eNews 15 December

COVID-19 updates, University's Climate Plan, VC's blog, governance, festive season, Curriculum Redefined, carer's leave and more

The Parkinson Building in the snow.

From all of us in the Internal Communications team, happy Christmas and best wishes for the winter break. 


COVID-19 | Critical updates over the winter break 

In the event of any further Government restrictions or changes that affect teaching, research or University operations from Tuesday 4 January, we will communicate with you via email on or before Monday 3 January (the last day of the University closure period). If you’re planning to work on campus on Tuesday 4 January, please check your University email before you travel. 

New national restrictions and impact on the University 

Roger Gair, University Secretary, emailed all colleagues on Friday 10 December following the Government announcement that England will be moving to Plan B measures to tackle COVID-19. The Department for Education is clear on the importance of not disrupting education and states that teaching and learning (and related activities) should not be moved online during this period. Read the full email to understand what the Plan B measures mean for the University

Thought pieces 

University’s Climate Plan 

Find out how we’re making the single biggest investment in our history to achieve a low-carbon future. Our Climate Plan – a collaborative effort across the University community – will see £174 million invested during the next decade, more than £150 million of which will be put towards achieving the goal of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. 

Vice-Chancellor’s blog | What are our students to us? 

“Our students are not our children, and they are certainly not our customers. Defining our relationship with them will help us think about the purpose and nature of university education and create a better outcome for all.” Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, shares a new blog, in which she considers the status of students in higher education. 


Your chance to join the University’s Council 

A notice is being circulated this week to members of all faculties, inviting applications from individuals to sit on the University’s Council, the institution’s governing body. Details about the role of the Council and how to apply for the three positions available will be included in the notice. The deadline for applications is Tuesday 11 January. There will also be an opportunity for support staff to apply to a vacancy in the new year. 

Festive season 

Christmas closure  

A reminder that three days’ leave has been added to the University’s Christmas closure again this year (pro-rata for part-time colleagues), in recognition of another challenging 12 months. The University will be closed from Monday 20 December until Monday 3 January inclusive. This includes a fourth additional closed day granted due to the extra bank holiday for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee.   

Pay dates 

Due to the Christmas closure period, pay day will be Friday 17 December. This means there will be more than six weeks before the next pay day on Monday 31 January. 

Getting IT help 

For those required to work during the Christmas closure, you can still access IT systems during the festive period. There will also be a limited service to monitor critical IT systems and resolve issues, where possible. 

Winter break | Reducing energy use 

Turning off electrical items during the festive closure period could help the University reduce our environmental impact more than you might expect. You can play your part if you’re currently working on campus by turning off lights and unplugging non-essential appliances, as well as closing windows, when you leave for the holidays. 

The Edge | Festive season opening hours 

Festive season opening hours for The Edge are available to view on the Sport and Physical Activity website. Due to the extended University closure period this year, reduced hours will be in operation from Monday 20 December to Monday 3 January inclusive.

Curriculum Redefined 

New roles | Help shape student education 

We’re looking for transformative educators to join our academic community, with a focus on teaching and scholarship, as part of our ambitious and exciting educational change programme, Curriculum Redefined. This is a once-in-a-career opportunity to shape the education at Leeds for generations to come. Find out more about the roles and how to apply. 


Register | Research Transformed events  

Book your place on one of our online events to hear from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk; Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Research and Innovation, Professor Nick Plant, and colleagues from across the research community as they share further information about the Research Transformed project at Leeds. Sessions are available on Wednesday 12 or Tuesday 18 January. You can also watch a recording of the event that took place on Monday 13 December. 

Take part | Be Curious 2022 

Researchers from all disciplines are invited to make contributions to Be Curious 2022, our annual open event showcasing the University’s world-changing research to the wider public. Submissions are invited for in-person activities to be hosted on campus on Saturday 7 May, together with supporting digital content that encourages families to explore research through hands-on making, doing and creating. Read the guidelines for taking part and complete the online form by 5pm on Wednesday 26 January to register your interest. You can also register for 15-minute slots at upcoming Be Curious surgeries on Wednesday 12 and Thursday 20 January, where you can discuss your ideas before making a submission. 

