Is the relocation to Stoke-on-Trent shortsighted?

QUESTION:
Recent reports suggest that up to 4 Universities are interested in purchasing our Stafford Campus, and with today’s news that Wolverhampton University are exploring the possibility of delivering Courses in the centre of Stafford, does the Exec’s recent decision to ‘strategically re-entrench’ ourselves in Stoke now appear short sighted and counterproductive?

ANSWER:
We are unsure which reports you make reference to but can confirm that there have been no discussions with other universities on the future of our Stafford campus. As previously stated, we would not sell to another University unless there were exceptional circumstances, such as a research centre, to consider.

The University of Wolverhampton’s intention to open a mini-campus within Stafford is good news for the town and does not affect our decision in any way. Our research showed students generally prefer a edge of city campus, with brilliant learning and teaching facilities and good public transport links and social activities – our Stoke-on-Trent campus provides all of this.

We suspected that Wolverhampton had an interest in Stafford when we made our decision to relocate the majority of our provision to Stoke-on-Trent and it had no bearing on this important decision. We will retain a strong presence in Stafford with our highly rated health courses and a range of higher education courses delivered through Stafford College. We are continuing to investigate opportunities to move our health provision to a more central location.

Are we dispensing of water coolers?

QUESTION:

Is the rumour true that the University are dispensing of all water coolers and, if so, are there any plans for suitable cold alternatives?

ANSWER:

As far as we are aware there have been no proposals or decisions made to remove all water coolers from across the University. This is certainly not something that has been discussed within Executive.
The idea may well have come from the Green Impact initiative, specifically, the silver Green Impact award. This asks the team to meet the following criteria: ‘not have any bottle-fed water coolers or, if it does, it has a valid reason for not having replaced bottle-fed water coolers with mains-fed versions’.

This is encouraged as bottle-fed water coolers are typically 150% more expensive to run than mains-fed water coolers (34.0 pence per litre vs. 0.22 pence per litre respectively) and both dispense the same quality water. Mains-fed coolers also have significant additional environmental impacts through food miles.

As Green Impact is currently voluntary, this criteria is encouraged as opposed to enforced. Another initiative local management are asked to consider where feasible, is the removal of disposable plastic cups and the fitting of timer clocks to water coolers to save energy during non-operational hours. Staff are reminded that tap water within kitchen areas across the University is also of drinking quality unless otherwise stated on site.

Why was the Director of Human Resources chosen to be Clerk to the Board of Governors?

QUESTION:

I was interested to note that the HR Director will now act as Clerk to the Board of Governors. I’d like to know why he was selected to undertake such a position akin to Company Secretary, and what qualifies him to act in this capacity?

ANSWER:

The role of Clerk to the Board of Governors has always rested within the Executive as it is classed as a senior post-holder as outlined in the Articles and Instrument of Government. As part of the Vice Chancellor’s redistributing of Executive roles, the clerk role was discussed with the Board of Governors, who believed that Ian Blachford would be the most appropriate member of Executive to undertake this important role.

Will our HR provisions be shared with another institution or contracted out?

QUESTION:

In keeping with other institutions will our HR provisions be shared with another institution or contracted out? Considerable savings could be made and I think this should be explored?

ANSWER:

The University continues to review the way that we provide services as part of the annual budget setting process. We remain open to considering shared services for HR and other functions as these opportunities present themselves. Any such opportunities would need to focus upon the quality of service delivery together with financial savings.

Did the EPVC undergo a HERA Assessment?

QUESTION:

Did the EPVC undergo a HERA Assessment in order to be elevated to the level of Deputy Vice Chancellor?

ANSWER:

Recently it was announced that with effect from 1 September 2014 the EPVC role would be retitled to Deputy Vice Chancellor. This change to job title is not linked to an increase in salary, but was intended to reflect the ‘currency’ of job titles within the sector.

Will the signs at Stafford Railway Station be moved to Stoke?

QUESTION:

Will the signs at Stafford Railway Station ‘Home of Great Minds’ now be moved to Stoke following the announcement of the closure of the Stafford Campus? Or is this, yet another example, of short term thinking which only wasted money at a time of supposed cut backs?

