Vice-Chancellor's Office

Updates and events both on and off campus

Topic: Let’s Talk Q&A

Any more questions ahead of Let's Talk?

📥  Let's Talk, Let's Talk Q&A

Many thanks to those who have submitted questions ahead of our tenth ‘Let’s Talk’ all staff meeting which is taking place a week today on Thursday 6 April at 11.15am.

There's still time to send in questions in advance if you can't make it on the day.

If you have questions about increasing numbers of Postgraduate Taught students, how we are engaging with our local community or on any other topic, please feel free to:

  • email lets-talk@bath.ac.uk
  • call Internal Communications on ext 6920
  • send through the internal post to Internal Communications
  • use a postcard in the downstairs foyer of the Claverton Rooms

Please let us have your questions by the 4pm deadline tomorrow, Friday 31 April.

If there isn't time to answer all questions on the day, we will email responses shortly after the meeting.

The event will be live-streamed on the day and recorded so you can watch it afterwards if that's more convenient.

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Let's Talk Q&A: University Strategy 2016-19

  

📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - In terms of the growth of the postgraduate student number, what sort of funding arrangements are going to be in place in order to grow the number significantly as you want to? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: One change that is going to be happening soon is that the UK Government is going to introduce loans for postgraduate taught provision. The scale of the loans available will make a significant impact on what is available to people and how we can use these as a part of the expansion.

I do not propose that we grow suddenly. What we want is a considered growth alongside the funding options as they become available, some of which will be related to our international profile of University activity.

Professor Jonathan Knight: Through many of our postgraduate programmes we will be looking for a mix of UK, EU and international students, and that is beneficial in financial terms. This combination makes the University an attractive option for investment and is also something that local and international students are looking for in their place of study.

In postgraduate research there are no single easy answers. In my career it has usually been the case that you have the money but you don’t have the student, or you have the student but you don’t have the money.

We need to put a framework in place to get high quality PGR students and any framework that we put in place to attract students, I think will also attract investment. Our approach does need to be focussed, we need to look at what areas we can create packages in that will attract both investment and students.


November 2015

Q - Where are you going to house the proposed extra postgraduate students? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Steve Egan: There are still development opportunities on campus that are being explored. We are looking into developing accommodation on and off-campus which not only provides the numbers, but the quality that this type of student would expect. Looking at other institutions that have a high number of postgraduate students, it is clear that they have a different set of needs to undergraduates. It is not just about producing more of the same, it is about producing something different that would be part of the package that would attract them to the University of Bath.


November 2015

Q - What are you going to do to encourage more women into postgraduate science study? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Currently we are subscribed to the Aurora Project in terms of supporting women, we are encouraging all departments to take part in the Athena Swan Initiative, and other projects are going on simultaneously and are successful, but there are still things that we need to learn to do better. The will is there, it is a question of knowing how to make it happen, and it is something that we are working on.


November 2015

Q - What are you going to do to support people with mental health issues? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: A very significant set of questions need to be asked to identify the University’s role in this area, and how we work with other organisations across the NHS and social care services in a way which is effective. This needs to be addressed, not just by this institution, but all institutions over the next few years.


November 2015

Q - Will the growth in postgraduate recruitment come with a growth in Widening Participation activities in PGT and PGR recruitment? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The extent to which we can do that effectively depends upon the design of the model that the Government has for its new loans structure, for PGT in particular. From what has been released by the Government so far, I understand that there will be an attempt to use the loans structure to encourage those that would otherwise not be able to participate in postgraduate education to go on and continue their studies. We need to gear up to take advantage of the new loans structure.

Professor Bernie Morley: Up until now the Office for Fair Access has not allowed us to use our access funds for postgraduate education. We have negotiated an agreement with the Director of Office where we have been able to give several bursaries to postgraduate students with WP characteristics. This is not standard practice. In the past I have written letters to the Director of Office requesting to use our funds to support them moving on to postgraduate education at another institution, but we have been denied.

The system works on the same premise as our current work with schools: if the students go to another university that is a success for which we get no credit, as we only get credit for those who come here. It is unfortunate if that is the same for postgraduates, we are not allowed to support students who move on elsewhere, but only our students who stay here for postgraduate education. The system does not allow for that currently, but hopefully with the new loans scheme that will change.


