Tuesday 23 March 2021

All staff email

Research, Covid Keeps and return to campus survey

Dear colleagues,

I know many of you are asking about how we might work in the future, so today we launch two ways to capture ideas and opinions: our new Covid Keeps community forum, and our return to campus survey.

Lighting up campus: one year

More on that below, but firstly, as part of a national day of reflection to mark a year since the UK's first Covid lockdown and to give remembrance to those who have died in the pandemic, there will be a national minute's silence at 12:00 GMT today. I hope you will be able to join in.

Organisations across York are also joining the national initiative to light up prominent buildings and landmarks this evening, so we will be illuminating Heslington Hall to recognise the impact the pandemic has had on our local community.

Research funding

We are hearing more about the difficult challenges emerging about research funding.

The Government’s decision to reduce overseas aid spending has led to a recent announcement by UK Research and Innovation about the significant repercussions this has for two major international research funding schemes, the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) and the Newton Fund.

With unprecedented in-year cuts being imposed, we are working through our affected projects and will be doing what we can to limit the impact.

We also continue to have concerns about Horizon, our European funding programme, given the Government has still not outlined how it intends to fund the UK’s participation. We are lobbying hard to argue this should not be drawn from current UK research budgets and more generally to persuade the Government to back its rhetoric on the UK as a ‘science superpower’.

It is especially clear, given the contribution of science to meeting the challenges the pandemic has posed here and internationally, that this is a moment to increase, not reduce, research funding.

Covid Keeps: capturing positive changes

Moving to a more positive note, the pandemic has ushered in different ways of working, some of which we may wish to retain as we move out of the crisis.

This extends beyond our return to campus and how we use our space - we also want to explore flexible ways of working, how to build a stronger digital culture, and how we can build on our experiences in the last year to bring different ways of supporting our research, teaching and the student experience.

We have created a #covid-keeps channel on Slack, as a dedicated Covid Keeps community forum. If you’re not on Slack, there’s an alternative way to submit your ideas - do check this out on the link below.

This is an opportunity for you to post ideas and suggestions on what has worked well for you over the last year, what you have learnt and what you want to keep as part of our everyday working culture.

This is one of the first times we’ve created a University-wide forum for a conversation like this - it’s run by you, our community, so we can all learn by listening to different perspectives on the same topic. Find out more about our Covid Keeps community forum.

Take our survey: return to campus

As well as participating in the conversation about our Covid Keeps, you can provide feedback on how you would like to work in the future by completing this short survey designed by HR to provide us with insight into your working preferences.

The Government’s message continues for now to be to ‘work from home if you can’. However, the Government’s roadmap does provide some indication on when we might see life returning to normal, so we do need to think about working arrangements for the future. The survey results will be used to help us develop our policies in the coming months.

It should take you no more than five minutes to complete and the deadline for completion is 5pm on Wednesday 31 March.

All responses are confidential and we appreciate your open and honest feedback. If you have any questions related to the return to campus survey, please email staff-survey@york.ac.uk.

Otherwise, I do hope you find the opportunity for a break this Easter.

Best wishes