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Archive for the 'European Developments' Category

Proposals for EU citizens’ post-Brexit rights

Benjamin Meunier29 June 2017

Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU have started and the government published a paper setting out their offer for EU citizens in the UK earlier this week. As has been widely reported, the EU considers that this forms a first step for negotiations, although it has called for more assurances and certainty. In today’s edition of the Times Higher Education, Michael Arthur, UCL President and Provost, said that the fate of EU staff was a “critical” issue for institutions:

“We actively encourage UK and EU politicians to make rapid progress on this issue, so that the current uncertainty facing EU citizens, including our staff and students, can be resolved,” he said.


The full paper setting out the government’s proposals is available online:

Safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU


I appreciate that at this time, being a EU citizen in the UK feels somewhat unsettled and different to the pre-Brexit sense of “normality”, whereby living and working in the UK was virtually no different from any other EU country. We are still in a period of lingering uncertainty, which will dissipate as the negotiations progress. I take some encouragement from the fact that these negotiations on the status of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the rest of the EU are among the very first to be discussed. There seems to be an eagerness to resolve the issue promptly, as noted above, and the emphasis on “safeguarding the position” of EU citizens currently living in the UK. I am also heartened by the stance which UCL has taken, through the Provost in particular, to highlight the contribution which EU staff and students make to the university and to publicly emphasise that we are valued members of the UCL community.

At a national level, the Russell Group has made a number of statements on behalf of the many EU citizens who work in member institutions. Its June briefing (published before the Government proposals were made public) highlighted that “a strong base of talent from Europe and across the world enables research-intensive universities to remain globally competitive and is fundamental to excellent research, innovation and education. EU staff members make a significant contribution to our success, in particular to the excellence of the UK research base and in teaching key subjects vital to the UK economy, such as STEM and modern languages.

Currently, there are around 24,860 members of staff from other EU countries at our universities:  15% of the overall workforce, 23% of academics and 27% of staff on research-only contracts are EU nationals.”

The Russell Group added that whilst it welcomed the expressed intention by both the Government and the EU to strike an early agreement on the rights of EU citizens in the UK, it sought the following reassurances:

  • “Confirmation of the continued working rights for current EU staff (and their dependants) at UK universities and for those who take up positions before the UK has left the EU. We would want staff and their dependants to retain the same rights to stay and work without a visa that they have now (with no time limit placed on this)
  • In the longer term, we want to ensure our universities can continue to recruit the talented staff they need from all over the world without overly-burdensome visa requirements. “


UCL HR have advised that, at this stage, there is no change to the rights of EU citizens within the UK. As previously advised, if you have any queries or concerns, please contact me in Paul Ayris’ absence. You can also find information on UCL’s EU referendum webpage for staff and students (including an FAQ): http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum 

The Pro-Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris6 May 2017

LEARN End of Project Conference

5 May saw the final Conference in the 2-year EU-funded LEARN project on research data management (RDM), which has been led by UCL. This attracted 128 registrations in Senate House from 21 countries, with 95 institutions represented.

Deliverables IMG_4286The day opened with a keynote presentation by Professor Kurt Deketelaere (Secretary General of LERU, the League of European Research Universities). Kurt gave a challenging presentation on the need for universities to get serious about RDM. He noted the leadership role that Europe is playing in delivering RDM solutions. Further keynote addresses in the Programme from Spain and Finland amplified the theme from the point of view of research-intensive universities and infrastructure suppliers. Panel sessions with guest members answered questions from the audience on RDM and debated with each other the validity of current approaches and views.

After lunch, the Conference broke into 4 parallel Tutorials, for which UCL led 2. I gave a tutorial on how to use the 200-page LEARN Toolkit of 23 Best Practice Case Studies. June Hedges, Myriam Fellous-Sigrist and Daniel Van Strien also gave a tutorial on engaging early career researchers in RDM issues.

The final keynote was delivered by Dr Claudio Gutierrez of the University of Chile, illustrating with an apple and two books  that research data has become the new currency of the research environment.

The Conference marked the end of the LEARN project, which officially finishes at the close of the month. Twitter postings underline how valuable attenders found the event. CODATA and EUDAT have commended the Toolkit of Best Practice Case Studies. In one of the video podcasts from the day, a North American visitor commented that (as a result of his attendance) he felt Europe was more advanced than the USA in tackling RDM issues. This, and other podcasts, will be available on the LEARN website (along with videos of all the plenary sessions). The podcasts can currently be seen via Twitter and are discoverable under the hashtag #learnldn.

The LEARN partners have enjoyed working together so much over the last 2 years that we are already planning a LEARN II – this time focussed on the whole area of Open Science.

