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Archive of Covid-19: Crisis Management Structure for UCL

From March to June 2020, in response to the coronavirus outbreak, UCL implemented a Gold / Silver / Bronze crisis management structure. As of June 5, this has been replaced by a revised structure.

Please note: This is an archived webpage which reflects the crisis management structure that was in place from March to June 2020. As of  June this has been replaced by our current crisis management structure.

Gold / Silver / Bronze structure

The Gold / Silver / Bronze approach is well-tested and a number of universities across the sector have adopted a similar approach. 

This new structure will enable us to react quickly during this fast-moving crisis. It will allow us to ensure that our staff and students receive the support they need at this difficult time, and to determine how to put our community in the best possible position for the 2020-21 academic year and beyond. The move to this structure has been endorsed by UCL Council.

The new structure is detailed below. It will be in place for as long as the crisis requires but we will review it regularly to ensure that we return to business-as-usual at the earliest opportunity.

The outcomes of the GSB structure are shared with the community through a range of relevant channels. They inform updates to UCL policies and guidance that are shared through local teams (eg. HR’s policies and guidance to support staff during coronavirus) and form the basis of the coronavirus information hub, and the Keeping safe on campus website. We also regularly update the community through our daily coronavirus emails to all staff, communications from the Provost, and operational emails to UCL leadership.


Teams and Workstreams

Gold

Lead: Professor Michael Arthur, President & Provost

Gold sits at the top of the new structure and has overall control of and accountability for the crisis management response. The Provost as Gold lead provides daily guidance, direction and decision to the Gold Integration Centre and the Silver leads. The Provost is also responsible for ensuring effective communication of decisions, for alignment with Council and governance structures and for external engagement with sector bodies, lobbying organisations and with government. 

For queries about Gold issues and to request a Gold decision please contact Clare Goudy.

Gold Integration Centre (GIC)

Co-leads: Professor David Price and Professor Anthony Smith

The GIC provides Gold with support to take effective decisions. This includes providing planning and analysis expertise, by assessing and mitigating risks, impacts and consequences of plans as they are developed; and by reviewing proposals for action and by providing support and challenge to Silver leads as recommendations are put together. The GIC also supports Gold with communications and external affairs activity.

Fiona Ryland and Tom Rowson are Co-Directors of the GIC and are the contact point for enquiries about planning needs and for advice and guidance to Silver workstreams.

Red, Blue and Public Affairs Teams

Blue Team

Co-leads: Fiona Ryland and Tom Rowson

The Blue Team brings together professional expertise from across the university to inform proposals from Silver groups and decisions made at Gold level. The group quickly brings together information and experience while the institution is working at speed. They will provide input to developing proposals and advice on policy before Silver proposals are submitted to Gold.

Red Team

Co-leads: Professor Ivan Parkin and Dr Celia Caulcott

The Red Team provides constructive challenge to proposals made by Silver groups in advance of decisions being made at Gold level. It exists to ensure a range of perspectives are considered and to guard against the risks of falling into groupthink. 

Terms of Reference

  • Critically evaluate questions set by the GIC, including:
    • Questioning assumptions, methodologies and data as appropriate.
    • Considering a range of internal and external perspectives, including stakeholders as well as those who would benefit from our failures.
  • On occasion, provide critical input to GIC on other significant decisions where the team feels it can make a contribution.
  • Ensure that all business is conducted with the utmost confidentiality and with regard to UCL’s reputation.

Public Affairs

Co-leads: Dame Hazel Genn and Professor Graham Reid

The Public Affairs team is responsible for creating and managing relationships with contacts in Government and parliament, Higher Education and industry sector leads. It works to enhance UCL’s efforts to use the breadth of our expertise to help our partners, Government and the public, during the pandemic and beyond, and to influence key contacts in support of UCL and its interests. 

