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Dear all,

At the Principal's Briefing and Q&A meeting earlier, I shared how proud I am of how people have adapted to the current challenges. St George’s is a family, which is important when we are operating business as usual, but even more so in a time of crisis. Thank you for all that you continue to do to support the University and each other. 

As I said, our science is brilliant, the courses we run are what the world needs and our students are highly employable. I am confident that St George’s will get through the current challenges but there is a major financial impact of the situation with coronavirus. 

I announced during the briefing that we have taken the difficult decision to introduce a Staff Furlough Scheme at St George's to ensure the long-term sustainability of the University. Details are below, and a recording of the meeting is available for those of you who missed it. 

I am aware that the timing of today's all-staff meeting, just before the long weekend, will not have been convenient for many of you. I wanted to share our intentions for the Furlough Scheme at the earliest opportunity. While the specific application to universities is not yet completely clear, more detailed government guidance on the financial support has been published this week and we are making plans accordingly.

I recognise that this remains a worrying time for everyone. I urge you to continue reaching out to each other. It is our strong community spirit will help us all pull through.


Best wishes, 

Jenny Higham


St George's, University of London 


Recording of today’s Principal's Briefing and Q&A meeting

You can catch up on today’s Principal's Briefing and Q&A meeting through the recording which is available via MS Teams.

Staff furlough scheme 

In light of the impact of Covid-19 on the income streams we would usually expect as a University, we have taken the difficult decision to place a number of our workers onto the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, more commonly known as “furlough”. Individuals placed on furlough will not be able to undertake any work for the University for the duration of their furlough. Furlough must last at least three weeks but will be reviewed after this time. 

The Government’s Job Retention Scheme will cover 80% of an employee’s staff costs up to a maximum of £2,500 per month (gross, i.e. before tax). However, we have decided to pay any individual on furlough their full salary without a cap (i.e. 100%). Therefore, anybody placed on furlough will receive their usual monthly salary, including those who earn more than £2,500 per month (gross). 

We aim to continue to offer full pay and benefits during furlough, but will be reviewing this situation regularly. Should our financial circumstances worsen we may need to reduce the amount paid, which would only occur after consultation.  

The proposal is that staff joining the scheme will fall into one of two categories: 

  • Work and functions which cannot be undertaken remotely and therefore have become non-operational
  • Functions where some work continues but the workload and demands have reduced.

Managers will speak to the teams and individuals for whom furlough may apply. You should speak to your manager if you are interested in the scheme. 

In considering who to place on furlough managers will be mindful of an employee’s personal circumstances, for example if childcare constrains their ability to work remotely, and equality and diversity considerations, such that the scheme does not disproportionately impact particular groups of staff.  

The decision to introduce this scheme at St George’s has been not been taken lightly, but it is necessary in order to ensure the long-term sustainability of the University. We recognise that the current situation has created new work challenges for many of our colleagues and, in some cases, staff may also need to assist in other areas, for example marking student assessments. We remain enormously appreciative of these efforts.

It is the people that make St George’s, University of London special. This was reiterated in the recent staff survey. We appreciate the commitment and expertise of everybody who works here and feel strongly that if we all pull together we can weather this current crisis. 

Full details of the scheme are available on the website.  


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