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Returning carers

The Returning Carers' Fund is for you if you are a member of academic or research staff who has taken a break to care for a close relative or a child. The deadline for applications is Friday of 5th week each term.


The scheme is open to women and men who are 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 those with college-only contracts.

At the closing date for applications, you must: be 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 of at least six months each 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, for example 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.


Awards will normally be up to £5,000. Grants made under the scheme can be used for any legitimate purpose that you may identify as long as it 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 the costs of providing a maternity cover post or other support during the leave period. Childcare-related expenses over and above your 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.

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.

Successful applications from staff within the division to date include:

  • £1.5k for conference attendance
  • £4.6k for administrative and research assistance
  • £1.4k for visits by a research collaborator
  • £2.4k for overseas fieldwork


You must discuss and agree the application with your Head of Department prior to submission. You should complete the application form and send it to Fiona Groenhout by the deadline.

Applications are primarily judged against the likelihood of delivering benefits that would enable you to remain in an academic or research career, taking into account your career stage. If successful, you will be required to produce a one-page report on your use of the funds 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.