Progress with our people priorities: Julian Duxfield, Human Resources Director

The updates have included an introduction to our Strategic Plan commitments from Professor Anne Trefethen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for People and Gardens, Libraries and Museums, and the importance of our Health and Safety Review from Professor Patrick Grant, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research.

With Hilary term coming to an end, Julian Duxfield, Human Resources Director, provides an overview of work being carried out across the University to progress our people priorities.

Career Development

We have a number of programmes in place to help everyone to develop and grow in their career from apprenticeships and training courses to mentoring schemes.

Our new entrant apprenticeships introduce young people to a diverse range of interesting careers and we currently have 151 people taking 21 different apprenticeships. I am pleased to report that more than 85% of our apprentices find permanent employment within the University, or stay to complete a further apprenticeship.

Apprenticeships for existing employees

Through Work, Learn, Develop we also provide funded professional training and development opportunities for University staff at any stage of their career. The courses cover a wide range of skill areas that are core to University administration, as well as technical work and niche skills areas. All of the courses are accredited and offer professional, job-related qualifications. Staff across the University are currently undertaking 18 different types of apprenticeships.

Whilst these courses are funded via the Apprenticeship levy, they are available to staff of all ages and grades. The training does require a significant time commitment over a minimum of a year, so anyone interested will need to discuss this with their manager.

More information is available on our Work, Learn, Develop webpages.

If you have any queries about the University’s apprenticeship offer, please email the Apprenticeships team at:

Apprenticeships Expo and Awards

On 11 March the Apprenticeships team is holding its annual Expo and Awards at the Sheldonian Theatre. This event celebrates the work of both new entrant apprentices and staff undertaking training as part of Work, Learn, Develop to develop their careers. It is also a perfect opportunity to speak to our training providers about recruiting people for entry level roles or developing existing employees. Places are still available – visit the team’s webpage to find out how to register.

Personal Development Reviews

We recognise the importance of the relationship staff have with their manager or supervisor. The last Staff Experience Survey in 2018 highlighted a need to support staff and managers, with both Personal and Career Development Reviews. Following consultation, a new set of principles have been agreed and implemented by the People and Organisational Development (POD) team to help improve these meetings. Find out more about the new principles on the POD webpages.

We recognise there are increasing demands on everyone, and we hope that these actions will help make conversations – including with your team and at your one-to-one meetings – also helpful for exploring and addressing any issues being experienced. It is essential that we do all share details of any problems being faced, so that we can work together to find solutions.

Research staff

Work is ongoing across the University to support our research staff. Professor David Gavaghan has taken on a three-year appointment in the role of Advocate for Research Staff. This appointment has led to the formation of a representative structure within the University which includes senior academics from all four divisions, research staff and support staff. David is also working with colleges with a view to adopting a collegiate University approach to research staff support. The newly created Research Staff Steering Committee has secured seed-funding to enhance research staff representation within the University and has commissioned a gap analysis to map the University’s current support of research staff which will lead to the formation of an action plan for enhanced support.

Focus on People

Announced in October 2019, the ‘Focus on People’ project aims to support all professional services staff – whether they are in the central University or academic divisions. It will initially concentrate on two broad areas, leadership and management and professional skills and career development.    

You will see more about this project in the coming months, but should you have any questions in the meantime please email the ‘Focus on People’ inbox at:   

Development opportunities

The People and Organisational Development (POD) team offer a number of online resources. Visit the POD webpages to find out more about the opportunities on offer

Many other areas of the University – including IT Services, Equality & Diversity and the Safety Office – also offer development opportunities to our employees. And of course, the University’s well-established Continuing Education Department is open to all for a wide range of courses. Visit the Staff Gateway to find out more about our training and development providers.

Pay and Reward

Hopefully, you will have heard that the University has committed to paying the Oxford Living Wage for all University staff. From 1 August 2020 all University employees will earn a minimum of £10.21 an hour.

Already a Real Living Wage employer, the University’s Personnel Committee was asked last year to consider introducing the Oxford Living Wage (set by Oxford City Council at 95% of the London Living Wage) to help with the relatively high costs of living and working in the city.

All staff continue to receive the annual nationally negotiated pay awards. For non-clinical staff in 2019-20 the nationally negotiated pay award of 1.8% exceeded inflation (1.7% CPIH), and this has helped contribute to the national pay spine, which underpins our main salary and grading structure, maintaining its real terms value since 2013-14. In addition to pay awards, each year circa 55% of staff receive automatic incremental progression providing a further 3% increase in pay.

Equal Pay Audit

A working group, including trade union representatives, oversees the audit of the University’s main salary grading structure. We’re currently working on our 2019/20 equal pay audit to ensure we are paying the same level of pay to those delivering the same work. Our last audit (2016) gave us confidence that we are achieving equal pay for equal work. Should the current audit identify any gaps, remedial actions will be monitored by the University’s Personnel Committee.

Gender Pay Gap Report

The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation. Our latest report shows that the University continues to make progress. However, whilst the median pay gap is lower than both the national and Higher Education median pay gap it has remained unchanged at 13.7%. This reflects an imbalance in the distribution of women and men across the grading structure, with women generally accounting for a higher percentage of staff at the lower end of the structure and a higher percentage of men in senior grades – something we are committed to addressing.

We realise we have more to do and comprehensive action plans are in place – informed in large part by our participation in a number of national equality charters, including Athena SWAN and the Race Equality Charter.


We want to ensure that we help everyone with their general wellbeing, and we are building on the success of the recent wellbeing and mental health strategy for students. A review group is currently mapping the existing support available for staff to help us to develop an improvement plan.

Maintaining a healthy work-life balance is essential for wellbeing and we are committed to helping our employees to manage this. With many of us having family to care for we hope that extending our family leave offer to become a day-one benefit (since January 2020) will prove beneficial.

Staff Experience Survey 2020

I hope that some of the details I have shared will help you realise the importance of having your say in our staff surveys. In Trinity term all University staff will be invited to contribute to the 2020 Staff Experience Survey. Please do take a few minutes to complete it. Your insight really does help us to know where to focus our efforts on improving the University for our people.

Don’t forget that a wide range of benefits exist for staff, ranging from family-friendly initiatives and personal and professional development through to discounts, travel schemes and cycle-safety training. Find out more on our online staff benefits area