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Updated proposals to change our marketing, recruitment and admissions structures

03 Dec 2020

Message from Patrick Hackett, Student Experience Programme (SEP) Chair and Professor April McMahon, SEP Executive Sponsor, on updated proposals for people and structural changes as part of Cohort 1 of the Student Experience Programme.

John Owens building

In February 2020, our University began collective consultation with the Trade Unions on proposed staffing changes in the areas of student marketing and recruitment and applications and admissions, as part of ‘Cohort 1’ of our Student Experience Programme (SEP). In March 2020, both the consultation and aspects of the wider Programme were paused to allow colleagues to focus on the immediate challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We can confirm that a revised plan for Cohort 1 has now been approved by the SEP Board and that this has been adjusted based on staff feedback provided through the initial consultation.  As a consequence of these adjustments, and the reduction in the number of staff in scope following recent Voluntary Severance schemes, the proposed changes no longer present the risk of compulsory redundancy for staff on permanent contracts within Cohort 1. For colleagues who hold fixed term contracts, there will be many opportunities within the new structures to apply for permanent roles.


This phase of change is focussed on the PS organisational structures relating to the areas of student marketing and recruitment and applications and admissions.Colleagues from across the University have been working with the SEP team since October 2019 to develop a set of proposed structures for these areas, a version of which was first shared in early 2020, when the original collective consultation was launched. We have listened to the feedback gathered through this period and have adjusted our proposals in response.  As a result of these adjustments, and recent reductions in staff numbers following voluntary severance, the proposed changes no longer present the risk of redundancy for staff within Cohort 1.  This means that there are equal to, or more than, roles in the proposed new structure than there are current, permanent, substantive post-holders.  This also means that there are some permanent role opportunities in the new structure; these will be ring-fenced for redeployees and Cohort 1 staff, including colleagues on fixed-term contracts, in the first instance.


Support for colleagues

Over the summer, our student marketing and recruitment and applications and admissions staff worked incredibly hard to deal with significant challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and last-minute changes to A-Level results.  We recognise that despite there no longer being a risk of redundancy, recommencing consultation on organisational change brings with it uncertainty for colleagues after an already challenging year.  We are continuing to work in close partnership with the Trade Unions and with colleagues to minimise uncertainty as far as possible and support staff through the proposed changes, including the ring-fencing of remaining permanent role opportunities in the new structures for Cohort 1 staff, including those on fixed term contracts.

PS leaders and managers across central Directorates, Faculties and Schools will continue to have regular conversations with colleagues who are affected by the process and those working to support the student experience across wider areas. There are also a number of support provisions in place for affected colleagues, including sessions provided by our University’s Staff Learning and Development team and the services provided by our University Counselling service.

Next steps

We began consulting with the Trade Unions about the proposed changes this week, accompanied by local briefings and access to the detailed proposed structures and job descriptions. From January 2021 we expect to initiate conversations with individual colleagues to begin to populate the new structure, with an aim to begin implementing new structures from May 2021.  The new effective date for our new structure – all colleagues in their new roles and using the new processes and technology – is October 2021.

The proposed changes no longer present a risk of redundancy and as such the consultation process is less formal. However, the proposals do represent changes to roles and reporting lines.  Colleagues on permanent contracts may be assigned to new roles, and some will move to different areas of the University than those they are currently assigned to. After permanent colleagues have been assigned new roles in early 2021, remaining permanent role opportunities will be ring-fenced for redeployees and all colleagues in the Cohort 1 scope, including those who are currently employed on fixed term contracts. The University is committed to ensuring that this process is conducted fairly and transparently in line with our policies and procedures, and we will do our best to support colleagues through this change.

Cohort 2

The final, formal phase of SEP will focus on the PS organisational structures, systems and processes relating to the core student journey, including the areas of ‘Teaching, Learning, Student Experience and Campus Life’ and ‘Postgraduate Research’. We expect staff and student engagement sessions on these emerging proposals will resume in early 2021 and anticipate high-level structural recommendations to be brought forward in the spring of 2021.

Patrick Hackett, Student Experience Programme Chair

Professor April McMahon, Student Experience Programme Executive Sponsor.