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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 Fund© Nasir HamidThe fund provides support for any researcher or academic regardless of gender following a break in their career or a period of leave for caring responsibilities. This can include maternity, adoption and shared parental leave, or leave to care for an ill, disabled or elderly family member.

Funding can be requested 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.

 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 ‘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;
  • visits to Oxford by your research collaborator(s).

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. Please note that the payment of childcare expenses for reasons other than ‘work related training’ are considered by HMRC to be a taxable benefit, and are therefore not eligible under this scheme.

The costs of providing a maternity cover post or other support during the leave period are not permitted. These should be discussed with and considered by the applicant’s department as part of the process of agreeing a maternity leave plan.

Applications are invited from academic and research staff for funding to support the development of their research career following a break in their career or a period of leave for caring responsibilities. This can include maternity, adoption and shared parental leave, or leave to care for an ill, disabled or elderly family member.

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.

The scheme is open to 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.

 If you are concerned that you do not meet the eligibility criteria, please speak to your divisional contact.

 Only one application may be made per career break.

Those on a fixed-term contract should hold a contract of employment for a sufficient period beyond the date of their application to permit the grant to be spent and to have an impact that increases the likelihood of them securing a new contract; the application should give evidence of being on a research or academic career trajectory and clearly outline any future career plans; applicants may submit a supporting statement from their supervisor if they wish to do so.

Applications must be signed by the staff member’s supervisor, Head of Department or Faculty Board Chair and by their Departmental or Faculty Administrator to confirm that a) the department/faculty supports the application, and b) the applicant is eligible for funding, as per the above criteria.

Applications for funding of college buy-outs must be discussed and agreed with the college before the application is submitted.

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

The deadline for applications is Friday of 5th week each term. In 2018-19 deadlines are 9 November 2018, 15 February 2019 and 31 May 2019.

For further enquiries, please contact

Examples of successful funding applications include:

  • £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