Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
About the project
What are the proposals for the new organisational structure?
We are proposing a structure that recognises the importance of our current school-based model and which will deliver the maximum benefits with a minimum of disruption.
We are proposing to bring schools together into 6-8 groups to allow for greater financial autonomy, more local decision making and a more direct connection with the Executive Group. It is proposed that schools will be able to retain their identities and that the faculty layer be removed.
Discussions have been held with schools over groupings and a proposal has been drawn up. This proposal is now subject to engagement during April.
It is anticipated that the new structure will be in place by the end of 2020.
Please see Proposed new structure for more information.
Who will head up the proposed school groupings?
It is proposed that each grouping will be led by a ‘director of school group’ who will have ultimate responsibility for academic and financial success of the grouping. It is anticipated that a director of school group would have an academic background.
When will there be more details available about the new school administrative structures?
The detailed school administrative structures will be developed and shared with staff over a period starting in the autumn term 2019 and ending no later than the Spring Term 2020. The management structures will form a part of the proposals that will go to Senate and Council in June 2019.
Who is leading the project?
The project leads are Denise Everitt (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer) and David Nightingale (Senior Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Provost), both members of the University's Executive Group.
A small Project Board has been established to oversee the development and implementation of the new organisational structure. The Board reports directly to the Executive Group and the first meeting is scheduled before the end of February 2019. The Project Board will establish and monitor the activity of a number of work streams that will operate on a task and finish basis.
What is the timeline for this project?
It is anticipated that the new structure will be in place by the end of 2020.
More information is available on the project timeline page.
Has there been an Equality Impact Assessment for the Organising for Success proposals?
We are currently undertaking an impact assessment for Organising for Success. As the project is still in proposal formulation stage, this is a high-level analysis at present and it will evolve as the project progresses. The Athena Swan Project Manager is leading on this aspect and preliminary issues and findings will be discussed at Organising for Success Project Board and reported to Council as a part of the approval process.
Why it is happening
Why is the university sector changing so much?
Universities in the UK are facing some of the biggest challenges in the history of the sector.
The traditional student profile has changed for good and competition for students is intensifying. Student numbers are falling, mainly due to a five-year demographic decline in 18 to 20-year-olds that is predicted to last until 2021 but also due to an increasing number of students deciding to go straight into employment as more employers are offering attractive pay and developmental opportunities through apprenticeships and other schemes.
In addition, UK student fee levels have been frozen since 2012 while costs have continued to increase. We are currently waiting for the outcome of the Government’s review of university funding, and there are great concerns across the sector about the outcome.
While the UK retains its strong position in the international market, that market is becoming increasingly competitive, particularly with the emergence of high-quality institutions in Asia. This is compounded with the uncertainly in visa provision for overseas students.
On top of this, the sector is becoming increasingly regularised and the cost of compliance is considerable.
Is the University financially sound?
The University is well managed and has a strong portfolio of assets. However, in order to remain financially sound, we have to overcome significant financial challenges. Plans have been developed, including making a 15% saving across the University, to ensure we not only weather the current financial difficulties but emerge from them fit for the future.
Are you developing these proposals just to save money?
No. While we have to make savings in order to address our financial situation, and we do believe that the proposals will enable us to reduce costs, the university sector as a whole is facing a complex set of challenges and we need to do things differently if we are going to thrive and develop in this new environment.
We have always been clear that proposed changes to our structures are aimed at improving our performance and effectiveness by removing layers of decision-making, empowering our leaders, simplifying our processes and improving the connection between schools and the Executive Group, as well as between schools and professional service functions.
Feedback and engagement
Will I have a voice in how the proposals are developed?
These proposals are based on feedback we have had from staff across the University in recent years - for example, as part of both the KSDD and Simplifying Kent projects - and we are embarking on a extensive programme of further engagement with staff.
Please see Engagement and feedback for more information.
You’ve said that the deadline for feedback, following the engagement sessions, is Thursday 18 April.
Does this mean there will be no consultation with staff after that date?
No, that isn’t the case. There is some confusion, over the use of the word ‘consultation’, which can be both formal and informal at different phases of a change project – and can become a legal requirement.
The current engagement (and therefore non-statutory, informal consultation) is around shaping the final proposals to go before Senate and Council in June 2019. This period of engagement (and non-statutory consultation) finishes on 18 April 2019. The proposals will then be finalised and, if approved at Senate and Council, we will move on to consult individual staff (and their representatives) on the implications of the proposals for them (as we are legally required to do, ie statutory consultation). For the majority of professional services staff (whether in schools or centrally), we are unlikely to have detailed structures to consult on before the first quarter of 2020.
Following finalisation of the plans by Council, we will put together a more detailed timeline for implementation, including all the consultation phases (and whether formal or informal). Our aim will be to share this plan as soon as possible with staff representatives on the JSNCC.
Are you talking to the trades unions?
In line with our usual practices, we will engage and consult with trades unions and staff representatives throughout this process and staff will be entitled to support and representation where appropriate.
The University is also liaising with staff representatives (trades union and non-trades union) through its Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JSNCC), which has a new sub-committee on Organising for Success.
[UPDATED] – Are you engaging with students to get their feedback on the proposals
We believe our proposals will enable us to continue improving our student experience and also ensure we have an academic offer that students want. We will continue to work with Kent Union and meet with students to explain our proposals and listen to any suggestions and concerns they may have. Additionally, Kent Union has created a feedback mechanism on their website for students to proactively submit any comments.
