Check when the next PS Bigger Picture event is happening and revisit the last event for anything you missed.

Next PS Bigger Picture event 

The next PS Bigger Picture event with Chief Operating Officer Tim Westlake and the Professional Services leadership team will be in the spring term 2024.

Previous events

See our prevous PS Bigger Picture events. 

PS Bigger Picture – 16 November 2023

This event took place in the Fulton B Lecture Theatre and was livestreamed. View the video below.

  • Video transcript

    Jane Harvell: Okay, welcome to the Bigger Picture. Both face to face, everybody in here's slightly damp including myself, and to welcome to everybody online. We have people online at the moment. I'm Jane Harvell. I'm the University Librarian and I think it's my prerogative to say that's the library and how lovely it's looking because that slide is used an awful lot. I'm your, kind of, compere for the day, for the morning, for this session. We've got speakers, Tim Westlake, the Chief Operating Officer. We've also got our Director of HR, Colin Shipp and Kay Jones who is our University Operations and Strategic Planning Director. There will be an opportunity for questions at the end. So the usual, we're using PollEverywhere and also you will be able to ask a question of course in the room, please wait for the microphone to come to you so that everyone can hear your question. We've set up PollEverywhere slightly differently this time so everybody can see each other's questions, so you'll be able to vote up and when I look at the questions at the end towards the end of the session I will be picking out the most popular questions. Okay, so that's it from me. I think I'm going to pass on to Tim, okay. 

    Tim Westlake: And I'm not going to say much today because I think it's important to give Kay and Colin as much time as possible. So only things I briefly wanted to mention. The first one is just to give an update about where we are in the introduction of faculties. So colleagues will be aware that Council approved in July that we'll introduce faculties to the University, a new organisational structure for our academic areas from the start of August. So at the moment what's taking place is we're out to recruit new executive deans and I'm also out to recruit a director of faculty, professional and technical services. There's quite a lot of heavy governance lifting with the introduction of faculties so myself and Sally, you know, Sally who's the deputy University secretary, because I'm also University secretary,  have a lot of work to do in that space and Michael Luck, our new Provost, will be chairing a group of Senate looking at some of that governance side so that work's starting but there's a lot of there's a lot of heavy lifting from a governance point of view to do but the recruitment,  I don't know if the adverts are out, but the process has started. I think it's just so important to recognize the Gaza Israel situation and the impact. Any of you like me, I've got a bit obsessed. I feel like I feel it's important that I watch the news which I don't normally do in the evening but it's such a distressing situation. It's just important to acknowledge that, it's to remind colleagues of our Report and Support. We have had increasing issues raised with us about incidents on campus and just remind colleagues of the University's policies around this and if you feel you see any discrimination to flag it through your line manager or use Report and Support and you know just to recognise that even if you don't have links or friends in that space, it is very disturbing watching the news and it's very hard for it not to impact people on that. So, I think it's just important to acknowledge that and the impact it has. Then thirdly, I just want to recognise that although the marking assessment boycott has ended, first a huge thank you. So many colleagues in Professional Services were impacted by the marking and assessment boycott and the work that it impacts on you, particularly those colleagues based out in Schools. But I think it's also important to acknowledge that that work hasn't ended so though the marketing assessment boycott's ended, it then goes on into the work of our student lives. So it's had an impact on them and that means it continues to have an impact on colleagues both in schools but also some of the colleagues in central services. I think it's just important to acknowledge that because I think for some colleagues it may feel that it's all over. But one it added a significant burden to a number of PS teams. But it's also still adding work at this point in time. As some of our students are still working their way through the impact of the marketing assessment boycott. And then finally we haven't had a Bigger Picture since the amazing celebration that we had, the PS Celebration. I hope lots of colleagues were able to attend that, we had over people attending. From my perspective it was an absolutely brilliant day, we've had really interesting and helpful feedback. We're working on considering what we might do in the future. There was also a very positive view about the idea of having some form of PS awards introduced and got some colleagues looking at that but I also just want to recognise the amazing volunteers who put together the celebration and the energy and time that went into that. And one of the things we've got to think through is how we do it in an efficient and effective way because those colleagues picked it up as well as their day jobs to do that. So, we're just thinking through, we think it was such a positive day. We need to think through how we can continue having that and recognise in the fantastic work of PS colleagues. I want to flag that. And then the last thing I'd say before handing to Colin is when we get to questions to feel comfortable to ask questions around any of the issues that are affecting you, not simply the areas that that will be discussed by both Colin and Kay and I'm going to hand over to Colin.

    Colin Shipp: Yes, thanks, Tim. Hopefully you can hear me alright. Alright. So I'm Colin Shipp, the Director of HR and for those who've not met me, I mean it's gone really quick since I joined in March. I want to say thank you to everyone I've met for making me feel so welcome. I think we've got a great University. The people here, there's superb commitment from everyone, you work really hard and I can see that we're doing the best for our students and our staff so I just want to pass it on what I've noticed. So, when Jane, our compere, said Colin, could you give an update on HR stuff? I thought the most important thing to give an update on was the People Strategy because I understand a lot of people did input into the People Strategy. So I want to give an update on what's happened, where we're at and what we need to do. So we've made some progress but obviously it's comprehensive, there's a lot of stuff to do. So, I know it won't be online, but hands up, were many people involved here in developing the people's strategy or felt the input into it? I'm told there was a lot of people. Some nods, some hands. Some hands at the back. So, there are main strands that cover all the work within it. And when the slides are sent out, you'll see in the bottom right-hand corner there's a link for those people who haven't seen it, you can go to that link and that goes to the page. The main strands are getting the basics right, I'm not going to speak to every single word on the on the slides, but getting the basics right that's processes, policies, that's very important. Inclusivity, we've heard a bit from Tim about the importance of respect, treating people with respect, creating an inclusive culture. Professor David Ruebain, PVC Culture, Equality and Inclusion does a lot of work with the EDI team that Isobel leads. It's part of HR but we're all part of one team supporting to create an inclusive culture and David leads on that and our superb work on the Inclusive Sussex strategy. So I'm going to give an update on stuff we've been leading on to support that. Enhancing talent, does what it says on the tin, we need to make sure we support our talent, our personal development, our colleagues to performing their role and help their careers, here or possibly elsewhere. It's all about personal development and increasing engagement and well-being that includes mental health of course. So those are big strands covering a lot of stuff. And some activities we've done support all of them and I'll come to that on some of the elements, something on open listening. So those are the main things. And what I'm going to do is just one slide on each. Excuse me. It's always a - which button you get it right. It's the down button. So the first slide, like all of them, I'm going to go through and cover the different strands. So what have we done? Well, those involved in recruitment or recruiting, we only last week introduced a digital applicant tracking system or ATS. That is a game changer for Sussex, a lot of other places have it, but we haven't had it for some time, we've had lots of manual processes. That has been, has made a real impact. We've got more improvements to do. So if you have feedback, let us know. Can I give you a stat? Before applicant tracking, and Tim doesn't know this, we had about 200ish applicants a week We've now had 300 in the past week. That's a 50% increase. That shows that we are easier to do business with as university. It fronts our reputation and hopefully there are high quality applicants, we'll do the assessment later, but we are making us more accessible. And obviously we need recruits to help us fill vacancies which helps workloads. So there is a connection between other things. There was a 16 week agreement and we changed some policies such as maternity and we've recently launched an ultra-low emission vehicle scheme for those colleagues that might be thinking about again a new car, it's more tax efficient. On what we plan to do under this strand these are major pieces of work, major. The digital HR solution, so we need to radically alter our system. I won't go into detail now, that's a major piece of work and thanks to colleagues in IT and elsewhere that we're working with to make that happen. Pay and conditions for you, happy to take questions and I'm sure there'll be lots of questions on this later. That's a major review again. We're working on that, I'm developing the scope. We're going to test that with unions, get feedback and that will be looking at a number of things such as our holidays, our compassionate leave, our pay spine design. Number of different components in there. We're not promising the outcome yet. It's more agreeing the scope and then looking at the sector looking at local benchmarks, big employers, and thinking what's right for us. Clearly it needs to be affordable. That's the key word. I hope people hear that. But we need to come, we are doing a comprehensive review so the pay spine hasn't been looked at since I think. Okay, that's that. And the job families, I don't know whether you've heard about that. I want to make sure it's correct, want to make sure it's accurate and we'll be updating colleagues by February. So I'm just gonna canter through now so we give time for Kay. Inclusivity, lots here, lots of work being done. But we've got more to do. Equality analysis is fundamental because before you drive major change you need to think about the impacts on different groups of staff, groups of colleagues and students. EDI learning, we've improved that. Currently introduced the disability module. We need to work on reducing our pay gaps. They're not where we want to be. As an organisation we're better than some in the sector but not where we want to be. We need to continue to improve them. We have had some reduction. Underpinning that our detailed EDI action plans, so if you're involved in the different groups, whether it's the race equality charter or REC self-assessment team, lots of jargon there, Athena Swan and disability and LGBT plus SAT. We have got comprehensive action plans and that's all being led by, as I said, David and Isobel to drive improvements in those areas. And we've recently been awarded the Bronze Award for Race Equality Charter. That doesn't mean we rest on our laurels, far from it. It's the reverse. We put it in, we understand, with our action plan and we have a clear action plan that represents all the work we want to do in that area, lots of work to do. And then what's important I'd ask everyone online watching and listening to any recording, please let us know your EDI characteristics on MyView. It's very, very important that we know the different component elements of our staff so that when we're doing actions when we're driving improvements we can see, we understand the makeup of our staff. We've obviously got planned equal pay audit. We've got a policy framework review that covers a lot of stuff, you can read there on the screen some elements, and as I've said earlier we need to make sure we continue to implement our action plans. And the applicant tracking system is far better to help us understand the progress of different types of staff and applicants through the system. We didn't have any real data. So now we can track what's working, what isn't working, are we supporting different groups of staff through that process. It's very important to understand. So that's inclusivity. In terms of harnessing talent, again you'll see in the bottom right hand of all these screens, you can go to the link for that page. ADRs, we've done an overhaul there and thanks to Cathy and the team who've led on that. We're working with all colleagues, it's about working with colleagues across Professional Services and the University. As a reminder now, I might forget, there is an ADR survey that comes out, I think is it next week? Please do fill that in because obviously we're constantly reviewing, constantly improving in HR. We need to review and improve as we all do. So that survey will help get your experience and any improvement feedback. So all the work on ADRs. There's a really good Welcome to Sussex pack and I'll be asking us to share a link to that for all staff. It's got some really useful information. It's a lot more professional. It shows all different links, it shows benefits, etc, and it gives a good impact when people arrive. And obviously for our staff here we need to make sure our managers are effective and inspiring you and helping you deliver your ambitions. So we've got some new manager guidance and then there's Mentornet. When these slides go out there'll be a link to that. That's a new information system that helps you match up with a mentor that you identify with. We've got welcome sessions next week, I think it's the first face to face ones in a long time, pre-COVID. It's very important to engage our new staff. And like I said, we're going to do a user experience survey. Apprenticeships, I want to give a shout out to someone who won an award recently at, a regional award ceremony. I think she is in the division of Student Experience. Let me just get the name correct. So, I think it's Joanna Dale. I don't know if Joanna Dale is in the room or online. Shout out to Joanna. She got an outstanding contribution award, so well-done Joanna. And thanks to her manager Rachel for supporting her, great support, Rachel. So, that's apprenticeships. Chris Hamilton in our team leads on that, working with colleagues, and if you're thinking that you want to know more, we'll send out a link. It's an important part of personal development for colleagues. It's a route to help them. And then similarly we have a coaching programme. So doing lots of stuff planned, you can see we are making some progress. Well, good progress I'd hope. And increasing engagement will be my last slide. So we've done a staff survey. We are regularly reminding managers to check their actions, check what they're doing, make sure they're thinking about what they're doing. We've looked at occupational health. Now this may be in the background, you won't know about this but we are, it's very, very important to well-being. It's no good having an OH support that's ineffective. So thanks to Wendy who's recently joined us as wellbeing manager. She's done a lot of work to look at the contract. We want to improve Heales who are our provider. We have got an OH nurse on campus for a dedicated period of time and that has a real impact. You can see on screen that has reduced the amount of waiting time significantly. And that's really important to obviously support our staff's wellbeing and support them in returning to work. A Listening Programme, that's part of an inclusivity approach but I put it under here because if we can have people that listen, listen to colleagues, leaders that listen, that we listen, that does help engagement, it does help mental health and wellbeing. We need to listen to you. And in planned, a wellbeing action plan. That will be comprehensive. And I know there'll be a lot of for Wendy to develop and then get input from colleagues. A leaver interview process, we need to improve that to listen to why people are leaving. What do we learn, how can we make it better for our staff here? We need more data and obviously we want to get a new staff survey. And that will be, I think, every 2 years, but we'll have bits in between, focus groups etc. to listen to your feedback. The reason why it’s years by the way is because you need time to listen to the staff, get the actions and see the outcomes. We will run staff focus groups in the meantime in between those surveys. And importantly we're doing work, we just started it, on leadership development framework to refresh something called the Sussex Leader, which was out there but I don't think many people had heard of. That leadership development framework will be there to drive competencies, capabilities, what do we expect of leaders like myself and my colleagues and peers? What does a good leader look like? What do we expect to underpin our strategic ambitions? And then flow that down. So that's all supporting us to be engaging leaders and support staff wellbeing as well as the other stuff. So that's it from me. I know we get questions at the end, over to Kay.

