In 2022, the Equality and Diversity Unit commissioned a review of the fund to assess the impact of the fund so far, and determine if any changes to the fund’s criteria or scope were needed.
The Review found that in the four academic years between 2017/18 and 2020/21, the Fund supported more than 150 academics and researchers to re-establish their careers through a wide range of activities chosen by the academics and researchers themselves. These include conference attendance, short-term research and administrative assistance, teaching buyout, and training or professional development activities. The Fund gave out grants worth more than £530,000 in total in the four academic years.
In addition to supporting the University’s equality objective on increasing the proportion of women in senior academic roles, the Review found that the Fund has had a significant and positive impact on grant recipients’ research careers as demonstrated in many successful research outputs (e.g., academic journal articles, book chapters, scientific investigation data) as well as grant and fellowship applications.
The Review made some key recommendations to improve the Fund. In October 2022, they were agreed by Equality and Diversity Panel and have been implemented for applications from Hilary term 2023 onwards. Most notably, these include:
- Maximum grant amounts were increased by 20%, with normal amounts increased to £6,000 (from £5,000) and an overall maximum in exceptional circumstances of £12,000 (from £10,000).
- The minimum eligible length of leave was decreased from 6 months to 3 months to better support use of the Fund by those taking shared parental leave, adoption leave or carers’ leave.
View the full review of the Returning Carer's Fund report (PDF) here.