November 2015

Q - You said there will not be expansion for PGR all across the board, but regulated in areas where it was strategic to invest; I wonder if you could tell us what the mechanism will be to make those decisions? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Jonathan Knight: Just to clarify – we will not restrict research student growth in any areas. My point was answering the question of where the funding would come from to address these areas, and I think it is realistic to say that we would struggle to find funding in every area.

It is inevitable that we will have to invest in certain areas to make it work. I think that there is a relatively wide variability in the quality of PGR student provision and what we believe is essential is to provide a uniformly high level of research student experience.

As to the mechanism, there is not currently a long term answer for that. In the long term we will have to respond to the opportunities that are out there in terms of students and funders. In the shorter term we need to look at where there is capacity, and where there is good practice that we can build in. Currently this conversation is taking place at a point in the development of ideas which is relatively early, so we do not have a fully formulated mechanism in place yet.

Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: Whatever that mechanism is, it will be developed with engagement with the academic community, we will need the best ideas coming forward from the entire community to help us make sure the University is going forward in the right direction.

 

Let's Talk Q&A: Growth and campus

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q -  In light of the recent housing shortage in Bath, why was Manvers Street made into a learning zone rather than accommodation? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: B&NES Council would not have agreed to the planning application for accommodation, so the choice was never on the cards. I really do think that it is terribly important that we have the learning space in the City for our students. We are making a significant investment in that building to make it something for the University to be proud of, something that our students would want to go to, and also which becomes a focal point for our presence within the City more generally.

It is a big building and there is an enormous amount we can do there, not just in the immediate future but over the next few years - this is a fantastic starting point for the things that we can do within our city.


November 2015

Q – Our GW4 partners at Bristol and Exeter both have a central doctoral college to support postgraduate students and early career researchers. Is this something that is being considered for Bath and if so, what impact would the introduction of this sort of central hub have on existing PG administrative structures? (Simon Gane, Graduate School Manager) (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Jonathan Knight: At the minute we are looking at how our graduate student population should be administered and how it should interact.

It might seem like a doctoral college is an attractive option, and it has potential, but for Bath it is not only about doctoral students but all of our graduate student population; how they can find a home within the institution and what ways we can provide the administrative structures to look after them. It is a topic of active discussion within the University and in the coming months we will be engaging with staff to get their views. In the existing structures at the University there is a lot of good practice and excellent people and we do not want to lose any of that, but there is a lot to be gained by assessing the current structures and trying to put in place a more comprehensive structure for administering graduate students.


November 2015

Q - Can we have an update on plans (as far decided) for Manvers Street?

Q - What is the benefit to students of frontline services moving to Manvers Street? 

Q - There was no staff consultation about relocating the Careers Service to Manvers Street, and the rationale for the relocation seems to be entirely about identifying some groups to be moved off campus for space reasons. Many staff in the University are surprised and puzzled by this plan, and to quote one typical reaction, believe that the Careers Service is “obviously an activity that needs to be located at the point of need, and that point is probably not Manvers Street”.
 It seems there is no room for negotiation about this relocation, so it would be pertinent to focus on other key questions, namely:

 a) Have students been consulted on the relocation? And has it been made clear to them that the Manvers Street provision will be instead of the campus premises, and not an additional service point?  Have the students been able to comment on their likely ability to access services which they currently use, often between lectures and at lunch times?
b) Based on your understanding of what the Career Service does, how will this move impact on the department’s service provision to its various audiences?

A - Since Council approved an investment of up to £4.5 million to create a lively, student-focussed hub of activities on the ground floor and basement of Manvers Street, we have been working with key stakeholders to develop the brief for the new facilities.

We have developed plans for individual student and group study space, an informal common room, as well as an IT suite and a coffee bar. These activities have a particular focus on student academic, professional and personal skills development. The majority of our Careers Service, along with the entirety of our Widening Participation Office, will be located alongside colleagues from the Students’ Union, Student Services and the Academic Skills Centre. Together they will provide key services to our students in an easily accessible city centre site, as well as creating a skills development focus within the building

We are currently working on plans for the opening hours and security of the building as well as working closely with the Careers Service, along with all other relevant stakeholders, to manage our student-facing service provision both at Manvers Street and on the Claverton Campus. (Nicky Kemp, Director of Policy & Planning)


November 2015

Q - How do you propose to tackle improving student numbers versus the limited infrastructure of Bath?  

