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Video Message from the Vice-Chancellor: January 2023 Update

Queen's President and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Ian Greer, provides an update for staff on recent developments in the University.


President and Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Greer:

Now that January is over, and we're well into the new calendar year, I thought it would be useful to provide you with an update on developments in the University over the last month or so.

Firstly, I'd like to congratulate all of our staff members who have been recognised in the New Year Honours List: Dr Anne Campbell, Professor Frank Casey, Dr Godfrey Gaston, Michelle Mullan, Professor Emeritus Paula Reimer, and Dr John Stannard. Their recognition is a real tribute to the outstanding contribution that each individual has made to our society.

I'd also like to extend my congratulations to all of the teams and individuals who were nominated and shortlisted for this year’s Staff Excellence Awards. These awards celebrate and reward the outstanding work taking place here at Queen’s. I look forward to seeing you all at the awards ceremony on Friday 17 February.

Our new management team is taking shape:

We have appointed several of our staff to act up in the new positions, so as to establish the new structures within their areas, in advance of substantive appointments, the process for which is already underway. Indeed, we will soon be interviewing candidates for the substantive appointment of our new Chief People Officer, and I'll keep you posted on leadership appointments as they occur.

The new University Management Board met twice last month. We're making significant progress on Strategy 2030 implementation as well as in the Belfast Region City Deal. Indeed, we recently signed the first City Deal Contract for the Advanced Manufacturing Innovation Centre (or AMIC). This will provide a step change in manufacturing innovation for Belfast.

Last week, those of you eligible should have received the additional cost-of-living payment that we committed to our staff.

This is part a multi-million-pound support package for students and staff in the context of the current cost-of-living crisis. This payment is in addition to the £1,000 Covid 'thank you' payment that we made last summer to all staff, except Senior Managers, in recognition of the fantastic commitment of our staff during the pandemic. The new Flexible Loans offer will be available by the end of February, and more information will be available in the coming weeks.

Our students also received their payments last week, in addition to the ongoing free breakfasts and other measures of support that we've made available.

We remain committed to helping our people during this challenging time and I encourage you to continue to visit the cost of living webpages for further information.

As you're aware the Universities and Colleges Union (UCU) and Unite the Union are taking part in 18 days of industrial action throughout February and March. We appreciate that the decision to engage in industrial action is not taken lightly, and that staff do not wish to disrupt the education of our students, as they are our first priority.

However, this is primarily a national dispute that the University cannot resolve unilaterally. Queen’s will continue to use its influence to shape and inform the national debate. We remain committed to working in partnership with all trade unions at local level. I'm advocating at national level to progress negotiations to reach a fair and affordable agreement for the sector. Meantime, we will do everything possible to minimise the impact on our students and other stakeholders. At local level we continue to make progress on the University commitment to resolve those issues that we can address locally, such as casual contracts, and workload.

January saw the first senior political visitor to the University of 2023 with the Leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, visiting Queen’s. He used the opportunity and the platform to reflect on Northern Ireland as a place very close to his heart and to look ahead to the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.

We're delighted that Queen’s will host the anchor event to mark the 25th anniversary of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, and once again we will bring together the remaining key architects involved in reaching the Agreement, along with significant players from around the world. We look forward to Queen’s University appearing again on the global stage, as a world-leading institution capable of delivering an ambitious and prestigious conference.

In finishing, I want to record my thanks to you all for your continued hard work through January as we look forward to a productive, rewarding and successful year ahead.