Information for Academics

SWARM is the University's workload planning software. To login in and view your workload profile, please click on the SWARM button to the right. Sign in with your normal University username (abc123 format) and password. The recommended browser is Mozilla Firefox. If you experience any problems logging in, require any training, or have any other technical problems, please email your College’s workload planning key contact. Please note that in general, the SWARM year (instance) runs from mid-September to mid-September (approximately from the Monday at the start of term one, to the Friday before term one starts).

Before accessing your profile for the first time, to find out more about why academic workload planning is important, please watch this video from Tim Quine.

Once you have viewed your profile, if you have any questions about it, try the FAQs below.

If you need any information on using SWARM, or how to view different information in it, please take a look at the SWARM User Manual.

If you cannot find the answer to your question in the SWARM User Manual or the FAQs, please contact your College Workload Planning Administrator.

Frequently Asked Questions

Workload models are based on a notional working year of 1650 hours for Education and Research (E&R), in line with Research Councils’ guidance (taking account of employees’ entitlement to annual leave, bank holidays and closure days). The University recognises that most academic staff do not have defined working hours and that this arrangement provides flexibility which benefits individual members of staff, students and the University as a whole. The use of the notional figure of 1650 hours is not intended to imply a contractual or defined working period: it is used solely to act as a guide in ensuring a fair allocation of work through College workload models. Academics within the Education and Scholarship job family have a 1600 hours target.

While most Colleges will base their workload model on hours, Colleges may use others systems of points or credits or percentages provided that these can easily be converted to hours to ensure transparency and understanding.

Every college has a Workload Policy which dictates the hours given for different activities. Please see the College Information page for your College's policy.

These policies should be reviewed and updated once a year, and approved by the CEG. Each college will follow a slightly different process for review, with some colleges using their Workload Allocation Action Group (WAAG; known in some colleges as a Workload Action Group - WAG) as the starting point to discuss any updates, before passing them to their CEG for approval, and other colleges will do this straight at CEG level (as they do not have a WAAG or WAG).

If you want to know more about the process for reviewing the policy for your college, please contact your College Workload Planning Administrator.

When you are asked to check your SWARM profile for the coming academic year, check that no data is missing that will change your time allocation by more than approximately 10%. Be aware of the year that the SWARM data applies to, for example, a grant may finish part way through the next academic year.

If there are significant changes required to your profile, contact your Academic manager.

SWARM is a planning tool, it does not aim to reflect your work 100%, but needs to be accurate enough to identify over allocation and under allocation of activities.

The data in SWARM is gathered from numerous different sources which will affect what you can see and when:

 

DataFrequency of UpdateSource
Grant Hours Monthly T1
Staff Starting/Leaving Monthly Trent
Teaching Hours Once received from Academic/Module Lead Academic Manager
PhD Students Termly SITS
Tutees Termly SITS/Academic Manager
Long Term Planned Leave Ad-Hoc once informed Individual Staff/Academic Manager
Leadership Roles Annually and Ad-Hoc once informed Individual Staff/Academic Manager

If you believe any activity data in your profile is missing or inaccurate, you will need to ensure that the source data from where we pull information for inputting into SWARM is accurate. This inaccurate data flowchart will guide you to the first point of contact to update your information. If this fails, speak to your College Workload Planning Administrator who can advise further as to who to speak to.

If all the data in your profile is accurate (see flowchart in above accordion if the data is inaccurate) but you have a problem with your overall workload, take a look at this workload issues flowchart which shows some of the available approaches you have, along with the main available outcomes of each approach.

Data from SWARM is used as a key input to the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) return to Research England/OfS. 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 for 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 proportionately how they spent their time. When this has been agreed electronically in SWARM, referred to as the TRAC sign off, the workload data is aggregated by discipline and used in the TRAC process to allocate costs to activities.

 

Where a member of staff is concerned that the application of the workload model in their College results in an allocation of work which they perceive to be excessive or unfair, in the first instance they should discuss these concerns with the manager(s) in their College responsible for workload allocation. If, following these discussions, their concerns remain unresolved, the member of staff may raise these concerns informally with their College Dean. Exceptionally, where the concerns have not been resolved informally, the member of staff may follow the appropriate grievance procedure.

2020/21 Teaching Input: Principles of the Approach

Discussions to date have surfaced the following key principles that will underpin the approach to Academic Workload Management:

  • Colleagues are not expected to simply do more, but that in order to accommodate the additional activities required to deliver Project Enhance a reprioritisation of activities/commitments will be undertaken.
  • Any adjustments to workload would be made for 2020/21 initially to signal that we are in unusual times and we will need to redirect some of our effort.
  • VCEG portfolio holders will agree a nominal division between workloads/balance to frame and inform the conversations that will take place at College level. This should include top level indications of which areas we will temporarily reduce our efforts in, in order to achieve this rebalancing (most likely, admin time/unfunded research).
  • Clear specification from Core Business Response groups of what work is needed to be completed and by when.
  • Local agency and flexibility for Colleges to implement changes will be key. The balance between Education and Research portfolios will look different for different colleagues/groups i.e. some may be focused on rapid response calls for Covid-19 and other research funding, but others will be focused entirely on teaching. 

These principles will be discussed in further detail at the Workload Steering Group on June 17th 2020 following consultation with the heads of disciplines. 

 

Further information

If you have any further questions please get in touch with one of the key contacts for more information.