22 Jul 2020
A message from Patrick Hackett, Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer
I wanted to contact you to share with you our proposed future plans for Professional Services (PS).
The past few months have been challenging for PS and the whole University. Our first priority has been supporting our students and colleagues and ensuring that our University has been able to play an important role in the national effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. That has involved some difficult decisions and some rapid adjustments in the way that we all work. I am proud of what we have achieved.
Looking ahead, I want to reassure you that the University remains absolutely committed the goals laid out in our vision and strategic plan; to advance the excellence of our research and impact, teaching and learning, and the benefits we bring to society. PS will play a crucial role in the delivery of that vision.
Last year I outlined plans to become a more efficient and leaner organisation, empowering our staff and investing in new skills and technologies so that we can better respond to external challenges and opportunities. Reshaping PS has been and still is our plan to support the University to deliver our vision whilst still meeting the new financial challenge we face.
To deliver this ambition we need to reduce our pay and non-pay costs, which unfortunately will mean making difficult decisions and some job losses. With a previously agreed PS saving target of £30m, we were already on track to deliver significant PS pay savings. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the potential for around £160m loss in income, means that we now need to make additional savings, respond to our new environment and shift to new ways of working more quickly.
We will be progressing our existing strategic change programmes (Student Experience Programme, Modernising IT, Research Lifecycle Programme) and launching two further programmes early in the new academic year: Library Reshaping and Technical Review, with other programmes to follow. These initiatives will transform services for our staff and students, bringing many services online to give a consistent and more flexible experience, as well as streamlining and simplifying many time-consuming processes.
In addition to these strategic change programmes, we will continue with our plans to review all areas of PS, setting tough saving targets and reshaping our budgets, processes and our structures to ensure we are best organised to deliver on our core goals. This work has already started with the current freeze on non-essential staff recruitment, making difficult decisions on the renewal of fixed term contracts and offering the current Voluntary Severance (VS) Scheme.
Our plan won’t be easy to deliver and although the vast majority of staff will remain, we recognise that some colleagues will be leaving the University. I very much regret this, but we have a responsibility to ensure the long term sustainability of our University as a place where colleagues can thrive and contribute to our core goals.
Through recent experience we are seeing that we can work effectively in new ways, and that there are clear benefits to staff and students. This was a central part of our ambition for PS, and we must continue on that journey. By engaging with academic, student and other colleagues throughout the process we will make the right choices for the long term.
I know you will have questions and I hope this page will start to provide some answers. I will share more information about this programme of work in August. Please contact me with any questions or comments at any time.
Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer