will all facilities in Stafford be replicated in Stoke?

QUESTION:

The executive have stated that the facilities/equipment at stoke will, at least, be equivalent to existing facilities/equipment in Stafford, will this be the case for all facilities presently on offer at Stafford?
If the answer is no then surely we need to know as soon as possible, so that on open days we can be completely honest and inform prospective students that the will be no TV Studio etc, once the move is complete!

 

ANSWER:

We will ensure that students have the facilities and equipment necessary to undertake their programmes and would expect this to be at least to the standard of those provided in Stafford.

While we cannot commit to replicate the facilities as they currently appear in Stafford, students will continue to have access to industry standard equipment to enable them to develop the skills employers are looking for.

Prospective students can therefore be reassured on these points.

Will there be accommodation for partner college students?

QUESTION:

I have a number of students who undertake their first year of study at a partner college. Due to the location of the College a number of the students use the Stafford Campus accommodation during that time. What provision will be made for the removal of what was a key attraction for this course?

 

ANSWER:

There will be an ongoing need for accommodation in Stafford to support the Faculty of Health students.  As part of this, we will also look to provide accommodation for partner college students where required.

Why are ‘change of base’ payments for travel made through salary and not as travel claims?

QUESTION:

I note a previous question regarding travel cost support for Staff whose place of work changes. Having been moved in September I have been receiving these payments. My question is why are these payments for travel made through our salary and not the normal travel claims? Paying through salary means they are subject to tax etc. virtually halving their value.

 

ANSWER:

Thank you for your question which on the face of it does seem as if we are operating a different arrangements for both types of travel claims.  The reason for the difference, however,  is that we are allowed by HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to pay for business journeys tax free which includes travelling between sites and visits to customers etc.  HMRC do not allow us to pay  ‘ordinary commuting’ which means travelling  to and from home on the same basis and this has to be taxed.  The Change of Base allowance is a contribution to the additional travelling costs you incur as a result of travelling from home to work and therefore unfortunately we are bound by the HMRC regulations and are required to tax this allowance.

Will the move have a negative impact on student recruitment?

QUESTION:

Does the VC not think that it’s a case of the pot calling the kettle black when in his latest email he states and I quote that “I would be remiss if I did not state clearly how damaging industrial action would be for our students and our University” when the decision has been made to move students to Stoke, a decision which could well have a disastrous effect on student retention and recruitment?

 

ANSWER:

We are very aware of the need to ensure that students are disrupted as little as possible, during any industrial action and likewise, throughout the move to the Stoke campus.

The reason for making these changes is to ensure the our students have the best experience possible and we can provide then with the best facilities and equipment. A larger primary campus will enable us to deliver a more vibrant and modern estate, both factors we know students are looking for. It is therefore believed that when delivered, these proposals will in fact have a positive impact upon recruitment.

Who will decide what services are required to remain in Stafford?

QUESTION:

Who will decide what services are required to remain in Stafford to support the Nursing & Health students, and subsequently how many jobs will remain?

When are we likely to know what, and how many, jobs are available?

 

ANSWER:

We will be consulting with the Faculty, staff and students to determine what facilities are required to support Nursing and Health students and how these can best be provided.  The outcomes of this will be built into the consultation with staff with regards to future roles and opportunities.  The timing of this is partially dependent upon the planned date of relocation – this is currently Sept 2016 with the potential for September 2015 being reviewed.  This aspect will be determined in the next few months.

Will the number of votes be made public?

QUESTION:

I’ve been asked if the number of votes for and against the move from the Stafford site could / will be made public – not the actual breakdown of who voted either way (which might not be known any way) but the split for and against plus any abstentions.

 

ANSWER:

At its meeting on 29 January the Board of Governors decided that at this point in time all reports considered at the meeting and all discussion should be regarded as confidential. It is there not possible to answer the question at this time.

Which posts/departments do you expect to be affected?

QUESTION:

It was stated that certain posts are site-specific and therefore at risk when the move to Stoke takes place.
Are you able to confirm exactly which posts/departments you expect to be affected?

Will any job losses as a result of the move be restricted to those staff currently based in Stafford?
For example, if it is decided that there are too many library or IT staff when the teams are merged at one campus, will all staff within those teams have to re-apply for those fewer posts (or have the option of managed severance)?

