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Message to Academic Staff: Workload prioritisation

WATCH: A video message to Academic Staff on workload prioritisation

A video message from Professor David Jones, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, and Professor Emma Flynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research.

This message includes updates on:

  • Workload re-prioritisation in the short term
  • Progression and promotion
  • Workload balance



As Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education and Students, and speaking on behalf of my colleague Professor Emma Flynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, we want to send a joint message about our priorities moving forward.

But first, we want to thank you all for the commitment, agility and patience that you have shown over the last few weeks.

It has become a cliché to say that we live in unprecedented times, but it is true to say that we have all had to adapt to new ways of working that we didn’t expect, juggling unknown events, caring responsibilities and for some, illness. We thank you for this.

As we move forward to a new phase of our response to the pandemic, we need to adapt our priorities in the short term.

We want to offer our students a high-quality education within an interactive university environment, but we need to do this safely and effectively.

Our blended model offers both, and we aim to provide a world-leading educational experience. To do this, we need to spend time over the coming months preparing these materials. It is essential that we give you the time and support to do this.

Therefore, these teaching needs must take priority over some of our research activities. We need to work as a collective to meet all our academic commitments, thus we must think strategically about how we prioritise our time.

Focusing on teaching will mean that certain research activities will need to wait. For example, if you have a set of strong outputs from REF, it may be that you do not need to write outputs at this time. Similarly, other research-related activities, including reviewing papers and grants, should not be given priority.

However, if you currently have an active grant, you'll need to work with the researchers on that grant to produce high-quality research. If you have been preparing a large, network bid, then that may need to be prioritised at this time; however, smaller, less time-critical applications should be delayed.

While we value all research, we do not want any of our staff to be overburdened by feeling that they need to do everything.

Now is the time to work as a team and work out where our efforts are best spent.

We appreciate that this message may cause questions about how long this reprioritisation may last.

We hope that it is only in the short term and that our priorities will be more broadly balanced in the new year.

We are also aware that people may be concerned about progression and promotion, and how this will be impacted by these new priorities.

The People and Culture Directorate are working on a process that will take into account our request to reprioritise and focus outside our usual activity.

We additionally want to make clear that we want the balance of workload to be fair across the Schools, so that no group is disadvantaged in favour of any other.

We should see all successes as collective successes at this time, with the recognition that future academic progression decisions will take into account the work set for this year and will allow managers to recognise the impact of these months on those with caring responsibilities, as well as achievements in adversity.

Therefore, we ask that Schools work as a team to establish what the most strategic approach is to meet our collective goals at this time.

We ask each member of staff to be flexible in their activities, and to accept that, in the short term, we may need to work towards collective, rather than personal goals.

Once again, we thank you for this commitment, and for being members of such a responsible community. 

A further update in relation to return to campus will be circulated to all staff later this week.