Staff survey: Message from Director of HR, Francesca Fowler

A message to all colleagues

Dear colleague,

Many of you kindly took the time to share your thoughts in our staff wellbeing surveys in April and June. Thank you for your feedback, which helped shape the support and guidance we’ve put in place since then, some of which is outlined below.

With the advent of a second national lockdown and the Government’s new restrictions, we felt it was really important to check in with you again, to see how you’re managing and to better understand any extra assistance you might need.

You can share your views in our short survey, which should only take about five minutes to complete. It will remain open until 5pm on Wednesday 18 November, and your responses will be anonymous.

We recognise individual experiences can vary significantly, but the safety and wellbeing of our staff and students remains our top priority. With this in mind, we listened to and acted on your previous feedback, sharing guidance and support on the main issues you identified. This included providing:

We will share a summary of any key themes you raise in this latest survey as soon as possible after it closes, responding in more detail in the coming weeks.
I know this is a difficult time for you all and we very much appreciate your continued dedication and hard work; it has been really good to see how everyone has pulled together to support each other.

The Vice-Chancellor highlighted in her recent blog posts the need to accept we can’t fix everything, with suggestions for how we can try to cope with a highly unpredictable future. So, please keep talking to your line manager about any challenges you’re facing to agree ways forward.

Thank you in advance for your time, and please contact the Wellbeing, Safety and Health team if you have any questions about the survey.

Best wishes,

Francesca Fowler
Director of Human Resources

Read July 2020 FD Bulletin. A photograph of the Parkinson Building

Latest news from the University

Catch up on the latest from the University of Leeds

eNews extra

Read the latest eNews extra update on the University’s response to the coronavirus that was sent on 2 October.

eNews extra: coronavirus (#25)

Reporting on coronavirus cases

Read a message sent to all staff on Wednesday 7 October from Roger Gair, University Secretary, regarding how the University is reporting on coronavirus cases in our University community.

Reporting on coronavirus cases in our University Community

For more information from the University

For more information visit the updated coronavirus website.

Clothworkers Court at the University of Leeds

Your role in  keeping our community safe

A message to all staff

Dear  colleagues,

As we prepare for the new term, I know many of you are keen to know how we plan to keep campus  Covid-secure as students begin to arrive.

Firstly, I wanted to reiterate that our teams have been  working hard to  make sure  campus is  Covid-secure for  students and  those of you who  are required to spend time here. This includes  clear signage, give-way systems, careful management of space requirements and plenty of hand sanitising stations.  Many of you will continue to work from home to reduce the number of people on campus and all large-scale teaching activities will be conducted online.

However, with infection rates in Leeds  now  being closely monitored, it’s more important than ever that we remain vigilant and take every precaution to keep ourselves and the people around us safe.  We recognise that some colleagues will have essential cause to be onsite at some times, and that the campus is not only a central hub but also home to many of our students.

Student representatives from Leeds University Union have therefore worked with us to draw up some guidelines which represent our responsibilities to each other as part of the University’s community.  By working together we can make sure Leeds  remains  a safe, inspiring and fun place to study, live and work.

Thank you for your continued support and diligence.

With my best wishes

Roger Gair
University Secretary

Our shared safety commitments

Together we  will  keep our community safe by:

  • Washing  our hands regularly  and using  the hand sanitising stations provided
  • Wearing  face coverings  in line  with  guidance, unless we have a  legitimate  reason  not to
  • Keeping  a safe distance  from  each  other  and following  social distancing  and other  guidelines on campus, in halls of residence  and in the city
  • Behaving responsibly, respectfully  and with consideration  on campus  in residences  and  in the local  community  and  not  organising or  attending gatherings which break laws or  Government social distancing guidelines
  • Showing kindness and support  for classmates, neighbours and colleagues, especially  those  who are at home,  self-isolating  or vulnerable
  • Self-isolating  if we  have  Covid-19 symptoms  and  booking a test
  • Letting the University know  if we test positive for Covid-19  and  following  Government and University  guidance

 The University will enable us to keep each other safe by:

  • Minimising  the number of people on campus by ensuring people work from home wherever possible
  • Providing  lectures and other large group teaching activities online
  • Implementing social  distancing, pedestrian  management  systems and limits on room capacities to keep  campus  Covid-secure
  • Making it easy to raise concerns and get support if we feel unsafe because of the behaviour of others
  • Making face coverings available to staff and students who need them
  • Enhancing the cleaning of all University buildings
  • Providing  hand sanitising stations  across  campus
  • Hosting a  Covid-19 testing centre on campus to support  the NHS  ‘test and trace’ approach to combatting the disease
  • Responding to changes in  Government guidelines when required

In the next few days, we’ll share more information with staff and students about the process for reporting a positive Covid-19 test result.

