University of Stirling Communication Charter
Students and staff have developed these guiding principles to help clarify the standards we expect of each other when we communicate and to help protect each other and build a trusting community.
Effective communication skills are part of the graduate attributes we expect students to develop during their time at University. These standards apply to all communication channels used by the University and students to communicate with each other on University business, including e-mail, social media, video conferencing and online chat functions.
Shared professional standards for both staff and students
All communications will be courteous and professional and will use clear, easy to understand, plain language, taking care to avoid jargon and acronyms. Staff and students will only use University channels, (not personal e-mail accounts), to communicate with each other. They will not attempt to harass or bully the recipient and will not use offensive, abusive language. Further details of expectations and the actions that will be taken if abusive language is used can be found in the Respect at Work/Study policy.
When using video calls and conferencing such as Microsoft Teams, staff and students will keep their camera on during video calls, when appropriate and possible (for example, Wi-Fi, bandwidth, circumstances, presence of a disability and location may preclude this), dress for study – recognising the multi-cultural nature of our diverse student and staff community – and use appropriate backgrounds, as required for privacy. No offensive material should be shown online directly or in the background and no offensive or abusive language should be used. Participants should contribute positively to online discussions and use the chat function appropriately. These measures help to create an environment that supports study and collaboration. Training for students and staff on how to use videoconferencing and other digital skills are available through our Digital Skills Hub.
Using people’s names correctly is important: it helps build connection, respect and belonging. Ask people’s chosen names, listen to pronunciation, be careful of misspelling and use names respectfully in conversation. Websites such as Nameshouts.com or pronouncenames.com may help. The sharing of preferred gendered pronouns can be helpful in communication and specified pronouns or chosen names will be respected, thus avoiding “dead naming”.
Staff and students will try to target communication to the right audience, as far as systems allow, to reduce communication overload.
E-mail best practice for staff includes using appropriately branded e-mail footers giving contact details and hours of work (if appropriate); checking e-mails and responding to communications within three working days (Mon-Fri) when appropriate. When away from the University; staff will use an e-mail “Out of Office” message and an alternative contact in case of an emergency or a long absence. At busy times of the year, such as at the start of semester, some services may be unable to meet this response time. They will use standard messages to offer guidance on response times, alternative contact methods and advice as appropriate.
Contact details for those who can provide support and the arrangements for Feedback and Guidance sessions will be clearly signposted in module and programme information on Canvas. Staff will re-enforce this information and will communicate essential module information to their students in a way that is effective for them and their students. Where changes to classes must be made, staff will advise their students as quickly as possible through Canvas and the timetable.
In exceptional circumstances, where feedback will be returned more than fifteen working days after the relevant submission date, staff will let students know as quickly as possible by e-mail and/or Canvas, with an explanation and a new return date.
During online sessions, staff will always let students know if the session is being recorded at the start of the session and set out ground rules for taking part in the session as required. More details on how audio visual material is used at the University is set out in our Policy on Audio Visual Material to Support Learning.
Students will check programme and module information to ensure they contact the right person with their queries and will use Feedback and Guidance sessions to seek advice on matters such as clarifying feedback, queries, discussing progress or concerns. If a student makes an appointment with academic, support or other staff and is unable to attend, they will let them know as soon as possible, with 48 hours’ notice wherever possible.
Students will check all University channels including e-mail, the Portal and Canvas at least once a day and respond promptly, within three working days, to communications where necessary.
Students will use the standard communication processes to advise the University of absence such as (the self-certification process on the student portal); attendance (the Attendance tool on the University App); extension requests (via the module canvas site); extenuating circumstances; request for deferral of exams (via the student portal).
Communication Charter Version: updated August 2022