ANSWER:

The University has sponsored Stafford station as a two-year arrangement (a standard sponsorship agreement with the operators of advertising at Virgin stations), expiring late 2015. We chose to advertise at the Station for two reasons. Firstly it offers a strong opportunity for both the commuters of Stafford and occupants of the trains on one of the busiest lines in the country to be exposed to our brand, and secondly, when we made the decision to sponsor,we were made aware of two competitor Universities who wanted to purchase the sponsorship.

As we will be remaining in Stafford until late 2016, we will review whether to undertake a further sponsorship next year. In terms of Stoke station, we are very keen to have a presence at the station platform, however as the building is listed we are having to work with English Heritage to find an appropriate solution, which is taking some time.

Why is the application time frame for the new Executive role so short?

QUESTION:

For such an important and new Executive role the application time frame of just over two weeks is extremely short. This is very unusual for such a senior role within or outside of the HE sector and also seems to be a shorter window of application than the University’s normal recruitment timeframe. Will this allow for the very best candidates the opportunity to apply? Is the role out with headhunters as well?

ANSWER:

We thought long and hard about this issue. We decided that we wanted to concentrate potential applicants’ minds. We are seeking an academic leader and someone who is contemplating their next move so they are likely to be on the look out for jobs of this kind. The interest that is being shown in the job suggests that our judgment is right. I expect that we will have a strong field of applicants.

Why was Lord Stafford chosen as Chancellor?

QUESTION:

I am sure Lord Stafford is a very nice, even a very good man. I would like to ask Executive to share their thinking on how a hereditary peer and aristocratic member of the landed gentry sitting on an inherited stately home and 8000 acres of land, whose primary activity appears to be agriculture and estate management reflects the values of Staffordshire University and is thus the best person to be our Chancellor, particularly at a time when we are leaving Stafford and will soon be an almost entirely urban Stoke-based institution. Thank you.

ANSWER:

The Lord Stafford may come from an old family but he is very much a man of the present. We believe that the decision to make Lord Stafford our new Chancellor reflects the values of the University in a number of ways. He is a locally based, enthusiastic ambassador of the county, making him accessible and easily available to attend and preside over events when needed.

He already has an established relationship with the University, including his extensive work as the brainchild behind the influential Lord Stafford Awards, bridging the gap between the work of the region’s Universities and the needs of businesses in the Midlands. This track record of representing the county and all it has to offer at the highest level was also evident in his previous role as High Sheriff of Staffordshire. The networks and local relationships he built up during this time will be incredibly beneficial to the University, as will his focus on innovation and collaboration with industry. This will also help in the delivery and development of our Staffordshire Graduate programme – drawing on his extensive knowledge of how working in partnership can benefit Universities and their students, and how universities can better serve the needs of business.

He has a strong education heritage and has participated in the educational life of the region, as Chairman of the Governors at Harper Adams University College and 10 years as Pro-Chancellor at Keele University. Other positions of note include Vice President of the Stafford and Stone Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Patron of the Potteries Housing Association/Brighter Futures, Patron of the Donna Louise Trust and President of the North Staffs Sports Club.

Although there is a planned move in 2016 to relocate the majority of courses from Stafford to our Stoke-on-Trent campus, it is vital that we continue to serve the higher education needs of people throughout Staffordshire and beyond.

 

Are the University branding guidelines available on the website?

QUESTION:
It would be really useful if we could have the University branding guidelines published to the website so staff can make sure we are always following the correct branding, using most appropriate and current logos, master presentation templates, etc.

ANSWER:
The University’s branding guidelines have recently been updated on the Staffordshire University website: www.staffs.ac.uk/brand.

Although this information has been available for some time, it now includes all of the University Centenary information, as mentioned in the Vice Chancellor’s recent email. There are sections on using the University logo, the current branded Powerpoint template for staff to download, and the latest information on which email footers and templates all staff should be using during the centenary.

If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Brand Manager Tim Deville T.J.Deville@staffs.ac.uk.