Professional Services


Excellent service award

The UCL Psychology and Language Sciences professional services Team

Winners: UCL Psychology and Language Sciences professional services team

The professional services staff members at UCL Psychology and Language Sciences (PaLS) and the UCL Faculty of Brain Sciences are a team of 80 people supporting a total of eight research departments. 

Led by John Draper, Divisional Head of Administration, the professional services team at PaLS is an outstanding example of an academic support team. 

They perform invaluable services across a range of areas that underpin the academic field, including teaching and learning, finances, information technology and estates. Students and staff benefit from their efforts.

Recently, the team collaborated on the creation of a handbook containing critical information, procedures and contacts for Heads of Research Departments. The handbook was instrumental in aiding the transition of two new Heads as well as facilitating the work of existing Heads.

The team has also created a PhD Administrators Forum to assist in PhD admissions to UCL Select and enhance student feedback across PaLS, and in addition to this, the initiation of a Wellbeing Week linked to the bi-annual SWAN lecture. 

In these areas and more, the PaLS professional services team is consistently identifying potential improvements and undertakes to make them happen.


UCL Careers GradClub

The UCL Careers GradClub is a collaborative effort that provides a free dedicated careers support service to recent graduates for a period of two years after leaving UCL. 

GradClub is a team of four career coaches, a marketing officer and a CV/applications coach who work with colleagues from UCL Alumni Relations, UCL Psychological Services as well as many UCL faculties. 

This initiative is intended to ease graduates' difficulties when entering today's competitive job market. GradClub currently offers bespoke support to over 3,000 UCL graduates.

GradClub's services include one-to-one careers coaching, experiential workshops, faculty-based intensive programmes, jobs fairs and much more. 

The services are all designed to be as accessible and well tailored as possible. For example, graduates can access coaching sessions up to an hour long in person, by telephone or on Skype at any point during working hours. 

After implementing a tailored coaching and information programme designed to improve the employability destination outcomes of six UCL departments that have typically underperformed in un/under-employment, GradClub saw a reduction of 15% on average in unemployment figures across five of the participating departments. 

In 2013, GradClub created the UCL Job Market, an end-of-year recruitment fair designed to bring recent graduates together with employers. 

More than 400 graduates and 35 employers were in attendance with numerous positions filled as a direct result of this networking opportunity.

UCL Careers Placements and Vacancies team

Created in September 2013, the Placements and Vacancies team is a new division within UCL Careers.

The team liaises with employers to source internships, placements and graduate vacancies as well as to support students in applying for these positions. 

Since its creation, the Placements and Vacancies team has established relationships with more than 600 employers, roughly 300 of which are new contacts. 

One of the key achievements of the team is the implementation of the UCL Talent Bank. 

This is a service that provides employers, in particular UCL alumni and small and medium enterprises, with shortlists of suitable UCL students and graduates for work placements.

The aim of the service is two-fold: firstly, to identify relevant, hard-to-access opportunities and support students and graduates in securing these; and secondly, to make UCL an attractive place for smaller organisations to recruit. 

UCL Talent Bank launched in April 2014 and immediate use by employers and UCL students and graduates has been extremely high. 

225 employers have indicated that they are keen to use the service while 750 students and graduates have joined it.

Over 40 opportunities have been promoted via Talent Bank, with 120 UCL personnel being shortlisted for these roles and nine eventually securing them.

So far, feedback on Talent Bank has been overwhelmingly positive, with one employer remarking that it is "a brilliant, friendly, accommodating service providing opportunities to talented UCL students".

UCL Estates' Security Systems team at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre

The Sainsbury Wellcome Centre (SWC) was constructed over a two-year period, beginning in 2012, with UCL taking occupation of the new building in 2014. 

Many staff from across the university have been involved in the design and specification aspects of the building throughout its construction phase. 

UCL Estates' Security Systems team, led by Mike Dawe, stands out in its contributions to the delivery of the building, providing expert technical knowledge and leadership with professionalism, collegiality and flexibility - often at times outside of working hours. 

Some aspects of security that the Security Systems team has assumed responsibility for include: the complex key suiting for the building; the specification of electronic access control systems for perimeter doors and other tightly-controlled high security research areas; and the integration of access controls, security systems (e.g. CCTV) and life support systems within the UCL IT network. 

The importance of their input is demonstrated by Mike Dawe identifying an error from meeting notes - he noticed that the incorrect card readers had been purchased for the building and his team was instrumental in supporting SWC management in having the mistake fixed by the responsible party. 