    Kay Jones: Good morning everybody. I'm Kay Jones, Director of University Operations and Strategic Planning. I know a number of you, I've been here for just over years. But generally I'm based in Sussex House. I try and get out and about as much as I can, but it's nice to see so many people together. So what I want to talk to you about today is our strategy. So, Sussex and I imagine a number of you have been to Sasha's presentations, talking about her vision, mission and considering our values. I do not want to re-cover a lot of Sasha's presentation today because I don't want to repeat what's Sasha's saying. Rather my view is, kind of, talk to you about why strategy, how we develop strategy and the importance of Professional Services staff and their input and engagement to the strategy. It's a really crucial time. I mean, we're right at the very beginning of our journey. We would welcome your input as we develop the strategy over time. So how we'll do it, why we'll do it, why we want you to get involved and how you can get involved. The methodology that we're using is different from methodology that we've used in the past and the reason why we've chosen to use a slightly different methodology is because we want, first of all, we've chosen a 10-year strategy. So that's a long period of time. And imagining ourselves back 10 years from now, some of the things that had happened, we couldn't have foreseen. I mean, obviously Covid is the classic one, but when we imagine ourselves 10 years further forward we think, well, how can we include all of that kind of possibility in our strategy? But nevertheless, we do want to have a long-term vision that kind of stabilises us and anchors us into what we want to achieve. So choosing the year vision means that we have to be very clear within those 10 years of a sequence of two, three, five-year plans to actually take us on that journey. So the strategy remains constant, our vision becomes a kind of a north star, but what we do is flex our plans during that period of time to try and cope with some of the eventualities. So what do we mean when we talk about challenges and how do we incorporate those in strategy? So what we know is that challenges can come from different different sources. They can be external, we have the OfS, we have policy environment, we're looking like we're going to have a general election anytime soon so all of those changes in the policy environment will impact us and we need to be ready for that and need to be prepared. The second area is our competitors. If our competitors start to grow or introduce new programmes or do different things in research, we want to be able to respond to that and indeed we want to be ahead of the pack in a lot of the cases. The other area that challenges can come from is what we know now. What we know about Sussex and some of the things that we face. I mean, we know that we want to do a lot with our campus. We know as Colin said there's things that we want to do around digital HR. We know we want to transform our IT capability. So we know there's lots of things that we want to do. So that gives us those challenges because, you'll see on a later slide, we know that we can't do everything all at the same time. And then the other area that challenges come from are our own aspirations. What do we want to do? The things that we are in control of. How amazing do we want to make Sussex and how do we actually get there? How do we deliver on that? So we thought to have a really focused review on those challenges and identify a small number of changes that we can make over that period of time to be able to deliver and respond to those challenges. Now this issue about, there's a challenge in itself about having a small number of changes. Because you know that you've got busy day jobs and we're all doing stuff all of the time. That's so important, but we also need to know there are some things that we need to identify as change from where we stand here today to where we want to be. But they shouldn't be great in number because we'll become overwhelmed. So what are those few really important things? The Chair of Council said to me one day, what are those things that will really turn the dial, those small number of things. So having a really focused strategy around understanding our challenges, identifying those small number of changes that we need to make and then what are the goals. So the goals are the things that will break down into each of those years. Whether it's a two-year plan, whether it's a three-year plan that we actually take to deliver against those those changes. So it's a focused strategic framework. And we've chosen that deliberately so that we can actually focus in on what we need to deliver. You'll have probably seen this from Sasha, but if you haven't, what we're thinking about, those challenges, the changes and the goals. How do we start to scope them so we've got a better feel for what we want to do? So we've identified themes and we're building consultation, engagement and communication around the themes. Sasha has already started to talk about the values, mission, purpose and vision. So the vision being our kind of north star guiding us and that's our underpinning theme. Then we have core themes. So education, student life, research and enterprise, global and civic engagement. We then have a number of enabling themes. So what are those things that allow us to achieve what we want to do in, say, education, student life? We have people and culture, financial sustainability and our infrastructure which is estates and IT. And then we have drivers for change and again Sasha's leading on these, environmental sustainability, human flourishing, digital and data futures. Now that might seem a lot, you know, it's a fairly busy slide. But the premise is if we start to identify those changes in any of those themes and then we start to look across the themes, so if we decide to do something, say in research and enterprise, that we think might actually support or endanger anything we want to do in environmental sustainability or human flourishing, we can flag that and we can identify where there might be tensions or duplications or challenges in what we're trying to do across those themes. The work will take us through to July but during that time when we kind of matrix all of those challenges and changes that we pull out, we can then streamline into that that few number. So it's a bit like the hopper if you like, starting at the top with lots and lots of things happening and we'll hone it down as we go through the months. Each of those things are led by members of UET and they are having their own kind of engagement with certain groups of staff at the moment. It's after Christmas it's into when that engagement starts to really broaden out and this is kind of your opportunity to get involved in those areas. So I just wanted to talk a little bit because somebody said to me, well, we do all this stuff every day. And you've heard from Colin all of the things that we're doing in HR, you know, all the things that are happening with estates and in IT. So we know that what we need to do, right? So why actually what is the purpose of the strategy? What is it there for? And I think, you know, the point is we cannot do everything that we feel that we want to do and as frustrating as that is, and I'm sure in your own home life there are things that you really want to do, the kitchen and the bathroom and extend, and you want to do all those things but you have to prioritise and choose what is most important to you at that time. So the picture of the person on the desk, I'm sure we all feel a little bit like that today. What we also need to acknowledge is that business as usual, and I know that some people feel a bit uncomfortable about that, that's not to denigrate that at all. What we do day today is really important. We are a fantastic university. We educate, we do amazing research. We have great engagement and outreach services. That is all important and that that is kind of our bread and butter. So what we need to do is identify the strategic possibilities alongside that while supporting and improving that work. Makes it even more important therefore to prioritise what those changes are. The possibilities need to be prioritised. And then we know where our effort needs to be focused. And what particular groups of staff and how we need to support those to focus their efforts there. There's a slide, I think again that Sasha's used that, I just wanted to highlight because for me really kind of focuses the mind. So this strategic change that we talk about, although we do a lot of work around it and obviously there's a lot of engagement and there's a lot of consultation and discussion, it's actually % of what we do. % is improving what we do and % is what we're doing every day. So again it makes it even more important that our strategy is focused and really clear. So why do we want you to get involved? Well, first of all, we do want a brilliant strategy. We want everybody to be engaged and understand what we've got. The more perspectives we get from all different walks of life, all different job roles, all different levels in the organisation, it really does give us a richer outcome and research underpins and kind of reinforces this every time. The more you're engaged the better our strategy is. It increases your understanding and ownership. So, if we're prioritising spending in one year, people understand why that decision was made. Colin talked about staff development and again getting you involved in strategy, we think, kind of helps to reinforce and support staff development, why these certain aspects have been prioritised, what we need to do to actually deliver on that change. And it gives us those shared goals so we're all pulling in the same direction rather than kind of working against each other. And we have that alignment across our functions and services. So that's why we want to hear your voice, so that we do do that. And how do you get involved? There's more specific information to come. There's a survey out at the moment that I think went out in the VC's newsletter. I think we're going to send that out again. I would really encourage you to complete that. As we go through after Christmas then we'll be having many more online surveys, world cafe events in specific areas, so when we're thinking about education, when we're thinking about research, areas that you are interested in, you will be invited to attend. We'll set up special interest gatherings and then we'll have kind of general feedback during that year. And as our plans develop and get more and more refined, we'll ask you to comment and be engaged in those as we go along. There is no guarantee that every voice can be responded to because we want a broader engagement as possible. So what we'll do is we'll kind of theme it, identify the key issues that are coming out, and seek to respond to those as we go along. So I've probably rattled through quickly. Obviously we'll take questions at the end but anything specific. I'm also open, so I've been asked to attend a couple of team meetings, like local team meetings, to talk about strategy, really happy to do that as well too. So just let me know. Thank you. So I think we can go over to questions.

    Jane Harvell: Yes, please. Might be easy if you're all here. So there are microphones in the room. I think everybody who's online has got access to this. Have they all, can they also see us fully? Okay. Thank you. Right. There are loads of questions here. I will try and cover everything as much as possible. We've got quite a long time. We've got until half past. Anything that isn't covered, we will respond probably via PS Essentials. I will ask, some of these questions are a little bit general so if they're asking a general question just put some specifics in which will help your colleagues answer the questions more clearly for you. Okay, so there are microphones there, or maybe you want to come over here, a little bit. Okay, alright. Let's see how that goes. Okay, so before I ask a question in the room, there's one that's come up here about inequalities and just bear with me because these questions keep moving around and essentially there's quite a few questions here about inequalities. But this one in particular, Colin, I think it's probably for you to ask, is the inequalities between, I'm going to paraphrase it because I read it, the inequalities between faculty and Professional Services in terms of leave, progression. I wonder if you could say something about that in terms of what HR might be looking at.

    Colin Shipp: Yeah. It's a very good question. Okay, sorry. Is this where you want me to stand? So, very good question. I think the first thing is also it can be by grade. So we know that and that's part of the pay and conditions review that I talked about that's going to be completed by the summer. So we will be looking at compassionate leave, holiday allowances and things like that. So I think there are differences, are they the right differences? Is there a valid reason? If not, what we going to do about it? So that is part of the pay and conditions review for a lot of the aspects. I think, with regard to development, I've worked in another university and I've worked in other companies and this does come up for Professional Services colleagues. There is a different route and so we have to be honest about that. In Professional Services, it's based on the premise that when a job comes up, you apply for it. That's the main route. And I don't want to shy away from that. I can't. The pay and conditions will be based on that premise. What I think is important from an equality aspects as well is where we think about positive action as well to support minoritised groups in their development, because we need to address different pay gaps and some of it is occupational segregation. So yeah, it's not taken lightly and I hope my answer comes across as very, very important because it is. So the pay and conditions review will look at a number of elements but development, it might not be the same as some people want.

    Jane Harvell: There's a lot of questions here, I acknowledge about pay. Is there anybody in the room who like to answer a question? Ask a question. Is there anybody in the room who would like to do that? Otherwise, I will go back to the… Back there, Holly.

    [Silence while microphone reaches the speaker.]

    Holly Foster:  Hi, sorry, I'm Holly Foster, thought you guys know me already. So, I just want a commitment that benefits will actually be part of this review. So looking at annual leave, sickness leave, that is actually, that is in the scope of that review, correct? 

    Colin Shipp: Yes. So perhaps if I didn't say it clearly, apologies. So the current scope that does have those things in, I need to get sign off within the executive and then it will come to three unions for them to review and input into the scope and then we need to crack on and it'll be tight timescales to get proposals worked up. Yes, but in my proposal is it is in scope. Holiday, compassionate leave. What else did you say? 

    Holly Foster: Sick leave.

    Colin Shipp: Yes, sick leave policy is in there. Yes, if I haven't got it in, I know you'll quite rightly tell me to put it in there. 

    Jane Harvell: And there's questions on here about the difference between grades to and to as well. 

    Colin Shipp: That's in scope to look at, yeah. 

    Jane Harvell: Okay, so. There's a question there, Rob. I don't want you to answer a question but I want you to wait for a microphone.

    Rob Yates: I'd like to ask you what you're getting for Christmas, Jane, but we'll take that out of the room. On a serious note, I don't know if it falls in this session, but I wondered, probably Tim, if you could give us an update on the spaces, places, is it the places spaces?

    Tim Westlake: Yeah, sure. So, Jason's leading on that with Ben. I don't know if Jason's in the room. So, what Jason's doing is, the first proposal that came forward came well above budget. Much of that was trying to include sustainability within it. And so what they're doing is they're re looking at that. I haven't got the timelines for Jason. My memory is that they're trying to bring the project mandate back in Feb, if I'm right, but the aim is the aim is to start giving clarity around that. And I know that's, I mean there are bits that I think are critical that we progress this year. One is around places, the other ones around the job families work that Colin's leading on. And the University is extremely committed to sustainability. It's one of the things that comes out really strongly. One of the things that's critical in terms of sustainability is our efficient and effective use of space. And we need to also, it has an equalities issue, how we use space as well. So I think it's a really important journey that we need to go on. I think people have struggled because it's a complex jigsaw. So if teams are going to move around, that brings a level of complexity to it. My encouragement to Jason and Ben is that we need to dive into the swimming pool and give the clarity to the community about how we do that. I think what they've struggled with is the cost envelope. Although it's quite large. It didn't, when it was originally done, it focused very much on the estate and not just the technology, and the technology as we all know is critical. So, you know, so I'm going to be moving out of my office into a different location, but my office now set up that anyone can hot desk in there so when I'm not in it can be used by anyone. So there's quite a lot of cultural change as well, because a lot of people are keen to stick with desktops, but actually to make our space flexible, I've had to depersonalise my space. The most painful thing was taking my photographs of my children down and putting them in a cupboard and bringing them out each morning. So as you know, for me, I recognise the cultural change about sharing space in a different way. But yeah, so Jason's working on that. I think what we might do is the next time we do this it might be helpful to have Jason come and be part of that and talk about PS Places. But it's a really important question. 

    Jane Harvell: Thanks Rob and that's come up on here as well. Let me ask you a question that's come up regularly. You or Colin. This is the four-day week and it's come up all the way through these questions and it comes up as well in light of talk about wellbeing and staff engagement. And I think what staff are after is a very clear response to that. That's trialling a four- day week that's not compressed hours but is it something the University is considering or is it just off the table?