Paul Ayris


UCL Library Services shortlisted twice for national awards

Benjamin Meunier6 April 2017

For the second year running, UCL Library Services has been shortlisted for the prestigious Times Higher Education Leadership and Management Awards, for demonstrating best practice during the 2015-16 academic year. In this year’s selection, two UCL Library Services projects have been shortlisted as examples of sector-leading excellence.


  1. LEaders Activating Research Networks (LEARN)


The Outstanding Library Team award recognizes outstanding work in library and information-services departments. This year, it is the LEARN Project which is being recognised. Based at UCL in partnership with a number of European and other international partners, The purpose of LEARN is to take the LERU Roadmap for Research Data and to develop this in order to build a coordinated e-infrastructure across Europe and beyond.

LEARN will deliver:

  • a model Research Data Management (RDM) policy;
  • a Toolkit to support implementation, and;
  • an Executive Briefing in five core languages so as to ensure wide outreach.

In order to share knowledge about Research Data Management, LEARN has run a series of Workshops over 2016/17The Final Conference is due to take place in London on 5 May 2017.


2. UCL PressTHELMA_2017_SHORTLIST_1200x900_Badge_Digital_Innovation_of_the_Year

The Outstanding Digital Innovation of the Year award recognises the innovative use of digital technology to improve any function at a university. As the UK’s first fully open access university press, UCL Press has been pioneering a new model of scholarly communications. As highlighted in its first Annual Report, with over 100,000 downloads in 191 countries since its launch, UCL Press is going from strength to strength.


The fact that UCL Library Services is recognized by being shortlisted in both categories reflects UCL’s place as a leader in OA advocacy in Europe for 10 years. UCL’s financial investment in the Press supports its Global Engagement strategy, bringing UCL outputs to users around the world, thus adding value to the institution’s research. UCL Press is developing consultancy and hosting services to allow other universities to follow the UCL Press publishing model, or to use UCL Press infrastructure for their OA publishing, branded as their own university press. UCL Press and LEARN demonstrate how, as London’s Global University, UCL is leading the UK in the Open Science arena by harnessing world-leading research and cutting-edge technology to create impact via Open Access publishing.


I will inform you of the outcome of the awards ceremony, which is due to be held on 22 June. To be shortlisted for a THELMAs is already a significant achievement. Congratulations to all involved in securing this recognition for our excellent work as a department.

UCL and Brexit, post-Article 50

Benjamin Meunier29 March 2017

As the Prime Minister triggers Article 50 today and the UK will start the process of leaving the EU, UCL is launching a series of materials and events to provide additional guidance and support to staff and students.

  • FAQs on the impact of triggering Article 50.
  • The Provost’s View (in a video filmed in the Flaxman Gallery, in the Main Library) that will appear in tomorrow’s TheWeek@UCL. A transcript is available here.

I would encourage you to sign up to the UCL and Brexit: a post-Article 50 forum which will be held on Thursday 4 May 2017 in B304 – LT1 Cruciform Building.

The Library Services SMT discussed Brexit at our meeting last week, to ensure that we provide effective support for all staff affected. We would like to reiterate that we are here to help, so please get in touch with any concerns. UCL’s Brexit website http://www.ucl.ac.uk/eu-referendum and email address eustaffqueries@ucl.ac.uk are available for all staff looking for information. Where there are questions which the website does not answer, they should be sent to Paul Ayris as Head of Department who can pass them on to the relevant Officer in UCL.

UCL Brexit Hub Launch

Benjamin Meunier9 March 2017

The European Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the UCL Brexit Hub, a single portal for research, information and analysis on ‘Brexit’ from across UCL. The site draws together contributions from the university’s diverse array of departments and institutes to offer a comprehensive understanding of Brexit.

European ParliamentThe Brexit Hub features articles, research papers, reports, blogs and media appearances on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union by a wide range of UCL academics. The repository is divided into core themes, including UK and European politics, science & research, the economy, and migration.


The Brexit Hub is hosted on the UCL European Institute’s new website and is updated frequently by members of the Institute’s staff.

For further information or to contribute content, please contact european.institute@ucl.ac.uk.



Benjamin Meunier2 March 2017

[copied from liblist]


Are you a migrant from one of the EU countries living, working or studying in London?

If so, CyberCitizens Theatre Collective would like to invite you to take part in their interactive installation project ‘The Homeland(s): real and imagined’, which will be part of the UCL Festival of Culture. The installation will be publicly displayed at UCL in June 2017.


We would like to hear your story of arriving in London. What were your first impressions? What does London mean to you? What made you feel at home here?

