Simple Workload Allocation and Resource Management (SWARM)
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SWARM is the University's workload planning database. It's a web-based system which gives an overview of workloads within faculties. The system is designed to provide transparency in workload distribution and is a useful tool to help departments and faculties manage their academics’ workloads efficiently. Data from SWARM is used for the University's TRAC return.
Please note that SWARM records the average time spend and is not intended to be an exact representation of your workload.
Below are a series of frequently asked questions related to SWARM. If you have any further questions please contact your workload planning team.
SWARM is predominently used for E&S and E&R colleagues to plan and check their workload throughout the year. Research Only colleagues are sometimes added to help departments manage teaching requirements. For R-Only colleagues, their SWARM workload should not be taken as an indication of their full workload, except by arrangement with the HoD.
When you are asked to check your SWARM profile for the academic year, you should check that no data is missing that will change your time allocation by more than approximately 10%. Please also note which academic year the SWARM data applies to, as some data may look different to what you are expecting. For example, a research grant may finish halfway through the academic year, so your time allocation would be adjusted accordingly.
The data in SWARM is gathered from numerous different sources and is routinely updated, as explained below:
|Data||Update Frequency||Source of Data|
|New staff||Termly/once informed||Trent|
|Teaching hours||Once received from Academic/Module lead||Academic manager|
|Long term planned leave||Ad-hoc once informed||Individual/academic manager|
|Leadership roles||Annually and ad-hoc once informed||Individual/academic manager|
Each faculty will have nominated academic managers who use the agreed faculty workload policies to determine fair workloads for colleague. Your planned workload module enables you to undertake teaching, research and administrative duties while also taking into account your academic experience. You will find more detail in your faculty’s policy here.
Any queries about your workload should be first raised with either your academic manager or workload administrator. With the agreement of your academic manager and in-line with faculty policy, SWARM can be edited and updated for material errors, omissions and/or changing commitments. If you notice an error within your workload module on SWARM, you can contact your workload administrator at any point in the academic year.
Whilst SWARM is intended to reflect real workload, it is not a precise record of actual hours worked. SWARM is a simple database that is constantly updated throughout the year, using the data available at the time of allocation. Therefore, SWARM displays a reasonable representation of your workload, as defined by the Work Allocation Model (WAM), and not an hour by hour account.
SWARM aims to:
- Plan academic workloads ahead of year
- Promote equitable and fair distribution of workload
- Show a reasonable representation of academic workload
- Allow academics to sign off workload for TRAC
SWARM provides data for the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), thereby reducing the demand on colleagues to complete the termly Time Allocation Schedule (TAS) forms.
If you have concerns about your overall workload please raise these with your academic manager. The allocation of workload through SWARM is intended to facilitate conversations between colleagues and managers throughout the year. We are committed to support colleague wellbeing.
If your workload concerns are related to your health, you can speak to your academic manager and request an Occupational Health Management Referral. This is a simple process and will allow Occupational Health to give specific advice on how your manager can best support you.
You can also access our confidential counselling service Spectrum Life for further support.
Data from SWARM is used as a key input to the TRAC return to Research England and the Office for Students. This sets out the broad split of the University’s costs between teaching activities, research activities, and other income-generating activities. A crucial output of TRAC is the setting of cost rates used in the pricing of most publicly funded research, i.e., it has a direct impact on the amount the institution is able to recover from its externally funded research output.
Each year academics are asked to review their workload in SWARM to ensure it broadly reflects how they spent their time. When this has been electronically agreed in SWARM, referred to as the TRAC sign off, the workload data is used in the TRAC process to allocate salaries and account for the categories of activity (teaching, research and other), which are consolidated at department level for use in compiling the TRAC return.