Welcome to the blog section of the UCEA website.

Our latest blog (16 September 2021), ‘It is time to talk about pay talks', is by Jerry Cope, Deputy Chair of the UCEA Board and Chair of the Board of Governors at London South Bank University. Jerry's blog provides readers with a timely reflection on his past experiences as UCEA and its members start the ‘national conversation’ consultation on the most effective pay bargaining structure for all moving forward. As former chair of the NHS Pay Review Body and longstanding New JNCHES employer representative, Jerry explains the need for a transparent formal pay strategy, both nationally and locally, explaining that this in-depth consultation is not about pay outcomes but pay structures.

5 August 2021, 'Placing our values at the heart of hybrid working', is by Patrick Hackett, Registrar, Secretary and Chief Operating Officer at The University of Manchester. Patrick's blog provides readers with an open and honest insight into Manchester's hybrid working pilot approach which is co-created by colleagues and continues to develop.

30 June 2021, Perfect blend: employers must involve students and staff in plans for hybrid working, is by our Chief Executive, Raj Jethwa. It focuses on the emergence of new working practices as our members continue to show their determination to offer work patterns that meet the desire of staff for greater work flexibility, while providing for students and their new learning experience, with many seeking revised flexibilities. 

14 June 2021, It’s time to listen: the future of collective pay bargaining, is by our Chief Executive, Raj Jethwa. An important element of UCEA's Strategic Priority 'Promoting constructive employment relations' and ongoing service to our members relates to a planned national conversation on the structure of collective bargaining (New JNCHES) moving forward. The blog explains how UCEA’s forthcoming consultation on collective bargaining is about ensuring we achieve the most effective pay bargaining structure for our sector, our universities and our staff. 

8 June 2021, HR and Communications - Perfect Partners, is by Deborah Mattock, Director of HR, Marketing and International Relations at the University of Northampton. Deborah's blog provides readers with a summary of just why HR and communications are inseparable. The innovative approach of putting together HR and marketing/communications under one umbrella was adopted by the University of Northampton nearly a decade ago, but the benefits continue. Deborah explains how effective communications, internal and external, are key to engagement and wellbeing, for students and members of staff. 

13 May 2021, Allow us to (re)introduce ourselves to our members… is by Andy Fryer, UCEA’s Head of Communications and Membership. Without the meeting and greeting opportunities at events and meetings and the occasional treasured campus visits, this blog is an attempt to encourage members to get to know UCEA’s valued staff. This follows on the success of our spring ‘Getting the most from UCEA membership’ webinar. The blog focuses on reminding members what UCEA has provided over the pandemic period and explain that we will, in line with our strategic plan, continue to adjust and deliver membership services. 

27 April 2021, Agility in a time of uncertainty: delivering for our members over the next 30 months, is by Raj Jethwa, UCEA's Chief Executive has been written to launch our new strategic plan. It provides a short take on why we need to agile, hear more about the work we will deliver and how we want to work with our members and partners from across the sector to deliver our ambitious and challenging work programme.  

23 April 2021, The end in sight? Managing staff return to campus, is by Roshan Israni, UCEA's Deputy Chief Executive. Roshan's blog focuses on UCEA's new guidance, an already well received comprehensive resource for members on managing staff returns to campus. The blog underlines the fundamental role staff play in supporting students and the importance of managing their safe return to campus. Roshan steered the writing of the guidance and she explains how valuable contributions helped to bring together key themes, including psychological transition, change management, hybrid working, line management, leadership, health and safety and legal issues. The blog explains how the guidance's rich information, useful examples and case studies help reiterate key basic principles and bring these to life.  

23 February 2021, Now is the time for change: what HE can learn from other sectors, is by Michelle Gordon, freelancer and most recently Director of External Relations at the University of Sussex. Michelle's blog focuses on how effective communications and genuine staff engagement needs to be both the beating heart and thinking head of our universities adapting to this changed world. She explains how this last year has made it clear that we need to truly embed communications in an organisation’s decision-making process. Michelle shares her starter guide to what universities, who are serious about success, can be doing in 2021.

16 December 2020,  Not out of the woods: fulfilling staff potential in a forest of uncertainty - the challenge for 2021, is by Raj Jethwa, UCEA's CEO. He reflects on the many unprecedented challenges the sector has faced in 2020 before turning to 2021 and how we all need to adapt still further and work together. Raj's blog lists just some of the very many difficult decisions HE institutions have made this year and how these institutions have recognised and appreciate the hard work of staff throughout the sector from the moment the pandemic hit. He also reminds us that UCEA aspires to a genuine collaboration with sector unions so that we have the confidence of our workforce in addressing the demands of the present, as well as in adapting for the future. 