    Colin Shipp: I mean, my answer is my personal answer. I think it came up when I first arrived and we were asked to add it to the list. The list of projects, I'm being honest, the list of activities you've seen for HR and I haven't put everything on. We've had a great input from UNISON on the disability passport which we're working on. There is a load of things we're doing and I think the day week, I would say we're a highly research-intensive university. I have looked at this. I've looked, you can go on a website called Four Day Week UK. I've looked at the range of firms they work with. There are no universities. We're a research-intensive university, I'd like to see the research that proves it in that sort of environment. So I think it will be a huge piece of work to think about how does it impact our services, people in Professional Services. I can see the impacts on payroll, recruitment. So what I'm saying is if, personally, as I look at the list of work HR has promised to deliver that it needs to deliver all those other things that you want. I think where does it come in a list of priorities? Because somebody else would have to drop off. And that's the honest truth. So Tim tells me to look at it. I will, but I will say what comes, you've heard from Kay, we can't do everything, so you know we need a better system, we need to do a pay and conditions review. If I can factor it in there, I will, but the list is huge. So that's my honest answer. It might not be popular, but it's honest. Thank you.

    Jane Harvell: Do you want to stay where you are? That's it, Colin. We've got you here. I want, so one of the questions that's come up in a couple of ways is about the possibility to apply for re-grading of professional roles. Will that be reinstated soon?

    Colin Shipp: So job families has got that within scope. That's why I want to give it full consideration. 

    Jane Harvell: Sorry to interrupt you. There is a question about what is job families on here.

    Colin Shipp: Fair enough. So, the quick answer is job families, the premise of doing it in the organisation is you try to make sure there's clarity on grade definitions, expectations. So there's fairness, equality around role expectations per grade. And then within that it's clear that when you're developing yourself, you know what's expected of the next grade up when the job comes up, it helps your conversations. And a side aspect, that isn't always in job families in some organisations, is the work that was done on it, there was lots of questions about regrading. And there is no transparent, the transparency of the regrading process in the University could be clearer and we're working on that and what does it look like. So the quick answer is that when we communicate job families by Feb, I will make sure we are clear to answer the question on how, if I can be regraded, what's that process, what's the business case, how do I get sign off from my divisional director? What's the process? And it needs to all be within a sustainable, affordable envelope that's built on a business case. There's a whole bunch of things there. So yeah, that's why we need to make sure we get job families clear and articulate and correct from my point of view. 

    Jane Harvell: Okay, thank you. Tim. Yeah, so I'm answering these. Before I do that, is there anybody in the room who wants to ask a question? No, no, no, it's fine, it's fine. Let's wait for you.

    Laura Gallaher: Hi. I'm Laura Gallaher, School of Media, Arts and Humanities. Just a quick question. Does that work? Can you hear? Yeah, sorry. I just had a quick question about faculties. So thank you, Kay for giving us a really informative overview of the process and how the planning is happening with strategy for. What process is in place for changing to faculties? Because obviously that's going to come in before we move into the new strategy. So I was just wondering about the 2035 consultation process across the University in relation to faculties, please?

    Tim Westlake: Shall I take that? So the question is about faculties consultation. So Council has approved the structural change. Michael Luck as the Provost and Deputy Vice-Chancellor is chairing a small working group for the introduction of the faculties. The main part of that, there are a couple of elements. One is the appointment of the three executive deans. Obviously Steve Maguire is already here, Kate's been promoted. So, in MAH, we've got Liz as the interim at the moment. So that process is taking place. I'm making the appointment of the director. At the moment, the rest of it, any other changes, so there can't be changes to School structure without the approval of Council and without that going through Senate and discussion with Schools. So there are no plans to change other academic structures at the moment. So the main work is just to make sure that we have three executive deans in. If you look outside MAH, if you look at sciences and social sciences, to make sure they've got an office to go to, to make sure we have governance structures around that. So the aim will be to put consistency at faculty level so Sasha has already said there'll be associate deans for education and students, for research and enterprise, for equality and diversity, and for Robin's culture and global engagement side, or global and civic engagement. The consultation on the assumption of faculties took place in the process of establishing them so there is no plan to have any form of consultation. Though I'm sure there'll be engagement as we get closer to that. My experience having worked in a university with faculties, a lot of that work will be done by the executive deans when they arrive and obviously we're keen to get them in post as soon as possible. The aim is evolution, not revolution. So the cluster model means that the clusters have representation, science and social sciences, on the executive. So the aim is not to have some radical change overnight and there may not be at the end. I mean part of Sasha's drive for faculties was to make sure that there is strong academic leadership on the executive and that's the aim of having the executive deans. I mean the cluster structure, the Heads of Schools who represent the clusters have been fantastic but they come as a Head of School who's representing some other Heads of Schools, whereas the Dean will be representing the whole faculty. So I hope that that helps.

    Laura Gallaher:  I suppose my question is about process. About whether the current other Schools as are as Schools or whether their processes such as promotions, such as DPR will be extended facultywide or whether they will stay at School level? So I think we've got to be prepared for the work we have to do and also the opportunities.

    Tim Westlake: Yeah there are, so yes that is, when I talk about heavy lifting, much of that relates to governance, so if you take Schools. Sorry Tim, can you repeat the question? Yeah, so it's really a question about all the detail. So what happens to Schools who are currently part of clusters when they become part of a faculty. And that has a whole series of structural implications when they become part of the faculty whether it's around finance codes, whether it's around IT structures, etc. So the first thing is we're not changing any of the other academic structures. However, when I talk about heavy lifting, there's a very large amount of governance work. So for example regulation, I apologise, as University Secretary my second hat on, this is the other half of my life, is the regulations of the University. Regulation 13 is a regulation about Schools, about the role of Heads of Schools, all of that has to be looked at. However, my anticipation is some of this will be evolution rather than revolution and we've got to think really carefully about the efficiency and effectiveness. So that's what Michael Luck is chairing, there's a group looking at all of that. But one of the things that I haven't told my, I haven't told my line reports this yet, is I'm about to set up an operations group with a representative of each of my Divisions to work through all of those and it may mean that what we need to do is, we may need an engagement process once I've got clarity of all of that, and  have a bigger conversation, particularly with those who are in clusters, faculties, Schools or whatever they're called, you know, whatever units they are at the moment. But the plan is not, we can't just in governance terms, just to be completely transparent, we cannot change those structures without Council making that decision. So, also Sasha has been very clear, she's not thinking about doing that. If an executive dean comes in and talks to their Heads of Schools, the Schools and they feel there's a different structure they want to have, but Sasha's not imposing a structure below the executive dean. There'll be some core things that all faculties have, but below that will be a decision for the executive dean to work with Sasha on. I hope that helps. But I think the thing I need to take away with is, that once we've got that going. This term has been exceptionally busy, with Michael arriving, there's been a lot to do and a new set of PVCs. We've also had the strategy work, but there's also been a huge amount of work as you can imagine around communication about what's taking place in Israel and Gaza. So there is work we need to catch up on. I would describe it's one of things keeping me awake at the moment is the work I particularly need to do around the governance for that but I take away that we need to make sure we're communicating and engaging on that.

    Jane Harvell: Thank you, Tim. Kay. When will there be an evaluation of the Sussex 2025 strategy?

    Kay Jones:  Okay, so good question. So we've started that work. We're working with a consultant called Mike Baxter who back in the summer started to look at Sussex for two reasons. One, evaluation and the other one to see, because I said earlier we're doing lots of stuff that's really good, the stuff that we're doing. We don't just chop that off when we do a new strategy. So there will be elements of what we're doing that will carry forward into the new strategy. So two pieces of work happening, kind of in the background at the moment, looking at the current strategy in terms of what we've delivered, and the impact, and secondly, what will be carried forward, what priority for the new strategy. 

    Tim Westlake: Can I make an observation on that? I mean, the first observation, I wanted to make is first the fantastic work Kay is doing with her colleagues on this and the process we're doing. But it's also for those who've been around the time I've been here, it's worth reflecting on the process we took for the last strategy. My understanding is the year before I arrived, so Adam comes in as VC. There was a lot of engagement workshops for a year but nothing came out of that in terms of here's where we're going to. Then Saul and I arrived, Saul Becker was one of the previous Deputy Vice Chancellors. We arrived in the August and there was a lot of pressure to have a strategy. Council put this huge pressure on that they wanted a strategy. So my honest observation is Saul and I weren't involved in that engagement, but there was pressure on us to support colleagues in getting something done and that was done by the March after we arrived in the August. And I think from my perspective you can see the flaws of the pace that was done at. What's different this time, which I really encourage everyone to engage in it, is that Sasha's taken a year to get to know the University rather than spending that year to engage in what's the strategy going to be. She asked one big thing of the institution which was the establishment of faculties that she believes that's the right academic structure and Council supported that. Now we have this journey together in a different way and, what's fantastic in the work Kay's done, she's being very transparent with the University, and so is Sasha, about when the strategy is going to Council, what it's going to feel like and that will allow us, I hope, to have a strategy that brings the whole community together and provides clarity about our direction of travel, it will really support PS in having clarity around, there will need to be clear divisional plans for each Division demonstrating how they're going to support the delivery of the strategy. We haven't had that level of clarity. And I believe we have this extraordinary opportunity at the moment, both with the new strategy, also with the introduction of faculties and you know, in my opinion, we have extraordinary academic leadership in the institution around all of this. So you know I really just want to, you know, praise Kay and the team and the people that have been driving the strategy work forward. There will be lots of chances to engage in the core elements. I'm leading on the enabling one with Colin, David Ruebain, Alan, and we will make sure there's lots of opportunities to engage people. It will also mean we've got some very difficult decisions to make, you know, in infrastructure terms, what are our priorities? What I'm waiting on is that core, so education students and research, what are the core bits so what's our pedagogy? Do we need more teaching space? Is it the equipment we need? At the moment we haven't had that level of join up for a variety of reasons. And none of this is to be critical, I've been part of all of this, to be critical of the past, it was just the circumstance of that time. We have a much better foundation now to do this so I encourage everyone to engage in the strategy, because it really will be, I know the way Sasha is thinking, Michael and myself, which is all aligned. The following year, we're focusing on the plans that deliver the strategy. It's a 10-year strategy of which we'll start developing plans to deliver on our aspirations. But we'll have an honest conversation about 'what are we prioritising' and therefore 'what are we stopping doing or not prioritising?'

    Jane Harvell:  Thank you, Tim. Colin, OK, when will the next staff survey be run?

    Colin Shipp: Forgive me, I don't I don't know the exact date, we'll have to include it in the comms that go out, in PS Essentials. It's a good question, sorry that I don't know the detail of that. Cathy will probably be online right now, giving me an answer. OK.

    Gareth Topp: Is this working? Yeah, hi, Gareth Topp, Associate Director International. Great to see the strategy development ongoing and the plans for stakeholder consultation. My question is around inclusion. if it's in any way feasible, of future students in the stakeholder consultation exercise. Obviously, student recruitment is such an important part of what the University needs to do. So any thoughts in terms of including that stakeholder group in the consultation? I'm not sure if that's for Kay or Tim.

    Kay Jones: I think, yes, I mean our engagement plans include a whole range of external interested stakeholders ranging from say Brighton & Hove Council to politicians, through to alumni and businesses. I'm not sure at this moment and we can check with Angela. I suppose my question would be those future students I mean it'd be easy if they're international. But in terms of identifying groups of individual, I mean presumably we can use some of the School engagement we do through access and participation. So it's in the planning, it's a really really good point thank you we can take that back to the comms and engagement team I think and consider that.

    Tim Westlake: Yeah, well first welcome back, it's great to have you back at the institution. I mean, my first observation is how much are we listening to our students who are here now in the way we're responding to them? That's my first observation, so what are they saying to us and how are we responding to that? The second bit then is, having done some of the work you're talking about in a previous life, the issue is how much do they actually know. So how much, you know, so if you're saying as a 14-year-old, this is my expectation. So if I take out young people from it, one of my observations through my career is I spoke to lots of companies about what they want from graduates. By the time that universities can respond to that, normally they want something different. So I think there's a real risk about that. And it's more about us having confidence in us understanding. So if you look at the drivers for change, if you look at the concept of human flourishing and sustainability and data. What we're saying is, and Sasha's saying, it was in her, I was lucky enough as University Secretary to be involved in the whole recruitment process of the VC, she said this from day one. She feels that we need to be distinctive around human flourishing and sustainability, and she's added to that data. But I think that what we're looking to do is to say to students, if that's what you're interested in this is the place to come to, and our education and research will be distinctive in that space and you will have a different experience. So we're more saying, you know, we're more going to say with confidence, this is who we are and have we been able to do that in the past is my challenge back to us as an organisation. We've talked ourselves into being distinctive. We talk a lot back to how we were in 1961. Many other institutions are doing the things that this institution was set up to do in the way it set up to do. We now need to be the university we're going to be with confidence at this moment in time. And so I, you know, we could spend a lot of money doing that work. I'm not totally convinced it is the right way to develop a new strategy. There's a great video from last time with those seven-year-olds, so you haven't seen it, which was brilliant, about their views of what it would be like in 2025.

    Gareth Topp: Yeah. Thank you both for that. I think if there's any way that my team can maybe feed in insights around what we're seeing from international markets and you know what those audiences might be wanting from the University in the future. Obviously, we'll engage completely with the process. 

