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Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise

Final Report Summary - DIFERENS2 (Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise)

The Durham International Fellowships for Research and Enterprise (DIFeREns) have provided 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 have allowed 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 were five main objectives of the DIFeREns programme. These were 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 was 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 have provided 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 was created: and four calls for Fellowships have been publicized on: the EURAXESS jobs portal;; the DIFeREns and main University websites; by advertisements in relevant media 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 60 countries. Application numbers for the Junior Research Fellowship remained in the region of 250 p.a. with a fall in the final round (which offered a less desirable shorter length Fellowship). Senior Fellowship applications have averaged 39 per round with a rise in numbers to 49 the final round. 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: 75 Junior Research Fellows, 90 Senior Fellows and 51 IAS Fellows

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

SF Applicants: 68% male 29% female 3% not disclosed
SF Appointments: 67% male 33% female

The gender split of successful Junior Fellowship appointments was less proportional to the number of applications received, but this did not take into account female appointments to other Fellowships, like the University’s flagship Addison Wheeler Fellowship, recruited simultaneously through the same recruitment pathway.

JRF Applicants: 59% male 37% female 2% not disclosed
JRF Appointments: 70% male 30% female

As an equal opportunities employer, Durham University has sought 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 was in place: which was augmented by a Frequently Asked Questions Page: . To ensure a fair selection process, selection and interview panels have had a mix of genders represented and research proposals were blinded prior to external review. Junior Fellows taking paternity leave / maternity leave have had their contracts extended by a period equal to the period of leave taken. The University is also honouring this commitment where parental leave causes the employment contract to continue beyond the end of the COFUND contract, and is bearing the salary costs to ensure that the JRFs are able to complete their Fellowship as planned.

In measuring the success of the scheme Fellows have reported participating in over 100 noteworthy academic activities (such as symposia, lectures, seminars) and over 250 publications have either been published or have been submitted for publications. Along with traditional media, Fellows have disseminated their findings via modern online media (e.g. and Where appropriate, 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 administered the day-to-day running of the scheme. This team handled the full process from the advertisement of calls to the embedding of links post-Fellowship and acted as the first point of call for all Fellows. While this team will undertake different roles at the end of the contract, enquiries can be made to:

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