VC Review of Professional Services in CoSS - key themes

The Vice Chancellor’s Review of Professional Services in the College of Social Sciences took place between January and June 2016. The report was published in August, which outlines key commendations and recommendations for the College (there being more of the former than the latter). The chair and secretary of the panel consulted with 20 groups of CoSS staff and stakeholders, and the findings of these discussions influenced the final report. Below is a brief summary of some of the key themes that arose in the recommendations:

Cross-College working

The report recommends that a better balance is found between local, specialised resource and College based services that can be more efficient and effective. The College must make better use of resource without diminishing strong local ethos, structures and practices tailored to school-specific needs. The College Research Support Office was held up as an example of a centrally based team that was successful in providing tailored support to each school.

Issues with duplication

The current structure of the College has areas where the same service is duplicated, resulting in an inefficient use of resource. Where the College can streamline functions, a certain change in culture will be needed for staff to not conflate this with a loss of control.

Resilient and flexible structures

The review found that staff were not always able to provide a resilient service due to inflexible working structures, or being ‘tied’ to certain academics or programmes. Structures were also not always able to allow for a response to changing circumstances.

Career progression

A lack of opportunities for career progression, succession planning and unfilled posts is a concern in the College. Movement of staff inevitably results in loss of tacit knowledge, and it is right that excellent PS staff move on to further their careers. Improvements can be achieved through exploiting the opportunities afforded by a more matrix-style management system.