Reporter 435, 26 April 1999

News in brief

Auntie's boomers

Sixteen BBC producers and directors are signing up for a three-year MA in media management exclusively devised for them by the University. The on-line distance-learning course has been put together by the Institute of Communications Studies and Leeds University Business School and will be delivered through the University's Virtual Science Park.

The part-time course is due to begin in July and will include modules on analysing audiences, marketing in media and the impact of digital technologies. Communications Studies director Professor Phil Taylor said the scheme had enormous potential and could be adapted to the needs of other organisations.

School's in for summer

An innovative programme of summer courses in the School of Continuing Education has been established to help part-time students speed up their credit accumulation and develop study skills. The courses are being viewed as a pilot scheme and the organisers expect they will be extended in future years to encompass greater liaison and partnership across the University as a whole. The courses include Latin for local historians, searching the internet and Islamic studies.

A book group for people working at the University has also been launched as part of the national year of reading. For more information contact Ros Whysall on ext 3184 or email

Lord Mayor's show

Lord Mayor (and University graduate) Councillor Graham Kirkland visited an open day at the Instituto Cervantes on March 25.

The Instituto works closely with the University in promoting the teaching, use and study of Spanish as a second language; also contributing to the advancement of Spanish and Hispanic American cultures.

IT review suggests three-way merger

Three computing arms of the University are to be brought together in a new organisation, Information Systems Services, following a four-month review by consultants.

A new management board and 'change director' will steer the convergence of University Computing Services, Administrative Computing Services and the MAIS project team over the next eighteen months. Action teams have also been formed to address the wide range of issues concerning service users.

The review concluded the University's computing services face considerable challenges, including a growing demand and dependency on computer facilities across the University.

Larch Consulting, which carried out the review, believes the new structure will substantially improve computing services and offer better value for money.

The review also found that customer feedback reflected levels and the new service should offer a more appropriate and efficient organisational structure and provide a more rational funding model - enabling customers to select the required service based on a cost that accurately reflects usage and service provision.

Come find yourself

An ancient course in 'distance learning' will be re-created at the University tonight (April 26). Astrolabes were the prime navigational instrument of the Middle Ages; budding explorers can learn their secrets with hands-on tuition provided by the Leeds Philosophical and Literary Society.

For over five centuries, the ability to use astrolabes to identify time and location indicated an educated person, and the first universities in Europe were established in Moorish Spain to teach their use.

The evening begins at 7.30pm in the Clothworkers Centenary Concert Hall. For more information contact John Lydon on ext 3036 or Geoffrey Cantor on 3269.

Strike ballot agreed

A ballot on industrial action is taking place among members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT), following the rejection of a 'full and final' 3.5 per cent pay offer from the University and Colleges Employers Association (UCEA). Members of the academic and academic-related staff are being asked whether they are prepared to take part in strike action, and whether they are prepared to take part in industrial action short of a strike. The result of the ballot will be announced on May 12.

The same 3.5 per cent pay offer has also been made to staff represented by UNISON and MSF, which are considering the offer.

The Bett Committee (the Independent Review of Higher Education Pay and Conditions) is due to publish its report in the second week in May.

The revised salary scales for clinical staff came into effect on April 1, in line with the 3.5 per cent doctors and dentists review body pay award. The salaries of staff financed from outside sources can only be increased with the permission of the granting body and this is being sought where appropriate. The new scales are on the Reporter web site. For more information contact human resources on 3969.

SAP up and running

Departmental staff are now able to see certain areas of financial activity on-line, as the new SAP finance and payroll system takes another step forward.

Finance staff in the central administration transferred to the new system on April 7; around 40 percent of payroll staff activities moved across to SAP on the same day. Salaries of staff paid in the middle and end of the month will be transferred to the new system over the next few months.

Nominated staff across the campus have been given access to the new system on a read-only basis. Eventually, all departments will use SAP to process expenditure and monitor their budgets.

A major milestone will be reached this August, when the purchasing and sales modules are due to be launched, as a pilot, in Biological Sciences. "Many people across the University have worked hard to reach this point and we'd like to thank them all," said programme director Peter Bollands.

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Bomb scare

About a quarter of the campus was evacuated for several hours on April 13 following a security alert. A member of staff in the Russian department had alerted security after receiving a suspicious package.

Police evacuated and sealed off the area around the Economic and Social Studies building, and called bomb disposal experts from Catterick, who declared the package safe.

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