    Tim Westlake: I think that's fed in through Robin's stream. He has a whole stream of global and civic engagement and he will be doing an open meeting with the University about that. So it's really critical that is fed in. 

    Jane Harvell: Thank you, thank you, right. I need to reflect most, a lot of the questions on here are around pay and terms and conditions but I'm going to go back to inequalities that we started with. Particularly with between academic and professional services roles. The most popular question on here is for you Colin. No pressure. So, how are you going to improve retention when moving grades is near impossible and there's no clear path of promotion as there are with academic roles. It creates a divide and makes us feel less important than the academics. The only choice we have left, in terms of career growth, is leaving. I think you did mention it to start with, but I wonder if you can respond.

    Colin Shipp: I mean, first and foremost my personal philosophy is everyone is equal, we are all human beings. I do, it's a shame that people feel like that. People have different roles, but everyone is equal and should be valued. So that's the first thing, I think. Like I say, the pay and conditions review will look at processes. And I was honest about the development angle, people, we need to support our staff in constructive achievement and development reviews. You have an honest conversation with your, this won't answer it fully that someone wants but I'm answering it, you have an honest conversation with your line manager about your development that you want, where you want your career to go and we need to support you in that. And part of that is this transparency in terms of what the next job level up requires and the criteria, etc. So you can see. If we're a prosperous university then obviously there'll be more jobs out there and people can apply for them through open resourcing. So I'm sorry if it's not what people want but in a lot of organisations, including universities, it's predominantly that in professional services roles you go for jobs that are advertised. You might get secondments to try those jobs out, but you do have to go through an open resourcing process. And that's not uncommon. You know, so we're not being unfair as an organisation. So I think we have to support our staff though. We need to have those have those conversations I've talked about, support our staff development. I have referenced that bit in terms of apprenticeships. That's why the ADR is so important to get your feedback, whether it works. We need to try and train line managers to have those conversations, to be good line managers, etc. So what was the other bit? I feel I haven't answered all of it. Was there anything? 

    Tim Westlake: Do you mind if I take a bit of it Colin, I mean I think we just need to acknowledge the way the sector's changed, and in particular in research intensives, it has it has caused a tension between PS and academic colleagues because over the last two decades, it's moved that academics can apply and there can be an unlimited number of professors if they can demonstrate that. That is unusual in most walks and careers of life. Professional Services, and it causes a tension because Professional Services don't have the same opportunities to do that, to simply say I now wish to apply because I'm demonstrating that. And I think it's just the unfortunate reality of the professional services structures and the careers. And if I use myself as an example, I agree. I left, for those who know me will know I'm a passionate Welshman, I left Cardiff and went somewhere else because I could see there was no opportunities for me and that was a judgement I made at that time but I do think we need to be honest about this, that those are the structures in professional services. And so I don't think we should hide behind it. There is a different structure for academic career. They have different challenges that we have in PS but I don't see and I don't know a university that's changed it. So I think we've just got to address it head on and understand how we make sure Professional Services colleagues are valued and have opportunities to develop. But I don't think there's an easy way around that. Holly's hand's up. 

    Jane Harvell: Holly, we're over time.

    Holly Foster: I think something that's really important to factor in and I appreciate there are development opportunities but there's a really large case about workload. So lots of PS colleagues don't have capacity to take on development opportunities. Because they're already taken up either covering posts or filling gaps with additional projects that are coming top down. So while, you know, apprenticeships and other of these development things are excellent, very few colleagues have the opportunity to actually take them up and the additional work they're doing doesn't demonstrate enough for them to move up a grade, which is an issue. So I think that's something that needs to be taken away as well regarding workloads. 

    Tim Westlake: And so I agree, Holly, and I think a piece of work. So I've started with my line reports and their line reports to look at, workload is a real challenge across Professional Services. And that requires us to take some proactive action to try and resolve that. Some of that is about understanding and getting clarity around roles and responsibilities. Some of that, which universities are really not good at, is agreeing what we're going to stop doing. Because the resource constraints, you know, we all know the stats when we talk about it, the 9,250 pounds is now worth about 6 grand. I will say in my opinion the higher education model in the UK is broken. We're trying to work within that. So I think as part of this there is a big conversation to have across PS and some of that is about looking at processes, removing paper, improving the IT systems, focusing on what the priorities are but it's really fair. Because we've got to release space for people to develop and I completely support that.

    Jane Harvell: Okay, so we are over the hour, so I'd like to thank our guests for asking questions and delivering presentations and thank you all for engaging and thank you everyone online as well. Thanks everyone.


There were some questions that we couldn’t answer on the day, which we have summarised into topics below. These question themes and answers should be read in conjunction with with viewing the recording or reading the transcript of the Bigger Picture. The presentations given set the context, and many questions were answered live on the day.

  • Rewards and benefits

    Pay and conditions review

    At the Bigger Picture we provided a brief outline of the pay and conditions review. This exercise is a comprehensive review of our policies and approaches to pay and conditions (e.g. pay spine, annual leave, compassionate leave etc.). It will look at how our policies compare to comparators in the sector as well as other large local employers.

    Once the review is complete, the HR team will develop proposals for consideration by the University Executive Team. This is not to say we will change everything, but we will consider everything and assess whether it could and should be changed. Affordability will be an important consideration. Once proposals have been agreed by the University Executive Team, the University will be in a position to commence consultation/negotiations with our trades unions, as appropriate, by the summer term 2024.

    It is important to note that within the review we aim to harmonise policies for academic and Professional Services staff and across grades where feasible (e.g. compassionate leave) and, of course, subject to negotiation. We acknowledge that harmonisation won't make sense in all areas. For example, probation periods need to be longer for academic staff. Some of the differences at the moment are grade-based and we will be closely examining those differences and trying to make things more consistent.

    Questions on the subject of an unconsolidated (one-off) pay award for this year

    Whilst we have delivered the national annual pay increase of at least 5% (more for staff on lower grades) we appreciate that colleagues have asked if we will provide an extra unconsolidated pay award. Affordability constraints this financial year mean that we will not be able to make unconsolidated payments to staff as we did last year. We continue to support staff through the cost of living crisis in a number of ways, including by providing low-cost food options on campus and through our staff discount provider, Reward Gateway, which gives discounts on everyday essentials like supermarket goods. We are also a Real Living Wage employer.

    We are, however, reviewing our pay spine structure as part of the pay and conditions review.

    Job families

    The job families project was also mentioned at the Bigger Picture, and for some newer colleagues, this was the first time they had heard about it. Job families will group together jobs with similar characteristics, common competencies, skills, and knowledge. This will bring greater transparency of role definitions across Professional Services and provide greater clarity on possible career pathways for colleagues to consider as they plan their personal development.

    Career progression

    Career progression for Professional Services colleagues was a recurring question at the Bigger Picture. As was highlighted at the event, the University's approach is common to many organisations in and outside the sector. That is, for colleagues in Professional Services who wish to progress their career, they are encouraged to apply for job vacancies when those roles become available and are advertised. It is important that all colleagues discuss their career aspirations with their line manager, for example during their Achievement and Development Review, so that a development plan can be agreed. This may include seeking secondments to roles on your current grade to develop new skills.

    Making our Sustainable Sussex Car Benefit Scheme more accessible

    The car benefit scheme aims to provide a tax-efficient option for those colleagues already considering purchasing a new car. We are currently working with the provider (Tusker) of our recently-launched lower-carbon car scheme to investigate ways they might be able to extend some of the car loan arrangements to make this scheme more accessible to staff on lower pay bands. A further update on this will be shared early in the new year.

    Funding professional memberships for staff

    Many staff members have professional memberships, and in order to ensure value for students and research funders, funding is only allowable in very limited cases where the membership is recorded as essential to a role in the relevant role description or where it returns a clear net financial benefit to the University. Staff members who pay for their own memberships can claim the tax back from HMRC, which helps to reduce costs for the individual. View further information on staff memberships and subscriptions in our Guide to expenditure of University funds.

  • Equality, diversity and inclusion

    Increasing ethnic diversity within Professional Services

    The University recently received an Advance HE Race Equality Charter (REC) Bronze award and during the application, staff composition data was analysed, and actions identified to address the low numbers of racially minoritised staff in PS Divisions and their uneven distribution across the pay grades. This information was included in the University’s four-year action plan which was part of the submission, and all PS leaders have signed up to a set of commitments that include actions to address these challenges. The full submission and action plan will be published on the website shortly, along with letters of commitment from senior leaders.

    The REC Self-Assessment Team chaired by David Ruebain, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Culture, Equality and Inclusion, oversees monitoring progress against the action plan. The Assistant Director for Culture, Equality and Inclusion and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant leading this area also attend PS Leadership Team meetings every quarter to work with leaders on progressing actions and monitoring progress. A set of activities set out in the People Strategy, particularly around recruitment and career progression, also support this work.

    Privacy of equalities data on MyView

    All data collected in staff systems, including equalities information on MyView, is done in accordance with GDPR, data protection, and our privacy policy. Individual managers cannot view sensitive equalities monitoring information about individual staff members. We ask all staff to complete their equalities information on MyView, as the University analyses the anonymous data to inform and drive inclusion activities.

  • Industrial action

    Reimbursing PS staff pay following industrial action

    The University does not accept partial performance and reserves the right to deduct full pay in any form of industrial action. Both UCU and UNISON have taken strike action this year and have been treated consistently (and in line with usual University practice) in that pay has been deducted for strike days. UCU members have not had pay reimbursed for taking strike days. The UCU marking and assessment boycott, for which the University decided on that occasion to return salary deductions for staff who completed their marking by a certain date, was Action Short of a Strike (ASOS). ASOS is a different type of industrial action to a strike and this reimbursement was an exceptional decision.

  • Organisational development

    Leaders trusting team expertise and listening to staff

    Empowering and trusting staff to carry out the roles they have been paid to do is an important leadership competency. We are working on two key areas which will support this and have a positive impact on better equipping our leaders with these skills.

    Firstly, the Sussex Leader framework is being refreshed. The Organisational Development (OD) team will be working with the University Leadership Forum to develop the leadership competencies and behaviors that we expect Sussex leaders to have and which they commit to demonstrating.

    Secondly, following a rigorous process to meet with several leadership development providers over the last six months, the OD team has engaged with two providers which will deliver programs in 2024 for both academic and Professional Services leaders. A focus on this key area has been incorporated into the program.

    Wellbeing manager provision at Sussex

    Wendy Carey, our Staff Wellbeing Manager, has been in post for nine months and is working on a University staff wellbeing plan. There are no current plans to expand the team but this could change if requirements are identified in the future.

  • Recruitment

    Ensuring our new staff recruitment system and jobs webpage are effective

    Following the launch of the new staff recruitment Applicant Tracking System (ATS) in November, applicant numbers are up by around 30%. Whilst this is very positive, we are reviewing performance of the new ATS on a daily basis. A list of potential improvements and enhancements is being collated by the Recruitment team and discussed with the system provider regularly to improve user experience. The ability to filter the search engine by Professional Services roles is one of these enhancements and is currently with the system provider for review. In the new year, feedback will be gathered from candidates on their experience of the process which will help us to continually improve the candidate experience.

    Timeliness of new role sign-off

    Tim Westlake, the Chief Operating Officer, meets with the Recruitment team on a weekly basis to either sign off roles or send questions back to teams. This ensures that there is no hold up in the recruitment process. Recruiting managers are asked to liaise with their PS Director or Head of Professional Services if they are experiencing delays.

    Role rejection within the recruitment process

    There have been very few instances where roles have been rejected for recruitment. However, roles may sometimes be deferred to be adjusted and then resubmitted for approval. If a role was to be rejected, a full explanation would be provided to the PS Director or Head of School, who would then be able to share this reasoning with the recruiting manager. Recruiting managers can share relevant information with their teams at their own discretion.

    Redeployment procedure for staff on fixed-term contracts

    The University redeployment procedure is available to view on our HR webpages. If you are a staff member on a fixed-term contract which is coming to an end and would like to be considered for redeployment, discuss this with your line manager in the first instance. Your HR Business Partner will also be able to provide further guidance.

    Approach to probation length

    The University approach to probation periods is available to view on our HR webpages. As shared during the PS Bigger Picture, a pay and conditions review will be undertaken next year. This will include looking at a number of different areas relating to employment at the University.

  • Campus

    Cost of parking on campus and discounted parking for carers

    The University is not currently looking at providing free parking on campus as there are costs associated with providing parking which the charges cover. If we enabled free parking for staff, the operating and maintenance costs would have to be funded from elsewhere, potentially taking money away from other activities that benefit staff and students. As part of our aim to become one of the most sustainable universities in the world, we encourage people not to travel by car and instead make use of public transport or cycling options if they can. Staff can also enjoy a number of travel benefits including our Sustainable Sussex Car Benefit Scheme, Cycle to Work Scheme, season ticket loan, and other discounted public transport options.

    Exploring the option of discounted parking for carers is in scope as part of the upcoming pay and conditions review which will begin in 2024. The Co-Chairs of the Parents and Carers Staff Network have also recently joined the Athena Swan Self–Assessment Team which oversees progress of the institutional actions to advance gender inclusion and intersectional issues. Provision for parents and carers forms part of the Athena Swan action plan.