We will be recording a collection of short stories, which will be used to create an interactive sound and visual artwork.


If you would like to share your story, please contact us at contact@cybercitizens.org 


You can also check our website for updates and announcements about the project.

CyberCitizens | HOMELAND(S)


CyberCitizens: a collective of emerging theatre makers, interested in producing new and interactive theatre experiences.



The Pro-Vice-Provost’s View

Paul Ayris20 January 2017


In light of the Prime Minister’s speech on Brexit earlier this week, I wanted to write to address what that means for UK universities. The full text of the speech can be read here. Universities UK has issued a response to this speech, which can be found here and which I give in full below.

European Parliament

Universities UK responded today to Theresa May’s speech on Brexit

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “We welcome the prime minister’s commitment to ensuring that the UK remains open to international talent. It was good also to hear her talking about the international strength of our university system and the importance of continuing to collaborate in cutting-edge research and innovation.

The UK’s university system is indeed world-leading. Much of this success is due to our ability to attract talented students and staff from around the world and the world-class research we produce with international partners.

There are currently nearly half a million international students at UK universities, with over 125,000 of them from EU countries. 16% of academic staff at UK universities are from EU countries, while 12% are from non-EU countries.

Brexit negotiations must ensure that the UK is still open to EU and international students and that we can continue to access valuable and collaborative European research networks. It was encouraging to hear that the prime minister would like to see the UK continue to play a role in certain EU programmes.

Brexit poses many challenges, but with the right Government support, universities can play a central role in the UK’s economic success and global influence outside the EU. This will, however, require reforms to our current immigration system to ensure that the most talented international students, researchers and university staff can come to the UK and are welcomed, regardless of their nationality.”

For more information on the implications of Brexit for UK universities, see UUK’s Brexit FAQs.

What does this mean?

The Prime Minister’s speech, and UUK’s response, were discussed at the Library’s SMT meeting earlier this week. The speech contains no firm policy positions as yet for Higher Education going forward. There are, however, welcome signs that the Government recognises the challenges posed by the ‘Hard Brexit’ line which will be adopted as a negotiating position: assurance for EU citizens working in the UK, and for UK nationals working abroad; access to EU research funding or future research funding programmes; access to the Erasmus programme underpinning student and staff mobility – these are some of the major issues on which University bodies in the UK will be lobbying Government.

In the Library, we are looking at the impact of Brexit on the value of the £ against foreign currencies, to see how that affects our ability to purchase materials from abroad. Despite currency fluctuations, the projection for the current budget year is that the Library should be able to carry on purchasing as usual. We will, however, continue to keep the position under review. UCL will also update its information and guidance on Brexit as discussions develop.

I want to state yet again that UCL Library Services is recognised as a major European research library, which is open to the world and open for collaborations and partnerships. All colleagues who work in the Library are valued for their professionalism and the contribution they make to the success of our service. This acknowledgement will be uppermost in the minds of University leaders as they lobby Government to address the challenges and to seize the opportunities that Brexit brings.

Paul Ayris

Pro-Vice-Provost (UCL Library Services)

The Pro Vice-Provost’s view

Paul Ayris4 December 2016

Croatian research theses in DART-Europe

Croatia1DART-Europe is a research portal which indexes and provides access to research theses in Open Access from across Europe. Many universities now see Open Access as the default mode of collection building for PhD and other research theses, because of the large number of hits which such materials gain.

The DART-Europe portal has recently started the ingest of metadata for research theses from Croatian universities. The portal currently (4 December 2016) provides access to 259 full-text research theses from Croatia.

The National and University Library in Zagreb has posted about this development, facilitated by UCL Library Services, on its website and via social tools such as Facebook. Zagreb says: ‘The National and University Library in Zagreb (NSK) has set up a system for a regular contribution of data from the Croatian National Digital Dissertations Repository (Nacionalni repozitorij disertacija i znanstvenih magistarskih radova, DR) to DART-Europe, the central point of access to digital dissertations from Europe’s higher education institutions, thus enabling an increased visibility of the research of Croatian researchers.’

The DART-Europe portal, maintained and developed by UCL, currently provides access to 717,286 open access research theses from 601 Universities in 28 European countries. It is a fantastic achievement to have passed both the 700,000 mark for accessible research theses and 600 for the number of universities and their libraries involved in this pan-European service.

The Croatian theses can be seen in DART-Europe here. Congratulations to all UCL colleagues who have supported the continued growth of this portal.

Paul Ayris

Pro Vice-Provost and Director of UCL Library Services

Cracks in the Library: how are we managing?

