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Wellcome ISSF Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project

In addition to the Wellcome Institutional Strategic Support Fund, the University has been awarded £500,000 which will be matched with University funds to provide £1,000,000 to accelerate and embed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion throughout our research and discovery approach. 

The project is taking place over a two year period and due to conclude on 31 March 2023 and is being led by Dr Rachel Cowen, University Academic Lead for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion and Director of the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health's Centre for Academic and Researcher Development (CARD). The project will build on its inclusive researcher development expertise, in partnership with the University EDI team and diverse staff and student researcher networks.

The project has four main strands - please explore the events, funds, fellowships and the impacts of the programme in the sections below; 

1. Diversifying our research community

Inclusive Advocacy Programme

After a UoM-wide launch and intial training Inclusive Advocacy Programme applications were completed and matched in May 2022. 
18 talented researchers from under-represented groups (4 Hums, 6 FBMH, 8 FSE) were partnered with senior research leaders (Advocates) who are currently providing advocacy and access to established research networks and expertise, with a focus on supporting the career advancement of researchers from under-represented groups. 

Background: The programme connects senior research leaders (Advocates) to talented research staff (Participants) for a 12-month period. Applications now closed.  The aim in the long-term is to increase diversity throughout our research career pipeline and promote inclusivity within our research culture.

Inclusive Research Recruitment

This strand of the project will look to apply an agreed inclusive recruitment framework for researchers at all levels, to include positive action to address under-representation and a cycle of continuous learning and improvement by conducting exit interviews with all researchers.

2. Providing equity of research opportunity

Academic Returners Funding Scheme

The academic returners’ scheme aims to stem the leaky research career pipeline by pump priming the research of Teaching and Research Academics, returning from extended leave of 6 months or more so that they can retain their career momentum.

The scheme has two parts providing funds for research and career profiling raising activity (up to £3K) and  funds to help academics prioritise research activity by providing short term cover for teaching and learning or administrative activity (0.5FTE, grade 6 cover for 1 semester up to £7.8K). The scheme has supported 18 academics to date, all women returning from maternity leave (grades 6-8). 

The scheme is delivering significant benefits with awardees citing internal and external grant success, peer reviewed publications, book chapters and monographs alongside extensive profile raising activity including global conference events, pilot fieldwork and the establishment of new collaborations. Awardees are also experiencing enhanced leadership and career progression with 10 of the awardees being promoted since applying to the scheme.

The next phase of this project is to officially hand over the management of the scheme to People and Organisational Development.  For any further information on the scheme, please e-mail

Inclusive Research Leadership and Management programme

The 'Being a Leader' programme supports diverse teams and individuals to develop key competencies outlined in our new University Inclusive Leadership Framework. An open call for the programme was circulated during November 2021 and there are 70 researchers who have been accepted on to the programme that will be delivered between January and May 2022. Participants are from the Faculties of Humanities, Science and Engineering, Biology, Medicine and Health. Feedbacks from the programme are positive and here are some quotes from the participants. 

"I can most certainly recommend the Being a Leader course to other researchers - the greater the awareness that we all have about being authentic and acting with integrity, the better it is for all of us!"

"The opportunity to think deeply about leadership in the context of my life and in a cohort that I got to know over the duration of the course."

"This is a transformative experience. it makes us to delve into issues that do not allow us to develop our potential."

Further information about the scheme is available in the Being a Leader flyer. Take a look at the video below to see what previous alumni say about the programme:

We are anticipating delivering the programme again in autumn 2022. If you would like to register your interest in taking part, please e-mail the team at

3. Working towards an inclusive research environment

Active Bystander Training

The team will develop an online Active bystander training course contextualised in research for all researchers at all levels. This will empower researchers to recognise and take action against discriminatory behaviours and micro-aggressions, building researcher confidence in University report and support systems.  The online course is in the initial stages of development and will be available to a pilot group in early summer 2022 and then rolled out across the University in autumn and spring 2022/23.

EDI Innovative Bid Scheme - OPEN for applications 

The EDI Innovative Bid Scheme is a new funding scheme aiming to celebrate and raise the visibility of our diverse researcher community and to promote inclusive research culture and practice.