    Health & Safety issues relating to staff rooms

    Concerns raised at PS Bigger Picture about the safety of staff rooms in Schools have been shared with our Health and Safety team. The team will follow up with Heads of Professional Services and Health and Safety Coordinators to ensure staff rooms are checked as part of their program of workplace inspections. If you have identified a health or safety hazard, please report this to the SEF Service Centre at You can also contact your Divisional director if you would like to flag a serious issue.

    Issues with general teaching space

    The University’s general teaching spaces underwent a significant upgrade in 2020 but inevitably, heavily used rooms and furniture do sometimes get damaged. If you find any teaching space or furniture that needs to be either fixed or replaced, please contact the SEF Service Centre at to raise a ticket.

    Update on RAAC across campus including Mandela Hall

    We have identified all of the Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC) on campus and are either replacing it (as at Bramber House), preparing a program to replace it, or monitoring its condition and responding to expert advice where appropriate. Detailed surveys of the RAAC in Mandela Hall are scheduled to be complete by the end of December 2023 and will provide guidance as to whether we can reopen all or parts of Mandela Hall in the short-term. A RAAC Steering Group is being formed to develop a program for our other RAAC-affected buildings, including Falmer House. We will update colleagues when there is further news to share around timescales for future roof replacements.

    Providing equipment for staff to work flexibly

    Decisions around flexible working for staff members are made locally by Divisions, and where a colleague has had consent to work flexibly or on a hybrid basis IT Services (ITS) will support the Division to provide suitable equipment. This may be a laptop, monitors, or other items needed to enable the staff member to work effectively.

    In a wider University context, ITS are developing a project that will deliver a modern, responsive service model to purchase, deploy, and manage devices. This will include clarity around future funding models to ensure that all staff could have the opportunity to benefit from flexible working practices, depending on the requirements of their Division.

    Whilst these proposals are being developed, ITS will continue to work with teams across the University to address any immediate needs. All requests for new computer hardware should be submitted as a service request via the online portal. Line managers with further or complex requirements for their team may wish to contact Peter O’Rourke, Assistant Director, IT Operations at to discuss further.

    PS Places Programme update

    The PS Places Programme is being reviewed so we can prioritise the proposals and plan how they can be implemented to deliver best value for money and benefit for PS colleagues. It remains crucial that we deliver our program aims of creating better working environments for Professional Services staff that support flexible and collaborative working through the use of space, technology, and people. The program team are working on revised plans and aim to present a new business case for the first stage of the program in February 2024. We will keep staff updated as more information becomes available.

  • Sussex 2035 strategy

    Incorporating human flourishing into the experiences and development of PS staff

    Human flourishing is one of the three drivers for change for the Sussex 2035 strategy. In February 2024, the Vice-Chancellor Sasha Roseneil will be hosting a series of engagement events dedicated to the three drivers for change (human flourishing, environmental sustainability, and digital and data futures). Colleagues are strongly encouraged to attend and contribute to the conversations, and to help shape how ‘human flourishing’ can be applied to the way we work and how we deliver the strategy, including how we support our people in line with that strategy.

    How we will deliver our Sussex 2035 strategy over a 10-year period

    In her paper launching the strategy development work, Vice-Chancellor Sasha Roseneil said: “The decade leading up to the 75th anniversary of Sussex’s founding in 2036 will be the period during which the fate of humanity and our planet will be determined. It is our responsibility, as the community that currently has custodianship of this remarkable university, to ensure that we mobilise, strengthen, and grow our collective capacity to tackle the complex challenges of this moment in history, because the world needs the critical thinking, innovation, passion, and scientific rigour that Sussex offers more than ever.”

    Sussex 2035 will outline what the University’s focus will be over the next 10 years, and the high-level activities that will help us to deliver our aims. Underneath the 10-year strategy will be focused and targeted Strategic Plans. These plans will set out the projects, initiatives, and activities for a set period of time (e.g. three years) that will help us on the path to achieving our Sussex 2035 vision.

PS Celebration Day – Monday 12 June 2023

Our Professional Services Celebration Day took place on campus. See the agenda, download presentation slides and view photos and videos.

PS Bigger Picture - Wednesday 29 March 2023

This event took place in the Jubilee Lecture Theatre and was livestreamed. View the video below:

  • Video transcript

    Jane Harvell: So, welcome! Can you all hear me? Yeah, marvelous lots of thumbs up so welcome to everybody in the room. Welcome to everyone online. I hope again you can hear me. My name is Jane Harvell, I'm the University librarian, and I am your compere for the next hour, so I will be making sure all these lovely people keep time so that we have plenty of time for questions at the end. Okay, so we've heard from feedback that you want to know more about Professional Services, some of the divisions, some of the groups, and also from some of the bigger projects that we have going. So, we have today, Tim is going to speak briefly, and then we'll have the OD, Organisational Development team speaking, they're all here. And then we will have Jason Oliver, our Chief Digital Transformation Officer and Chris Harrison, our Deputy Director of Estates, talking about the PS Places programme. Okay. So, as usual, there'll be lots of opportunity for you to ask questions if you're online or if you're in the room, do use PollEverywhere and enter Bigger Pic. There is a QR code there you can use. Or you can text your messages in using that number, there, or, indeed, if you're in the room, just put your hand up. Please wait until we get a microphone to you, because there are people online, and it will help with them being able to hear your question. Okay, little bit of housekeeping. We finish at two thirty. I'll make sure we finish at two thirty. The toilets if you didn't know, are through the café, just up the stairs through the café in this building. Fire alarms, there are none planned, but the fire exits are at the back of the building and inside here, and they are the exit routes. Okay, let me pass on now to Tim Westlake. Who is our, and there's a slide that I forgot to use. That's the people that your are going to hear from today. Plenty of time for questions at the end. We're going to pass on now to Tim, who is our Chief Operating Officer for a brief update.  

    Tim Westlake: Thank you. And a huge thank you for the kindness of colleagues saying I don't need to do all the presentation I thought, I've got some great colleagues who comes to do presentations which is brilliant. I was only gonna say a few quick things. First, was just a quick update of some of the changes to my leadership team just so colleagues are aware. So, sadly Emily, who is director of CMA, will leave the University in June. Marcus, who has previously done the interim role, will take on the interim role from that point. Emma Potts, who's done a interim roles for us in the University she's, her last interim role has been in GCGC. And her last day is on Friday, and she goes on to other interim roles elsewhere and Leila has joined us as our new General Counsel, and she's in post and Colin, who I can see at the back there, is our new direction. Colin as you are here you can stand up just so everyone can see you. Colin is our new director of HR. But you'll see next to him, we've also got our interim director, who's got a new title, I think, but he's staying with us. He doesn't need to stand up, Colin, that people know him. But Peter is actually staying with us until August to work on some of the big projects we've got in HR and some of the changes we're looking to do to support the University in that space. And then Dean, I can't see here, but I think it's online joined us back in December as the University first Chief of Staff, working directly to Sasha, and all of those colleagues are on my leadership team. I thought it was worth just touching on particularly with so many excellent colleagues in Professional Services are supporting and working on the re-procurement of our catering and facilities management services. Just to do a brief update, first, a huge thank you to everyone who completed the survey. In University terms, getting 3,200, staff and students responding to a service is simply exceptional, and all that feedback has been brilliant in terms of influencing what we've gone out to procure in the marketplace for our catering services so we're out for that formal procurement process at the moment, and the new services will come into place over the summer. My excellent colleagues, I'm working with on this are working on the engagement with the whole university around facilities management, so they're just piloting a survey at the moment that will probably start either this week or next week for a month or so, and there's going to be a whole series of focus groups as well to get feedback around our facilities management services. We'll also be doing a survey out to our staff colleagues as well to get their views on how those services are working and then, once we've had all that feedback, we'll build that together into the re-procurement process and going out to our procurement for that. The third thing I just wanted to mention briefly, was around the ViceChancellor's proposal that we moved to a new academic organisation structure of four faculties and I really want to raise that. Just so you understand how Professional Services can engage in that and how the consultational work for that. So in governance terms, most you probably know I'm both the Chief Operating Officer, but I'm also University Secretary. So as chief operating officer, I'm line-managed by the Vice-Chancellor as a University Secretary I'm managed both by the Vice-Chancellor, but also by the Chair of Council. So an academic change is the responsibility of Council. So it's a Council decision so it's our governing body's decision, but in making any change to our academic structures, Council needs to hear the views of Senate and Senate needs to hear the views of our academic Schools. So in simple governance terms the Schools express their views to Senate, Senate express their views to Council. Council, makes a decision. So what will be taking place is that Sasha will be having open meetings with our schools. She'll be putting together a proposal that she can bring forward so that there's something documented that those meetings can have. That will then go to Senate and the proposal will go to Senate from Sasha. PS has two opportunities to engage this so colleagues who are members of Schools, will be able to go to their School meetings, but, secondly, we have  elected senators who represent PS, so, that's Kit and Gemma, and what we're going to do is I'm going to get a communication out which Gemma's written, which will give you the opportunity to express views through Gemma and Kit to Senate as well so, that they both will be an opportunity for those in Schools, but also for those who are central Professional Services if they wish to express a view about Sasha's proposal to do it in that way, and I'm going to get a video message out short video message out about that, and then with a with a note that will come in Gemma and Kit's name. So there will be, there'll be plenty of opportunity to express those views. There's likely to be a special meeting of Senate to discuss the proposal, and that won't be till June, and the formal proposal won't go to Council until July but I thought colleagues would be keen to know that. Something that our fantastic colleagues, and I see some here which is great in our EDI team have been working on is our draft submission for the Race Equality Charter. And as part of that work we've had a really good conversation at PSLT, about our commitments as leaders on Professional Services and I wanted to show what happens in this process is that we put in a draft submission, and then that may be refined. But all of my line reports and members of PSLT have committed to the following things and the Race Quality Charter lasts for a four year period, and this is something that I'll be working closely with my line reports on. So an aspiration to bring levels of ethnic minority staff and PS to local census levels. So, to understand that and what we need to do, to be inclusive and have best practice in our recruitment processes, to take positive action in recruitment and development to be transparent and open in those processes to improve training and provision to increase the levels of staff reporting personal characteristics, say for action, so my aim is that each division has a set of actions that reflect the areas they work in and what particular challenges they have in that space to broaden representation and improve levels of diversity on decision making and governance committees in the institution, and I'll be working with my colleagues I'm signing this personally. So I, as the Chief Operating Officer I'm making this commitment myself in front of you now to drive this agenda forward within our Professional Services, but all of my line reports and the other members of the Professional Services Leadership Team have also all committed to this. So, you can anticipate that there'll be some big conversations taking place across Professional Services to discuss this, but I think this is a critical part of the agenda we should have as an institution, and then finally, just to do a plug for the amazing work taking place by Jane and a small group who, giving up their time to put in place the ambitious Tim's ambition of a PS celebration which will take place in the 12th of June, and I hope that's in everyone's diary. There are 1,200, of us, so I've given Jane in a significant logistical challenge but I think that this would be a really really important event, and Jane's gonna get out all of PS a feel of what the programme will be but she's working with a group of colleagues around that to make sure that it works for what colleagues are like to but I think it's going to be a brilliant opportunity for us all to get together. And in case when we get to questions sometimes it's condensed at the end, I just want to take this opportunity to thank my colleagues in OD for giving up their time today and also getting a feel from my experience in front of his large lecture theatre not running it, and also Jason and Chris the PS Places bit and Jane. And then finally, in case there isn't some time at the end, just to thank everyone in Professional Services, the incredible amounts of hard work that's taking place through this term. And, if we don't get a chance to say it, that everyone has some kind of break over the Easter period, particularly as we got the minimum service days, so thank you all, and I'm gonna hand over to Cathy. 

    Cathy McDonnell: Is that where it goes? As if by magic, it appeared. I've got a real desire to go: hello Wembley! And, here's my band. Well, thank you for joining us today, both here and online. My name is Cathy McDonnell, and I'm assistant director for Culture, OD and Wellbeing, it's always a bit of a funny one to remember. I've been here nearly  months, so I'm still feeling very much a newbie, but I have team members who've been here for longer, but some that are newer. In fact, a couple of years ago the team was much smaller and we've been spending our time over the last year growing that so that we can meet capacity to meet your needs. Also, over my first term, kind of September to December, we've been working on our OD plan, which we're about to take you through a summary of. There's a lot to do, we realise that, but we decided that we needed to get our priorities for this year together. So that we could share those with you, and that you could see what we're going to be working on. We have got a much more detailed plan, but I won't put you through the pain of that particular spreadsheets. So before we go into the plan, I just want to introduce you to the team: here we have Vicky, who is an OD Consultant, next to her is Sarah O'Malley, also OD Consultant. Wendy Carey, new member of our team, our Staff Wellbeing manager, and Sarah Engineer, OD Consultant, and I'm going to ask my lovely team over here to stand up our OD admin team. And so we've got Kaye, Lisette and Kelly. They're giving you a wave there, and Chris, who is our apprenticeships officer. There is also Sam who's poorly today. So hopefully putting a name to face helps. So just a little bit about our aims and how we hope to contribute to the staff experience at Sussex. Collectively, we've highlighted four overarching aims where we believe we can add value, and these are very much focused on supporting staff to develop, Obviously as you would expect to contributing to making Sussex a great place to work and supporting the build of a culture that promotes trust and wellbeing. And, more importantly, working with you to find out what learning and development solutions could help in the landscape of increased financial pressures. In terms of how we've shaped the OD plan, we went through Sussex , it definitely falls out of the People Strategy which was launched in January and is available on the website, little plug there for that, and of course it informs our individual objectives as part of the team. So enough from me. I'm going to pass you over to my lovely team members to take you through the rest of the plan. 