Terms of Reference

  • To increase UCL’s visibility and influence in government, parliament and the civil service by:  
  • Gaining insight into government policies and parliamentary debates that have implications for UCL and the wider HE and research sector.
  • Positioning UCL as a leading contributor of expertise and evidence to policy development on Covid-19 and other issues, thereby supporting economic and social development and the reduction of inequality across the UK.
Silver Aquamarine: Business Continuity for 2019-20 Academic Year

Co-Leads: Professor Anthony Smith and Fiona Ryland (Deputy: David Price)

Silver Aquamarine is responsible for our immediate business continuity planning until September 2020. This includes responsibility for operational decisions taken at speed. There are five Silver workstreams under Aquamarine, focusing on Business Continuity, Online Teaching; Alternative Assessment, Research and Contribution to the National Effort. Silver Aquamarine takes day-to-day operational decisions and refers significant issues upward to Gold, with support from the Integration Centre.

Ian Dancy (alternate Helen Fisher) is the convenor for Silver Aquamarine and the point of contact for queries about any aspects of continuity planning for the period to the end of September. 

Silver Aquamarine Subgroups 1-5

AQ1: Business Continuity

  • Lead: Ian Dancy (Deputy: Duncan Palmer)
  • Convenor: TBC

AQ2: Remote Delivery

  • Lead: Professor Nora Colton (Alternate: Abigail Smith)
  • Convenor: Megan Gerrie

AQ3: Alternative Assessments

  • Lead: Professor Norbert Pachler (Alternate: Abigail Smith)
  • Convenor: Toby Belshaw

AQ4: Research

  • Lead: Professor Alan Thompson (Alternate: David Price)
  • Convenor: Jeremy Barraud

Terms of Reference

  • To provide UCL’s tactical response to research issues from March to September 2020.
  • To respond to external guidance and regulations as they emerge during the pandemic to ensure that research activities are appropriately managed.
  • To facilitate support for research in the national interest (especially that related to Covid-19) and prioritise accordingly.
  • To ensure that UCL’s external commitments related to research (e.g., REF2021 and funder audits) remain on track.
  • To make recommendations to Project Aquamarine Silver Command and Gold Command, and Project Sapphire Silver 3 (Research) as necessary.

AQ5: Contribution to National Effort

  • Lead: Professor David Lomas (Deputy: Celia Caulcott) 
  • Convenor: Rebecca Whitham

Terms of Reference

  • To advise on UCL’s strategic response to external public-health related requests for space/equipment/skills/volunteers, to contribute to the Covid-19 outbreak.
  • To triage incoming public-health requests and recommend delivery mechanisms through the Bronze, Silver, Gold command structure.
  • To oversee the management of staff and student volunteers, including the coordination of external calls for support and consideration of mental health and wellbeing (Bronze 5i).
  • To oversee management of requests for equipment/consumables (Bronze 5ii).
  • To identify possible further national needs and make recommendations as to how to respond to these (Bronze 5iii).
  • To coordinate communications with key partners directly involved in the national Covid-19 response process (internal effort, NHS, PHE, Trusts, government, industry) and ensure consistent messaging, points of contact etc. working with Sapphire Silver 4 and Aquamarine Silver 4. 
Silver Sapphire: Planning for 2020-21

Lead: Professor Geraint Rees (Deputy: Professor Sasha Roseneil)

Silver Sapphire is leading the planning for our activities in 2020-21, recognising that we will be operating in a very different landscape. Working with a number of scenarios, this group is considering how to mobilise UCL’s resources during a period of government restrictions on movement, and then to enable us to rebuild thereafter. Four workstreams have been created under Silver Sapphire: Operations; Education; Research and External Engagement. Plans for education delivery are currently being prioritised.

Dean Stokes is the convenor for Silver Sapphire and the point of contact for queries about any aspects of this forward planning activity.

Silver Sapphire Subgroups 1-4

SS1: Operations

Project Silver Sapphire 1, led by Professor Sasha Roseneil and Fiona Ryland, is responsible for the delivery of responsive, flexible and appropriately targeted operational support for UCL’s education, research and external engagement activities for the academic year 2020-21.

