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A Returning Carers' Fund has been established as part of the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund for the advancement of diversity among academic and research staff at Oxford.

Returning Carers FundThe fund provides support for any researcher or academic regardless of gender who has taken caring leave of 6 months or longer in the last two years. Previous applicants have used their grants for a variety of activities including attending conferences and training, funding research collaborators to travel to Oxford, employing short-term research or administrative assistance and funding teaching buy-outs.

The expectation is that awards will normally be up to £5k. In exceptional circumstances, larger amounts may be awarded, up to an absolute maximum of £10k. Grants made under the scheme can be used for any legitimate purpose identified by the applicant that addresses a clearly identified barrier to return to research and demonstrates a link to career development in research. The scheme is not prescriptive, but does exclude any funding of usual childcare costs and costs of providing cover during the leave period. Support could include, but is not limited to:

  • Teaching buy-out to enable you to concentrate on research
  • Training or professional development
  • Short-term secondments to enable you to ‘get up to speed’ with recent research developments
  • Conference attendance to enable you to re-establish your profile
  • Short-term research or administrative assistance
  • Small scale lab equipment purchase
  • Funding visits to Oxford by your research collaborator(s)

This list is not exhaustive and any reasonable applications will be considered providing the link to career development in scientific research can be demonstrated.

Childcare-related expenses over and above a staff member’s usual childcare costs are eligible if requested as part of an application for ‘work related training’ (which includes conference attendance and research visits). The existing financial limit will still apply.

This fund was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.

Applications are invited from women and men for funding to support the development of their research career following a break to care for a child or close relative. The scheme is open to:

  • All members of academic and research staff employed by the University, including those holding joint appointments, but excluding those who have achieved full professorial title or who hold statutory chairs. The scheme is not open to members of staff with college-only contracts.
  • All those who, at the closing date for applications: are currently on leave for a minimum of six months; have returned from a break of at least six months within the last two years; or have returned from two breaks each of at least six months within the last five years. A break may comprise two or more discontinuous periods of leave totalling at least six months provided that they relate to a single life event, e.g. as part of a shared parental leave arrangement. Only one application may be made per career break.

If you are on a fixed-term contract you should hold a contract of employment for a sufficient period beyond the date of your application to permit the grant to be spent and to have an impact that increases the likelihood of you securing a new contract. When applying you should give evidence of being on a research or academic career trajectory, for example with evidence of establishing research independence.

Applications must be discussed and agreed with the staff member’s supervisor or Head of Department. Applications should be submitted on the application form and sent to

Each Division will submit a priority list of divisional bids for funding to the University’s Advisory Group on the Vice-Chancellor’s Diversity Fund.  There will no appeal against the Group’s decision.  Applications will primarily be judged against the likelihood of delivering benefits that would enable the applicant to remain in an academic or research career, taking into account their career stage.

If successful, you will be required to produce a one page report on your use of the funds to within 12 months of receipt of the funds. This will detail:

  • Any research outputs, as evidenced by publications, presentation of papers, development of collaborations or submission of grant proposals.
  • Any career development, as evidenced by attendance at conferences or participation in training or development.
  • Any other identified benefits to your career.

Returning Carers' Fund Application Form (opens in new webpage; click the application form link on the right hand side)

The deadline for applications is Friday of 5th week each term. In 2017/18 deadlines are 16 February 2018 and 25 May 2018.

For further enquiries, please contact

Applications funded during the first call included:

  • £1400 to support conference attendance and to attend a training course
  • £4850 to support a 6-week visit to collaborators’ labs (including travel costs and lab consumables in hosting labs)
  • £5000 for salary support