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Update on how our University is responding to Covid-19

18 May 2020

A message from Patrick Hackett, Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer (RSCOO)

University of Manchester

Over the coming weeks and months, we will be shifting the focus from our initial Covid-19 incident response to a number of new recovery and transition priorities which have been identified with our Faculties, Schools, Directorates and Institutions.

Our recovery and transition priorities are set out below, including details of governance and delivery arrangements:   

Intake and Admissions – ensuring that our conversion, clearing and start of year activities are managed and account for the different scenarios that may emerge. Claire Brown (Acting Director of Communications and Marketing) and Richard Cotton (Director, Student Recruitment & International Development) are the joint leads for this group. The existing Intake Management Group will oversee this activity.

Teaching and Learning – ensuring that we provide a high-quality online and blended learning offering, that we consider the structure of the 20/21 academic year, and that we understand how our assessment and curricula may also be impacted. The existing Teaching and Learning Group Executive will oversee this activity, led by Professor April McMahon (Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students). Professor Danielle George (Associate Vice-President for Teaching, Learning and Students) will lead the online blended learning offering.

Student Experience – understanding our student offering, student support, administration activities, and our approaches to student wellbeing and other student services, such as those provided by the library. The existing Student Experience Group will oversee this activity. The group is led by Dr Simon Merrywest (Director for Student Experience).

Financial Sustainability – understanding and implementing the pay and non-pay interventions required to achieve our required cash-flow, based on different financial scenarios, in order to support our core academic vision. These activities will be overseen by a new group of the same title. Professor Keith Brown (Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Humanities) will lead the activities of this group.

Employee – understanding and implementing revised policy mechanisms, management of the furlough process, staff wellbeing and support processes, and transitioning work to restart any paused processes. These activities will be overseen by a new group of the same name. Karen Heaton (Director of Human Resources) will lead the activities of this group.

Campus Re-opening and Corporate Support – planning the re-opening of campus, including assessing different workspace and activity types including social distancing, establishing business continuity plans for future waves, and resolving corporate requirements in support of sustaining operations. These activities will be overseen by a new group of the same name. Professor Nalin Thakkar (Vice-President for Social Responsibility) will lead the activities of this group.

Minimising Disruption to Research – including assessing and managing impacts of changed teaching requirements on non-COVID-19 research, monitoring and advising on research policy and regulatory changes, and managing student experience and progression of PGRs (via the Manchester Doctoral College). The existing Research governance groups will oversee this activity, led by Professor Colette Fagan (Vice-President for Research).

Campus Foresight – taking a strategic view of the impact of COVID-19 on our University, understanding the opportunities for our future operating model and making the most of new ways of working.  These activities will be overseen by a new group of the same name. Professor Luke Georgiou (Deputy President and Deputy Vice-Chancellor) will lead the activities of this group.

A Transition Steering Group (TSG) has been recently convened to provide support, ensuring that all priority groups are aligned in their delivery. I am chair of TSG, with Professor Martin Schröder (Vice-President and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering) as Academic Sponsor. TSG will operate until December in the first instance.

TSG reports into Planning and Resources Committee and will also call on support from other University governing bodies. TSG will also ensure the priority groups have the necessary resources to deliver their activities, which may mean that some other activities are paused.

The establishment of TSG means the Critical Incident Group and Incident Management Governance will now be stood-down.

We will provide further updates as our response to COVID-19 progresses.

Patrick Hackett, RSCOO