A - The ongoing construction projects and new buildings around campus are evidence of the investment we have been making in the capacity and quality of our own physical infrastructure. Indeed, we have been spending around £1million per week for the last three years.

We also recognise that the City wants to develop its infrastructure and that there are competing requirements, particularly for residential accommodation. We have been liaising with B&NES on the Local Placemaking Plan that will provide the framework for the future development of the City's physical infrastructure.

We are also increasingly looking to create opportunities for facilities beyond Bath. These are likely to support growth in postgraduate numbers in the first instance. Our HIVE research facility at Wroughton is one example of a significant off-campus initiative. We are also leading the GW4 Alliance workstream looking at sharing research facilities regionally.  On an international stage, we are planning the delivery of some elements of our DBA in Higher Education Management in South Africa.

In summary, we will be looking for new and innovative ways of delivering growth in research and teaching and we will not constrain our ambition to activities within the City. (Nicky Kemp, Director of Policy & Planning)


November 2015

Q - What is the University’s policy on providing a sufficient number of toilets and washroom facilities, given the increase in student numbers and the conversion of some toilets to shower rooms in 4 East level 1, therefore reducing the total number of available toilets? Guy Brace

A - All new buildings and refurbishment works on campus comply with current Building Regulations that specify how many toilets should be available in a building. The University has also provided new buildings and infrastructure to deal with the increase of students on campus.

Your question relates to a particular floor where, as you say, some toilets were converted to showers in response to a request from the department and cycle users. The local Building Control Department has confirmed the provision in the building is sufficient. It is worth noting that the Regulations look at provision by building, rather than on a floor by floor basis.


November 2015

Q - When couriers or delivery drivers arrive at the University, they often have no idea how to find the building that they need to deliver to and they find it very difficult. It causes issues in the underpass and congestion in this area. Could there be an area where the delivery drivers could report to, which is more obvious on entry to the campus, who could then direct them to the appropriate building or even accompany them, like a security office on entry to the campus.

Also, has there been any progress on the DHL central collection point for the University. We have had a lot of issues with DHL in our Department including missed collections, problems with the accounts being frozen and bad customer service. This has been reported to Procurement. This resulted in us having to take a package to another area of the campus for Collection as the Courier driver could not find our building (see above) or alternatively having the option of using another courier company. (Technician in Mechanical Engineering)

A - Couriers contract to deliver and collect items directly to and from a specific account holder.

The campus covers 200 acres and has many buildings, so the sender or receiver needs to brief couriers carefully on locations - campus maps are available on our website. [link] The new Transport and Security Office being built near the bus terminal [link to news item] may be able to help with directions for couriers who are lost on campus, but it is still the responsibility of the account holder to give clear instructions.

Regarding DHL, the University Mailroom is now operating a central account. A number of departments have closed their own accounts and are successfully using the central account. The ultimate goal will be to have one account for most departments’ transactions but due to the volumes that some departments post, this may prove problematic, so it may be preferable for them to keep their own. No department accounts would be closed without consent or authorisation. For more information or to discuss whether your own department would benefit from using the central service, please contact Jason Carpenter, Mail Services Manager, ext 4971.


November 2015

Q - Please could you give an update on where we are with trans issues in particular unisex toilets. 

A -  Greg Dargue, Assistant Director (Operations and Maintenance) - We currently have unisex toilets in 1 West Level 1,2 & 3; 2 West Level 2; Library Level 2; 3WN Level 3; 4East Level 3; 8West Level 2; Wessex House level 4; and 3South Level 0. Estates are currently undertaking an audit across campus of signage including toilets, which will be complete by the end of the year.

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Let's Talk Q&A: Learning & teaching

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - Given the large number of international students can you provide more cultural awareness and cross-cultural communication training for staff? (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Colin Grant: Yes, currently we are working with Staff Development on this issue. We had a forum in July bringing together a wide range of staff and also the Students’ Union to discuss what it is to engage in an intercultural space. This is ongoing and a number of training events have taken place with more to be done in the future.

I particularly want to highlight the work of the Students’ Union in fostering a culture that values an intercultural community and their work with myself, other members of the SMT and central University services on this front.