Open to all researchers, research related or research support staff at the University, the scheme is an opportunity to create or progress activity that celebrates and promotes diverse researcher success and that will help us embed EDI in our research and discovery practice and culture

The scheme will provide up to a maximum of £5,000 to individuals or teams to unlock diverse researcher potential and to promote inclusive research practice and culture change in your area or discipline or more broadly across the University. You can use the scheme to explore new ideas, develop resources, run events or carry out preliminary studies to understand and address researcher inequalities. We aim to fund 20 projects over the next 12 months

We will prioritise applications proposing;

  • To address researcher inequality issues at Manchester but with potential wider impact for the sector.
  • Seek to understand systemic barriers and propose bold actions to progress EDI in Research Practice and Culture.
  • To evaluate the impact and sustainability of the proposed activity beyond the scheme.

Applications are now being accepted until January 2023 or fund expires.

The scheme is inspired by good practice within the Advanced Biomaterials Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) where doctoral students were supported to carry out an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Project as part of their researcher development.

Current projects which have been funded: 



Project Title

Summary Aims

BMH  Health Sciences Break The Bias – IWD event on 09 March 2022
Guest speaker Pragya Agarwal 
Title: about women, bias, race, and (m)otherhood
1.To celebrate and raise the visibility of our diverse community and to promote inclusiveness.
2.To challenge inequality, racism and un-conscious bias.
3.To engage UoM staff, students and general public in a discussion on anti-racism, inclusion and unconscious bias.
FSE Earth & Environmental Sciences Connectivity & Inclusivity in Higher Education EDI for a solutions-based approach-pilot study  1. To co-create new knowledge based on connectivity and inclusivity of EDIA operations, teaching/learning and, leadership at the UoM needed to inform good practice across the institution.
2. to identify synergies, interactions and conflicts of EDIA and, act on co-created ways to address them.
BMH  Medical Sciences Understanding and removing the barriers for women in academia at the early stage of their careers  1. To explore the challenges women face in academia at the early stage in their careers.
2. To translate these findings into co-developed recommendations for change, that are implementable into higher education institutions (HEIs).
FSE Physics & Astronomy  JBCA: Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics 
1. Our aims centre around discussion and education. We dedicate time to subjects that require our attention, and become more informed on these topics. 
2. We expect EquiTea to make staff members of JBCA more informed about EDI, and to make JBCA more welcoming to all scientists. We expect EquiTea to bring to light ways in which we can improve at JBCA, and these actions can be passed onto the rest of the university if we find solutions that are especially effective.

Listen to Dr Tom Shearer, an academic from the Faculty of Science and Engineering, and EDI lead on the Advanced Biomaterials CDT. Here he introduces some of the EDI projects created by CDT researchers and explains why he believes it is essential for researchers to have a good understanding of EDI and to research within an inclusive environment.

Advanced Biomaterials worked with the external consultant Dr Chrissi McCarthy (Constructing Equality Ltd). Here Chrissi describes the impact she thinks the EDI projects have had so far.

4. Contributing through responsible and inclusive research practice

Gender Equality in Research and Innovation 

This interactive session is open Uni wide to all staff and students involved in research and will explore why it is important to take gender dimensions into account in research and innovation and how this can help maximise excellence, creativity, economic opportunities and societal relevance. This session will help you question gender norms and stereotypes, increase understanding of genders’ needs, behaviours and attitudes and connect you with tools to embed gender equality in your current and future research.

Invited Speakers are Professor Anne Laure Humbert and Dr Charoula Tzanakou, Oxford Brookes Business School Centre for Diversity Policy Research and Practice.

Date: Wednesday 28 September 2022, 13:45/14:00 - 17:00

The event is open for booking via the training catalogue - book your place here  
For more detail contact: 

Embedding Gender Equality within your research projects

This a participatory workshop for up to 30 early career researchers to help you consider what gender equality means in the context of the research lifecycle, how you can apply gender tools and develop an action plan to embed gender equality in your own current and future research projects.

