COVID-19 Update to colleagues - 24 April 2020
We hope that you are keeping well and safe in the continued lockdown. We thank you for your messages of support and ideas for the future. As we look towards the future, we would like to keep you informed about our institutional health and plans.
Many of you will have seen reports on the financial challenges facing universities across the country. We want to reassure you that while the future remains uncertain, we have been working hard with Heads of Department, Deans, President’s Board and Council to protect the College’s financial position, support our community and plan for the future.
We are joining our peers to advocate for sustainable research support and we are proactively working to ensure that our educational offer is at the standard of excellence we and our students expect. We recognise the need to communicate more effectively with our current and future students. In support of this, we are expanding student engagement and recruitment efforts across College. We encourage you to check with your department on ways that you can be involved in engaging students.
We are also looking at ways to reduce costs. As we said last week, we have suspended starting new capital projects, we will implement a pause in recruitment, and all departments are looking at ways to reduce non-salary costs; we are sharing ideas among our Heads of Department. The voluntary senior pay cuts announced last week will be used to increase hardship funds for students and staff.
In order to protect and support our staff as much as possible, we are participating on a limited basis in the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. While putting someone on furlough is not ideal, it helps prevent job loss. Staff paid through government grants are not eligible for this scheme. We are continuing to work with funders and government to seek cost extensions to grants where research has been disrupted.
You will have seen some universities making projections about their student numbers and potential job losses. We will wait until we have a better view of student numbers and research funding before deciding whether more substantive action is needed. To that end, we have agreed with the unions to postpone the local pay negotiations until later in the year, and we have similarly postponed all discretionary awards beyond equal pay situations. We are proceeding with our work, underway prior to the crisis, to reduce costs and improve service.
None of these decisions are easy but by working together we believe that we can emerge from this current crisis well positioned for the future. We will share our scenario work with you at the end of next week.
Alice and Ian
Professor Alice P. Gast, President
Professor Ian Walmsley, Provost