End of Year Message from the Vice-Chancellor
A video message from President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer as we approach the holiday period.
President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer:
As we approach the end of the calendar year, I wanted to express my gratitude to all of you for your hard work and continued commitment to the University.
We have had a challenging year as we emerged from the constraints of the COVID-19 pandemic, but a year that’s brought much success.
Our performance placed us back in THE top 200 global rankings, and we have achieved our best-ever REF performance.
Further, the recent report from London Economics highlighted that the University delivers £3.2 billion a year of economic impact – a substantial increase from the last report in 2017 – and with a benefit to cost ratio of 8.2:1, which is considerably higher than many of our peers.
These results reflect your commitment and expertise and set the scene for continued success in 2023.
We recognise and appreciate the concerns of staff, such as on salary erosion, pensions, workload, and short-term contracts.
To resolve these issues, I believe we must work in partnership, so I am committed to working with our local trade unions to address directly the problems within our control locally.
For example, we have adopted the Real Living Wage as the minimum pay point for employees of the University effective from August 2022.
We have started our strategic plan to recruit 100 academic staff, and we are addressing the issues of short-term contracts and workload.
You have consistently told me that your administrative load is too high – both for academic and professional services staff – so we need to review our processes as a priority.
This includes opportunities for digital transformation. This can improve your role, reduce the administrative burden and let you focus on key issues for education and research.
At the national level, I continue to advocate for positive dialogue that will allow us to reach a consensus on the issues of pay and pensions.
I believe that we must highlight the value of our sector to society and to the economy to counter salary erosion and demonstrate the scale of our impact, exemplified for us in the report from London Economics.
A major challenge has been the cost of living crisis driven by high inflation.
I hope that there will be agreement to proceed with negotiations and bring forward progress on the new pay round, which I believe is an important opportunity to quickly address the concerns, both on pay and the cost of living, which affect the entire university sector.At a local level, recognising the impact on staff and students, we moved quickly to provide one-off payments to staff and students; interest free staff loans; increased funds for student support; and provision of free breakfasts for students.
These interventions were an excellent example of what can be achieved by trade unions, staff and students working together through our institutional cost of living response.
In January, the staff and students who qualify will receive their cost of living payment, in addition to the £1,000 thank-you payment that staff received in the summer recognising their commitment during the pandemic.
After the challenges of the past year, I also want to highlight the importance of everyone taking time to enjoy a much needed and much deserved break over the Christmas period and spending quality time with your families and friends.
I am also mindful that we will have some staff working over Christmas; I am very grateful to all of them for their commitment to supporting our students and keeping the campus operational during the holidays – so a big thank you for all your efforts, which are very much appreciated.
Next year will be another year of significant activity as the University marks the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and continues with the implementation of Strategy 2030.
I’m excited about the opportunities that 2023 will present, and I’m looking forward to working with you to deliver another excellent year for Queen’s.
Finally, I’d like to wish you and your families a Happy Christmas and every good wish for 2023.