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Need to know – 13 April

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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

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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

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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.

Need to know – 19 January

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Here are the top updates from across the University. 

1. A new Scan and Deliver service

The library has launched a new Scan and Deliver service for University of Edinburgh staff and students. You can request one chapter or 10 per cent (whichever is the greater) of a book, journal article, short story, poem or play – if not more than ten pages in an anthology – through DiscoverEd. Full details of the service can be found on the Scan and Deliver webpage.

2. Updated staff FAQs

The Coronavirus FAQs have been updated in line with the latest Government guidelines. The staff section now includes more information on how the University is complying to the latest guidance and the extended school closure. Read more on the University website.

3. Brexit impact and information

The University and Europe webpages have been updated to incorporate the latest advice and guidance now the UK has left the European Union. You can find more information for both staff and students on the University and Europe webpages.

4. Adaptation and Renewal Sharepoint updated

The Adaptation and Renewal (ART) Sharepoint has been updated to include the latest student support and services available, and will continue to be updated with Semester 2 information in line with Scottish Government guidance. Visit the ART Sharepoint.

Need to know – 15 December

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Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University. 

1. Covid-19 asymptomatic testing – bookings extended to Friday 18th December

Covid-19 asymptomatic testing prior to the winter break has been extended until Friday 18th December. For Wednesday 16th, Thursday 17th and Friday 18th December, testing will be available from 10am to 1pm only, and this will be at the Pleasance only. Full details about testing and how to book are available in the online FAQs on the University website.

 2. Principal’s end of year message

Professor Peter Mathieson shared his end of year message to the University community last week. You can read the full email on this dedicated webpage.

3. Brexit guidance

The Brexit transition period will end on 31 December 2020. Key information for applicants, current students and staff can be found on the University and Europe webpages.

4. Students returning for Semester 2

Following the Scottish Government’s announcement on plans for the safe return of students after the winter break, there are now detailed FAQs available on the Coronavirus updates webpages.

Need to know – 1 December

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Update from Lee Hamill

Yesterday Lee Hamill shared the latest news on our current financial position. He spoke about our existing operating model, the challenges we face and the essential work underway to reshape and create a financially sustainable future. You can read the email in full on this webpage.

2. Asymptomatic testing for students

Following the information the Scottish Government published for students on the actions they will need to take to return home safely for the winter break, our Covid-19 testing service began this week. Testing is taking place at the Pleasance Sport Complex and Gym and St Leonard’s Land. More information, including FAQs can be found on the Coronavirus section of the University website.

3. Staff survey 2020

The 2020 staff survey is still open and can be accessed through the impulse website. The survey takes less than five minutes to complete and is open until Wednesday 9 December. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard and let the University know how to make our Edinburgh an even better place to work.

Need to know – 17 November

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Updates on Semester 2 planning

A new sharepoint page is available with detailed information about Semester 2 guidance and planning. It will be regularly updated in line with the latest announcements from the Scottish Government. Adaptation & Renewal sharepoint website.

2. Christmas travel preparations

Last week communications went out to students about preparing to travel home for Christmas. In line with the Scottish Government plans to enable students to travel home safely, the University has started preparations for departure dates and safe travel as well as support for those students remaining in Edinburgh over the break.

3. Plans for Covid-19 testing

The University is working closely with the Scottish Government on implementing testing facilities for our students. Covid-19 tests will be available on a voluntary basis for students who wish to travel home. Communications have gone out to students and the University will continue to share the latest updates as soon as possible.

Need to know – 4 November

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Update from Sarah Smith

Last week Sarah Smith, Vice-Principal Strategic Change and Governance and University Secretary, gave an update on how we can continue to deliver the commitments of Strategy 2030 in this shifting landscape. She shared more information about the work of the Reshaping teams so far and the plans for the coming months. All staff email: Strategy 2030 update: reshaping the University

2. Freedom of Expression

The University Executive approved a statement on Freedom of Expression in September 2020. Following the Report of the Joint Committee on Human Rights on the state of free speech in UK universities, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission Scotland, produced a new ‘Freedom of Expression’ Guide for the sector as a whole.

The University of Edinburgh’s Freedom of Expression statement draws upon the broader document to provide a statement of the principles that inform and guide the University’s approach to the promotion and protection of freedom of expression and academic freedom. This statement will be reviewed on an annual basis. University of Edinburgh’s Freedom of Expression statement

3. Town Hall sessions for students

Students in University accommodation attended two Town Hall question and answer sessions last week, to talk about the University’s expectations of our community during the pandemic and to hear from one of our academic experts in coronaviruses, Christine Tait-Burkard. The sessions featured a talk from Police Scotland as well as an update from Andy Shanks, Director of Student Wellbeing, who shared more information on the support available for students during the pandemic.

4. People and Money launching

The HR part of People and Money, our new HR and finance system, launches on 11 November. People and Money will replace multiple outdated systems with streamlined processes backed up by a single, smart system accessible through MyEd. You can find more information, including guides and demos, at edin.ac/peopleandmoney.

Extended Christmas closure period

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Bulletin shares a communication from James Saville, Director of Human Resources.

This has been an extraordinarily demanding time for everyone. You will have seen from the Principal’s recent note his deep appreciation for the huge efforts that you are all making in the face of such prolonged uncertainty.

The Principal and the Senior Leadership Team have decided to extend the period in which we close the University from 5pm on Friday 18th December 2020, reopening on Tuesday 5th January 2021.

This will help many staff have a proper break over the Christmas period. The normal working days of Monday 21st, Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd December will be “respite days”. They will not and should not be recorded in People and Money and any staff with leave already booked on those days should cancel it and take the leave at another time.

We recognise unfortunately that not everyone will be able to benefit from the full shutdown, noting that exams continue until Monday 21st December and that there are specific challenges facing some teams, for example, ISG. Every effort will be made to ensure all staff get a period of leave during the closure period. However, any staff who are required by their manager to work on any of these respite days will be able to take the equivalent time off between now and the end of December 2021.

In the exceptional circumstance that a staff member is required by their manager to work on any of these respite days and is already carrying over the maximum annual leave (10 days), a payment can be made for those days if their manager confirms they will be unable to take them before the end of December 2021. Existing practices for premium payments will continue as normal.

We are acutely aware that we are likely to need more people to work than normal, in particular to support those students who will be staying with us over this period, to maintain critical research activity and to keep essential services running. A big thank you in advance for those of you who will be doing this. For this year only, to recognise this additional effort we will make an ex-gratia payment of £150 to staff who work on four days or more during the Christmas closure period at management request.

Thank you once again for all your efforts throughout this incredibly challenging period.

You can find more information on the Christmas closure period on our Coronavirus updates webpages.

Photography: George Clerk/GettyImages

Need to know – 20 October

Reading Time: < 1 minute

Here are the top updates from the Adaptation & Renewal teams working across the University.

1. Update from the Principal

The Principal wrote to all staff members yesterday to provide an update on the University’s response to the pandemic, the financial situation and hybrid teaching. You can read the full text here.

2. Covid-19 cases at the University

The University continues to work closely with the NHS and in the spirit of transparency continues to report live cases on our website, and all the information you need to know about reporting cases can be found here.

3. The Good Citizen Guide

University staff members have had to deal with a small number of cases of inappropriate behaviour from some students, and where appropriate these have been dealt with through our disciplinary processes. The University’s Good Citizen Guide sets out the steps that everyone must follow to protect the health and safety of the entire University community: you can share the Guide with your students.

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