Sign up | Research Culture Cafés 

Book your place on upcoming Research Culture Cafés. The next event, taking place tomorrow (Thursday 16 December), focuses on career development and responsible assessment. Dates and themes for sessions running until August 2022 are also now available. The online café-style conversations aim to promote a positive and inclusive research culture, and will help colleagues propose solutions for change, share experiences and create a community network. 


Student newsletter 

Read the latest student newsletter, which explains what the Government’s move to Plan B measures to tackle COVID-19 means for students, together with the type of activities that can still be enjoyed on campus during the winter break. 

Winter break | Information and support 

See the updated For Student website to access holiday opening hours and support information, together with out-of-term activities to join, to help our students feel supported during the winter break. You can help promote these resources to students through your channels by using our communications ‘toolkit’, which includes messages and images, together with a guide to inclusive language around Christmas and the winter break. 

Celebrations | Winter Festival  

Students can still get involved in the packed programme of fantastic festive fun in our Winter Festival, which runs until Friday 17 December. As well as festive meals on campus, students have the chance to take part in cookery demonstrations or grab a hot chocolate while they enjoy a holiday movie in the Refectory. 

Take part | Fresh Start Festival 

Find out how you can get involved in the Fresh Start Festival – a week of activities run in association with LUU to re-engage existing students with everything on offer at Leeds and to welcome new starters joining us in January. Running from Monday 24 to Sunday 30 January, the festival includes opportunities for colleagues to host events, activities, networking sessions and stalls designed to help students connect with the University and each other. 


Class Central 2021 list 

Leeds has featured heavily in this year’s Class Central ‘Best Online Courses of All Time’ for 2021 list. Eight courses made the list, double the number that appeared in 2020, with seven receiving a 5* rating. 

Key regional leadership role for University’s Chief Financial Officer 

Jane Madeley, Chief Financial Officer, has been named as the next Chair of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Yorkshire and Humber Council. Jane, who joined the University in 2009, is particularly keen to combine the priorities of her ‘day’ job with the new CBI role, encouraging collaboration between business and the University, and enjoying the mutual benefits of working together to ensure that the skills and expertise provided by the higher education sector are used to help unlock and maximise the innovation potential of the region.   

Learning and development 

Health and safety training 

Look out for emails reminding you to complete the online health and safety training, if you haven’t done so recently. Training courses, operated by Britsafe, have been upgraded for a more modern look and feel. Each module – Display Screen Equipment (DSE), Fire Safety and Manual Handling – takes about 20 minutes to complete. For the DSE training, you can focus on the workstation you use the most, whether this is on campus or at home. 

Sign Up | Find out more about the Plus Programme  

Academic personal tutors can find out more about the Plus Programme during a seminar running from 4-5pm on Wednesday 12 January. The programme is one of our keystone initiatives for helping ensure those from widening participation backgrounds have the greatest chance of success, at Leeds and beyond. The session, hosted by OD&PL and Educational Engagement, will explore the programme and how academic personal tutors can work more closely with those running it to ensure students are able to understand and access the support on offer.   

Sign up | Podcasting for Teaching workshop  

Register for the Podcasting for Teaching workshop on Thursday 13 January to discover how you can use podcasts in your teaching practice. The interactive workshop, led by Antonio Martinez-Arboleda, Principal Teaching Fellow in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, explores practical examples and benefits of academic podcasts as a tool for community engagement and knowledge transfer. 

Register | Management Essentials Programme 

New and existing managers can now book on to the next block of OD&PL’s Management Essentials programme. Sessions cover a variety of topics designed to equip you with the tools needed to effectively manage your team, as well as understand the processes and responsibilities you have at the University. The programme runs in blocks throughout the academic year, with the next one scheduled for Monday 17 January to Wednesday 16 February. 

Sign Up | Discovering Your Leadership  

Book your place on the next Discovering Your Leadership programme, which takes place between Wednesday 12 January and Wednesday 9 March. The programme will be particularly beneficial for colleagues who are aspiring leaders, or leaders who are new-to-role, and will cover topics like difficult conversations, building collaboration, influencing communication and transformational change. Bookings for the March and May programme start dates are also now available. 