Terms of Reference

  • To ensure an excellent student experience including pre-arrival, welcome and induction and high quality teaching online or in a blended way (working closely with Project Silver Sapphire 2).
  • To ensure staff are supported through the period of remote working and that all people processes, such as recruitment, induction and career development, can be completed remotely.
  • To ensure that UCL has IT infrastructure that best supports new ways of working and interacting, and an effective estates and student accommodation strategy.

SS2: Education

Project Silver Sapphire 2, led by Professor Piet Eeckhout, is planning UCL’s education activities in 2020-21 to ensure an excellent experience for returning and new undergraduate and postgraduate taught students.

Terms of Reference

  • To support Deans and Faculties to evaluate their provision using the UCL Emergency Resilience Framework for Programmes and Modules. Workstream led by Professor Nora Colton.
  • To develop a model for the delivery of education from September 2020, including different modes (blended, online, face to face), assessment, technical infrastructure, staff training. Workstream led by Professor Norbert Pachler.
  • To plan a smooth arrival and induction process for returning and new students, whether on campus or remotely, that maximises engagement and supports a positive transition or return to university. Workstream lead by Professor Deborah Gill and Derfel Owen and reporting both to Sapphire Silver Education and Sapphire Silver Operations.

SS3: Research

Project Silver Sapphire 3, led by Professor Nigel-Titchener Hooker, is responsible for considering strategic and operational issues, medium-term risks and challenges, and actions relating to the planning, support and delivery of research and innovation in 2020-21 and beyond.

Terms of Reference

  • To consider our research and innovation mission, portfolio, engagement, impact, environment, systems, infrastructure and talent development
  • To ensure the delivery of REF2021 and KEF while working remotely
  • To determine how we can help to move our world to a trajectory of resilience, sustainability, equity, justice and prosperity
  • To sustain our influence on the national and international research agenda.
  • To determine how our research and innovation culture and activity might need to be supported during a period of reconsolidation and re-launch following an extended shutdown.

SS4: External Engagement 

Project Silver Sapphire 4, led by Dame Nicola Brewer, with Professor Christoph Lindner and Professor Graham Hart as Deputy Leads, focusses on maintaining and enhancing UCL’s external engagement and global reputation through periods of intermittent restrictions; and on preparing to increase our impact/reputation following campus reopening and reactivation of some or all campus-based working.

Terms of Reference

  • Maintaining UCL’s global profile/reputation and key relationships/partnerships in the UK and internationally during an extended and possibly intermittent period of remote working, through a focus on our external stakeholders and public impact.
  • Planning, and recommending implementation of, innovative ways to deepen UCL’s external partnerships and relationships, aligned with the values of Humanity, Sustainability, Excellence, Equity and Community.
Bronze Aquamarine

Bronze Aquamarine has been created under Silver Aquamarine to undertake detailed development of plans in key areas for Silver to review and recommend to Gold.

Business Continuity 

*Aligned with Sapphire Bronze

Bronze 1A: Students (Lead: Denise Long) - Complete

Bronze 1B: Staff (Lead: Max Hill)

Terms of Reference

  • Supporting our staff as we moved quickly into remote working.

Bronze 1C: Infrastructure (Lead: Duncan Palmer)

Terms of Reference 

  • To provide the institution with a comprehensive and coordinated operation plan in regard to the reinstatement of the university’s infrastructure (the basic systems and services, such as buildings, IT, Facilities management and power supplies, that UCL uses in order to operate and work effectively) for the academic year 20/21, being mindful of institutional guidance, priorities and parameters.
  • To develop the operational plan in conjunction with Sapphire Bronze (academic focus on teaching and research, academic year 20/21) being cognisant of their priorities whilst informing of the operational constraints of Aquamarine Bronze.
  • To ensure effective engagement with all key stakeholders.
  • Feed any recommendations into Aquamarine 1 & 4.
  • Implement any agreed recommendations.