    Vicky Love: Hi! So, I'm Vicki Love. I'm one of the OD Consultants here at Sussex and I'm going to talk you through our OD offer. So this is an overall view. There's a lot up there. As you can see, we try and cater to a range of different learning styles and preferences So you'll see up there, we have online. I'm sorry. Online, Sorry, workshops that we facilitate, but also online learning. So, that's mainly accessible through LinkedIn learning, and also Learn Upon. We also encourage learning by creating communities. So, for example, we have a leaders and managers network, but trying to create encourage peer-to-peer learning, we're also big fans of action learning, so offer facilitated action learning sessions and resources around that, and also coaching skills training and our mentoring programme. So key areas to highlight, so big projects we are working on is our leadership and management offer. So we're just finishing up a reshaping of that, but what we're doing there is looking at the each stage of the journey from new junior aspiring manager through to senior leadership, and for each stage of that journey, what are the knowledge skills and behaviours that are needed so that we can provide the right development programmes for any staff members that we wish to progress. So within that offer at the moment, there's a mix of internal and externally delivered programmes. So, for example, we internally deliver the management essentials programmes, a series of workshops with some of the basic skills and behaviours that needed for managers. But we also have an external provider, delivering our emerging leaders programme. But we are hoping to shift the majority of training to in-house. So, for example, next year we'll be launching a new aspiring managers programme which will be facilitating ourselves. Another key thing we're working on is the onboarding process, so, looking to enhance that, so thinking about how we are introducing new starters to the university, so what do they need to know? What do they need in order to be set up to succeed and that's really important for employee engagement, staff retention, and just to make sure, people having a positive experience when they're joining us. So that's a big project at the moment. Other areas to highlight is our work staff wellbeing provision. So Wendy Carey is our new Wellbeing Manager, and she'll go into that in more detail, but also our new OD consultancy approach. So we're starting to work much more closely with  managers and leaders, so helping them diagnose any issues they're experiencing with their teams. For example, issues around team cohesion or effectiveness, if there are trouble, if there are problems around hybrid working, or if any wellbeing issues are coming up. So working with leaders and managers to develop sort of tailored OD interventions so that might look like an away day, it might look like the introduction of action learning sets for specific groups. We can also offer profiling. So, within our team we can now offer profiling based on behaviours a bit like Myer Briggs, or a tool called Simi and also a strength-based profile tool called Strength Scope. So these are some of the things that we can offer to support leaders and managers with their teams. Finally, there are just two, two qualification routes for staff I wanted to flag. So there are. There are two ways you can get qualifications as a staff member here. One is through our apprenticeship scheme, through which you can access about different qualifications from level two through to level seven. A range of different qualifications. So there's coaching, This qualification I'm about to complete myself through to business, administration, customs, services, tech and digital. It's a great way to get qualification. I really recommend it for more information Chris Hamilton is our Apprenticeship Officer, she can answer any questions and support you with that. Finally, there's level two qualifications which you can access for free with East Sussex College, that's our local further education provider. So lots on offer, lots for you to go and think about. We encourage everyone to go away, think about what feels relevant to you, what feels doable, what feels exciting, and speak to your manager about it, your supervisor, just to sort of whether it's part of your one-to-one or an ADR conversation, that's Achievement Development Review conversation. But yeah, I'll stop there and hand over to Sarah Emily to talk about other learning and development options. 

    Sarah O'Malley: So we're also conscious that not all learning and development sits specifically within OD, and there's lots of things on offer for all of us as staff to engage with and you can see a few of those up on the screen above me. So from opportunities within your role and your team to experiential learning, podcasts, Ted Talks, webinars, online and to external mentoring and experiential experiences through your professional networks and areas of interest. So, both internally and externally, lots on offer as well as our OD specific offer that comes through our team. If you're not sure what learning solution is the right fit for you, then please, just reach out to the team so, we're very happy to signpost or advise you to any kind of solution that might be a good fit for you. Now I hand over to Wendy to talk about the wellbeing offer. 

    Wendy Carey:  Not quite sure how to follow that I mean, there's just so much on offer. So just to continue, we're gonna break up the slide a little bit more with this specific workstreams that sit alongside our business, as well as continuously developing the OD offer, we also have several projects that we're working on. These are going to be supporting our staff and encouraging a really good staff experience at Sussex. We've got a fantastic OD admin team that are sitting over there today. They undertake all the work around the admin and coordination of all of our offer, and they also play a pivotal pivotal role in supporting the marketing and comms of both the offer and other initiatives happening across the University. At this stage also wanted to personally take this option to introduce myself. Staff Wellbeing Manager, joined the end of January. So, same as Kathy very new, and I've been using that time to meet, meet different people, meet colleagues meet different departments. The other thing that I have been doing is kind of gaining an understanding of what's supply we've got available: Employee Assistance Programme, Occupational Health, etc., and looking to find out is there any gaps and how we can fill them and make them better for all of us? And that is all done in in order for us to develop a staff wellbeing plan, so, once we once we create that we'll be sharing that at a later date. In addition, we've also got some fantastic kind of support networks available, a couple of those that are coming to mind are meant to have first aid, and it's also the menopause network which Lisette in our team is done a fantastic job at. So, we're already recognised as being committed to being a menopause friendly employer, and the further commitment for us is actually being accredited as a menopause friendly employer. In both of these networks we've got some fantastic ambassadors, and they work really hard to keep the momentum going and what I'll be looking to do is how we can grow those networks make them better to kind of help the stigma that is still associated with those. So I think lots to be done, and I will be sharing a lot more in regards to those support networks and encouraging anyone to join up, for now I'll hand over to Sarah Engineer.  

    Sarah Engineer: Thank you. So I've got the last, the last couple of slides, and it's really just to finish up and they're just focusing on our top priorities for the year ahead. So I'm not gonna go through all of them, I will highlight a couple but actually, these are really big pieces of work, and some of which will no doubt run into, and beyond. So just to highlight a few, so actually, one of the key priorities is the design, deliver, evaluate and evolve our learning and development offer and this includes our apprenticeship programme. And this is why researching staff requirements through our annual reviews, and we really want to ensure that we're providing opportunities for all and actually that we're delivering effective programmes that are fit for purpose. So we're also continuing to work on managing our Staff Survey. So, the delivery of that, and that's actually the subsequent action, planning and review of kind of division, School, and institutional progress and what that looks like. And, I think, as Vicky has mentioned, we're also redeveloping our onboarding process again to ensure that staff are equipped with the right information and actually a really kind of great welcome when they begin their journey at Sussex. And, just on this second slide, just to highlight again, a couple more that we are continuing to develop, grow, and also automate our mentoring and coaching programme, and something else that's really important is incorporating promoting an environment of psychological safety in all our delivery. and you know, to really help and support managers create that within our teams, within their teams. So, actually, we really hope that what you've got from the last 10-15 min of this presentation and that the overview of the current offer at Sussex, how we're growing and evolving that, also kind of understanding some of the projects and key priorities for the year ahead really helps give you a better understanding of us as a team, and what support we can help you with. So thank you so much, and I'm going to hand back to Cathy. 

    Cathy McDonnell: Thank you, Sarah. Thank you everybody. I think that owl finishes it off nicely. Thank you for having us. And yeah, if you do have any questions, please mail, and that is us done.  


    Jason Oliver: We're on, so I wasn't sure where we were being introduced or what was coming on here. I will introduce myself and Chris. So we are here today to talk to you about PS Places. What is PS Places? It's a good question. I was my VSRO, probably some point within the last two weeks, so I'm still trying to determine what PS places is myself. The project has been going for a while, but unlike a lot of you in here, I've got more questions than I've got answers at the moment, and what I'm keen to do is reverse that very quickly, and try to start understanding what it is we're looking to achieve with this. I think a good start place is division, that the programme is set out. I'll read this it's the only bit I'll read directly off the screen but I think it's important: 'the world of work has changed forever, and we're evolving to. PS Places programme will help optimise our unique and incredible campus by providing the spaces, technology and policies to support sustainable ways of working, enabling PS colleagues to connect, collaborate, and deliver for the University, creating offices that are magnets, not mandates'. I think this is really important, because this isn't just about moving people from one building to another. It's about, how do we as a single Professional Service work more effectively together? How do we utilise the campus, and how do we become more inclusive with people working on and off campus so we can operate as best as we possibly can as a single service? The drivers for this change are associated with the fact that up into  we're looking to increase our student numbers to ,, and we know there are acute challenges at the moment across campus with space. But it's not being utilised as effectively as it could be. We know that we need to make better use of it, and we need to become more financially and environmentally sustainable. And how we, how we operate together is going to help us deliver across these initiatives, these drivers for change, and we know that we implemented policies when we went into the pandemic, and they were the right policies at that time, but things have evolved, and they're not the right policies, for where we're trying to go to over the coming years so we'll be looking at people, technology and space and how we can bring them all together to improve the way PS works overall. It'd be easy for me to stand here, and, you know, read off the stuff from the left of the slide up there. You know what what we're going to deliver. People don't want me to come out here and do a sales pitch. This needs to be an outcome driven piece of work. What I want to hear how will be measured around this is the stuff that's on the right hand side here. Once we've delivered this programme of works, when people are able to turn around and say, the spaces film were welcoming and support the different types of work I'm trying to do or I'm now more aware about how my work is affecting my carbon footprint. These are the outcomes and the measures that are going to tell us that PS Places has been a successful initiative. What you need to know. So, as I say, I'm still finding this stuff out myself. This is what I know as of now, I know no decisions have been made. I know that there's been an awful lot of work going on over the last couple of months trying to build up a good understanding through consultation about what it is that you, staff, want from this programme of works. we've been in listening mode for the last few months and as a result of that there's not, it's not been bidirectional. There's not a huge amount coming back yet, but that's going to change very soon. Technology is going to be crucial to this programme. You know, with people working more flexibly than they have done, you know, certainly pre-pandemic, what we haven't got right at the moment is that the technology balance to support that hybrid model. So we will be putting a focus around that we will need different spaces for different activities. Nobody wants just lines of desks in open space, in an open zone, where everybody goes in and it's a bit like cattle market, you know, we're gonna need different spaces for teams to come together, different different spaces for people in projects to come together and touch down and work in a conducive way, different types of meetings spaces. So this is all gonna be part of this work. We know that we need to reduce the PS space, if you go into Shawcross, my building, at the moment, you'll say probably 40 to 50% capacity on most types. And that's space that we could be giving back to the Academy, that we could be using for teaching space or social space for students. We know that the current, flexible working model isn't working, so we need to look at how we address that, and we need, we also know that people don't need to be on campus all of the time. There's an acceptance of that. So, how do we formalise this and make it a better experience for everybody? This programme works he's not fully dependent on any other project. So the network replacement project, digital infrastructure project, I hear these things being spoken about this programme will go ahead irrelevant of what happens in those spaces, but this is defined specifically to Professional Services. We're not in this piece of work looking to address the School or the teaching spaces challenges that we might have. They're things that will be picking up outside of this. What we don't know at the moment is where teams are going to be situated and how we're going to use space that's a part of the listening that's happening. We don't know the look and feel of space or the exact time frame but I can give you my assurance that we're driving this behind the scenes now and become much more visible, very, very quick. And at that point I'm going to pass over to Chris because he'll be able to talk about. 

