Now that we have received confirmation that Computing and Technology will move to Stoke during the summer of 2016 can you tell us when you anticipate other departments to relocate?
There is a lot of uncertainly amongst staff and I think it is fair to say some people feel that we are not being kept ‘in the loop’.
The University has announced that we will vacate our Beaconside campus with all computing and entertainment technology degrees moving to our Stoke-on-Trent campus in the summer of 2016. As highlighted in the original communication shared with all staff and students in January, Health Sciences courses will remain in Stafford at our Blackheath Lane site. Although the University is investigating opportunities to relocate this part of our course provision to a town centre location, these are longer-term aspirations.
As part of this decision, we have committed to keeping all student facing services fully operational until the students relocate in September 2016 – this will require the staff providing these services to remain at Stafford until 2016. For other, non-student facing areas, there may be the opportunity to relocate from Stafford at an earlier date and in fact, it may be advantageous to do so to avoid everyone having to move at the same time. Any plans to move earlier than 2016 would however be dependent upon the space being available at Stoke and would be done in consultation with the department and staff affected. It is unlikely that any moves will take place until summer 2015 at the earliest.
There may also be the need to relocate staff on the Stoke Campus to enable refurbishment works to be undertaken. These plans are currently being developed and will be shared and discussed with staff when complete.
How long have the university known about the Stoke-on-Trent Council’s plan to invest in the University Quarter and was the decision to close the Stafford campus dependent on the council’s investment? Surely we cannot be expected to believe that that the two decisions are not co-dependent!
Throughout the consultation period the University has undertaken meetings with both Stafford and Stoke councils to discuss potential requirements were we to invest further in either of the campuses. The University has been clear with Stoke City Council that if we are to invest in the city that we would expect support and investment from themselves.
We must stress, however, contrary to the headlines that have appeared in this morning’s The Sentinel, no decision has yet been made on the levels of investment, new teaching facilities, car-parking or student accommodation required by the University.
I have a £20 parking permit and am due to change my car. The company issuing the permits says it will cost another £5 to alter the permit!
Alternatively, I can use a temporary permit until it’s time to renew the existing one, avoiding this extra charge. Can you assure me I won’t be fined if I do so?
Any permit holder can exchange their permit counterfoil for a temporary visitor permit on occasions when they need to use a different car from that registered. Anyone displaying a valid temporary visitor permit will not be issued with a parking charge notice.
Temporary visitor permits are available from the Campus Lodges and receptions at Health Sciences in Blackheath Lane and from receptions in the Science Centre, Brindley and Cadman buildings in Stoke.
I would wish to know how much the University has agreed to pay the BPMF for corporate membership for all staff. In an age of financial austerity, which the Exec are ever ready to remind us about, how can such profligacy be justified?
We are not in a position to share with staff the cost of the agreed Corporate Membership package with the Potters’ Club however all staff can be assured that we are getting extraordinarily good value for money. This is a partnership with the Potters’ Club and will be of mutual benefit to both parties. It is therefore pleasing to note that in excess of 100 members of staff have already applied for membership. As mentioned in the Vice Chancellor’s email of 5 March, there is limited choice in terms of restaurants in the immediate vicinity of the Stoke Campus and the Potters’ Club is popular with University visitors – this facility will make this an option for all staff.
How do the University encourage and reward long service / loyalty to working here if members of staff reaching the top of their pay grade are then left to stagnate on that pay grade. Surely as staff take on more responsibility and gain more experience to improve and grow their role, there should be something in place to reward this and encourage them to remain employed by the University rather than they feel they have to look outside of the opportunity.
To compound the problem, the drive to reduce costs combined with likely job losses as a result of the campus convergence, will surely make opportunities for career development / progression even more scarce leading to the loss of valued(?) employees with vast experience and skills.
The University recognises long service at the annual Celebrating Staff Success event along with other staff successes achieved at the University. It is committed to providing professional development for all staff to ensure that they are contributing effectively and developing in their roles. The appraisal is the time to consider the support and development required to improve and grow in the role and also to consider the development required for being role ready for the next employment opportunity. Where the role requirements have changed significantly there is an option to consider reassessment of grade.
Whilst there are changes on the horizon linked to the Estates Strategy which may restrict the number of opportunities going forward, it is currently not possible for the University to create promotion opportunities/secondments for all staff who are at the maximum of their grade and ready for the next step. With the experience and development provided by the University, some staff may need to look beyond the University in order to seek promotion opportunities.
Will student recruitment for the coming years be the deciding factor when deciding what courses/staff to cut, this would be wholly unfair on Stafford based courses as any drop in recruitment over the next 2 – 3 years can be directly linked to the Executives decision to move campus and not on anything the Staff have done/not done?
Thank you for the question. Student recruitment is the main focus of the university at the current time. We have been clear internally that the current market conditions present a challenging time for our university. Externally we have invested a great deal of time and effort in our marketing approach and our recruitment processes to maximise interest and increase the conversion activity from application to enrolment. We hope that this activity will help with our student numbers for 14/15 entry, against the backdrop of the increased competition within the sector. However, at the moment we have less applications for our FTUG courses than we did last year.
As a consequence we will review the courses that we offer in the future. This is not a new process. The Academic Development Unit undertake an Annual Portfolio Performance Review for the FT UG UCAS portfolio. This information is used in conjunction with application and enrolment data for the wider University portfolio (including Postgraduate awards) and a range of other considerations (like our portfolio of awards delivered in UK and International partners) to make decisions with faculties on which programmes should continue to be offered. These decisions are made by the Deans of Faculty and subject to executive approval.
Currently we are not seeing any adverse impact in the numbers of people applying for courses on the Stafford campus, since the announcement on the estates strategy. Indeed, from looking at data from one faculty only yesterday, the number of withdrawn applications is less this year than in previous years. We will continue to monitor the situation as we move forwards.
As part of the estates strategy decision, marketing are working with faculties and services through a special RSG mini group to ensure that all communications with applicants considering courses at Stafford are provided with all the relevant information in order to make an informed choice, which of course explains the benefits of the decision to relocate and continues to promote the university as a great place to study and live.