Academic Workload Engagement Exercise Report

Academic Workload Engagement Exercise Report

Update on Academic Workload Engagement Exercise Report

Dear colleagues,

The Staff Survey 2023 highlighted that reported concerns about workload pressures continue to persist, despite previous efforts to address this issue.

Earlier this year, the Senior Management Team agreed that an Academic Workload Engagement Exercise would be taken forward with a view to identifying the key factors which underpin workload pressures. We would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the Focus Groups and/or submitted written comments to the dedicated mailbox during the consultation phase of the Exercise in May and June.

The findings and recommended next steps arising from the consultation process are outlined in the Academic Workload Engagement Exercise Report.

The report highlights that the key factors identified by participants as contributing to workload pressures facing Academic staff fall into four main themes:

  • Education – Delivery (including student pastoral & academic support needs, education policies & processes and assessment);
  • Education – Admissions & Recruitment (including student recruitment ambitions and January start dates);
  • Research (including time available for research, PGR student processes, administrative burdens, grant application environment, REF and short-term nature of research contracts); and
  • Systems & Processes (including a recognition of the pressures facing Professional Services/School office staff, digital/database systems, workload allocation, School/institutional culture and decision-making/committee processes; suggestions on specific systems/processes within some Directorates were also received).

A parallel process has been undertaken by the Professional Services Directors and the Lead School Administration Manager to engage with their teams to identify their pressure points and potential changes to processes or systems that might help to address those workload issues. The outcomes from the ongoing Prospective Student Journey Review, which will identify how we can adjust our processes to get a better experience for prospective student applicants and to improve the work experience for those involved in operating them, will also play an important role in determining the next steps.

Addressing the issues raised across both Exercises will require specialised input and review from the different cognate areas to ensure appropriate and sustainable solutions are put in place. Therefore, an initial prioritisation of the issues raised and suggestions received will be taken forward by the relevant ‘portfolio leads’ (Vice-Principals for Education, Research and Global Engagement and University Secretary & Chief Operating Officer), ahead of a broader consideration of findings led by the Senior Vice-Principal as Chair of the Workload Review Group. It is anticipated that this prioritisation exercise will be completed, and initial actions commenced as soon as possible, with a detailed action plan developed and operationalised by the end of 2023.

The Workload Review Group and Senior Management Team will continue to monitor the implementation of the actions arising from these Workload Engagement Exercises to ensure that positive change is embedded and sustained, and further updates on progress will be provided over the coming months.

Best wishes

Ruth Taylor
Vice-Principal (Education)

Marion Campbell
Vice-Principal (Research)

Tracey Slaven
University Secretary & Chief Operating Officer


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