Benjamin Meunier27 October 2016

The Staff Survey conducted last year showed that only 27% of staff would be “comfortable to speak up and question the way things are done at UCL”. Following the publication of The Director’s View on the LibNet blog, an anonymous comment was received which highlighted two areas of concern. It is not possible to publish the full comment, which falls far short of standards in UCL Dignity at Work’s statement to ensure that “all employees are entitled to be treated with dignity, respect and courtesy”.

However, I would like to engage with the substantive concerns raised, in order to encourage transparent communication between Library staff and managers.


–  Why is the Director absent from “the office” during term-time on Open Access assignments?

Why is Open Access important for UCL?

  • Publishers of academic journals have been increasing their costs year-on-year in an unsustainable fashion, with key publishers having a virtual monopoly in their subject areas. The lack of competition has led to libraries spending huge sums from the university’s budgets to maintain access to core resources. The UK HE sector spends around £100 million a year on e-resources alone.
  • E-resources are the second highest cost in the Library budget
  • In the spirit of Jeremy Bentham’s utilitarian ideal to provide “the greatest happiness of the greatest number” and UCL’s founding mission to open up education to those who had been excluded from it, UCL Library Services is leading the way in ensuring that our world-leading research is made freely and publically available around the world.


What is the impact of the Director’s work?

Dr Paul Ayris has been actively engaged in the Open Access movement since the early days of Open Access, articulating the benefits to researchers from a user experience perspective (as in this article from 2005) and the benefits to academic libraries from re-shaping the business model for scholarly communications.

The work which Paul undertakes on behalf of UCL with Jisc, the EU and other partners to promote Open Access is changing the way the market for e-resources works. These changes are strengthening the hand of universities in negotiations with publishers and helping UCL to take control of its expenditure on e-resources. This is done by offsetting Open Access costs against the cost of subscriptions. The combined value of offset agreements to the Higher Education sector in 2015 has already been estimated at £2.5m. This is an important step on the road to transitioning to new business models, where subscriptions disappear in favour of a payment to cover ALL electronic services received from publishers, including Open Access.

Publishers have regularly been increasing their prices above inflation. Open Access changes the paradigm and initiatives like UCL Press are challenging the business model for traditional publishers, which in the long-term will improve the financial sustainability of libraries. Publishers tell us that they will only respond to such challenges where there is global agreement on the need for change. This is why international partnerships and collaborations are so important in effecting a smooth transition to new business models.

It is expected that senior officers of UCL should participate in international initiatives, and UCL SMT members are encouraged to promote UCL’s reputation overseas. In Paul’s absence from UCL, responsibility for operational matters is held by the Assistant Directors, myself and Martin Moyle.


– “cracks are propagating at key libraries – buildings, systems, staff”: senior managers in Library Services should be held to account by the Director 

The first term of the new academic year is now well underway, and libraries are busier than ever. It is true that it is a challenging start to the year. Cracks (physical and metaphorical) may have appeared in some libraries. Even worse than cracks, fire blighted Chandler House on the 14th September forcing us to close the LASS Library for four days. It is a stark reminder of how important health and safety is, but also of how unexpected events can impact on our services. But the response by Library Services staff at LASS is also significant: services were restored as swiftly as possible, and the Site Librarian ensured that communication with users was clear and effective, keeping complaints to a minimum. The Library SMT recognises that it is thanks to the work of staff across all our sites and teams that we are held in high regard by users and senior officers of UCL and I would like convey thanks to you for your hard work. As noted above, we welcome your suggestions and feedback on the services we are providing, by sharing these with your line manager. We will shortly be circulating documents to all sites on Customer Service Excellence, to help raise awareness for users of our new Service Charter. Below is an update on the state of the Library. We will continue to update on progress via the blog and our newsletters.

UCL Main Library features in a new comic book series, Surgeon X. What is the diagnostic?

The UCL Main Library features in a new comic book series, Surgeon X. What is the diagnosis?


Highs: UCL Library Services staff have sustained excellent services through a period of unprecedented change within the Library over the past 12 to 18 months.

Lows: Following the restructure, we understand that colleagues are still settling into new roles, and areas of responsibility continue to be crystallised in the new organisational structure. This is challenging, and it is acknowledged that change takes time. Also, the new structure has required recruitment to over 70 vacant posts.

What we’re doing: The recruitment drive carried out by the Library Personnel Team will be complete by the end of December 2016, and ensure that our staffing levels return to a stable level.

The Library SMT has agreed an action plan in response to the feedback from the Staff Survey in 2015, which Paul presented at the Staff Conference. Some of these actions have been completed, for instance with the launch of a programme of training for managers in Library Services.