    Chris Harrison: Hi, everyone. I'm Chris Harrison, Deputy Director of Estates. I've been involved in the projects, really, since I joined the University last July, so been involved in it a bit longer than Jason, had been involved with a number of colleagues, Emma was the previous SRO, Ben Miles who is the programme manager, and a number of other colleagues they've been sort of consistently involved in this. I'm going to talk a little bit about where we are now with the with the programme. So the first thing that I wanted to illustrate this is, this methodology that you've got here you can see that there are seven stages of programmes, and this is consistent through all of the programmes that go through the Sussex projects methodology. And what you'll see here is that actually, we're coming towards the end of the second stage out of , so it's still really early days. And, one of the things that we're aware of is this programme has been around for quite some time. We've been talked about for quite some time, but as Jason sort of set out that this isn't just about creating some spaces, it's actually about change management. So it is about the space, but it's also about the technology and the culture and the HR policies, and everything that goes into successful change management programme around new ways of working. So we're taking our time on this design stage, because actually, it will save us time and potentially money later on by getting it right now. The other thing that's really important, and again, why, we're doing so much engagement work is that we've got to take people along the journey with us, it's no good us imposing things on people. We have to take the time to make sure that everybody is ready to embrace the new ways of working. Once we've kind of done what we need to do to make, to create the space isn't quite all of the other things that kind of go around that. So if we, if you do feel that we're taking a our time, and it is for very good reasons. Technology failed. Thanks. Thank you. So this this sort of explains in more detail where we are currently so many of you will have done the Staff Survey earlier in the year. So thank you for that. We had 70% of our colleagues completed that survey which is an astonishing number, you know. Really, really high number. And I think that what it's what that says to us is just how important colleagues feel that PS Places is, and obviously everybody is emotionally invested in where they work and how they work and so getting that level of feedback was really fantastic. We've also been running a staff profiling exercise across central PS teams, and that's to understand working patterns and use of space because we acknowledge that not everybody's different. So going back to that idea of taking our time to really understand this, it'd be wrong of us as a programme steering group to pretend that we understand how all, all of the people in Professional Services work and what's important to them. So this sort of profiling work will help us to kind of nuance our approach depending on the different roles and the different teams, and how everybody prefers to work. Then the third thing which we're doing at the moment through our change management team in Sussex projects is we're doing some deep dive workshops with various teams within each division. So at the moment, many of those deep dive sessions have happened. There's a still few to be to be done, DSE and finance in particular, haven't had their sessions yet, and I'm aware that I think there's some teams within some of the other divisions where some of the deep dives have happened, and and under others haven't, that's still kind of work in progress. So the deep dives have been really useful for us, because that's helping us to get to the level of detail that we need to be able to start to formulate a plan and start formulate designs and policies and other things like that. So just to sort of give you a brief insight into what we've learned so far through all of these engagement exercises. I talked about the percentage of people that have completed. So the so far had  colleagues involved in the deep dives, and they talk to us about what drives them to be on campus or at home. The spaces that they need to fulfill their role, the equipment and support that they need, and the facilities and amenities that they need. So that's really kind of getting again that sort of idea that this is a holistic exercise. So the five themes that have come up so far, and I'm not gonna kind of read all of these out, but there's been five themes that have come up consistently. The first one is the importance of taking into account a DSE occupational health, accessibility requirements, so that we make sure that any spaces that we create are genuinely inclusive, and the people actually feel involved not kind of marginalised by the spaces that we set up. The second one is the importance of the IT equipment and desk setup, and the importance of consistent work spaces. So normally, when you're setting this kind of space, or people get concerned about things like docking stations, the number of screens that you will have, the peripherals that will be available to you to support your kind of day at work, and that's come up consistently, you know. How can I be confident that when I come in to campus I've got the space that I need and the IT equipment that I need. It's really important to colleagues that they're able to work closely together with people in their teams, but also people and other teams. You know, sort of a real emphasis on, I suppose, working side by side with people in other the divisions is being seen as important. The need for wide variety of spaces, so I think probably pretty much every division at the moment has a general setup which involves standard rows of desks, maybe with some meeting rooms around the periphery, but actually more modern ways of working include much more than that so lots of us will spend our time in Teams meetings. So the idea of having individual booths that would support Teams meetings, and we know as well that different types of space also support, some will support collaboration, some will support meetings, different types of meetings, and some will also support just having that sort of common room or that kind of place away from the computer where you can kind of relax and all of that's coming through really, really, quickly and really clearly. There's also been some comments about our HR policy which it was Jason touched upon around the percentage of time spent on campus versus the percentage of time spent at home, so that's something that we're gonna look at through this programme as well. I think I'm gonna hand back to you now, Jason, just just to mark up. Also, I've done that one. 

    Jason Oliver: Thanks, Chris! Thank you, Chris. So what happens next? What happens next? We come in through the design phase at the moment, the design phases were the listening phase. We're about to sit down, we're going through the consultation at the moment, playing back to you some of the things that we've heard just reinforcing the commentary coming back from use so that we can have then a good understanding of what would it is that people have requested. This will all help us inform the next stage, which as we move into the planning stage, and this will be taking the business case forward over the course of this summer. Immediately after that, if everything goes successfully, we'll be consulting again. We'll be talking to you about how this is going to be delivered, and then we'll be going into delivery. As I alluded to earlier on, we don't yet know what that delivery is going to be like in the size and shape and power of it, but we can say that, you know, with the team that we've got on this, and with the support of everybody across Professional Services we'll be looking to move this forward at the best pace we possibly can. I think that concludes our presentation. You can ask questions. I'm gonna pass back to Jane now. 

    Jane Harvell: I'm on, I'm on my mic. Can you hear me? Yeah, yeah, thank you. Thank you. Thank you, everyone, particularly the OD team is nerve racking, standing dark. It's not an easy gig. Okay? Right now. Time for questions. So the slides back up again, as I say, if you've got a question in the room, please wait for the mic to come to you so everyone can hear it. We've got I think 300 people listening online so I've got a lot of questions in here, I'm gonna start with one for you, Tim. I can find that. Okay? So the Senate approves the proposal to move to a new faculty structure, is there an aspirational timeline to implement the change? 

    Tim Westlake: So, the first thing says, go back on the governance, so it's for Council to determine it rather than Senate. So Senate will consider a proposal and express their views, but it's a Council decision. So I think it would be wrong for me before Sasha has put together the proposal and it's out on the community to make any judgments about that. But I would anticipate that assuming Council approves what Sasha would want to do is make the appointments of the leadership, so part of the proposals is to have four executive Deans and if you think of the way that MAH came together, there was a principle of MAH coming together, but then there's been a journey of pulling, the pulling the what is at the moment a School but would be a faculty, I would imagine, in the new structure, so it won't be an immediate thing. I think the senior appointments would be immediate or as quick as possible, any senior appointment takes a time period. Thank you. 

    Jane Harvell: I'll come to the room in a second, but there's a lot of questions about PS Places. Quite a lot of them are quite specific, and I think we probably need feeding to your the work that you've done, so I'll give you a flavour of the kind of question: so how is PS Places going to take into account the needs of neurodivergent staff who may have problems with the enforced hot desking schemes and may need permanent desk spaces? I appreciate that's quite hard to answer but...  

    Chris Harrison: So what we have undertaken to do is to speak to a variety of groups that may have specific requirements around that around that sort of space. The one of the things that we're looking at is whether we can create a sort of model that allows people that need that sort of stability in that level of certainty to be able to work within a particular area, that is sort of attached to that division, and have some of that certaint and then have some other areas that might be kind of shared and might sort of introduce some of the some things called activity-based working where the setup of the space is a specific to the task that you're doing. I think although it's got to go through the business case and the approval process, I think, like in all probability, the model that we land on will try and blend a bit of both of those types of space.  

    Tim Westlake: If I can add just on a sort of language, the language of forced, I think that what I'm keen is the Professional Services colleagues there is a sustainability cost, if we build you staff. There's, I don't need an individual office now and what I'm keen to do is we work together. So I'm taking, although Jason is the SRO I'm taking responsibility for PS Places and if we spend money on building new buildings and don't utilise our space, we will have less money to other things. So what I'm really keen is that it's a collaborative project that takes into account the challenges we face and the commitments we made as an organisation. I hope that the journey that we're going on the time they're taking is that we hear the voices were inclusive, and what we come up with. So I really hope we can work together on this and and find a way of, you know, doing this. And I'm learning at the moment, so I've I've done quite finished, I haven't quite had the emotional bit of taking my kids photos out of my room yet, but depersonalised my office. Some colleagues here are using my office now as a meeting room so I'm allowing it to be used as a meeting room. I, I need to demonstrate that I no longer have a personal set of spaces. There aren't going to be enough offices in the VCO for all of Sasha's line report. So we're going to start doing a different way of working in that space. So it's about all of us, and I think that's how we best use this amazing campus. 

    Jane Harvell: You just answered on the question, so will senior staff members be losing their desks as part of hot desking.  

    Tim Westlake: Yes, so I start that. So I want to leave for the so Jason's brilliant colleagues have been helping me moving to so my office anyone can work in now you can bring a laptop in and plug, in, as I've just said, because I've just want to be honest about my emotional bit about you know I've always had photographs of my kids, but I recognised that someone's going to come and sit at my desk, you don't really want to see my two lovely daughters there, so I'm starting to take out for those whoever comes from office you'll sit at the back of what I call the cupboard of crowd, which has lots of stuff. I'm going to depersonalise that and just leave University Memorabilia there rather than photograph of me and Sanjeev. So I think that's all really, really important.

    Jason Oliver: This is something that just needs to wait for Ps Places. You know this is something that I know numerous PS Directors are already doing, myself included, where most of my team will use my room whenever I'm not around, even when I am around.  

    Jane Harvell: I have a question here actually, about about waiting for PS Places, but I want to see if there's any questions in the room first. Anybody want to ask questions? There is a hand in there. Wait for microphone, because there is people online. Thank you. Is that you, Rob?  

    Tim Westlake: Rob could definitely, Rob's voice could definitely be heard.  

    Rob Yates: I don't have to shout now, microphone! I'll sing. It's just a timing, really, and I understand the difficulty in putting a time frame on it, but I wondered if it would be helpful to say we recognise, we think this will be done by the end of 2024, or spring 2025, because not wanting to be critical of the University, occasionally projects start, and you never quite sure whether they're gonna get to the middle of the project or the end of it, or whether they happen, or what, but I just wondered if it was possible to say without me committing you in a court of law, we reckon this project will be done by this date. 

    Jason Oliver: I think Sussex projects is one of my teams, that I completely understand where you're coming from. I think it's too early to be able to commit to an end date right now. That being said is in nobody's interest to drag this out. We have to get ourselves into as good a shape as possible as quickly as possible, and some of that may be incremental. I'd hope that we'll be seeing some changes certainly, in this calendar year. How long it will take for the long tail, I think, it will be to determine what we discover through this listening exercise we're going through at the moment. But, as I say, it's in nobody's interest to drag this out over a multi-year period. 

    Tim Westlake: But but one observation, I say, is your own team, I mean CMA, as a whole of the bottom of Sussex House, you've now got 52 staff with 17 desks, so I just put that out to everyone, we've got some colleagues who already gone below 50%. They prefer to have a different environment, so that, so us being able to support all of our colleagues as some spaces are not available, but some of this will also link, we've got big redevelopments of Falmer House, of the Library some of this work links to other their interdependencies with other larger projects, as well or other other, I mean this a large part in its own right. Thank you.

    Jane Harvell: I've got a question for you Cathy, it's a nice question. Oh, the OD initiatives all sounds fantastic, are there any plans to build time to take part in these into people's job descriptions as time to take us allowed allowed to take part in larger initiatives seems to differ across different teams. Will time be built in, I think that's.  

    Cathy McDonnell: Will time be built in to people's jobs to do development? And I think I heard the second part of that question, and I believe it to be true that it is inconsistent across the University and I guess it probably depends on where you work and how you work. And I know that some divisions are looking at a half day a month, and giving that over to staff and I have been some discussions about setting a side two to three days a year. That's certainly come up, hasn't it? Tim in conversations around, monitoring training and things like that. I think it is consistent, but I also think it's really difficult to make it consistent across the University. I think he probably needs a wider discussion If I'm honest, I don't know if the rest of the team have got any views on that. 

    Tim Westlake: I mean what there should be as a commitment in all teams to OD. I think what that will look like will vary on stages of people in career, types of jobs they do, I think, defining a specific time from my experience is not necessary easy, because sometimes people might be on a course that takes them out a day a month for a year. Other times it may be different types of OD, I'm really excited about having a team here, so those who, been with me through my journey at Sussex for six years now one of my greatest concerns ever since I've been here, compared to anywhere else I've worked is the lack of OD and the lack of training opportunities for colleagues, and so it's really exciting to have this team here now, and the energy Cathy's putting into it. The HR team, as a whole the energy, but also the energy volunteers are putting into, we had a separate session for a group of PS colleagues a couple of weeks ago. We're going to have the celebration. So there's an absolute commitment from me, as COO to everyone's development. Now, how we do that I think we need to work through, you know, because we have to think about the time, but you know we're I mean, if you listen to Sasha's language, she wants us to be an employer of choice. Any employer of choice focuses on the development of their individuals, but also development of teams, so we need to work out how we do that, but also how we deliver the business as a whole to the best of our ability. 

    Cathy McDonnell: Thank you. I just like to add one more aspect to that, because, even though it might not be consistent across the University, it is absolutely in the interests of everybody to have development time, anyone who spends time developing is gonna get better in their role, is going to feel more fulfilled, has the chance to progress, so even if there are different shapes and sizes across the University, it is absolutely everybody's right to be involved in that. 

    Jane Harvell: Thank you. Anyone else in the room. Yes, wait! Wait. A microphone comes to.  

    Tim Westlake: We come down those stairs myself. They make me nervous. 

    Staff 1: Hello! I had a question for Jason. It's kind of well, it's two separate questions, if that's okay. Once you said that the complex of working framework isn't working, I just wondered if you could explain that a bit more.  

    Jason Oliver: I think the feedback that we've got is, there's a feeling of it being applied differently across different parts of the Professional Service, and for something to be working there'd be a consistency of understanding, of how it's being applied and a feeling of with its equity, or a feeling of balance, and for not everybody, you know, it's going to be able to have the opportunity to work from home because of the type of job they do potentially, but there has to be a model that we have to find. That isn't the model that we put in at the start of the pandemic which was necessity then, but something that's gonna allow us to thrive as a Professional Services we move forward now.  

    Staff 1: Great, thank you. And then another one on PS Places. You mentioned that this isn't addressing School in teaching spaces. So does that mean this is just for PS divisions and not School staff in PS, I mean PS School staff. Sorry. And if that's the case, I was wondering if this will tie in with reviewing academic offices as well, and the use of them. 

    Jason Oliver: It's a good question. It's come up very recently. The scope of this piece of work is specific to central Professional Services. That does not mean that there isn't a piece of work that we need to do around academic space, Professional Services in Schools and and actually even wider than that, we were talking about earlier on student study space, students social space, we recognise that space as a whole across the campus needs to be reviewed, but the start point, and the scope of this piece of work is central Professional Services.  