For more information on how we’re making campus  Covid-secure, watch the A Safe Environment at Leeds video and visit the updated coronavirus website.

Professor Simone Buitendijk

Hello from the Vice-Chancellor, Professor Simone Buitendijk

A message to all staff

Dear colleagues, 

I am excited to now call you my colleagues as I take up the role of Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds. I am truly honoured to be able to serve this amazing university. 

I know from the conversations I have already had that this is a remarkable, driven, talented community and I look forward to many more conversations with you in the months and years to come. 

Universities are strong change-makers; I believe we are the only networked community that can truly solve the global challenges. We will do this through cutting-edge research and by training the next generation of global citizens. All it needs is for us to put all our efforts together and become more collaborative and inclusive, both within universities but most importantly, between universities globally. 

The current coronavirus crisis has led to a long, difficult and very intensive period which continues for us, as for so many across our region, the country and the world. Through it, we have perhaps surprised ourselves, by adapting quickly to deliver a much more digital learning and working experience. I thank you for your patience, your hard work and your contribution through this time and to the recovery we now pursue. 

I look forward to continuing the great work already underway at Leeds right across our disciplines and activities. 

But first, I want to listen. To get to know you, your wishes and hopes for the future of the University of Leeds. Even if I can’t do it in person to begin with, I hope we will see each other on screen. I want to understand your drive and ambitions and share with you my vision for this amazing institution. I believe that, together, we can contribute to a better world. 

I recently returned from the Netherlands and so will be self-isolating and working at home, but in July I had the opportunity to explore campus and recorded a short video to say hello. I look forward to meeting you, as well as our students, alumni and the entire University of Leeds community. 

Best wishes
Professor Simone Buitendijk, Vice-Chancellor 

As Simone mentions, she’s looking forward to getting to know us and the local area. Do you have a question for Simone? Or any tips for destinations and attractions in the Leeds region? Send your questions or recommendations to us and we’ll select some to put to Simone later this month. 


Update on working arrangements for next term – A message from the University Secretary

A message to all staff

Dear colleagues,

As the start of term draws closer I am writing to confirm arrangements for next term. Our priority is to ensure that campus is as safe as possible for those who need to work or study there.

I appreciate this is a long email, so I have recorded a video summary of the key points.

Returning to campus

While social distancing requirements remain in place, we need to manage the volume of people on campus to ensure the health, safety and wellbeing of our community. In a nutshell, this means that we need to minimise the number of people on campus at any one time.

In the case of staff, working arrangements will fall broadly into one of three categories:

  1. Staff who will be based on campus for the vast majority of their working time.
  2. Staff who will be on campus for defined activities or periods of time but will continue to work remotely outside these periods / activities.
  3. Staff who will work remotely for the vast majority of their working time (with only exceptional access to campus).

Our general principle is that all staff will continue to work from home in the new academic year, until at least the end of the Christmas closure, except as is necessary for the purposes of carrying out research, delivering student education or supporting the student experience.

Colleagues who are needed on campus for student facing or research activity are expected to spend as little time as possible on campus and to work from home when not engaged in activity that can only be delivered on campus.

To this end it is likely that in practice some colleagues will need to divide their time between working on campus and homeworking. Heads of school and, where relevant, service are responsible for agreeing these working arrangements.

If you are working from home on a longer-term basis, please see our working from home advice which includes information about remote working tax relief.

Where your working situation changes, for example if you are working at home and we then require you to come to campus, we will endeavour to give you at least two weeks’ notice and you will be required to complete a returning to campus approvals form.

Flexible working space

We recognise that some colleagues have found homeworking productive and valued the flexibility it offers. We also recognise that others have found it a challenge. We will work with you to ensure that, as far as possible, you have a safe, comfortable and compliant working arrangement at home. There will also be some flexible office space on campus that can be used under the direction of the relevant head of school or service. Longer term we are looking at developing policies that offer a more agile mixture of homeworking and working on campus.