Kent Union is working with us as we develop the proposals to ensure student interest remains at the forefront of our plans. The Union President is a member of the project board which oversees the development and implementation of the proposed restructure and will ensure any feedback received from students is heard and that their views are represented.
To help ensure that students are kept updated on our plans, we have launched a new section on the University restructure, which can be accessed via our Student Guide.
How it may affect you
When will I know about any impact on my job?
These changes will focus on our structures for professional support staff. The changes are not imminent and no decisions have yet been made about what roles will be required. Detailed work will not begin until late summer 2019. While we will work hard to minimise any impact on staff, there will inevitably be some changes as we go forward and we will consult affected staff and their representatives as we move through this process.
More information is available on the project timeline page.
Will there be compulsory redundancies?
Ultimately, this cannot be ruled out but we will work hard to minimise this and there are no plans at present to implement this option.
Is the voluntary severance scheme driving the proposed restructure?
No. The first phase of the Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme (KVSS) is different and not part of the Organising for Success project. It is part of the wider need to find savings for the 2019/20 budget year and has targeted the need for 200 successful applications.
The University Council’s Redundancy Committee has now approved the scheme following agreement by the Executive Group and it having been subject to Joint Staff Negotiating and Consultation Committee (JSNCC) consultation and the views of the Staff Policy Committee.
The scheme is open to a wide range of eligible staff across the University and will launch on 15 April 2019. A website with supporting online material, including details of eligibility, FAQs and information on how to apply, will be available then. Staff can see the draft scheme as a part of the JSNCC papers for March 2019.
Members of Senior Leadership Forum have already received detailed management guidance and HR will be running a series of drop-ins for any member of staff who is interested in applying. Full details will be available on the HR webpages from Monday 15 April 2019.
Applicants will be informed of the outcome of their application in early August 2019.
Will the voluntary severance scheme be run again for those placed at risk of redundancy as a result of
Organising for Success?
Yes. The Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme (KVSS) will be open for those staff at risk of redundancy.
Whilst the first stage of KVSS (starting 15 April 2019) is not connected to the Organising for Success project, a second stage will involve the Scheme being reopened as necessary to support those staff affected.
Changes will be required to support and professional service structures as part of the formation of new school groupings and devolution. Assuming Senate and Council approve the proposals in June 2019, we anticipate those changes will be shared with staff in the first quarter of 2020.
There will then be a period of consultation but once the structure is finalised, KVSS will then be open to any staff at risk of redundancy on the same terms as the first phase. This allows time for the appointment of new heads of school groupings, directors of operations and confirmation of those holding the role of ‘Head of Profession’ from the summer of 2019. All of these managers need to be in post to take forward discussions about the shape of the new administrative and support structures.
Some senior management roles will be affected earlier as the new structure takes shape. We will consult individually with those staff and re-open KVSS to offer them the opportunity of applying for voluntary severance on the same terms as the first phase. This will probably be during the summer of 2019.
There will also be a number of individuals who will be needed to undertake transitional roles to support the move to the new structure as a result of their specialist knowledge and experience. They will also be able to access the scheme on the same terms as the first phase, though the timing of their severance will be dependent on the continuing need for their transitional role in the context of the project.
Has there been an Equality Impact Assessment for the Kent Voluntary Severance Scheme?
Yes, there has been an initial equalities impact assessment for KVSS, which has been shared with the University Council Redundancy Committee. This initial assessment will be monitored as and when applications are received to analyse the impact on, for example, age ranges, disclosed disability and other protected characteristics. Our Athena SWAN Project Manager is helping with this ongoing analysis.
[NEW] – Are there any changes to promotion, additional salary awards or job grade review as a result of this project?
The job grade review process for professional service staff in grades 1-10 has been suspended, pending the outcome of Organising for Success, the organisation design project which will ultimately result in a range of changes to our Professional Services structures and potentially to the job roles which will underpin that structure.
There have been no changes to the following processes which all remain open as usual:
- Additional salary awards for staff in grades 1-9
- Promotion and additional salary rewards for academic and research staff
- Additional salary rewards for professors and senior managers (Grade 10 and above)
In order to maintain operational flexibility, it may be appropriate during this period of change for line managers to consider applying for an Extra Responsibility Allowance (ERA) for a member of staff whilst permanent organisation structures are under consideration. ERAs are paid for work that represents a significant additional responsibility, at a higher level, that is essential for the functioning of the University and is clearly over and above the normal duties of the role.
I am anxious about what all this might mean. What support is there for me?
Uncertainty is never welcome and inevitably brings with it some anxiety. We know that the best way to reduce anxiety is for us to set out a clear plan so that you will know when you can expect to know more.
It is also important to remember that the University has a good track record on supporting staff in difficult times and will work hard to enable as many staff as possible to continue to have employment with us if they wish to. We will be running a series of workshops to help people during times of change and uncertainty. More information will be provided about these shortly. Staff can also contact the Occupational Health Service for support and advice. Other support will be put into place as plans develop and the impact on groups and individuals becomes clearer.
Who should I talk to now if I have concerns?
Your line manager is the person that you should approach first. Even if you do not report to a head of school or department, your immediate line manager should receive briefings from them and be able to feed back issues to them on your behalf. Your union and staff JSNCC representatives are also being briefed on a regular basis and will be able to raise any issues of common concern on your behalf.