Remote Delivery

Bronze 2A: Remote Delivery - Student Academic Support & Guidance (Lead: Sub group) - Membership and Terms of Reference TBC

Alternative Assessment

Bronze 3 - No Bronze structure

Research

Bronze 4A: COVID-19 (Co-leads: Professor Geraint Rees and Professor Ivan Parkin)

Terms of Reference

  • To update and enhance the UCL COVID-19 website to include:
    • a coherent narrative for UCL research,
    • the new Grand Challenge,
    • strong linkage to UCLH BRC and clinical research (in conjunction with AQ5),
    • describing activity across the full range of UCL Departments.
  • To refresh and revise the academic assessment process for COVID research.
  • To include academic assessment, linkage to website, fast-track ethics.
  • To oversee the governance and academic assessment associated with CL3 facilities.
  • To escalate to Aquamarine Silver Research any issues requiring decision.
  • To undertake any work related to COVID-19 delegated from Aquamarine Silver.

Bronze 4B: Research Funders and Finance (Lead: Professor Tony Kenyon)

Terms of Reference

  • To provide support to AQ4’s tactical response to issues regarding research funders and finance from March to September 2020.
  • To identify issues related to research, formulate options and make recommendations to AQ4.
  • To receive directions from AQ4 to investigate issues, formulate options, make recommendations and operationalise processes as necessary.
  • To oversee the implementation of decisions made by AQ4 (or bodies above it) in the Group’s area.
  • To facilitate support for research in the national interest (especially that related to Covid-19) and prioritise accordingly.
  • To help ensure that UCL’s external commitments related to research remain on track.

Bronze 4C: Research Students (Lead: Professor David Bogle)

Terms of Reference

  • To provide support to AQ4’s tactical response to issues regarding research students from March to September 2020.
  • To identify issues related to research, formulate options and make recommendations to AQ4.
  • To receive directions from AQ4 to investigate issues, formulate options, make recommendations and operationalise processes as necessary.
  • To oversee the implementation of decisions made by AQ4 (or bodies above it) in the Group’s area.
  • To facilitate support for research in the national interest (especially that related to Covid-19) and prioritise accordingly.
  • To help ensure that UCL’s external commitments related to research remain on track.

National Interest

Bronze 5A: Volunteers (Lead: Professor Graham Hart)

Terms of Reference

  • To ensure operational mechanisms are in place to manage staff and student volunteers (e.g. staff pay/terms, managing workplace risk).
  • To ensure full consideration is given to staff and student volunteer wellbeing, and mechanisms for immediate and ongoing support. 
  • To ensure appropriate advice is given to Host Departments and line managers.
  • To track impact of loss of staff to host depts. financial impact, and recommend approaches for managing BAU.
  • To advise Silver Workstream 5 on communication strategy for volunteering requests, including those that are external to UCL, both (e.g. NHS call for volunteers) and community based (e.g. with local charities).
  • To ensure connectivity across the breadth of UCL’s volunteering activities (staff, student, alumni etc.) and where possible, to develop an integrated approach when responding to opportunities identified within each area. 

Bronze 5B: Equipment (Lead: Dr Sinead Kennedy) - Membership and Terms of Reference under review

Bronze 5C: Industry & Economy (Lead: Dr Celia Caulcott)

Terms of Reference

To consider practical actions and steps that UCL can take now to:

  • take a leadership role in supporting national economic and social renewal through research, innovation and knowledge exchange.
  • maintain and increase our partnerships with industry, the professions, government, and investment community, in ways that visibly contribute to economic and social renewal.
  • take a lead role in driving renewal of London’s innovation ecosystem, working with London’s HEI sector and institutions.
  • significantly increase support for UCL student start-ups, spinouts and scaling SMEs,  that will support renewed economic growth in London and student employability.
Bronze Sapphire

Bronze Sapphire has been created under Silver Sapphire to undertake detailed development of plans in key areas for Silver to review and recommend to Gold.

Operations

Bronze 1A: Staff (Lead: Julie Smith)

Terms of Reference

  • Do everything we can to help staff feel supported, engaged and able to be fully productive whilst we are working remotely.
  • Ensure that we support all staff and that no groups are left behind or feel disadvantaged.
  • Ensure that we have the right people in the right place to deliver our education and student support strategies.
  • Ensure that we can complete all people processes remotely – e.g. recruitment, induction, development and OD activities e.g. appraisals, training, career development.