Highs: The Library Buildings Team and colleagues across sites have successfully delivered a number of major projects, including phase 1 of the Learning Laboratory (Science Library), refurbishment of the Newsam Library and Archives’ reception and Level 3 and the new Special Collections reading room in the South Junction, which is due to open in the coming days.

The New Student Centre has broken ground, and the foundations for the building are being laid now. When it opens in early 2019, the Student Centre will provide 1,000 additional learning spaces for UCL students as well as a central Student & Registry Services help point. The building will be managed by Library Services and will reflect UCL’s commitment to offer an outstanding student experience, founded on excellence in teaching and research.

Low: We are also aware that some estates projects planned for summer 2016 were not completed as planned, due to resourcing issues in other departments. The knock-on impact has been that a number of projects are continuing into term-time, which requires a significant amount of coordination work by Library staff to minimise impact on users.

The challenges associated with estates and facilities management have been discussed at Library SMT meetings. There are short-term challenges to create additional study spaces, which the Library Buildings Team are working on with Estates, and over a hundred additional learning spaces will open in 2016-17.



Systems issues have also been raised at SMT, including challenges with Explore at the start of term and remedial action which is underway with the suppliers. Other IT systems provided by ISD (such as Desktop@UCL) are being improved as part of UCL’s £14M per annum investment in systems described in the Digital Masterplan http://www.ucl.ac.uk/2034/review/excellent-systems/digital-masterplan.


How are we managing?

UCL Library Services continues to perform strongly, in spite of the challenges described above. As mentioned at the start of this section, UCL Library Services staff demonstrate great resilience and commitment in maintaining services, and we continue to receive positive feedback from users on the service they receive. For instance, the UCLU Education & Campaigns Sabbatical Officer described the Library as a department which “cares about students”. That view is absolutely reflective of the attitude of Library staff, and the foundation on which the work towards Customer Service Excellence accreditation is based. Customer service training has started and will continue in the coming weeks for the Library Leadership Team and the Main and Science teams. This is the beginning of a programme of training for staff across Library Services. I would emphasise that there is already excellent practice in Library Services – a claim supported by National Student Survey scores which, in some sites, reach a lofty 100% satisfaction with the Library. The exercise of seeking CSE accreditation provides us with a framework to share and extend best practice across Library Services, and to ensure consistency across the service.

Furthermore, to illustrate the performance of the Library in supporting UCL’s ambitions to transform how knowledge is created and shared, UCL Press is highlighted in UCL 2034’s interim review, as an example for “Delivering global impact” http://www.ucl.ac.uk/2034/review/global-impact/why-we-post

In terms of governance, it is the case that senior managers are accountable for their areas of responsibility. SMT is the forum where senior managers are accountable for operational matters, reporting to the Director as Chair, and each Key Performance Area leader also reports on progress at the Leadership Team, where progress is monitored against each KPA action in the Library Strategy.

Approved minutes for both committees are available for all Library Services staff to read at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/committees/smt and https://www.ucl.ac.uk/libnet/committees/leadership

The Director’s View: European Open Science Cloud

Paul Ayris12 October 2016

Sharing in an Open environment

One of my duties in UCL Library Services is to represent this university in LERU, the League of European Research Universities. In that capacity, I am a member of the European Commission’s High Level Expert Group on an exciting new initiative – the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

11 October saw the publication of our first Report, which can be found here. The  Recommendations provide a solid starting point for further reflection and engagement of scientific user communities, research funders and Member States in the making of this global initiative. This is important for UCL Library Services because research data management  and support for open access to publications are a big new agenda in how we can support our users.

EOSCEOSC aims to accelerate and support the current transition to more effective Open Science and Open Innovation in the Digital Single Market. It should enable trusted access to services, systems and the re-use of shared scientific data across disciplinary, social and geographical borders. The term cloud is understood by the EOSC High Level Expert Group as a metaphor to help convey both seamlessness and the idea of a commons based on existing and emerging elements in the Member States, with light-weight international guidance and governance and a large degree of freedom regarding practical implementation. The EOSC is indeed a European infrastructure, but it should be globally interoperable and accessible. It includes the required human expertise, resources, standards, and best practices as well as underpinning technical infrastructures. An important aspect of the EOSC is systematic and professional data management and long-term stewardship of scientific data assets and services in Europe and globally. However, data stewardship is not a goal in itself and the final realm of the EOSC is the frontier of science and innovation in Europe [Realising the European Open Science Cloud. First Report of the Commission’s High Level Expert Group on the European Open Science Cloud, p. 6].

Now the Report is published, the Expert Group is following up with how we make this Cloud a reality. Exciting and challenging times.

Paul Ayris

Director of UCL Library Services