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On Thursday 21 September 2017, Head of Department Professor Irene Tracey announced the launch of an innovative pilot scheme aimed at helping those with caring responsibilities to undertake training and attend conferences.

© John Cairns

These types of activities are essential for professional development, yet they often take place outside of normal working hours and away from established support networks. Parents and carers may incur additional costs in order to attend or, in some cases, have to miss out on opportunities entirely. Recent research shows that the provision of care bursaries would go some way to mitigating these pressures.

Who is it for?

The NDCN Carers’ Career Fund is open to all academic, research, professional, support staff and students who have regular caring responsibilities, e.g. for child, parent, partner, or a close relative. Individuals can apply for up to £250 to help offset the costs of paying for care above and beyond their normal arrangements when attending events relating to their professional development. The pilot will run for six months (13 September 2017–15 March 2018) and, if successful, it is hoped a permanent source of funds will be established.


The department is dedicated to supporting the professional development of all staff and students. We understand that everyone has a life outside of work and for many, it can be a struggle to balance the two. This fund will allow those with caring responsibilities to engage in a huge range of activities, without being disadvantaged financially.
- Katja Wiech, NDCN Staff Development Committee

The idea for the fund was developed by Katja Wiech and Stacie Allan, who recognised that some members of Department may need extra support to achieve their professional goals. The initiative is part of the Department’s Athena SWAN activities and supports our goal of creating an inclusive, diverse, and supportive workplace. ‘The academic environment is often set up for the commitment-free and geographically mobile’, as Stacie explained, ‘we’re looking at ways that we can make access to opportunities more of a level playing field and ultimately give everyone a better chance of succeeding in their careers’.

Irene warmly welcomed the initiative. ‘Our understanding is we’re the first department at Oxford to introduce this type of fund', she said. 'I hope that this will be of benefit to some staff and I’d like to thank the Staff Development Committee for their work developing the Fund’.

How to apply

For further information, see the application form with guidance notes on our Staff Development intranet pages or contact Stacie Allan ( The first deadline for applications is Friday 6 October 2017.