Bronze 1B: Infrastructure (Lead: Professor Ivan Parkin)

Terms of Reference

  • Ensure that we have the IT infrastructure that supports the new ways of working including online teaching.
  • Have an effective plan for running services remotely – e.g. libraries.
  • Have an effective strategy for student accommodation for the first term / next year.
  • Have an effective building strategy for the first term.

Education

Faculty Education Teams working with:

Bronze 2A: UCL Emergency Resilience Framework for Programmes and Modules (Leads: Professor Nora Colton and Derfel Owen) - Same Terms of Reference as Bronze 2C

Bronze 2B: Education Delivery (Lead: Professor Norbert Pachler)

Terms of Reference

  • Develop recommendations for a model for the delivery of education from September 2020 in light of the pandemic and social distancing restrictions.
  • Further articulate UCL’s strategic approach to potential blended and remote forms of teaching for Term 1 2020/21 and beyond.
  • In collaboration with ISD, explore what systems, platforms and technology will support proposals, for both staff and students.
  • Consider approaches for remote personal tutoring, academic mentoring and student engagement with academic staff and departments.
  • Develop staff training and resources to support delivery and resilience.
  • Explore options for digital assessment and propose adjustment to assessment policies, where necessary.
  • Propose recommendations for the potential sequencing of teaching in light of potential Term 1 restrictions.
  • Ensure that support is in place to help students with the transition to remote learning/delivery, including online learning mastery and resilience.

Bronze 2C: Student Lifecycle and Experience (Leads: Professor Deborah Gill and Derfel Owen)

Terms of Reference

  • To ensure that a coherent communications plan is developed encompassing all key information from central services and academic departments to keep key messages timely, simple and consistent.
  • To develop and promote initiatives that support student employability, particularly PGT students and students returning to their final year of UG programmes.
  • To develop new and innovative approaches to provide support to students and to pro-actively engage with them while they are studying remotely.
  • To maximise the capability of our core Education and Student Administration system to support remote activity, and:
  • To manage the vast changes that are being made to curriculum and assessment.
  • To ensure students feel a sense of belonging to the UCL community, they’re welcomed as new and valued members of UCL, they are supported to connect with others and feel engaged with returning students and existing communities, whether they are joining remotely or physically.

Research and innovation

Bronze 3A: Foresight (Lead: Professor Graeme Reid)

Terms of Reference

  • To provide advice to SSR3 on key questions, challenges and opportunities, and external contextual factors and perspectives relevant to the work of the group.
  • To develop and refine a set of potential national and international socio-economic scenarios to frame the work of the group.
  • To individualy write short thought pieces to a common structure.

Bronze 3B: Innovation (Lead: Dr Celia Caulcott)

Terms of Reference

  • To develop approaches to working with future industries and sectors in the UK and globally, based on the UCL developing understanding of the changing innovation, economic, cultural and societal landscape.
  • To advise and recommend how to grow our partnerships with industry, the professions, government, our local communities and investment community, in ways that visibly contribute to economic and social  renewal.
  • To identify research questions and challenges that align with the emerging businesses and sectors and advise Sapphire Silver Research on appropriate responses.
  • To advise and recommend  how to draw together the full breadth of UCL expertise in company creation, development and support, so as to support renewed economic growth in London and more broadly.
  • To take a lead role in driving renewal of London’s innovation ecosystem, working with London’s HEI sector and institutions.

Bronze 3C: People (Lead: Professor Alison Fuller)

Terms of Reference

  • Identify challenges for and gaps in the existing staffing pipeline, profile and capacity (PGR, post-doc, mid-career, senior career).
  • Identify how existing processes, structures and environment inhibit or facilitate the recruitment, development, progression and retention of highly able staff and teams and how these could be enhanced and identify opportunities to address inefficiencies and enhance productivity.
  • Identify and understand the capacities and skills required for addressing ‘grand challenges’ including new forms of data collection, cross-disciplinarity, collaboration and methodological innovation.
  • Identify and understand how changes associated with workforce and research work might affect different staff groups, particularly in terms of implications for equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) to identify strategies to continue to support the breadth and diversity of our workforce.
  • Take account of, and coordinate with groups focusing on foresight, research finance, physical and digital research environment, partnerships, and innovation and economy.
  • Make recommendations that will contribute to the capacity and capability of UCL staff to undertake open and engaged, directed and fundamental research that maximises our scientific and societal impact.