November 2015

Q -  I am sure everyone is aware of the ongoing refugee crisis on the borders of Europe, and many universities across the UK and Europe have created funded scholarships for refugees. Over 1,000 members of staff and students have signed a letter (which is yet to be delivered) asking the University to fund at least ten scholarships and partner with the Council for At-Risk Academics (CARA) to support refugee academics. So I have two questions:

  • Do you appreciate the strength of feeling among the University community?
  • Will you do everything you can to make those ten funded refugee places a reality?

(Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A - Professor Dame Glynis Breakwell: The key is that we need to work out what to do, and how to do that effectively. There are things that we could do, but what we would like to do in this situation is do the best that we possibly can.

We need to be looking at what other universities are going, and learn from their best practice.

We are signed up to CARA and we have had at least one academic come to the University from CARA, but we have had other academics come as well, from outside CARA. We haven’t made a big noise about that because it is to do with integration and treating people with equality. But now we are facing an international crisis of such a scale that it is difficult to know what is going to be most effective for the sector as a whole. I am currently exploring a more strategic response from across the sector with other people.

Professor Colin Grant: I appreciate the depth of feeling here at the University. Impact is absolutely critical to anything we do. There has to be real impact, concrete tangible improvement in people’s lives arising from any University action. We have engaged quite strongly with CARA in the very recent past, we had a senior academic in Pharmacy & Pharmacology come to Bath with his family.

Beyond that I think the University is well placed with real academic expertise in Social & Policy Sciences and other departments, with specialists who look at migration, repatriation of refugees, microfinance and interfaith understanding. This puts us in a good position to have significant dialogues with people who do have the wherewithal to make a difference in a wider region. Discussions are ongoing.

Update: Senate has agreed to discuss a report at its next meeting.


November 2015

Q - When do you hope to roll out PREVENT training to staff?
(PREVENT is part of the government counter-terrorism strategy, designed to prevent people from supporting terrorism or becoming involved in terrorism themselves)

A - Mark Humphriss, University Secretary: The University is required to provide PREVENT training to relevant staff as soon as possible as a result of the PREVENT Duty coming into force in September 2015. Our approach to PREVENT was considered recently by Council. Training and awareness-raising will be provided to relevant groups, including many student-facing professional services staff. I am currently liaising with our regional PREVENT coordinator on plans, which will start in early 2016. (Mark Humphriss, University Secretary)

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Let's Talk Q&A: Staff experience

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - When can UoB staff expect to next have an opportunity to contribute to a staff satisfaction survey? (Tim Ratcliffe, Academic Skills Centre) (Summary of question and response at Let's Talk)

A -  The survey is due to start data collection March 2016 and finish in April.


November 2015

Q - Why doesn’t the Uni offer any job share roles?

A - The University does offer job share roles. In fact, in the last three months two jobshare partners have been recruited by the University into job-share roles. Under the University’s Flexible Working & Leave Policy all staff are able to make a flexible working request including a request for flexible working and job sharing. Nearly a quarter of University staff are employed part-time, including job sharers. There are a number of successful job shares in the University, for example in our Academic Registry. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)

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Let's Talk Q&A: Catering & food outlets

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q - The sign for the Claverton Rooms clearly states ‘Staff & PGR students only’. This is being ignored as there are many PGT and undergraduates using the space. Is there any way to enforce the rule?

A - Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services: It is difficult for Hospitality staff to identify if those using the area are PGT or UG. We recently collected the annual VAT stats in each outlet over a two- week period which requires the till used to identify if the customer is PGR/Staff or PGT/UG. This gave the opportunity for Hospitality staff to remind any PGT/UG of the usage policy of the Claverton Rooms. (Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services)


November 2015

Q - At the start of September the cost of coffee in the Claverton Rooms went up by 4%. Why is this rise so much more than my pay increase?