    Tim Westlake: I mean, what I hope is, is the principles that come out of this for the way we work together can be utilised by the schools, but what I'm also really conscious of is the sensitivities of me as COO getting involved in space that is managed through and there's a regulation, Reg. , which is the Heads of School responsibility. I am open to conversations with the Schools about how we can utilise this again Academic space. I have some personal, strong views around academic space, but that's something particularly for the deputy Vice Chancellor, when Michael joins us to look at. I think there's inconsistency across the Academic space, so those schools who've been very successful and expanded, so if you take the Business School, almost all academics now share offices. Some other parts of the University academics have their own space. I think we need to challenge ourselves about is that the best utilisation of space? So my personal, strong view as an executive member is, we need to look at academic space, and we need to maximise our amazing campus to the benefit of the whole of the community. 

    Chris Harrison: So, yeah, I think everything that Jason and Tim have said is correct. What would also like to encourage is conversations between ourselves on the programme group and the Schools, to look at where we can take some of the kind of best practice learnings around, particularly around some of the activity based ways of working so that you things that don't happen or that don't appear at the moment in school buildings, perhaps being able to learn from that, identify where there might be, therefore, improvements to the experience for Professional Services staff in the Schools, it might create space for other things that are either student facing or that support so the academic endeavour more generally. So although it's out of scope I'm really happy to have a conversation about that. I think there will be a lot of learnings coming out of the work that we're doing at the moment that would benefit the Schools as well.  

    Tim Westlake: I also think there's a conversation about student facing, staff facing services and other services. My experiences bringing people together is really healthy. And so if we're going to break down barriers and be a single Professional Services, there's some thought about that, that people could have. And again I'm able to conversations with colleagues around that, I think we should be maximising certain space. Our students should have an amazing interface with us, and our receptions and staff should do that. What services need to be there and access, and what could be elsewhere, I think, is a debate. What I'm not keen on is people not being on this campus so I know some universities have moved to models. I think we've got this extraordinary campus, and we need to take the benefit, so as particularly now post, I was having conversations pre-covid about if we keep expanding. We know we had colleagues out in the Amex, they're back on campus. I think it's really important we're all on campus, so you know, enable to interact when we are here. 

    Jane Harvell: Thank you. And you're pleased to know both your questions, there's a lot around that on here which we will, will pass back so as a reminder, I think, for us all, I've got a question here, what is PS Places? So, and I know you mentioned SRO, I think there's a reminder for us all that there's a lot of turn at the moment with a lot of new staff coming in, so that's to make sure that we are constantly ensuring that we're explaining, not using our acronyms, acronyms, I think but yeah, go Jason.  

    Jason Oliver: Yes, so SRO is Senior Responsible Officer. So Tim is our UPE. So he's our University Project Executive so it's Tim's role to take the assurance that I provide to him back into the executive and back in the Council, that we're doing this programme of work effectively and be accountable to the executive and Council. It's my job to be accountable for delivering it, and so it's in my interest to ensure that you know you're satisfied with the things that we're looking at putting in place, hence the listening aspects of this. So my job is to deliver this, and we have a programme team which Chris is a part of, we've got Ben who is the programme manager and many, many other people are all contributing to try to make this a success. 

    Tim Westlake: And I guess it's going back to Rob's question about you know, timelines projects, you know, the University, I mean, I will emphasise, I don't like the term the University, we are the university. We all have a responsibility, but that we've now got a project governance framework. Hopefully it's the things like the presentations we've done about the Capital programme, I'm leading for the Executive the overall Capital programme for the University. I'm absolutely committed to regularly communicate what we're doing on that, there are clear timelines, there's new governance in place where Sasha chairs the Strategy group, I, chair the delivery group of the University.  So, we are really keen to do that. And actually Angela and the Comms colleagues are working really hard on trying to get as much information out to community as possible about the very large change journey we're going on across the campus.  

    Jane Harvell: Okay. Thank you. I'm going to wrap this up because we're almost at 2.30pm. There's a lot of really rich questions in here which we will put together into a story. Some of them are sort of quite detailed, and so we'll make sure that the information is out there, there's a lot of questions around, Cathy, there's a lot of questions around development, advancement and promotion, which I think you might find very interesting particularly as you're new here. But other than that, everything you sent in is, I can see it's really helpful and really useful. I will say the four day week came up again, but you, know we might want to compose something around that.  

    Tim Westlake: Is it worth saying in the time that Colin is looking, because that came up with another event we're doing so so, there's because we've got academic research looking at that. So one of the things I've asked Colin to do is to look at can that other examples in the university sector? What does it mean? One of the greatest bits of feedback I get is, people are overworked and overloaded. So how does that balance, you know? How do you make that work? There's research that says potentially, you're more productive in a four-day week. But how do we work in a university that works 5 days a week when teaching is 5 days a week, when living on campuses is 7 days a week? So Colin is having having a look, and HR will have a look at the models and see what's out there. 

    Jane Harvell: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all for coming. Thank you to everyone online. And thank you for all our speakers.


There were some questions that we couldn’t answer on the day, which we have summarised into topics below:

  • General questions 

    Theme: Diversity in senior leadership – conversations seem to be happening but no action seems to have taken place

    Response: Our Race Equality Charter (REC) application will be submitted to Advance HE in summer 2023. It is the result of a detailed process of review by the REC Self-Assessment Team (SAT), which includes a range of staff and students. The application includes a four-year action plan setting out the actions we will be taking to address the issues we have identified. Actions sit with different divisions and senior leaders, all of whom have confirmed their commitment. The SAT will monitor progress against the action plan and our next submission to the REC in four years’ time will be a further assessment of the impact of those actions to achieve change. The action plan will be published on our web pages.

    Theme: Our institutional approach to the new Access and Participation Plan

    Response: The Access and Participation Plan (APP) is managed by the Access, Success and Progress Steering Group and Working Group. The Steering Group is chaired by Kelly Coate (Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Education & Students) and has a cross representation of academics on the group as well as Professional Services colleagues from every stage of the Access, Success and Progress lifecycle. Colleagues from the Division for the Student Experience, Communications, Marketing and Advancement, University Operations and Strategic Planning and Finance are all represented on the Working Group as well as representatives from the student community. We will be expected to formulate our new APP in spring/summer 2024 and to address risks to equality of opportunity. We hope to draw on academic, student and Professional Services insight to inform our new APP and once we have agreement on our new approach, we intend to set out clearly our objectives and how we intend to achieve them.

    Theme: Recruitment of international students

    Response: The University has international in its DNA. We are proud to be a global university ranked in the top 250 in the world in the 2023 Time Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings and 37 in the world in the THE 2022 Impact Rankings.

    Every year we welcome a diverse student population with students from around 150 different countries, many of whom go on to become leaders in their field and active alumni promoting Sussex globally. In 2022, we recorded our highest ever intake of international students.

    Given the strength of our international reputation it is important that we continue to prioritise and support the attraction, recruitment and admission of international students and provide the best possible student experience. The new Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Global and Civic Engagement) will be a pivotal appointment for the University in taking forward the international agenda and ensuring that we continue to shape our strategy to optimise student recruitment.

    Continuous improvement and single team working between Professional Services teams and academics, and ensuring each School has a clear set of aims and objectives in relation to international recruitment will be key. To assist with this, Schools have nominated academic leads on the international agenda and Schools are actively participating in a number of regional working groups.

    The Curriculum Reimagined programme will enable us to continue to offer an attractive curriculum. Our new Student Information System will also support enhancement of the student experience from point of application to induction. Working to ensure the best possible transition from offer, to arrival and the start of term is also essential to make sure our international student community feel welcomed and part of our community.

    Theme: Encouraging staff to engage with their institutional and administrative roles

    Response: We know that building skills around management and leadership is a priority and, as outlined in our People Strategy, we are reviewing our professional development offer to support this. In 2024, we aim to offer an Aspiring Managers programme to prepare those who are new to leadership or who may be considering taking a step into management. Our Emerging Leaders programme will also be available for more established leaders looking to progress further in their development. These programmes will sit alongside our current Management Essentials training which gives key information, guidance and development to help all managers at Sussex be as effective as possible.

    Theme: The move to faculty structure

    Response: See the April 2023 VC Reflections for the latest update.

    Theme: Has 1PS been a success – given legacy problems?

    Response: Without further information or specifics, it is difficult to identify the cause of the problems highlighted. We remind colleagues to flag to their line manager if issues are being experienced, and they will escalate to the relevant teams for further investigation.

    Theme: Will online selection of options and reselection impact our NSS score?

    Response: The NSS 2023 will not be impacted by the recent issue relating to online module choices as final year students did not need to select modules for future study. However, students not in their final year were impacted. The issue was dealt with quickly and effectively and all possible mitigations put in place, including communications out to students to apologise for any inconvenience caused. For the NSS 2024, students are invited to look back across the entirety of their studies at Sussex. We anticipate that the swift action taken to remedy the issue and apology made to students, including by the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Education and Students), will assist in enabling students to consider their whole experience whist at Sussex and answer the NSS 2024 questions within that context.

  • Organisational Development and Human Resources

    Theme: How can we improve our recruitment practices and help people advance internally and be promoted (rather than applying for new jobs), and when will the ban on regrades end?

    Response: Our vision for our recruitment process is that it is based on a high performance inclusive culture where talent is promoted through transparent and clear recruitment processes (sometimes these are internal only so our colleagues are considered first) and where objective criteria ensures we promote on skills, knowledge and behaviours. This process of recruiting is the most common across the vast majority of workplaces.

    Work is also underway in the background to improve our recruitment processes, including the procurement of an e-recruitment system and it is anticipated that this will make applying for roles much easier than is currently the case.

    Theme: Are we top heavy – why so many new Grade 8 positions with a lack of promotion at lower grades?

    Response: It’s difficult to answer this question without any context surrounding it. However, our approach is to ensure that the roles and requirements are graded and reflect the work being undertaken. This will vary from department to department and over time as new strategic approaches are developed.

    Theme: How do we agree training and formal procedures and fair time allocation for personal development?

    Response: Learning and developments needs must be a discussion that takes place as part of annual Achievement & Development Reviews (ADRs) so that each individual can ensure they: have the opportunity to improve their effectiveness in their role, progress in their career and keep up to date professionally. The selection of development opportunities and the time to do this will vary greatly from person to person and this should be discussed with the relevant line manager in ADR and 1:1s. Where staff are in very specific subject specialist roles, there may be training organised through their school or division.

    Where individuals have identified how they want to develop, they can research the OD website for further help (e.g. view upcoming training, Linked In Learning, apprenticeship options etc.). They can also talk to a member of the team for some advice by emailing the inbox.

    Theme: Why is our staff turnover so high and how can we improve it?

    Response: Turnover across the sector is challenging but a certain level of turnover is healthy for any organisation and can indicate that people are being developed and gaining experience that allows then to find new roles in sector whether that is a sideways move or a promotion.

    Potentially staff survey outcomes at a local level could give some indications for some of the reasons. Retention can be about team culture etc so reviewing this at a local level with leaders and wider teams is also important to understand the issues and work to retain talent.

    Within the HR Division we have a project planned for 2023 to review how Exit Interviews are managed and undertaken so we can better use this information in future to inform our understanding of why people leave.

  • PS Places

    Theme: request for a clear explanation of PS Places and the timeline for it.

    Response:  A shared purpose and the divisional outputs will support our communication over the coming months.  As we go through our discovery and impact gathering timescales will become clearer. Our current focus is on completing our discovery phases and ensuring these are ready for June when the business case will be reviewed. 

    A project website will be up and running shortly which will help signpost you to key information and updates as we progress. We will also have change co-ordinators for each division to support with any questions you may have.

    As we have been gathering information from teams we have already identified that there may be smaller things we can do to help create better working environments – improvements in the way we use storage as one example (recycling and sustainability, part of our readiness actions, also improves any current space issues).

    Theme:  How do you balance people who want to work on campus every day, particularly for wellbeing reasons, with those who would rather work from home due to cost of living and transport costs?

    Response: The survey, profiling work and deep dive have enabled us to get a view of how people work now and the spaces they need in the future. We will be working closely with HR and our Wellbeing team to look at how we can support colleagues when they work both at home and on campus. We will need to wait for all deep dives to be complete and HR impact assessments on the outcomes before reviewing our approach to flexible working.

    Theme: How will you ensure space is appropriate (e.g. enough space for confidential meetings with students).

    Response: The survey, profiling work and deep dive have enabled us to get a view of how people work now and the spaces they need in the future. Where teams have told us they need more meeting space, for staff and students, we have incorporated this into the feedback to the design teams. This, and ongoing engagement with teams, will allow us to design spaces that are right sized for now but also allow for any growth plans.

    Theme: Will parking and travel be considered as part of PS Places?

    Response: No, parking and travel is not part of the remit of the PS Places programme.

    However, the University regularly reviews campus parking and travel. For example, recent surveys were conducted to look at traffic and pedestrian movements, and we are awaiting the report. Further surveys and some workshop/staff and student surveys will take place in the Autumn term.

    We will be reviewing all aspects of our parking and travel existing policies once we have all the new data and responses from staff survey/workshops etc.

    The University is committed to ambitious plans to improve sustainable travel to and from campus as set out in our active and sustainable commuting policy.

    This work including the setting of annual commuting targets will be aligned with our wider campus and estates projects to ensure we are improving travel and parking outcomes in line with our values and commitment to being one of the most sustainable universities in the world.

    Theme: How will other spaces on campus outside of PS spaces be considered?

    Response: All space on campus is under regular review and there will other programmes that look specifically at student and academic staff spaces.