Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DIFERENS (Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise)

The Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise (DIFeREns) provide fellowships across all areas of the natural sciences, social sciences and the arts and humanities for both early-career and established researchers seeking to address challenging problems. They allow academics to access the unique specialist research facilities that Durham University has to offer including specialist collections, supercomputers and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and electron microscopy facilities, wind tunnels, the Boulby mine, sleep lab, visualisation suite and Palace Green Library.

There are five main objectives of the DIFeREns programme. These are to

• Develop the careers of both emerging and established leading academics
• Strengthen Durham University’s research base
• Increase opportunities for academics worldwide to access Durham University’s research resources
• Establish collaborative transnational links and build international networks of scholars
• Deliver world class research

The DIFeREns scheme is composed of a Junior Research Fellowship, aimed at emerging talent and three Senior Fellowship schemes for established researchers: a Senior Research Fellowship, Policy & Enterprise Fellowship and the IAS Fellowship. Collectively these Fellowships provide the opportunity for academics from across the world to undertake research projects of their own design at Durham University and thereby meet the programme objectives.

A dedicated DIFeREns webpage has been created: and four calls for Fellowships have been publicized on: the EURAXESS jobs portal;; the DIFeREns and main University websites; by advertisements in relevant medial with inter-disciplinary and global reach; through the Matariki Network of leading research Universities (based in seven countries); on online message boards; by a personal letter from the Vice-Chancellor to his counterparts at the top 200 Universities in the world; by contacting relevant British Council offices with a request to disseminate the Fellowship advertisement to contacts within their region; via professional societies in European countries; through personal contacts of all academic staff in the University; and using the main University social media accounts such as Twitter.

Over four rigorous recruitment cycles of the programme applications have been received from more than 50 countries. Applications number for the Junior Research Fellowship have increased from 111 in Round 1 to over 300 in round 4. The Senior Research Fellowships have seen a similar rise with applications increasing from 18 in Round 1 to 24 in Round 4. By targeting a global audience awards have been made to applicants from: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, North and South America and Durham University has been visited by: 49 Junior Research Fellows, 59 Senior Fellows and 47 IAS Fellows

Appointments to the scheme have been made on merit. The gender split of successful applicants has been proportional to the number of applications received

JRF Applicants: 57% male 33% female 9% not disclosed
JRF Appointments: 61% male 39% female

SRF Applicants: 69% male 31% female
SRF Appointments: 71% male 29% female

As an equal opportunities employer Durham University seeks to embrace diversity by promoting and maintaining an inclusive and supportive work and study environment that enables all members of our University community to achieve their full potential. To promote this a scheme specific Equality and Diversity page has been created: which is augmented by a Frequently Asked Questions Page:
Furthermore, to ensure a fair selection process, selection and interview panels have a mix of genders represented.

In measuring the success of the scheme Fellows have reported participating in over 75 noteworthy academic activities (such as symposia, lectures, seminars) and over 100 publications have either been published or have been submitted for publications. These acknowledge the COFUNDing of the scheme by the EU and Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. Furthermore, the scheme is contributing to the development of international networks of scholars, which working with the International Office the University is seeking to embed.

A dedicated DIFeREns team, housed within the University’s Institute of Advanced Study has been created to administer the day-to-day running of the scheme. This team handles the full process from the advertisement of calls to the embedding of links post-Fellowship and acts as the first point of call for all Fellows. This team can be contacted at:

• COFUND Team, Durham University, Institute of Advanced Study, Cosin’s Hall, Palace Green, Durham, DH1 3RL
• Tel: +44 (0) 191 3344685
• Fax: +44 (0) 191 3344699
• E-mail:
• Website:
• Four year report:


Wendy Harle, (Director of Research Office)
Tel.: +44 191 334 4635
Fax: +44 191 334 4634
Record Number: 182049 / Last updated on: 2016-05-25
Information source: SESAM