The excellent service provided to the SWC is but one branch of the work carried out by Security Systems who ensure the security of around 175 buildings of varying age, size and geographical location while facilitating hassle-free access to some 45,000 cardholders. 

Whether handling a major project or answering a request for building access, the team embodies an ethos of customer service combined with expert knowledge.  

UCL European Research and Innovation Office

The main function of the UCL European Research and Innovation Office (ERIO) is to help maintain the university's position at the vanguard of EU collaboration in science and technology. 

This is achieved using a multifaceted approach that involves providing information on funding, support for grant writings and costings, project management and contract negotiations.

The team recently assisted Professor Francesco Muntoni (UCL Institute of Child Health) in a large application for a collaborative health call grant from the EU for a clinical trial treating Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 

This meant outlining the appropriate EU funding information and providing support for an application that, in the end, was over 100 pages long. 

Furthermore, Professor Muntoni's grant was more complicated than most because it involved an America-based small pharmaceutical company who did not easily fit into the EU grant remit.

Undeterred by this challenge, during the grant negotiation stage of the award, ERIO worked long and unusual hours to coordinate discussion between the EU project officer, the pharma company, UCL Business, Professor Muntoni and other partners. 

The grant was successful in acquiring the preferred budget (€5,582,781 total). It commenced on 1 November 2012 and runs until 21 October 2015. ERIO now project manages the grant. 

Those who consult ERIO's services, such as Professor Muntoni and countless other academics and clinicians, are able to balance their many work commitments while also creating high level grant applications. 

UCL holds more EU grants than any other European science institution, a testament to the excellent service consistently delivered by ERIO. 

UCL Institute of Child Health and Finance & Business Affairs

Professor Ros Smyth started as the Director of the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) in autumn 2012. 

Soon after joining UCL, she made contact with UCL Finance & Business Affairs, expressing concerns about the underlying financials of the Institute and its staffing records.  

As a result of the excellent service provided by Amy Spittles, Senior Management Accounts (Budgets and Forecasts), alongside members of the ICH central team, Professor Smyth was able to lead ICH with confidence and a deeper knowledge of its financial administration.

The tasks performed by the team involved checking that grants were charged and external funding was claimed where it was due, completing HR processes to ensure that staff were coded to the correct place and enacting increments and promotions where promised. 

The overall work generated approximately £1m of unclaimed income for ICH. 

UCL Institute of Child Health Laboratory Management Team

The purpose of the Laboratory Management Team (LMT) in the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) is to minimise time spent by academics and researchers on non-research activities, allowing UCL to produce world-class research.

It is responsible for multiple laboratory infrastructure activities, safety compliance and purchasing throughout ICH laboratory and non-laboratory areas.

The workload of the LMT has greatly increased over the last few years, both in volume and in scope. 

The team has always enthusiastically engaged with any new initiatives and, through feedback from annual customer surveys together with regular meetings with academic and research staff, has actively sought out further areas in which it can offer support.

Key activities of the team include the provision, without additional payment, of an out-of-hours all day, year round response to laboratory emergencies that could cause irreparable harm to existing research. 

In 2013, the team members took 75 out-of-hours calls and came on site 19 times to respond to emergencies, all of this done with good grace and without complaint.

The team is also in charge of establishing refurbished and new build laboratories, such as the recent Birth Defects Research Centre and the Centre for Research into Rare Disease in Children. 

This involves extensive consultation with the laboratory's end users throughout the planning and design processes.

In these and their many endeavours, the LMT show an excellent team spirit and close cross working under the leadership of Lesley Alterman, Head of Laboratory Management.

UCL Institute of Child Health Research Degrees Office team

The UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) Research Degrees Office (RDO) team supports the administrative needs of nearly 200 research students within its department. It is primarily comprised of two members, Stella Fusco and her assistant, Loraine Daly. 

Their work includes the facilitation of student registration, annual monitoring, upgrades and examinations and answering all enquiries from students and supervisors. 

Given the large size of the ICH student body, the RDO team provides essential administration that is capable of embracing and driving change. 

Since 2012, they have streamlined the recruitment for ICH's centrally funded studentships and proactively encouraged supervisors to apply for UCL Impact Awards. 

As a result, in just two years, ICH has increased its annual recruitment from 6-7 students to 11.

The RDO has also gone out of its way to enhance ICH's internal student monitoring processes by comparing best practices with other RDOs across UCL. 

The innovations that they have introduced helped to increase ICH's overall PhD submissions rates (full-time) from 72% to 93% in just one year. 

