We would encourage all staff and students to read our regular updates regarding Project Enhance, to ensure that they are given a clear understanding of its mission and objectives. 

Information on new opportunities to help shape Project Enhance

We are disappointed that the Exeter branch of the UCU has released a statement relating to a number of new student employment opportunities which unfortunately contains a number of inaccuracies.

At a time when so many people are having extremely difficult challenges, we are also disappointed that the intentions and reasons behind these new positions have been misconstrued. We would encourage all staff and students to read our regular updates regarding Project Enhance, to ensure that they are given a clear understanding of its mission and objectives. And of course we are happy to continue to be in dialogue with the UCU Exeter branch if they need further clarification.

While the past months have been incredibly challenging for everyone, the University is committed to provide as much support and security as possible for our staff and students. While the health and safety of all our university community is our overriding priority, we are also committed to providing the very best teaching and learning experience, and also as many varied and exciting opportunities for all of our students as we can. Our vision and our plans for next academic year are founded on these priorities.

To ensure that the education and experience we provide next academic year is as good as it can possibly be, given the uncertainties of Coronavirus, we need to provide programmes and modules in a variety of face to face and online formats in blended ways.  This approach is what is meant by Project Enhance.

Given that we work in partnership with our students, we recognise that they have a stake in their own learning and can play a crucial role in supporting the development of learning materials. Providing opportunities in this way is especially important for those about to graduate, given the challenges in the employment environment.

The internship and graduate business partner roles advertised are certainly not, as has been claimed, designed to replace roles carried out by existing permanent or fixed term staff, or by PTAs.  The University is creating these exciting opportunities  - not replacing existing roles – to help shape our degree programmes, and also to offer students the ability to gain invaluable digital skills highly sought after by employers across all sectors.

For continuing students, these opportunities are Digital Learning Assistant internships to work alongside academics to provide real-time feedback on modules in development, including signposting and navigation, types of digital content, and more. For graduating students there are opportunities to become Digital Learning Developers, also working closely with academics and professional service colleagues to develop digital learning resources to support blended learning and embed them in the new ELE.  All details for these opportunities can be found here

For many weeks now, staff in Colleges and Departments and Services have been working to plan the development of next year’s modules and programmes and the workload that is required to produce them in blended ways and to teach them.  The first release of information for student roles was designed to coincide with the finish of the examination period for them.  We are near to completing a second release of information, subject to confirmation by the University Council, that will be of particular interest to those currently on fixed term contracts and doctoral students who wish to use and develop their skills in digitally enhanced blended learning and teaching.

The University is committed to protecting employment and taking action to protect colleagues, including those on short term contracts as far as it is able, and will continue to do so. The Vice-Chancellor and Registrar in particular have been in regular contact, through email and in online Q&A sessions, to reinforce this message every week since the lockdown was enforced. During this time we have been working very closely with the Students’ Guild and Students’ Union and in very regular dialogue with the UCU.

Date: 29 May 2020

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