UCL News


Vice-Provost's View: How your feedback can create a better UCL

15 October 2015

UCL's phenomenal success over the past 10-15 years in establishing itself as one of the world's leading universities is fundamentally dependent on the talents and abilities of our staff.

Rex Knight Whether you are an academic member of staff or you work in professional services, your commitment to excellence and your willingness to work in partnership are critical to our mission.

You also hold another vital ingredient of UCL's success in your collective knowledge about what is working especially well here, and where we could make improvements. Gathering your nominations for awards and requesting your feedback through surveys and other benchmarking exercises are two of the ways that we hope to draw on this.

As Vice-Provost (Operations), I have a particular responsibility for professional services staff and I am very proud of the work undertaken by my colleagues in central Professional Services, as well as in other units including departments and faculties and other vice-provosts' offices.

UCL 2034 and the role of professional services

Two years ago, we adopted "Enabling Excellence for London's Global University" as our vision for professional services. Since then, UCL has developed its unique and inspiring vision for a 21st century university, UCL 2034.

I am pleased that the role of professional services in delivering that vision is recognised in the six Key Enablers identified in the strategy:

  • A Giving our students the best support, facilities and opportunities
  • B Valuing our staff and delivering on equality and diversity
  • C Financing our ambitions
  • D Delivering excellent systems and processes in support of UCL's vision.
  • E Maintaining a sustainable estate to meet our aspirations
  • F Communicating and engaging effectively with the world

The UCL 2034 webpages contain many case studies that illustrate the excellence that we are seeking to achieve.

Although I firmly believe that staff are the "magic ingredient" for a successful university, other factors need to be present too.

Staff need to be well led and managed, we need the right kind of training and development opportunities. Systems and processes need to be fit for purpose and we need sufficient resources to be able to do the job well.

The culture of the organisation also needs to be right, with a clear sense of vision, a commitment to excellence, a clear belief in the benefits of teamwork and a recognition of the contribution that professional services staff can bring to a successful university.

We all know that we have a long road to follow in terms of investment in the estate and in our systems, but I believe that the next few years will see significant and tangible progress, while 2034 gives us the clear vision that we need.

Celebrating success is an important part of establishing an effective culture and I am looking forward to seeing the nominations for this year's Professional Services Awards. I'd like to encourage all staff at UCL - both academic and professional services - to make a nomination where you have recognised excellence in the work of your professional services colleagues.

Gathering staff feedback

One of the characteristics of successful organisations is that they are always trying to develop and improve. Feedback from users of our services is a vital way of identifying successful activity that should be celebrated and reinforced, as well as areas for development.

I am very pleased to be able to let you know, therefore, that we have launched our first-ever, institution-wide survey of staff on service quality, the Service Effectiveness Survey. The survey went live on 5 October and a large sample of staff from across UCL have been emailed a link to the survey.

It is designed to be easy to complete, and should take you no more than 15 minutes to do. If you are one of the invited sample, please do take the time to complete it before the survey closes (at 5.00pm on 21 October). Individual responses are completely confidential.

The survey is being run on our behalf by Cubane Consulting, and several other Russell Group universities are taking part, so we will have the opportunity to benchmark our results against our fellow members, as well as against the Australian universities for whom Cubane have been undertaking surveys for some years.

The results of the Service Effectiveness Survey will be used to develop action plans for improvement. In this first year, the survey will focus on finance, purchasing services, human resources, information technology, marketing and student recruitment, research administration, student and teaching support and facilities management. Other services will be surveyed in future years.

As you will be aware from earlier communications, we will also be undertaking the fourth of our two-yearly staff surveys in November. The UCL Staff Engagement Survey takes broad view of your experience of work and the working environment - you can learn more about the changes that we've made as a result of previous Staff Engagement Surveys here. Communications about the UCL Staff Engagement Survey will intensify in the coming weeks as we seek to ensure that as many staff as possible complete this important exercise.

I'd like to thank you for your time and effort in completing these surveys - particularly those of you who will be asked to complete both. I am sure that they will be extremely worthwhile in terms of our ability to focus time and effort on issues that really matter to all of us.

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