Will staff network storage be increased?

QUESTION:

We recently received an email regarding Information Security and Data Protection. I understand that the University currently offers only 40MB (by default) of network storage on drive ‘H:’ for staff. By today’s standards this is extremely low and of no real use – especially given the fact that we work in the knowledge economy and that information, manifested in electronic form, is key to the function of a University. Are there any plans to increase this to realistic quota – enabling academic staff to fully embrace network storage, and thus better rely on the security and resilience afforded by the University’s technical infrastructure, rather than having to physically port data around on various devices – and therefore potentially increase the risks of data loss/compromise?

ANSWER:

The ‘H’ drive default quota for staff is currently 200MB, however any user, with a business case submitted to IS via their FMT/SMT, can be provided with an appropriate quota increase (subject to approval) up to a total of 500MB in exceptional circumstances.

The University has recently entered into an agreement with Microsoft for the provision of “OneDrive for Business” cloud storage facility for all staff which will provide each member of staff with 1Tb of secure storage; this new facility is expected to be launched during December. The agreement allows for the benefits of cloud storage to be provided while addressing the legal concerns regarding data storage, and retains ownership of university data by the University. This will become the recommended method for secure storage of files which cannot be accommodated on the University central file storage, further details will be circulated during the product launch via a range of communication channels including RSS in the near future.

To ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of University documents, it is recommended that staff use the University’s central file storage or (after its launch) “OneDrive for Business” storage.

Should Week 10 be rearranged for Easter?

QUESTION:

The Monday of Week 10 in Semester 2 is Easter Monday.
Should Week 10 classes be cancelled, re-arranged or put back so that teaching finishes on the Monday of Week 13 rather than the Friday of Week 12?

ANSWER:

As teaching on the Monday of week 10 of the 2nd semester cannot takes place as it coincides with Easter Monday, staff are asked to re-arrange any affected teaching sessions and to do so in consultation with their students.

Why are the Easter holiday dates not in Easter?

QUESTION:

Why are the Easter holiday dates for Staffordshire University not covering the actual Easter period? A quick check of a few other nearby universities shows that we are an exception here. The University of Central Lancashire, Derby, Birmingham and Wolverhampton all have at least one week of holiday period covering the actual Easter period when people with families need to take time off.

I have looked in to this further since my initial question taking in the universities of Warwick, Leicester, Loughborough, Coventry, Cambridge, Oxford, Huddersfield, Keele, Manchester, Salford, Chester, Liverpool, Edge Hill and Liverpool John Moores in addition to those detailed in my original question and so far have found no other university to have positioned their Easter Break in such an extraordinary place.

On asking students about this matter, the majority of whom were quite understandably working under the assumption that the university Easter break would be placed where it usually is (i.e Easter) there was considerable concern about the impact this would have on their work (earning money doing work only available in that week) and family lives (taking holidays with their younger siblings on half-term).

ANSWER:

At its meeting on 6 February 2013, the Academic Board approved the creation of a working group to review the academic calendar for the academic session 2014/15, in order to ensure that it fully supported the student experience, student retention and the efficient use of University resources. The working group met on five occasions and comprised representatives from Faculties, Trade Unions, Partnerships, Students’ Union and wider student body, Recruitment and Admissions and the Student Office. At its final meeting in October 2013, the working group reviewed on the final draft academic calendar from three Faculties and one School, as well as six central services. In addition, a limited student consultation was also conducted. The 2014/15 academic calendar was approved by Academic Board in October 2013.

The change in the calendar which impacts on the Easter break in 2015, resulted from a desire to establish (wherever possible) a consistent pattern to teaching in semester 2, where 9 weeks of teaching would take place prior to Easter and 3 weeks after Easter. In particular, this sought to address student and staff concerns that the post-Easter teaching period often comprised a very small number of teaching weeks which had led to poor student attendance and, in some cases, those weeks had been converted into revision rather than teaching sessions. 70% of students who responded to the consultation supported this change.

The 2015/16 academic calendar has been approved in principle by Academic Board and the Easter holiday period is the 2 weeks which contains both good Friday and Easter Monday, while at the same time still maintaining a 3 week teaching block post Easter. All aspects of the 2014/15 calendar will be reviewed in the summer of 2015 before the 2015/16 calendar is finalised.