Reopening buildings

The first objective continues to be opening research and teaching facilities and reopening buildings where covid-secure measures, such as social distancing, can be more easily applied. It is currently the case that in most buildings only certain areas are open and safe to use.

Several processes must be followed to reopen a building, including technical, water and fire-safety compliance. Further reopening processes are then required for areas within a building, which include assessing the area to identify safe occupancy levels and layouts, conducting a thorough clean, applying signage (to denote one-way systems etc.) and installing hand sanitiser stations.

This must all be signed off by Health and Safety to ensure it meets our covid-secure standards. Spaces in buildings cannot be occupied until these processes have been completed satisfactorily.

We are working to ensure that all the main campus buildings will be open in the autumn, but even when all buildings are open, access will not be available to all those who used to occupy them.

Heads of school and service will prioritise how space is used within these buildings to support the delivery of research and teaching activity and the student experience.

It is harder to implement covid-secure measures in our much smaller and older buildings and therefore some will remain closed for the foreseeable future.

You can read more about our building reopening process and see which buildings are opening and when, on our building reopening web page.

Reopening office spaces within buildings

Once a building is open and priority areas, such as laboratories and teaching spaces, are assessed and operational, other spaces in buildings, including offices, will be reviewed.

Office space will not necessarily be used for the same purpose or be occupied by the same people that used these areas before the building was closed. Heads of school and service will coordinate and communicate how this space will be used – this might include, rotas, sharing or repurposing of office space (including individual academic offices) or other measures.

As always, the priority will be to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of members of staff and students and support the delivery of student education and research that can only be conducted on campus.


Please be aware that from 7 September free parking on campus, during core hours, will end and a new temporary interim permit system will be introduced. If you are a member of staff and need to park on campus, even if you hold an existing permit, please follow this new guidance.

For colleagues planning their commute to campus without driving, we are enhancing our active travel provisions, giving advice on the public transport options available in Leeds and offering individual travel planning where required. For more information please visit the commuting to campus web page.

Student study spaces

We are planning to have several areas providing ‘study spaces’ for students, as well as some computer clusters. More information about these spaces and how students will be able to book a space or ‘drop-in’ will be provided in September.

Library space

A click and collect service is now available from the Edward Boyle library and a small number of bookable study spaces will be available from the beginning of September. This number will increase towards the end of the month. Visit the Library website for more information.

Face coverings and shields

In response to the comments provided through the feedback form we have updated our guidance on the use of face coverings and face shields (also called face visors). For more information please refer to our FAQs on face coverings

Keeping each other safe

We all have our part to play in supporting the University to conduct research and provide students with an engaging and enriching experience in a safe and vibrant environment. Working from home, if we can, is one of the most important things we can do to keep colleagues and students on campus safe.

If you are working on campus, you will see the measures we have put in place to keep us all safe. These include:

  • Signage in buildings, which will indicate one-way systems, rules for specific rooms and that will remind us to social distance.
  • Increased cleaning activity and hand sanitising points throughout campus.
  • The requirement to wear face coverings in certain areas on campus such as cafes, shops and all main indoor communal spaces.
  • Hosting an NHS coronavirus community testing centre in the Gryphon Sports Centre. More information about the centre is in issue 20 of eNews extra, sent 21 August 2020.

It will make a really big difference if we all commit to wearing face coverings where required, keeping our distance from one another and staying at home and getting a test if we are feeling unwell. We also need to follow Government and Public Health England advice and guidance, and of course wash our hands regularly and thoroughly for at least twenty seconds.

We are producing more information that will re-iterate the safety measures that are in place and how we can work together to keep campus safe. These will be shared in September.

Student communications

As we prepare our students for the new term, we will also be sharing with them information about how we are making campus covid-secure whilst still delivering a supportive, interactive and quality student experience.

All student communications are available to download from the coronavirus website.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank you for all your hard work and commitment over the last few months in what have been for all of us challenging and difficult circumstances. Although there are inevitably still some uncertainties, I hope that this letter provides some clarity as to how the next term will look for us all and that it reassures you that we are doing all we can to keep campus safe and welcoming for our community.

