Category: Need to know Page 1 of 3

Need to know – 27 July

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Scottish Government guidance for moving to beyond Level 0

The First Minister has confirmed the latest easing of Covid-19 restrictions, with Scotland moving to Level 0. This aligns with central planning assumptions for learning and teaching for the 21/22 academic year.

The Scottish Government has also published further guidance specifically for the sector. You can find out more information at the below links:
Scottish Government guidance for laboratories and research facilities
Scottish Government guidance for operations in academic year 2021 to 2022 – beyond Level 0
Scottish Government guidance for universities, colleges and student accommodation providers

2. Working abroad guidance available

Any staff currently working abroad, whose work does not require them to work abroad, have been asked to return to the UK for the start of Semester 1 2021/22.

HR has since published further guidance, which also explains what support is available to staff who need to self-isolate in managed quarantine accommodation. This is applicable whether staff are relocating to Edinburgh from overseas or are required by the University to work abroad: Working abroad guidance for managers and staff.

3. In-person graduation celebrations

Bookings opened last Monday for the outdoor graduation celebrations at Edinburgh Castle in August 2021. Eligible students who graduated in Summer/Winter 2020 and Summer 2021 have been emailed with further details: Summer 2021 graduations webpage.

To help staff with responses to any enquiries from students, a briefing is available: Staff briefing

Need to know – 14 July

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Planning assumptions for Academic Year 2021/22

Following the latest Scottish Government announcement on Tuesday this week, we will be updating our planning assumptions for the next academic year. You can find out more on the Academic Year Planning SharePoint.

2. Managed Quarantine Support

Financial support will be available to both new and returning students travelling from red-list countries who will need to quarantine in a hotel on their arrival in Edinburgh. Applications will be open from 15 to 30 July. You can find out more on the scholarships and student funding website.

3. Green Gown Awards

The University is a finalist in five categories at this year’s annual Green Gown Awards, which celebrate initiatives in universities and colleges that make them more socially responsible and sustainable. We have been nominated for:

  • 2030 Climate Action
  • Benefitting Society
  • Enterprise
  • Next Generation Learning and Skills
  • Sustainability Institution of the Year.

Winners and highly commended entries will be announced at the Green Gown Awards ceremony later this year. Read more on the SRS website.

Need to know – 22 June

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Updated guidance for managers and staff returning to campus

The University continues to engage with the Scottish Government on a weekly basis in order to best plan for our return to campus. Guidance has been updated for managers and staff who will be returning to campus over the summer, with further guidance to follow:
Guidance for managers.
Guidance for staff.

2. Academic year 2021/22 student webpages now live

Webpages containing information and guidance for students returning for the academic year 2021/22 are now live. The information will be updated regularly as plans are finalised in line with Scottish Government guidance. Welcome to the 2021/22 academic year.

3. Discontinuation of the Covid-19 contact centre and mailbox

The Covid-19 contact centre hotline and mailbox will be discontinued from 1 July. Students will be able to contact EdHelp for any enquiries relating to student services and Covid-19: EdHelp

Staff should contact their local area, service or team that their topic is relevant to. If the enquiry is relating to Health and Safety, you should contact:

Need to know – 8 June

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Last chance to complete the hybrid and home working survey

All staff are reminded to complete this survey which closes on 9 June. It aims to find out more about staff working experiences and will take around 15 minutes to complete: Access the survey.

2. Covid-19 testing

Staff are invited to join Edinburgh’s TestEd study to help develop accurate, cost-effective ways to detect Covid-19 in people who are infected but don’t have symptoms. Find out more: TestEd study

3. New Students website live

The New Student website and ‘Getting Started’ Guide in the University events app have gone live, providing incoming students with important information to help their transition. These will both be regularly updated, including with information about Covid-19 vaccinations and international check-in once finalised: New Students website 

4. Get PairEd up for student support

The PairEd Up project is seeking staff volunteers who are willing to meet up with a student in Edinburgh for activities such as a walk, run or cycle. Committing a couple of hours of your time to this initiative can help create a sense of community and alleviate students’ isolation. Activities are now paused until August, but volunteers are still welcome to sign up for later in the year. Find out more: PairEd Up project

Need to know – 25 May

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Hybrid and home working survey now open

All staff are invited to complete this survey which complements the Working from Home questionnaire completed in the summer 2020 to find out in more detail about your working experiences. It will take around 15 minutes to complete and will remain open until 9 June. Access the survey.