Stella Fusco was also central in initiating a UCL PhD Administrators Forum in 2012. Drawing in over 40 administrators from across UCL and providing speakers on intellectual property rights, admissions and marketing, this was a great success and has continued into 2014.

In all of its initiatives, the RDO team at ICH has consistently facilitated and improved the management of students and the experiences they have over the course of their degrees.

UCL Institute for Global Health administration team

In 2013, the UCL Centre for International Health and Development moved from within the UCL Institute of Child Health (ICH) to become the separate UCL Institute for Global Health (IGH). 

The IGH administration team, led by Faye Bassett, was instrumental in ensuring this transition went as smoothly as possible. 

The team of seven was undaunted by learning new systems for finance, HR and research funding administration. 

They successfully underwent an organisational change process that transformed the composition of the team and all the while maintained a highly professional work ethic throughout the process. 

The team worked hard to explain the new systems and procedures to be used by departmental staff and initiated user-friendly communication systems throughout IGH. 

They also introduced numerous new staff to the department and made them feel welcome during a time of upheaval.

Owing to the efforts of this team, this new institute is well on its way to becoming a strong partner to the other divisions comprising the UCL Population and Health Sciences.

UCL Estates' Security team

Mark West is the Security Manager at UCL Estates and, alongside his team, is responsible for dealing with emergencies, patrolling the campus grounds, CCTV monitoring, staffing building receptions and providing guidance regarding security matters across UCL.

One building in particular under their charge is the Bloomsbury Building, which includes the Bloomsbury Theatre. 

In order to ensure the continued security of all the theatre's staff, performers and audiences, the Security team has consistently and proactively collaborated with theatre staff. 

In recent years, they have completely overhauled the theatre's security, introducing a permanent new location for the building's guards, installing a new alarm system, upgrading the CCTV provision and providing extra cover as required for staff working late. 

Mark West also initiated the process of having the night manager check the theatre each evening to ensure all is safe and well.

The theatre staff have regular meetings with Mr West and his deputy, Oliver Curran, to discuss security policy, innovation and areas for improvement.

All decisions are made with reference to the theatre's needs and are implemented with transparency and skill.

UCL Occupational Health team

The UCL Occupational Health (OH) team provides a comprehensive occupational health service to the university, promoting physical and psychological wellbeing. 

In October 2013, UCL OH Services was accredited Safe Effective Quality Occupational Health Services (SEQOHS) standards by the Faculty of Occupational Medicine. 

SEQOHS is a set of standards and a process of voluntary accreditation that aims to raise the overall standard of care provided by OH services. 

UCL OH Services was the first university in England to achieve this accreditation. 

Reaching SEQOHD standards helps to raise the quality of occupational health where necessary and also increases UCL's profile in the higher education community. 

UCL Open Access Funding team

Open Access (OA) publication makes research outputs freely available online 

It has recently assumed an increasing importance for researchers and universities, as major funding bodies have begun to make OA publication a requirement for the research that they finance. 

Established in 2013, the UCL OA Funding Team has devised and implemented numerous user-focused support initiatives to support the university's goals regarding OA, with an emphasis on reducing the administrative burden for researchers and professional services staff.

Some of the team's activities include: creating a system to facilitate efficient and speedy Article Processing Charge (APC) payments; developing the UCL OA Communication Plan to promote OA throughout the university; negotiating with publishers to remove some administrative barriers for authors; and instituting a model for Gold OA payments that is now recognised as best practice in Europe. 

The OA Communication Plan represents a particular success for the team, providing customised actions for each of the 13 stakeholder categories available to researchers. 

As a result of the team's skill and dedication, the RCUK first-year target of 45% of the articles that they have funded being made OA has been exceeded by at least 13%.

More than 400 articles not funded by RCUK or the Wellcome Trust have also been made OA. 

The team regularly solicits feedback from its customers and consistently receives a large quantity of positive comments on its efficient, friendly approach. 

UCL has long been a UK higher education leader in advocating and implementing OA, and the work of the OA Funding Team is invaluable in maintaining this status.  

UCL SLASH Finance team

The UCL Schools of Laws, Arts and Humanities, and Social and Historical Sciences (SLASH) Finance team manages faculty finances, advises Heads of Departments and Deans of financial good practice and keeps departments up to speed with financial requirements and progress.

To do this, the team needs in depth knowledge of departments across the faculties and an understanding of their different strategic aims. 

They are able to use their expertise across a range of areas to the best advantage of all.

The needs of UCL faculties, as the primary customers of the Finance team, are at the forefront of the team's work. 

They perform a valuable service and, through close working relationships, remain highly visible in all areas to which they provide advice.