Thank you all for working together to help achieve this.

With my best wishes,

Roger Gair
University Secretary

Read July 2020 FD Bulletin. A photograph of the Parkinson Building

A message from the Vice-Chancellor

A message to all staff

Dear Colleagues,

As I think everyone knows, I step down as Vice-Chancellor of the University on 31 August 2020, forty-six years to the day since I started work in the NHS in Edinburgh.

Little did I know that my career interests in public health, biomedical science and education would combine in such a cruel and challenging way in my last five months in post. For many – including me – the coronavirus pandemic and the prolonged period of ‘lockdown’ have prompted new insights and perspectives as we continue the lifelong process of maintaining continuity and accommodating change.

I was asked the other day by Izzy Walter, the excellent new Students’ Union Affairs Officer,what made me proud of Leeds? My mind was drawn immediately to students who are succeeding at the University without family support – by which I mean estranged students, care leavers and young unaccompanied asylum seekers – and staff who have faced tragedy and challenges in their personal lives and yet remain passionate teachers, tutors, researchers and loyal professional or support services staff. It is one of the rare privileges of being Vice-Chancellor that you get to know many of these people. 

It is their needs and aspirations that should inspire every part of the University community to address the ambition of providing world leading education and research in a way that captures the imagination and commitment of all students and staff, present and future. To do this we need to maintain a line of sight to all that is good from the past whilst addressing the challenges and opportunities of the future in a positive way.

There can be no doubt that the public health, economic and social challenges facing the country in the next few years are enormous and, if I had the benefit of a crystal ball at this time last year, I would not have chosen this moment to step down. That said, the University has a strong platform for the future and has handled the emergency resulting from the pandemic pretty well, albeit with lessons to learn for the future. In particular, we have held to our principles of ensuring the wellbeing, health and safety of students and staff, and we have protected the integrity of the Leeds degree, both important stakes in the ground for the future. 

During the past five years we have invested in people and infrastructure and we have a robust balance sheet. This means that whilst we will have to deal with financial constraints caused by substantial losses in income with determination, we can do so in a considered way. The steps already taken by the University to manage cash and expenditure will provide a buffer against further risk and ensure some flexibility to support investment in the 2020-30 strategy, but they will not remove the need for difficult choices and limits on spending over the next two years.

Looking forward, the energies of the whole community should be focused on rapid recovery and medium and long term success. This means delivering what we have promised – a high quality blended education; a safe and enjoyable student experience; research momentum particularly in support of PhD students and early career researchers; and shrewd investments in our digital infrastructure to support education, research and the effective stewardship of the University. Our returning students who experienced significant disruption to their studies in the last academic year and the new students joining us in September and January will expect us to be at our very best. 

I am confident that the University will sustain its strong academic core, continue to express itself as a self-assured international institution with strong civic roots, and support the country in promoting economic recovery and social cohesion. As a leader in environmental education and research, we must also continue to show the way on sustainability and address our commitments to net-zero carbon by 2030, and no direct carbon emissions by 2050.

So … this is the moment to say thank you and to wish you well. It is your commitment, creativity, energy and ambition that makes the University successful and I am sure it will remain so into the future. It has been a pleasure to bring my long career to an end at the University of Leeds and I wish you all good health, happiness and fulfilment in the years ahead. I also wish my successor Professor Simone Buitendijk all the very best for the future. She brings tremendous experience, a new vision and new ideas to the University, and I hope she will enjoy great success and personal happiness in her new life in Yorkshire. 

For me, I am going to test Cicero’s infamous assertion (but not the literal translation of his letter to Varro in 46BC!): “If you have a garden [and] a library (both on a very modest scale in my case), you have everything you need. So as my children said in unison last weekend: “well … let’s see how long that lasts!!”

With all good wishes,


Sir Alan Langlands

Read July 2020 FD Bulletin. A photograph of the Parkinson Building

The Skills Network

A message for all colleagues

We are pleased to be able to report that fully funded level 2 courses are available for enrolment on our Microsite from today. There are now 44 courses to choose from but hurry as funding is limited across different regions and there will be great demand at this time.

Further details can be found below including the direct link to the courses available.

Kind regards,

Jo Sheen
Facilities Directorate HR Manager

The Skills Network

The new academic year has now commenced. This means there will be funded spaces available for university of Leeds staff to study a nationally recognised Ofqual accredited Level 2 qualification at no cost with The Skills Network.