2. Learning from international examples

As the Curriculum Transformation programme progresses, the team has spoken with leaders in universities across Europe, Africa and Asia to learn about their experiences of developing their curriculum. They examined evidence on the importance of co-creation and engagement, getting timing and resourcing right, the value of good governance and leadership and the best ways to take the process forward. To learn more about these examples you can read the paper on the SharePoint site.

3. Timetabling update

As redrawing of teaching rooms at one metre spacing has continued, more teaching space is available than initially thought, including large teaching spaces. If space is a constraint, please speak to the Timetabling Unit as soon as possible and they will try to accommodate.

Further guidance to assist Schools with timetabling questions is now available on the Timetabling SharePoint.

4. Student travel guidance now available

The University is committed to offering students as much in person learning and teaching as can safely be delivered during the 2021/22 academic year, and will continue to follow Scottish Government guidance at all times. However, travel rules and disruptions are likely to continue. You can find detailed guidance on travel exceptions for students on the Academic Year Planning SharePoint.

Need to know – 11 May

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Teaching Awards

The Students’ Association Teaching Awards take place virtually tomorrow, Wednesday 12 May, celebrating the achievements of staff from across the University. Winners will be announced throughout the day on the Students’ Association Facebook page.

2. Mental Health Awareness Week

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The Staff News twitter account will be showcasing some of the fantastic projects and resources available from across the University, and sharing the stories of members of our community. If you have something you’d like to share with staff or students, you can contact the team at You can find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week on the Staff Wellbeing Hub.

3. Guidance for staff returning to on-campus activities

From 17 May, the University will be able to resume some campus-based activities for our PGT students. This means that some staff will be returning to campus for the first time in a while. With this in mind guidance for working on campus has been updated by colleagues in HR and Health and Safety. There is also additional guidance for managers on staff returning to campus on the Covid-19 webpages.

Need to know – 28 April

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Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. Staff Q&A session recording

Last week the Principal and members of the senior leadership team held a live Q&A session with more than 1,400 staff. All questions and comments will be considered in ongoing planning. The recording can be viewed at: Staff Q&A session

2. Hybrid working

The University is currently developing a new hybrid working framework to support and guide staff. This is being tested and refined by a Hybrid Working Programme consisting of colleagues representing teams across the University.

Visit the hybrid working website for more information and sign up for the newsletter.

3. University gyms reopening

In line with Scottish Government guidelines, the University reopened the Pleasance and Easter Bush gyms on 26 April. Staff can purchase a 30-day membership for only £19. Find out more on the Sport and Exercise website.

Need to know – 13 April

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University.

1. His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

It is with great sadness that we learned of the death of His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh. The University will hold a celebration of his life at a date to be announced. To read the University’s statement and sign the virtual book of condolences, visit the University website.

2. New guidance for staff working abroad

New information and guidance is available for staff and line managers about working outside of the UK. This includes information on taxation, social security and immigration regulations. You can read more on the HR webpages.

3. Staff Town Hall reminder

The Principal will be holding an all staff Q&A session on Thursday 22 April with the senior leadership team. The session will run from 9:30 to 11am and all staff are invited to attend. You can find out more, including how to submit your own questions, and sign up to the event on the staff news website.

Need to know – 30 March

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. Upcoming Staff Town Hall

All staff are invited to attend an online information and Q&A session with the Principal and Senior Leadership Team on 22 April 2021 from 9.30 to 11am. Updates will be provided on the remainder of this academic year and the key areas of focus for 2021/22, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. You can find out more and sign up on the staff news website.

2.University confirms its commitment to researchers 

A two-year action plan has been developed to embed the principles of the Researcher Development Concordat, improve Edinburgh’s research environment and culture and support researcher careers.

The plan includes ways to develop support; resources and information for researchers and managers of researchers; and actions on improving recognition for research staff at the University. You can read the Concordat Action Plan on the University website.

3. More study space opening

More study spaces will be opening over the next few weeks in response to the easing of restrictions and in anticipation of strong student demand during the forthcoming revision and exam period. Beginning with Murchison House on 6 April, more than 500 additional spaces will be available by 26 April. More details are available on the University website.

Need to know – 16 March

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. The national day of reflection – 23 March 2021

Next week on 23 March, one year on from the start of the first lockdown, there will be a national minute’s silence at midday to remember all those who have lost their lives since the beginning of the pandemic. At 8pm there will also be a national doorstep vigil where people are encouraged to light up their doorsteps, and public buildings and monuments will also be lit up.

We would encourage you all to join in this moment of reflection, and please feel able to take the minute to reflect, and if possible, delay meetings and teaching by a minute.