Bronze 3D: Finance (Lead: Professor Tony Kenyon)

Terms of Reference

  • To model, through a scenario approach from the current UCL baseline, the potential futures for research & innovation funding at UCL as a result to changes to the funding landscape in the UK and internationally (including public, charities, industry).
  • To identify key funding threats to UCL, as well as funding opportunities, in the medium and long term for consideration and report these for consideration to the SS3.
  • To consider the outputs of SS3 and provide other input, data and information to SS3 as required.

Bronze 3E: Estates (Lead: Professor Paola Lettieri)

Terms of Reference

  • To model and predict, through a scenario approach from the UCL baseline, the impact of COVID-19 on our research & innovation estates demand and supply in the medium and long term.
  • To consider the potential impact in the medium and long term on UCL’s portfolio of major capital projects, both existing and future (e.g. UCL East Phase 2), and identify major risks and opportunities.
  • To consider the outputs of SS3 and provide other input, data and information to SS3 as required.

External Engagement

Bronze 4A: External Partnerships (Lead: Professor Graham Hart)

Terms of Reference

  • To draw up detailed implementation plans as requested by Sapphire Silver 4 command and at Bronze 4 (ii) command’s own initiative if/when agreed by SS4.
  • To ensure consistency / no duplication with the purpose and scenario development of Silver Aquamarine 5.
  • Building from Sapphire Silver’s initial stakeholder mapping, undertake detailed stakeholder mapping - against ‘influence’ and ‘interest’ – for: small companies, innovation & enterprise, govt & regulatory bodies, global university partners, creative sector partners eg. museums and any other stakeholders Bronze command deems necessary for inclusion. This should be aligned with Silver Aquamarine 5 and Silver Saphire 3 (Research) stakeholder mapping and in close consultation with Bronze 4 (ii).

Bronze 4B: The Campaign & UCL’s Reputation/Profile (Lead: Professor Christoph Lindner)

Terms of Reference

  • To draw up detailed implementation plans as requested by Silver Sapphire 4 command and at Bronze 4 (ii) command’s own initiative if/when agreed by SS4 .
  • Building from Sapphire Silver’s initial stakeholder mapping, undertake detailed stakeholder mapping - against ‘influence’ and ‘interest’ – for: affiliates, parents, schools & advisors; charities; hospital charities; donor community; alumni; public, media and any other stakeholders Bronze command deems necessary for inclusion. This should be aligned with Silver Aquamarine 5 and Silver Sapphire 3 (Research) stakeholder mapping and in close consultation with Bronze 4 (ii).
Faculty Delivery Teams

Leads: Deans

Once plans have been formulated by Bronze teams, reviewed by Silver, validated and stress-tested by the GIC and approved by Gold, Silver workstreams will engage with senior teams in faculties to oversee implementation. This approach has already worked effectively for the closedown and the move to online teaching. Deans, their Directors of Operations and senior education leads in faculties will take key roles in this work, and work is already underway in faculties to consider how existing provision might be adapted.


Full GSB members list

The membership of the GSB groups described above includes staff from across our academic and professional services teams and represents the diversity of our community. Members have been selected based on their areas of responsibility and accountability and ensure that we are able to draw upon a wide range of expertise.

Further information

If you have a question about UCL's response to the coronavirus pandemic, our plans for the future or the Gold / Silver / Bronze crisis management structure we have adopted, please submit this through our online form (for staff and students only). 

If you have a specific question about your individual circumstances please speak to your department in the first instance.

We may not be able to respond to every question individually, but we will use your questions to update the website, so please do continue to check.