I have also updated the LOGIK Centre site with all the available Level 2 funded courses, these can be accessed by using the following link


Staff survey findings: Message from Director of HR, Francesca Fowler

A message to all colleagues

Dear colleague,

At the end of June, more than 2,300 of you kindly gave us your feedback via our latest survey, which was designed to check how you are dealing with the current situation and where you most need further advice and support.

Thank you for taking the time to do this and for the honesty of your responses, which are helping us better understand the issues most important to you.

An example of this from our first survey saw you ask to collect items from campus to support you with remote working. So far, we have arranged for more than 1,800 of you to do this.

We will also use the key themes emerging from this latest survey – some of which are highlighted below – to help shape our future planning, focussing on further improvements to make working arrangements easier for you.

Reopening of campus

Some of you asked for more details of when you might be able to return to campus. Further information and a timetable for the opening of areas within buildings has now been added to the dedicated coronavirus website.

We expect the majority of colleagues to continue working remotely while the need to maintain a covid-19 secure workplace remains in force. Even if the building you usually work in has been reopened, this does not mean that you will be returning yet.

Our immediate objective is threefold:

  1. To enable the resumption of research activities that require access to laboratories and facilities on campus;
  2. To facilitate the delivery of a few critical functions that cannot be delivered remotely (for example, confirmation and clearing); and
  3. To facilitate the preparation of teaching materials for the next session, where that requires access to on-campus facilities.

Extra support for teaching

Survey responses also highlighted issues around how to implement plans for online classes and face-to-face teaching.

All schools have been asked to contribute their priorities for the use of campus for face-to-face teaching activities. Particular focus will be on activities that add the most value to our students’ experiences, such as the use of specialist facilities or to ensure completion of practical elements required by accrediting bodies.

As different parts of the campus are opened up in the weeks and months ahead, under the guidance of our colleagues in Health and Safety, we will continue to work together to enable the best educational experience and promote a sense of belonging for our students. We are grateful to everyone who is contributing to these discussions.

Further resources for online teaching can be found on the Digital Practice website, with more support available from the Digital Education Service helpdesk. You can book development sessions to support you in the transfer to remote and online working and teaching, and any issues can also be raised with your Head of School.

Safeguarding the health of staff and students

Many of you asked for details of safety measures being implemented on campus, including those for staff in more vulnerable groups.

Comprehensive safeguarding measures are in place for colleagues notified that they can come back on to campus, including:

  • the application of agreed covid-19 and social distancing principles, (e.g. changes to building configuration, usage and signage); and
  • thorough cleaning and improved ventilation, with sanitiser also being made available on campus.

The following information can now be accessed via the dedicated coronavirus website:

  • the University covid-19 risk assessment
  • the University covid-19 pre-entry building checklist; and
  • general information for approved staff coming onto campus.

If you feel you are in a group that is more vulnerable, please talk to your HR Manager. It may be that you are referred to an Occupational Health practitioner, who may undertake an individual risk assessment.

Supporting your wellbeing

Issues relating to social isolation, balancing work with caring roles and tensions at home were also highlighted in your survey feedback. We understand how difficult the current situation is for everyone, and we appreciate all you are doing.

Do take advantage of the services provided by the Staff Counselling and Psychological Support team, which offers remote professional and confidential help and advice. The Occupational Health team continues to offer confidential wellbeing chats, and we encourage you to discuss and agree ways forward with your line manager.

Lots of resources are available on the staff support and wellbeing webpage and the Wellbeing, Safety and Health webpages. We’re also working on a wellbeing package in the coming weeks and we’ll share updates through our regular enewsletters.

Addressing your specific requests

  • Annual Leave: On the issue of annual leave, it’s really important to take a break from work, as this is all part of the need to consider your own wellbeing. You need to use your annual allowance by the end of September, but in exceptional circumstances, where agreed with your Head of School/Service, you can carry forward five days until the end of December 2020.
  • IT: Regarding questions about the Virtual Windows Desktop, IT is working with Microsoft to deal with the ‘black screen issue’ on login. Updates were emailed to staff last week. More information about working from home is available on the IT website.
  • Libraries: Information about the phased reopening of library buildings has now been shared.