2. Staff volunteers for paired activities project

During last year’s winter break, more than 400 members of staff volunteered their time to take part in paired activities with students, with the aim of helping students in Edinburgh to feel supported and part of a community.

Following the success of this project, the University has decided to expand the project for the rest of the academic year.

To support this, the Student Wellbeing team is looking for staff who are willing to volunteer their time to take part in paired activities over the coming months. Volunteers will be asked to commit one or two hours a week to meet with a student in Edinburgh for an activity such as a walk, run or cycle.

We know that staff will have their own challenges and commitments this year, but those who can spare some time can sign up using the online availability form.

3. Staff Covid-19 FAQs updated

Colleagues in HR have reviewed our Staff Covid-19 webpages and updated them with the latest information and guidance, including the extension to the furlough scheme, taking time off work for vaccination appointments and encouragement to take annual leave. Find the latest information on the Coronavirus webpages.

Need to know – 2 March

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. Standing up against racism

All members of our community should feel safe in expressing opinions and holding open and frank conversation on online forums, including on social media. Over recent weeks we have been made aware of a number of incidents where inappropriate language has been aimed at members of our BAME community and sadly this has included abuse aimed at our new Rector, Debora Kayembe. We condemn all racism and stand united against racism and the University regards any incident of this nature as a serious matter.

For more information on what we’re doing to promote anti-racism and a positive culture which celebrates difference, challenges prejudice and ensures fairness and includes details on how to report any concerns you have regarding racism within the University, visit our Race Equality webpages.

2. Zoom security guidance

Although we are very familiar with using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you may have seen recent reports about a University Society Zoom meeting being disrupted by unwanted attendees. The University has an enterprise version available for all staff and students and using this rather than a personal version is a good way to help keep everyone safe if you are setting up a call.  

There are more details on how to use Zoom or Teams on the University website, where you will also find general guidance on keeping safe online including social media protection and staying safe while learning and teaching online.

3. Planning for the academic year 2021/22

Following the UK Government’s Covid-19 response and the Scottish Government’s announcement last week on the roadmap for easing Covid-19 restrictions, we have reviewed the potential impacts on existing decisions and planning assumptions.  

The recent announcements have added more complexity to our planning assumptions for the next academic year, and particularly any assumptions around the requirements for physical distancing. The Academic Strategy Group has discussed this further and a newly established planning and implementation group, with College and School representation, is reviewing the position.

4. Brexit Information Sessions resources

Resources from the Brexit Information Sessions that were held earlier this month are now available. They include the slides that were presented, FAQs and a series of case studies that show various new immigration scenarios. You can view the resources on the Global section of the website.

Need to know – 16 February

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. Easter respite days

The University is offering two respite days in early April to ensure as many staff as possible have the opportunity of taking a long weekend over Easter.

These two days are to be taken on Friday 2 and Monday 5 April 2021. We are aware that 2 April is a teaching day and that there will be some staff required to work on these days to keep the essential work of the University running. Those staff will be able to take equivalent time off before the end of April 2021, as agreed with their line manager. In order to keep things simple, these days are not required to be recorded in People and Money. You can find more information on the coronavirus FAQs webpage.

2. Latest communications to Students

Communications will be sent to students this week concerning Semester 2 updates, rent pauses and lease breaks for those in University accommodation, and a live Q&A session with the Principal and senior leaders on 24 February. For anyone wishing to read these communications, they will be posted on the student coronavirus news webpages.

3. 2021 Graduations

Affected students have been informed that the University has taken the difficult decision to cancel all in-person graduation ceremonies in 2021. Students will be invited to an in-person celebration when we are able to resume these in line with Scottish Government Covid-19 guidance. Visit the 2021 graduation webpage for more information.

Need to know – 2 February

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. Updated fraud and bribery policies

The University has updated a number of important policies and procedures relating to anti-bribery, fraud and whistleblowing and to counter a global rise in fraudulent activity such as cybercrime. All the information you need, including FAQs, a summary of the key changes, how to ask a question and how to accurately report fraudulent activity can be found on the Staff News webpages.

2. Assessment: Covid-19 mitigation measures

Senate Academic Policy and Regulations Committee (APRC) has agreed measures to respond to the pandemic’s ongoing impact on students’ ability to study normally. These will ensure that students receive consistent outcomes at all levels of study, while retaining the integrity of the University’s awards.

UG and PGT students have been emailed the new measures and detailed information is available online on the University website.

3. New toolkit for community building

A new toolkit has been designed to support staff, helping you understand, create and facilitate communities in your online courses and programmes. It includes a range of resources as well as examples of good practice and case studies. Visit the toolkit on the Staff webpages.

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