A - Hospitality costs have increased more than 4% as a result of increases in the costs of ingredients cost increases and staffing. Hospitality is not a centrally funded department and therefore needs to cover all costs.  (Jane Loveys, Director of Accommodation & Hospitality Services)


November 2015

Q - Is there anything that the University can do to discourage the sale of alcohol and its consumption on campus? Silvana Stanford, School of Management

A - Restrictions on the sale of alcohol on campus, such as from the Fresh outlets, would only be partially successful due to the ready availability of alcohol through supermarket delivery services to campus and from the large number of retail operations in the city. The Parade Bar is a food and drink outlet and although it sells alcohol it does not run any drinks promotions. All campus Retail staff and those Hospitality staff who work in the licensed areas undertake appropriate training to give them a sound knowledge of the law and responsibilities associated with selling alcohol and, for instance, will not sell alcohol to a person who is in an intoxicated state. The University’s Managing Substance Misuse Policy sets out the expectations on staff around alcohol use in working hours but makes clear that any organisational “interest” is restricted to how substance misuse might impact work attendance, workplace safety and/or performance at work. Where this is identified as a workplace issue then the University will actively seek to support employees via the University’s Health, Safety and Environment team, HR, Occupational Health and counselling to address these issues. Beyond that, the University’s Health, Safety and Environment team does not currently directly provide general wellbeing advice around alcohol consumption or the associated health impacts of alcohol use, however it does signpost external sources of support and will consider this as part of its overall wellbeing approach. (more…)

 

Let's Talk Q&A: Equalities & Diversity

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q: Why is nobody responsible for staff with disability? There is someone for students with disability but no one coordinates things for staff.

A: All of our HR Advisors and Managers are trained to advise managers and staff on staff disability issues. HR staff also have the support of specialist advice and input from the University Health, Safety & Environment team and specialist advice from Occupational Health. We have an Equality & Diversity Adviser (David Skidmore) who has an overview of disability issues affecting both staff and students and an Assistive Technologies Manager in Computing Services who supports staff and students with disabilities with technological support. The Equality and Diversity Committee of course also seeks to ensure that disability issues are being appropriately covered by the University. (Mark Humphriss, University Secretary)


November 2015

Q - What is being done to address the lack of diversity in SMT and Heads of Departments? (Apart from the VC soon they will all be white men!)

A - There is a lot of work being done to improve the gender and diversity balance of the senior management team and Heads of Departments.

The University is currently recruiting for its third Aurora programme after two previous successful programmes. This programme encourages women in academic and professional service roles to think of themselves as leaders, to develop their leadership skills and to help institutions to maximise the potential of these women.

There are many actions which are being undertaken in connection with the Athena SWAN scheme designed to support the recruitment and retention of female academic staff. These actions range from training in unconscious bias and recruitment chairing for all those involved in recruiting academic staff to working arrangements and carrying out exit interviews with any female academic member of staff who is leaving the organisation.

The University is a member of WISE, a group which promotes women in science, technology and engineering. Important academic roles are now being advertised through WISE. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)

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Let's Talk Q&A: Pay and Conditions

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q: How does the University make provision for increased demands on professional services that result in the wake of new courses or large research grants? Should it be required that academics account for these demands when making their plans?

 A: The University’s planning process includes consideration of additional demands for professional services. It is important that all those submitting planning requests take account of key impacts of proposed developments on professional services. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)


November 2015

Q - It is difficult not to notice the unfortunate catering staff shivering in the cold and damp most days whilst serving snacks on The Parade outside 3W. When this kiosk first appeared it was erroneously thought it was a temporary arrangement for the freshers, and in the warmish weather in late September/early October it seemed like a reasonable idea. However as the temperature will eventually drop throughout the winter, is it acceptable to expect people to stand outside for hours at a time with no source of heat. We have raised this with catering, and a mat has been supplied, and warmer clothing.
There is an expectation that a more permanent kiosk may be built; however serious consideration should be given to provide an outside heater for when the weather gets colder. We would not wish to see staff going down with winter illnesses exacerbated with excessive exposure to the cold. It is a lovely idea to provide winter warmers for our paying clientele but it would be a shame for it to be at the expense of our hard working and dedicated support staff. Wendy Lambson on behalf of Catering staff

A - The manager responsible for the area always considers the external temperature when assessing if the stall will open, and will continue to do so. The staff who work on the coffee stall outside 3W are rotated every hour, and have been provided with full outdoor clothing and a heater.

Accommodation & Hospitality Services are working with Estates to source a suitable kiosk for The Parade. Preliminary research into a purpose-built kiosk has indicated a comfortable work environment can be incorporated and they hope a proposal can be approved for the early summer 2016. (Jane Loveys, Head of Accommodation & Hospitality Services)


November 2015

Q: Will the University consider progression/promotion for professional staff (and I don’t mean through applying for another internal job) to lessen the divide between academic and professional staff?

