Elsie Widdowson Fellowship award
Fellowships for academic staff returning to work following maternity, adoption and/or shared parental leave.
Purpose of the scheme
The Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award is an important component of the College’s family-friendly policies and is open to eligible female and male staff. The purpose of the Award is to allow academic staff (Lecturer, Assistant Professor, Senior Lecturer, Associate Professor, Reader, and Professor) to concentrate fully on their research work upon returning from maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave. The Award enables the Department, Division, School or Institute to relieve the academic of teaching or administrative duties in order to concentrate fully on research.
Financial Aspects of the Award
The Award provides central funding for 50% of the salary costs for 12 months. In other words, instead of a department paying for 100% of an academic’s salary, it will be supplemented by 50% of their salary from central funds – there is no financial loss to the department.
"Overall, the fellowship was critical in providing support and flexibility and this enabled me to balance an academic career with family life." Dr Muireann Coen, Department of Surgery & Cancer
The College is very supportive of staff who are taking maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave and wants to award Elsie Widdowson Fellowships. Provided, therefore, that the Fellowship will be of assistance to the academic staff’s career, the eligibility criteria are met and the application has the Head of Department’s approval, the Fellowship will be awarded.
These additional funds must be used to ensure that the academic can focus on research activities.
Usually, it is used to employ additional, or pay current staff, to take on teaching or administrative duties and should be ‘ring-fenced’ along these lines – the funding should not be seen as an addition to the departmental budget. How the money is used, therefore, should be discussed and agreed with the member of staff.
Eligibility for the Award
To be eligible to apply for an Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award, staff must satisfy the following criteria:
- Be an academic member of staff as described above
- Intend to, and ultimately take, maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave for a minimum of 16 weeks
- In relation to shared parental leave the 16 week period does not have to be in one continuous block. Similarly, where a female member of staff curtails her maternity leave and takes a period of shared parental leave, both forms of leave will count towards the 16 week period
- Applications for Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Awards are not restricted to one award and, therefore, academic staff who have previously received the award may make additional applications when taking maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave
- It is possible that several staff in the same department may wish to apply for an Award covering the same period and this may have a detrimental impact on the department’s ability to fulfil its teaching commitments. In such circumstances, where an application is agreed, it may be necessary for the Fellowship to begin on a date which is later than the academic’s return from leave. Timing of the Fellowship should be part of the discussion between the Head of Department and the member of staff before the application is made to the Deputy Director HR. In the unlikely event that the department is unable to accommodate the request for a Fellowship, or that agreement cannot be reached regarding the timing, details should be provided to the Deputy Director HR who will deal with the matter.
The Process for the Submission and Consideration of Applications is as follows:
The Department, School or Institute
- Makes the academic member of staff aware of the Fellowship possibility as soon as the individual has indicated that he or she wishes to take maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave.
The Local HR Team
- Will alert staff to the availability of the Fellowship when confirming maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave and pay details.
- Confirms to the Head of Department whether she/he is interested in applying for the Fellowship and if so, discusses with the Head:
- a brief outline of the planned research activity and expected outcomes, including intended dates;
- teaching commitments, and when would be a suitable time for the Fellowship award to commence in relation to these commitments.
The Head of Department
- Considers the Fellowship proposal, and the plan for dealing with teaching activities, and discusses whether it will be feasible for the Fellowship to commence directly on the academic’s return from leave or at a later date.
- Where possible, Fellowships should commence on the academic’s return from leave or as soon as possible thereafter;
- Where the start date is postponed, the reasons for this should be discussed with the applicant.
- Confirms support of the award. In the unlikely event that support is not given, reasons for this must be discussed with the applicant.
- Forwards the statement of support and application to the Deputy Director of HR, confirming the start date of the Fellowship, as discussed with the applicant.
The Deputy Director HR:
- Considers and then confirms whether the application has been successful;
- Logs the application centrally and forwards all paperwork to the local HR team.
The Local HR team:
- Upon receipt of the paperwork, prepares and issues a letter to the member of staff, confirming the start date of the Fellowship.
- Completes, when the Fellowship comes to an end, a questionnaire providing feedback on their experience of the scheme and whether it has been helpful, together with a brief report on what has been achieved. This will enable the College to review whether the Fellowship is proving positive. By accepting this award, the applicant agrees to these requests.