We are also preparing responses to several other requests you raised, including:

  • updates on domestic and international travel; and
  • guidance on commuting to campus.

These updates will be carried in our regular enewsletters.

In the meantime, may I once again thank you for your latest feedback and for everything you are doing to support the work of the University in these challenging times.

Best wishes,

Francesca Fowler,
Director of Human Resources



Staff survey: Message from Francesca Fowler

A message to all staff

Dear colleague,

At the end of April, more than 3,500 of you kindly completed the survey we sent out to better understand how we can offer you extra advice and assistance during the covid-19 lockdown.

As lockdown eases and we commence a controlled return to campus, we’re running a short follow-up survey to find out more about how you are managing and how we can support you further.

Open until 5pm on Friday 26 June, the survey is anonymous and should take no more than five minutes to complete.

We have already acted on your feedback from the first survey by providing information, guidance and support on the main issues you identified, including:

  • updating you on coronavirus-related information, such as the University’s financial situation, our plans for teaching in the next academic year and the approach to planning a return to campus
  • sharing further IT information, such as remote access to teaching software, how to request a laptop and more general advice and updates
  • developing the health and wellbeing resources on the dedicated coronavirus website, alongside initiatives such as the virtual Staff Healthy Week and our support for Mental Health Awareness Week; and
  • giving you advance notice of student communications, so you’re in a better position to answer any questions that may arise from these.

We have also extended the timescale of our second survey to enable more of you to respond, and we aim to provide you with a summary on the key themes you raise as soon as possible after the survey closes.

Your continuing commitment and flexibility in the current situation is hugely appreciated.

Please do continue to focus on getting the balance between home life and work right for you, and do talk to your line manager about any challenges you are facing to agree ways forward, where necessary. Resources to support your health and wellbeing continue to be available on the coronavirus website, along with general information and advice, so please keep checking back for updates.

Please contact the Wellbeing, Safety and Health team should you have any questions about this survey.



Best wishes,

Francesca Fowler

Director of Human Resources


Health and safety measures on campus

A message to all staff

Dear Colleagues,

I write to update you on some of the additional health and safety measures you can expect to see if you are returning to campus, and on measures that will come into effect from September as we welcome students and our footfall increases.

Our over-riding priority continues to be the provision of safe working environments for staff and students, and a great deal of work and planning is being carried out on each of our buildings before they are reopened.

Prior to reopening, each campus building and area will be given a full thorough clean and safety check, and plans will be put in place to ensure work can be carried out in a way that is consistent with social distancing requirements. This will include new ways of working and directives, such as one-way systems on busy stairs and corridors and reducing the number of people in buildings and moving around campus at the same time.

New rules will be in place for lifts, kitchens, toilets and working spaces to help us all keep our distance. You will also see increased cleaning activity on site and the provision of hand sanitisers, soap and paper towels.

Additional measures will be introduced from the beginning of the academic year, as the numbers on campus increase. Specifically, there will be access to free and fast covid-19 testing on campus to support a test and trace approach to containing the virus. We recognise that, as the campus starts to become busier, some people may wish to wear a face covering or face mask, and washable face coverings will be available for everyone, with advice about how to use them.

These measures and additional safety procedures, specific to new and returning students – covering arrivals, international arrivals, registration, induction, teaching and accommodation – are also being shared with prospective and returning students via email, relevant websites and through social media later today. You can access an advance copy of the email they will receive and view the dedicated web page that summarises the safety measures. Please note, you will be prompted to login with your staff username and password to access these documents.

It goes without saying that our planning recognises that the course of the pandemic is unpredictable and that there might be further measures introduced, or further relaxation of existing restrictions; our practices are therefore likely to change over time. You can read more about our approach to planning our return to campus in communications issued on 7 May and 4 June.

It is also worth restating that, while the requirement for social distancing remains in force, we are expecting the majority of staff to continue working at home and follow government guidance. Staff asked to carry out work on campus or able to resume research on campus will receive appropriate notification.

In deciding whether to make any request for a member of staff to return to campus we will, of course, factor in personal circumstances, such as known underlying health conditions. Any member of staff who is asked to return to campus and who has concerns about that should discuss these with their line manager and/or HR representative.

With best wishes,

Roger Gair
University Secretary