Last week, the College launched the formal consultation on the proposed restructure of Academic Administration. This moves us towards having in place the approach necessary to support students and staff within the new Schools structure. In moving to a Schools structure our ambition is to enhance the student experience, create more opportunities to develop research (and particularly interdisciplinary research) and make us a stronger university that is more flexible and responsive to change and new ideas.
Over the last few years at my Open Meetings I’ve talked about changes taking place across higher education including the new Office for Students, the Teaching Excellence Framework, the Knowledge Exchange Framework and future changes to financial support for students. These are in addition to the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework, which itself has changed from the last round. Our approach to these changes has seen incremental responses that try to work within existing structures and processes. However, there comes a time when we are better served by making a bigger step change, introducing different structures and processes; this is what the new Schools structure is seeking to deliver.
Large-scale change can carry bigger risk and colleagues leading the change programme are working hard to monitor and mitigate these risks. Through formal and informal consultation, reference groups and regular meetings with colleagues, like the Heads of School-designate, there are opportunities for colleagues to help inform the debate so that we make good decisions. This debate will need to continue once new structures and processes are in place, to iron out things that do not quite work as planned and to continue to respond to the changing landscape.
I recognise that change can create uncertainty and cause distress, and we are committed to minimising this through clear and concise information about the processes being followed. For example, there are formal group consultation meetings with all the administrative staff affected by the planned changes to Academic Administration. These meetings were held last Thursday and Friday and yesterday (17, 18 and 21 January). Everyone received information about the proposed restructure and what the consultation process will involve, and this information is available on the intranet. All colleagues affected will be invited to an individual consultation meeting to discuss what the restructure will mean for them personally, and the consultation will continue through to 20 March. Throughout the period of the consultation I hope that we will all be sensitive to colleagues who are directly affected and offer what support we can.
Professor Paul Layzell