What is the Award?

The Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award is an important component of the College’s family-friendly policies and is open to eligible 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.

Who is it for?

Fellowships for academic staff returning to work following maternity, adoption and/or shared parental leave. The Fellowship can be awarded irrespective of gender identity, sexual orientation, gender expression, biological sex or if you are transitioning.

Financial Aspects of the Award

The Award provides central funding for 50% of the salary costs for up to 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
  • The Elsie Widdowson Fellowship Award is restricted to one award per birth
  • 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 pregnant member of staff curtails maternity leave and takes a period of shared parental leave, both forms of leave will count towards the 16 week period
  • The award must be taken within one year of materity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave
  • 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 - Organisational Development and InclusionIn 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 - Organisational Development and Inclusion 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 they wish to take maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave.

 The HR Staff hub

  •  Will alert staff to the availability of the Fellowship when confirming maternity, adoption, surrogacy and/or shared parental leave and pay details.

The Applicant

  • Confirms to the Head of Department whether they are 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.
    • Please note, discussions (and approval) with the Head of Department must be sought prior to the birth

*Funding is available for up to a year, however to ensure others can benefit from the funds, applicants are asked to think carefully about how much time they need, bearing in mind the Fund is to help make up for time lost on research whilst taking family leave.

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 to the Deputy Director - Organisational Development and Inclusion.

The Applicant

  • Following verbal confirmation from their Head of Department, the applicant must submit an application form

The Deputy Director - Organisational Development and Inclusion:

  • Considers and then confirms whether the application has been successful;
  • Logs the application centrally and forwards all paperwork to the HR Staff Hub.

The HR Staff hub:

  • Upon receipt of the paperwork, prepares and issues a letter to the member of staff, confirming the start date of the Fellowship.

 The Applicant:

  • 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.

July 2020