Can the University provide a flu jab?

QUESTION:

I asked a GP if they could prescribe the flu vaccination to me on a prescription (as I do not have a qualifying condition) to which they said they would be breaking NHS rules (as that is technically private Healthcare) and I was advised to go to a Supermarket and pay £7.

I only ask as the environment that we all work in here at the University is diverse in its origins and I feel that the flu vaccination could help Students and staff alike.

Would it be possible to get the vaccination here at the University instead of getting my Rice Krispies and then having an injection?

ANSWER:

As you are aware flu vaccinations are available from GP practices free of charge every year if you are considered to be at risk of flu and its complications. If you wish to receive the vaccination and you are not in this group there are many pharmacies that offer this option which includes pharmacies in supermarkets. The University does not have on campus facilities to be able to offer staff the opportunity to receive a flu vaccination and believe that the pharmacy provision provides a simple and cost effective option.

Could hand sanitisers be installed?

QUESTION:

I’ve just been teaching a group of second year students.

They are really engaged and attendance is good within the group…however fresher’s flu mixed with seasonal colds is upon us. I don’t know how much this impacts upon attendance – both staff and students – but I guess it’s somewhat significant.

Therefore…could the University consider installing hand sanitisers across the campuses (inc. large lecture theatres) to help prevent the spread of the germs alike other public buildings where large groups of people gather?

ANSWER:

We did consider this a few years ago when swine flu was an issue, but after careful consideration decided against it because of the size and scale of the estate, the predicted effectiveness and the cost implications. We will however be happy to look into this again.

Can you give guidance on the parking policy please?

QUESTION:

Last week, following the email from Mark Hattersley, I began the process of applying for a new permit, but when I read the District Enforcement Privacy Policy, I didn’t proceed. However, as I am concerned I will not get a permit in time, I am applying this morning. Would you kindly read the policy and let me have any feedback on its content please? (http://www.district-enforcement.co.uk/regulation/privacy-policy.html)

I am no legal expert (quite the opposite), hence my concerns are as follows:

• They will collect information about my (works) PC for their administration but also to pass information to their advertisers
• Data may be transferred to, stored at and processed by staff at a destination outside the EEA. However District Enforcement will only take “…all steps reasonably necessary to ensure your data is treated securely…”
• They have a statement reading “Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk…”

The last point is particularly worrying as they are stating that the responsibility for the security of my application is mine – how can this company put the onus on me when I am using their application process that they have put in place?

Many thanks in advance for any guidance you may have regarding the wording of this policy.

ANSWER:

Although this is not a definitive legal position, we feel that the terms and conditions are very standard approaches that appear in most privacy policies for online services. They form the standard for privacy policies for most companies and so should not be cause for concern.

Why are the barriers up at Clarice cliff?

QUESTION:

Could we have the barrier down on the Clarice Cliff car park until the lighting renovations are complete? As a member of staff and student who is often here until dark, I don’t like the thought that anyone can park up and hang out in this darker area unapproached. I’m sure district enforcement are not working that late to dissuade any non-permit holders from being in this vicinity.

ANSWER:

The barrier is raised because of problems reading access cards. The card reader is due to be replaced with an upgraded one and as soon as this work is completed, the barrier will be back in full operation. The car parks are not patrolled by District Enforcement but by the Campus and Residences Teams who do have a presence on campus 24 hours a day. There is also good CCTV coverage of the area.

Can we have guidelines for the upcoming Employee Engagement Survey?

QUESTION:

Now that the employee engagement survey is imminent, please could some general guidelines be issued to staff on the categories which each question relates to?

Given that we are using a generic (i.e. non-HE specific) survey, the wording of some questions previously has been very open to misinterpretation making it often difficult to then make reasonable assumptions from the responses. In particular, clarity ought to be provided to staff on how to respond to questions on “Leadership” or “Management”. In particular, do each of these questions/phrases refer to direct line management, senior faculty/service management teams, deans/directors or university executive? All have a role in leadership, but which are our greatest area of concern which we can improve on?

