Select Committee on Science and Technology Written Evidence


APPENDIX 12

Supplementary memorandum submitted by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

  EPSRC works collaboratively with the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering on several fronts and is supportive of the work of these organisations. The nature and extent of interactions were outlined in the earlier written evidence from EPSRC to this inquiry. With respect to Fellowships the interactions provide EPSRC with unique and high profile opportunities to attract and support world-class researchers, which in turn enables EPSRC to deliver against its remit.

  In addition to joint sponsorship of fellowships with these learned societies EPSRC currently support three different Fellowship Schemes: Senior Research Fellowships, Advanced Research Fellowships and Postdoctoral Fellowships in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics.

A.  ANALYSIS OF THE COST EFFICIENCY OF EPSRC FELLOWSHIP SCHEMES

  The table below shows the total and unit direct costs of administration for fellowships schemes as a whole in the financial year 2001-02. Our selection system is based on application, peer review, interview and post award monitoring. The total and unit costs for administration are dependent on the number of proposals received.
Total Cost (£) Unit Cost (£)
Pre-award111,000434
Post-award18,00090
Monitoring/evaluation7,000 167

B.  CHARACTERISTICS OF EPSRC FELLOWSHIPS SCHEMES

Senior Research Fellowships

  Senior Research Fellowships are awarded to outstanding academic scientists and engineers of international repute, to enable them to devote themselves full time to personal research. Up to three of these most prestigious EPSRC awards are made each year. The proposed research must be important and timely and should offer opportunities for major scientific advances. Fellows are encouraged to contribute to the public awareness of science, engineering and technology. Fellowships are full time for up to five years and are tenable in the UK.

  There are three components to these awards: salary, fellowship support fund and an optional research grant.

  EPSRC will pay Senior Research Fellows current salary but the university is responsible for national insurance, superannuation and any salary increments. Indirect costs are not payable.

  The Fellowship Support Fund is £4,000 per annum and is for use at the discretion of the Fellow. It can be used to provide small items of equipment, consumables and travel and subsistence.

  If resources over and above the Fellowship Support Fund are required, Senior Research Fellows can apply for a research grant. The application should be submitted with the Fellowship application.

Advanced Research Fellowships

  Advanced Research Fellowships are awarded to outstanding young researchers, normally less than 35 years of age, with a minimum of three years postdoctoral experience. Fellows are expected to devote themselves to full-time research for the period of the award (up to five years), with the expectation that they will have established an independent research career of international standing by the end of the award.

  There are three components to these awards: salary, fellowship support fund and an optional research grant.

  EPSRC will pay Advanced Research Fellows an "age-for-wage" salary based on the UCEA lecturer A/B scale. Spine point 18 is the maximum that EPSRC will pay. Salary costs include national insurance and superannuation contributions. Indirect costs are not payable.

  The Fellowship Support Fund is £4,000 per annum and is for use at the discretion of the Fellow. It can be used to provide small items of equipment, consumables and travel and subsistence.

  If resources over and above the Fellowship Support Fund are required, Advanced Research Fellows can apply for a research grant. The application should be submitted with the Fellowship application.

Postdoctoral Fellowships in Mathematics and Theoretical Physics

  Postdoctoral Fellowships are available for mathematicians, statisticians, operational researchers and theoretical physicists. The aim of the scheme is to help outstanding young researchers establish an independent research career immediately or shortly after completing their PhD. Up to 10 awards are available across Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research and up to four awards are made available in Theoretical Physics each year. Fellowships are full time for up to two years in Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research and up to three years in Theoretical Physics.

  There are two components to these awards: salary and a fellowship support fund.

  EPSRC will pay Postdoctoral Research Fellows an "age-for-wage" salary based on the UCEA lecturer A/B scale. Spine point 18 is the maximum that EPSRC will pay. Salary costs include national insurance and superannuation contributions. Indirect costs are not payable.

  The Fellowship Support Fund is £8,000 per annum and is for use at the discretion of the Fellow. It can be used to provide small items of equipment, consumables and travel and subsistence. Postdoctoral Fellows are encouraged to use part of their Support Fund to spend time at other academic institutions or industry, in the UK or overseas, to develop research collaborations.

  Postdoctoral Fellows are not eligible to apply for a research grant.

Career Breaks and Development

  Research Fellows have the option to put their Fellowship into abeyance for up to two years within the five year Fellowship. This enables the Fellows to take a break from their research to help develop their career. EPSRC also actively encourage candidates who have had career breaks to apply for Advanced Research Fellowships.

  EPSRC also host an annual workshop for all Advanced and Post-Doctoral Fellows. These events give the Fellows the chance to input their creative ideas into discussions with the Programme Managers that will influence EPSRC funding strategies. The events also give EPSRC a chance to advise on career development. EPSRC requests a statement on the Advanced Fellows application form to specify how they are going to support and manage the Fellows career development.

  All fellows are eligible for standard maternity and sickness leave.

C.  APPLICATIONS FOR INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH

  EPSRC Fellowship schemes deal with interdisciplinary proposals in the following way. All proposals are sent out for peer review to referees who are expert in the particular research area of the Fellowship. If a proposal is multi- or interdisciplinary then referees are selected so as they cover all aspects of the research.

  The Panels that assess the proposals are held across subject areas (ie Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Engineering, Technology) resulting in broad panels that can manage assessing interdisciplinary proposals. A central panel, (across the whole of EPSRC's remit) chaired by the Chief Executive, then takes the final decisions on both Advanced and Senior Research Fellowships.

May 2001


 
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