5 November 2020, Challenging common pensions misconceptions in a sector that offers great options, Richard Paul, Senior Pensions Technical Adviser at UCEA explores how pensions will always make media headlines. While it is usually strikes and costs that hog the headlines, the importance of communicating that HE sector employees have access to some of the best pension schemes in the UK cannot be ignored. Richard explains that DB pension provision is still common in HE whereas this is no longer the case in the private sector and that based on UCEA research HEIs with a DC scheme have commonly introduced generous contribution structures which compare favourably to FTSE250 companies. While retaining good quality pension provision and ensuring continued member participation is more challenging than ever, it seems important for HEIs to remind staff of the value and quality of their pension arrangements and the importance of continuing to save during these difficult times.

25 September 2020, A Rewards ‘Paradise built in Hell’? by Dr Duncan Brown, Visiting Professor at the University of Greenwich and Principal Associate IES. Duncan's detailed blog includes burning questions relating the 'new new normal' working world, emphasising that these unprecedented workforce challenges can actually present new opportunities relating to employment matters in our sector and beyond. His questions are designed to support discussion about the wider stakeholder and longer-term people and reward agenda. 

26 August 2020, Reimagining the next normal in HE with Covid-19 by Hayfa Mohdzaini, Senior Researcher at UCEA asks how might UK HE working life look like for the 2020-21 academic year and beyond? In trying to answer she reviews the four key trends that emerged during the pandemic – agile decision making, blended learning, flexible working and virtual spaces. 

2 July 2020, Communicating Covid-19: From crisis comms to a “new normal”, by Russell Reader, Associate Director of Strategic Communications & Brand at Keele University focuses on our sector's comms professionals adaptability and the important role they play during this time. Russell explains how Covid-19 comms is no longer crisis comms as it is now firmly embedded in all our day-to-day duties. 

25 June 2020, ‘Are we now at tipping point on race and what can our sector do?' by Umar Zamman, Director of Human Resources & Organisational Development, Sheffield Hallam University, is truly inspiring as it draws on his personal experiences shared as a result of the black lives matter movement. Umar includes the ongoing work he is involved in at Hallam while raising the challenges that the sector faces, even providing readers with some 'top tips' for being an inclusive leader. 

9 June 2020, 'Preparation and support in returning to our new campus', Professor Neil Budworth, Head of Health and Safety at Loughborough University and Chair of the Universities Safety and Health Association (USHA), provides insight into how one university has focused on the recent health and safety challenges and is now preparing for a future which is likely to be very different to the past.  

2 June 2020, 'Is the future of flexible working at home?', Gemma Dale, Wellbeing Manager at the University of Manchester and Lecturer at Liverpool John Moores University focuses on the benefits and concerns surrounding flexible working, encouraging HR colleagues to prepare for the potential increase in demand for flexible working as restrictions continue to ease.

26 May 2020, 'Starting a new job in a new sector in a new normal', Muriel Bankhead, who joined UCEA as Head of Research on 14 April, recounts her first two weeks at UCEA during the height of the lockdown.

19 May 2020, 'Responding to Covid-19 challenges with VUCA action', by Professor Nick Petford, Vice-Chancellor of University of Northampton and UCEA Board member, examines how at Northampton they have used components of the VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous) model to underpin their rapid response to Covid-19. Professor Petford's contribution is also a Wonkhe article

12 May 2020 - In Sector support for wellbeing during the pandemic and beyond UCEA's Senior Researcher, Hayfa Mohdzaini, examines some of the home working and wellbeing challenges experienced in the sector.

5 May 2020 - In Beyond the bubble – early Covid-19 lessons learnt from outside our sector UCEA's Researcher, Rebecca Gregg, looks beyond HE in trying to learn from the employers' mistakes and good practices at the start of the ongoing pandemic 

21 April 2020 - In Certain uncertainties: Labour lockdown consultant Laurence Hopkins introduces a report which looks at the potential economic consequences of Covid-19

9 April 2020 - Our first blog, by UCEA CEO Raj Jethwa, sets out how university employers are working to support staff through the pandemic:  Covid-19 and the sector’s unprecedented workforce issues