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The University was recognised with one of three awards for UK universities at the Higher Education Business Continuity Network (HEBCoN) Awards 2023 last week in Cardiff, thanks to collaborative work last term, involving staff across MPLS, to prepare for potential energy supply disruption this winter.

Looking up the High Street, Oxford © John Cairns

HEBCoN’s annual ‘Innovation & Breakthrough’ award recognises a university that has found new ways of engaging staff with business continuity planning and going above and beyond in delivering business continuity management, demonstrating a best practice approach within the sector.

The MPLS contribution to Oxford’s award nomination included producing a power outage protocols document in response to warnings of potential energy shortages stemming from Russia’s war in Ukraine and the sanctions placed on Russian gas imports, which put European gas supplies under great strain.

A series of tests and emergency response exercises were carried out by building managers across the MPLS estate during Michaelmas Term 2022, supported by Jeannie Scott and Keri Dexter in the Divisional Office. The aim of these was to ensure that Oxford’s science departments would be well prepared in the event of short-notice power blackouts, which the National Grid had highlighted as a particular risk during peak periods of demand in the colder months.

Staff in MPLS departments who were particularly involved in this work, and who contributed to this national recognition, include:

  • David Anderson
  • Chris Blackwell
  • Holly Bratcher
  • Rob Bryant
  • Les Chorley
  • Keith Gillow
  • Ashleigh Hewson
  • Steve Hill
  • Jason Hogg
  • Brian Jenkins
  • Kim Nixon
  • Philip Paling
  • Charlotte Sweeney
  • Paul Steventon
  • Pierre van Zijl

Neil Unsworth, the University’s Head of Risk & Resilience, said: 'MPLS colleagues’ detailed preparations for potential power outages over the winter played a significant part in the University receiving this 2023 HEBCoN award, reflecting a sector-leading approach to business continuity in this area’.

The University’s Business Continuity Network ensures that the University can still deliver its mission in the event of unplanned incidents such as fire or flood, cyber-attacks, or other external events with the potential to disrupt activity.

Findings and data gathered during the winter 2022/23 power outage business continuity exercises will now be used to inform risk assessments and strategic planning to ensure that critical teaching and research activities continue as far as possible in the event of a power outage or similar disruption in future.

Resources for University members involved in business continuity can be found here.