A: Within the University’s pay structure for grades 1 to 9, all staff are able to  progress up their payscale with effective performance and there are also discretionary points where staff with exceptional performance can progress.
In terms of grading, roles within the Education & Research job family and in particular academic posts have a unique nature which enable them to develop over time to make the best use of the expertise and skills of the postholder. There are very few other roles in the higher education sector and in other sectors of employment that have as much flexibility in this regard. This allows staff in these posts to progress as the posts develop in line with University’s Career Progression document.

In the main, professional service roles have a more prescribed scope and a post is established to achieve specific requirements within a set funding envelope. This results in less flexibility for grade progression of an established post which means that promotion will most frequently occur by the postholder applying for and being interviewed and selected for a higher graded post. This is the case for the vast majority of employees in professional service roles in higher education and generally outside of higher education sector. There are some training or developmental roles in some professional service departments in the University that have a degree of progression. In addition, staff may request a job grading review where a post has been required to develop. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)


November 2015

Q - Is the policy of keeping staff on zero hours contracts actually beneficial for the University? Or do you think it helps to create contempt against management?

A - Casual, hourly-paid or zero-hours contracts can be of great benefit to the individual worker, the department and the University where they are used and managed properly. Such contracts provide a level of flexibility for the individual, which allows them to work around other commitments such as study or childcare, when they would be unable to meet the obligations of a permanent or fixed term post. For our students this allows them to gain important work experience and earnings that fit around their study, which they would otherwise not be able to secure. For the department and the University casual contracts provide a fair and flexible way of covering unexpected peaks in workload.

There is clear guidance from HR on where and where not such hourly paid contracts should be used and on alternative working arrangements that should be used in other situations. It is important that all those engaging such staff follow this guidance. (Peter Eley, Acting Director of Human Resources)

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Let's Talk Q&A: Student experience

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📥  Let's Talk Q&A

November 2015

Q:  In an ever more complex world, what is being done to encourage students to think, learn and problem solve in an interdisciplinary way? 

A: As a University with a long tradition of aligning both our research and teaching provision to real-world demands we have an ongoing interest in this area.

In terms of encouraging interdisciplinarity in our students, this is perhaps most clear in the way we think about our curriculum. We encourage students to take units from a wide range of options, including those from outside their discipline. But there is also an increasing number of new programmes developed which emphasise interdisciplinary thinking specifically, such as the B/MEng Integrated Engineering Design, the BSc International Development with Economics and the MSc Modern Building Design. Those are very recent examples of newly approved programmes.

The University is also involved in 13 different Doctoral Training entities, all of which encourage interdisciplinary research. The Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) funded South West Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) in particular has a number of interdisciplinary streams, such as PhD Environment, Energy & Resilience (Psychology, Economics, Education and Management).  (Gwen van der Velden, Director of Learning and Teaching Enhancement)


November 2015

Q - The Library provides referencing advice to students. However, there are a range of different referencing systems in use across the University. Some even seem to differ within a department depending on which lecturer is marking the work.  Would it be possible to standardise the referencing systems used, as UWE have done with UWE Harvard, so that the library can provide accurate guidance and students can reference with confidence? If it's not possible to apply this across the University, would it be possible to have one for each faculty/school or, at least, one per department? Alex Clarke, Library

A - The Library would be happy to support any department, school or faculty that wished to adopt a single referencing style, and they can see the benefits from the students’ point of view. However, it also understands that there may be sound reasons for adopting different styles in different subject areas, with preferred referencing styles differing not only across academic disciplines but also across communities and between publishers.

The Library has for a long time provided referencing support, guidance and teaching to staff and students in response to department or school practice and preference. This has included its popular general referencing guides, which are used as exemplars in other University Libraries, and also style sheets on some of the most commonly used referencing styles in the University’s subject disciplines.

It aims to provide students with skills which will continue to be useful to them in their future careers, whether in academic research or outside it and so it concentrates on the principles of referencing. Once learnt, these make it easier to adopt different referencing styles as required and to make best use of our electronic reference management packages so they can convert references between styles in a meaningful and accurate way.

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