Clearly staff may have a very different view for each, however the lack of clarity means that responses across the board will be inconsistent, with some referring to the leadership of the Faculty whilst others are judging the leadership of the University (against the same question). We need to know what the distinction is and ensure that everyone is following the same guidelines so that the results gained are of value and so that we can take reasonable steps to improve.

Could some thought be given to each of the questions in advance please, so that staff can be provided with clear guidance on which area each question relates to before embarking on the survey. I always complete the survey myself, but know others have made comment that the lack of clarity around these terms has confused or put them off completing it in the past. It also raises conflicting questions and uncertainty around the answers.

ANSWER:

We’ve tried to ensure that as much information as possible is available to staff to assist with completing this year’s engagement survey. A ‘frequently asked questions’ guide has been produced and a similar guide for managers to assist with briefing their staff. Both guides will shortly be available on the Personnel Services website and will include an explanation about some of the terminology within the survey. Additionally, when completing the survey, members of staff will see at the top of each question page the following explanation :

What do we mean:

Team” refers to the peers or those at a similar level to you, not a team of people that you manage.
My Manager” refers to your line manager or the manager responsible for monitoring your pay and performance.
Senior Managers/Management” refers to Deans of Faculty or Directors of Service.
Leader of this Organisation” refers to the Vice-Chancellor.

The survey will be live from Monday 13 October for three weeks and we will take every opportunity during this time to remind staff of the above.

Will I receive a parking ticket for not displaying a tax disc?

QUESTION:

Part of the terms and conditions for a car park pass on campus states that you agree to ensure that your vehicle displays a valid car tax disc. Now that the DVLA has done away with paper tax discs, how can this condition be enforced? My car falls within this bracket and after renewing my car tax at the end of September, I am no longer in receipt of a paper tax disc to display. My concerns are:

1. How likely is it that I will receive a ticket for not displaying a valid car tax disc?
2. How likely is it that my access to the car park will be blocked because I am not displaying a valid car tax disc?
3. How can I be sure that numerous car park spaces are not taken up by vehicles that are no longer being taxed and therefore should not be parked on campus?

ANSWER:

The reason that vehicles need to be taxed in order for their car park permit to be valid is so that vehicle owners are unable to park a car at the University either without tax or because it is declared as off the road (SORN Statutory Off Road Notice). There have been occasions in the past where this has happened and spaces have been unavailable for long periods of time. The change that has come into force this month does make it harder for us to see whether a vehicle is taxed or not but under no circumstances is the University able to issue a parking charge notice for not having road tax.

All staff and students who have a current access or student card can gain access to the car parks however in order to park a vehicle they must be able to display a valid permit.

We will not be actively checking road tax but if we find out and verify that a vehicle doesn’t have any road tax then the permit for that vehicle will become invalid and the car will be issued with a parking charge notice for displaying an invalid permit.

The changes which have eliminated the need to display a paper road tax disc do make it harder to check whether a car is taxed but this has been considered by the Government in deciding on this measure and anyone choosing to drive an un-taxed vehicle runs significant risk of being detected by things like automatic number plate recognition using CCTV cameras, which are plentiful throughout the country.

The University hopes that all staff, students and visitors who drive to campus do so responsibly and comply with legislation.

When were staff asked to feedback on parking permits?

QUESTION:

Yesterday you answered a question regarding staff members being able to apply for a student car parking permit whilst studying.

Regarding the Q why can’t it be £35 for students that don’t want/need/have 2 cars the answer was:
“Staff are more likely to share cars with partners and family members and therefore it is more convenient to be able to register both cars rather than use the counterfoil option. This was agreed following feedback.”

My question is where did you get this information from? When were staff invited to provide feedback on car parking? I cannot recall being asked to provide any feedback. I do not know anyone within my extended team that shares a car with partners and family members and indeed a few, including myself, struggle to keep one car on the road.

ANSWER:

The Vice-Chancellor invited feedback when we were initially exploring ways to manage our car parks and address the serious health and safety concerns as a result of inappropriate parking in 2012. When plans for car park management were shared with colleagues we invited further feedback and at this point we received lots of requests for colleagues to be able to register more than one vehicle. Last year we issued 4113 permits across the campuses and 12% were for multiple vehicles.