Confirmed attendees will need to provide a brief abstract of your research one week in advance of the workshop and come prepared to discuss the following question. Q. Describe how the gender dimension (i.e. sex and/or gender analysis) is taken into account in the project’s research and innovation content?

Date: Thursday 29 September 2022, 10:00 - 13:30 (working lunch included)

The event is open to register your interest via the training catalogue - register your interest here  
To ensure a spread across all faculties your place will be re-confirmed by email.  For more detail contact:

Inclusive Research Toolkit

The team will build on existing undergraduate UCIL unit on Equality Diversity and Inclusion, expanding to all early career researchers and developing an inclusive research toolkit with the potential for sector wide use.  More information will be available shortly.

National Inclusive Researcher Conference

At the conclusion of the EDI Project, the team will deliver a national online inclusive researcher conference exploring opportunities to mitigate against bias and promote inclusion throughout the research and innovation lifecycle. 

Date:  March 2023 - further details to follow in due course.

Targeted Fellowships and Placements

Equality Diversity Inclusion "Perera" Fellowships

7 successful candidates were awarded Perera fellowships in February 2022. 

Background: This was an internal call Dec/Jan 2022 for new fellowship applications which aimed to support talented post PhD researchers from under-represented groups (women, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic, Disabled, LGBTQ+) and researchers who had been particularly impacted by the COVID19 pandemic. EDI “Perera” fellows will be supported to progress their research ideas, develop research independence and secure external follow on fellowship funding.  There were six fellowships available for research funding and salary, for a maximum of 12 months (must be completed by 31 March 2023), up to a maximum of £50k per fellowship.  The research must fit the Wellcome remit in order to apply. Applications now closed. 

Research Placements (summer 2022) - now CLOSED

These 6-8 week internships were awarded in May 2022 for 19 research summer placements across all 3 faculties commencing in June and July 22. 

Background:  These placements will give late stage undergraduate students (within their last 2 years) valuable practical experience of academic research and a competitive edge for postgraduate research funding (PhD studentships). The internships were be open to students from under-represented groups within our research community as part of a range of positive measures to embed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion throughout our research and discovery approach. Priority was given to applicants who met at least one of the following widening participations criteria:

  • been in local authority care for a minimum of 13 weeks.
  • from a low-income background evidenced by receipt of maintenance grant and/or a higher rate of maintenance loan during undergraduate studies.
  • come from one of the most deprived areas of the UK as indicated by ACORN and LPN data. This is based on home postcode before attending university. [To find out if your home postcode meets the relevant indicator, please use our eligibility checker. Enter your home postcode prior to university, the school where you did your GCSEs, the school where you did your A-levels, and click ‘search’. If the search results include ‘Home postcode flag: Yes’, you will meet this indicator.]
  • are/were in receipt of a Disabled Student Allowance (DSA) as part of your undergraduate studies or are receiving/received support from your undergraduate university's disability office.
  • have been recognised as a refugee or asylum seeker or been granted humanitarian protection status by the UK government, or are the partner or child of someone who has been granted refugee, asylum seeker or humanitarian protection status.
  • are from a black, Asian or minority ethnic background.
  • are the first generation in your family to attend university and be studying an undergraduate or equivalent qualification (neither of your parents has a BA, BSc or equivalent undergraduate degree).

Students have been engaged as casual staff by the University 

Wellcome EDI Events

Please find details below of upcoming events on the Wellcome EDI projects - for more detail see the individual project strands above 

DateTime  Event DetailProject 
28/09/2022 14:00-

Gender Equality in Research and Innovation
- an interactive session for all research staff and students 


Book here
29/09/2022 10:00-
Embedding Gender Equality within your Research Projects
- an applied participatory workshop for early career researchers
   4 Book here
March 23 tbc   National Inclusive Researcher Conference     4 Booking will open in
Autumn 2022

Who we are:
Project lead: Dr Rachel Cowen
Project manager: Mrs Maria Marsh
Project admin: Miss Di (Molly) Zhang

Contact us:
If you would like to get in touch about any aspects of the Wellcome EDI project, please e-mail us at