Assessment | Digital Education Systems Help website 

In the approach to the assessment period, the Digital Education Systems Help website is available to provide advice on the use of a range of digital tools. Access general guidance, as well as information on specific systems, such as TurnitinGradescope and Top Hat

Staff benefits 

Reminder | Carer’s leave from 1 January 2022 

In response to the pandemic and to support colleagues who are balancing caring responsibilities, we increased the standard entitlement of paid carer’s leave from five to 10 days between March 2020 and 31 December 2021. In October, we advised that our standard policy and associated leave entitlement will resume from 1 January 2022. At this point, any previously taken carer’s leave will not be considered when determining an individual’s entitlement – i.e. the rolling 12-month period will re-start for all employees from 1 January 2022.

Festive fitness offer 

Get seven days’ premium access to The Edge for just £15 – a saving of up to £90. Make the most of all the facilities, including the eight-lane swimming pool, 250-station gym, spin studio, climbing wall and more for any seven-day period during the run up-to Christmas. Available until Christmas Eve (Friday 24 December), this special offer can be purchased at The Edge reception. 

Flexible gym membership 

The Edge is offering flexible gym memberships – exclusively for staff – with 12 visits costing just £37.50. This half-price saving works out at just over £3 per visit. The special offer is available to purchase at The Edge reception until Friday 17 December. 

Savings | Cycle to Work Scheme 

For anyone thinking ahead to their New Year resolutions, our bespoke Cycle to Work Scheme offers a fantastic benefit to your physical and financial wellbeing, while also helping promote sustainable travel. Choose a bike from more than 2,000 retailers, hire it for 12 months from Cyclescheme – via a salary sacrifice arrangement – and save 25-39% on a new bike for work. There are some great festive season cycling deals to be had, so don’t delay, saddle up today! 

Enter | Bike competition 

Cyclescheme, which administers our Cycle to Work Scheme, has teamed up with Canyon to give away a Roadlite 5 bike, worth £899. All colleagues, whether they’re scheme members or not, can enter the competition before midnight on Friday 31 December. Good luck! 


Sign up | Student Education Conference 2022 

You can now sign up for the online Student Education Conference (SEC) 2022 taking place on Thursday 6 and Friday 7 January. With the theme of ‘Belonging and Community’, the event will open with a welcome from Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk, and includes a keynote presentation from Professor Eric Mazur, Balkanski Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University. View the full SEC 2022 programme or contact the Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence (LITE) for further information. 

Register | Welcome events for new staff  

Book your place on one of the virtual welcome events for new staff taking place on Thursday 13 January and Tuesday 1 March. Find out more about Leeds, meet new colleagues and explore the range of benefits, support and advice available. 

Take part | 12 Days of Continuous Improvement 

Join the Continuous Improvement Network tomorrow (Thursday 16 December) for a celebration of all the staff submissions to its ‘12 Days of Improvement’ event. Colleagues have been submitting stories about the past year’s successes or failures in Continuous Improvement. Everything from the event, including presentations and case studies, will be accessible to members to revisit whenever they want. 

Take part | Perspectives on Public Art: Being Human 2021 

Join expert guides as they take you on an online trip around the University Public Art trail. See the stunning sculptures on campus in a new light in this free audio adventure, available until Friday 31 December. Discover the hidden lives of these artworks, hear what audiences think about them and explore how people interact with them. 

Light up for the NSPCC 

The Parkinson Building, multi-storey car park and Laidlaw Library will all be lit up green on Tuesday 21 December to support the NSPCC’s Walk for Children campaign. 

Festive fun 

Festive fare 

There’s still time to sample the fantastic festive fare on offer at The Refectory. Available until Friday 17 December, there’s Noel doubt about it… yule love it! 

End-of-year quiz 

We’re rounding off the year by testing how much University trivia you ‘snow’ with our end-of-the-year quiz! If you enjoy it, please tweet us @UniLeedsStaff with your score and let us know if you passed with first-class honours or if you need to go back to school! 


eNews deadlines 

Due to the Christmas closure, eNews will take a break until Wednesday 12 January. The copy deadline remains the same, with submissions required by the preceding Friday (7 January). 

In case you missed it 

Plans for student education in semester two 

Updated face coverings FAQs 

Inside Track | Banner: the basics 

Industrial action FAQs 

Launch | Joint policing research centre 

Honour | Blue plaque unveiled 

Access | Equality and Inclusion Calendar 2022 

Join | SES Analyst Network 

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