 

ANSWER:

As previously stated, with the rationalisation from two main sites to one main site there will inevitably be some impact on staffing levels and at this stage it is too early to speculate where these staffing reductions may fall.

We will engage with all affected staff through our normal procedures to ensure they are fully aware of all the opportunities available to them and offer support for those that will leave the University.

Further work is now being undertaken to develop the detailed plans which will include consultation with staff and students. We will bring you updates when possible.

What will happen to campus facilities?

QUESTION:

Some quick questions regarding the Stafford campus relocation which I’m sure will come up…

1) What are the plans for the Stafford Nursery provision? Will the University retain a nursery provision in Stafford (even if not at Beaconside) for its employees who still live in the town, or is this facility destined to close?

2) What will happen to the Beaconside Sports Centre and the Astroturf pitch? Clearly the residences around it will no longer be required by us, but will the University still run the sports centre, will it look to privatise the facility, or will the land be sold for other uses?

3) Is the £0.75m investment into re-purposing the Octagon to accommodate the Nelson library still a worthwhile investment? Clearly we still need to facilitate the sale and vacate the Nelson, but would a lower cost alternative now seem more sensible which minimises the investment needed (i.e. do book stocks need to be held locally or could they be on 24hr order from Stoke, do we need to move all teaching spaces out of the Octagon when a self-service/open access hybrid approach may suffice in the short-term, do we really need to purchase new furniture for this change? etc.)

 

ANSWER:

1) The Nursery provision is currently subject to a separate review and this will be discussed with staff and students in the near future.

2) The future of the Sports Centre and Astroturf Pitch will be part of the next stage of work on the Estates Strategy. Nothing has been determined at this stage and future options could include a commercial operation run by the University, selling to another commercial operator or potential other uses.

3) We are committed to ensuring that all students at the Stafford Campus continue to receive a high quality student experience until the move to Stoke takes place – this includes maintaining a high quality library service. We will engage with students and staff to determine whether there is any opportunity to provide a lower cost, temporary solution but we can assure all students and staff that this will not be to the detriment of the student experience.

Is the University reducing its student numbers?

QUESTION:

The media document stats the university is going to reduce its full time student number cohort by almost 2380 students when the move to a single campus takes place. This is a huge reduction, £18-20million per year in income, a 1/5 of our current turnover. Can exec state what they predict will be the % of academic posts being removed. It looks like it will be 20%. This is an entire faculty and much more. How will this figure be achieved? Will a faculty be shut? Will it be parts of all faculty’s?

We have already had parents ring up and ask what it going on. Our intake for Sept 14 could be in jeopardy as students have been sold a degree at one campus and to change it to another in a completely different type of environment and town could have the potential to cost the university a huge amount in losses and long term reputation. The final year students could feedback very negatively to the NSS which damages us hugely for many years. The move is meant to be about student experience after all. But I hope this has been deeply considered.

 

ANSWER:

We believe moving to one main campus will deliver annual savings of £3-4m per year. We want to ensure were efficient and viable. There are approximately 2,800 student based at the Beaconside Campus of which 2,000 are full time undergraduates and 350 full time post graduates.  The remainder are part time and distance learning students.  Not all these specific students will be affected as many will complete their studies before the move although there will be a similar level of new students affected. We are therefore unsure as to which document your figures are quoted from?

There are no reductions in courses associated with this decision. Courses always remain under review to ensure that the University offers a competitive and attractive mix.

Inevitably, there will be some reductions in staffing associated with merging the two campuses. At this stage it is too early to speculate where staffing reductions may fall, as this will be dependent upon what services are site-specific and what services are based on student numbers. Detailed discussions will, of course, take place with the unions and staff once the plans are further developed.

Once the detailed planning has been undertaken as to the phasing of Stoke moves, we will then ensure that Open Days for the future recruitment are based in the most appropriate location for those students being recruited. This will normally be the new site.

The reason for making these changes is to ensure the our students have the best experience possible and we can provide then with the best facilities and equipment. A larger primary campus will enable us to deliver a more vibrant and modern estate, both factors we know students are looking for. It is therefore believed that when delivered, these proposals will have a positive impact upon recruitment.

Final year students will not be affected by the move.