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Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund: How the fund is administered

Find out more about who can apply and how the fund is administered.


Description of the Fund

  1. The Bell Burnell Graduate Scholarship Fund will be a restricted fund established under the management of the IOP to support full-time or part-time graduate studentships for people from groups that are currently under-represented in Physics.
  2. The Fund has been created with an endowment of £2.3m ($3m) to provide support to the scholarships for as long as practically possible.  The Fund will be open to all donors who may wish to add to or match the endowment.  The Fund will be administered by the IOP, and supported by a panel who will review qualifying applications and select those to be funded.  Each year the IOP panel will recommend to the IOP an amount to allocate for the annual applications.  The final decision on the allocation of funds will rest with the IOP.  The amount that is allocated annually will be set in order to preserve the capital fund for as long as the panel and IOP deem it to be effective, but in the first instance for at least 10 years.
  3. Applications will be open to support PhD Graduate studies only.  Funding will be provided as a contribution for up to 4 years (or equivalent if by part-time study) of PhD studies, agreed as part of the application process and paid annually from the allocation.  The scholarships will normally be paid in support of course fees, living support grants and any additional funding to support accessibility, including support for carer responsibilities.  In addition successful applicants will be able to apply for addition support from the IOP Carers Fund if this is not able to be granted from the scholarship fund.
  4. Funds will be tied to the student, so if the student moves university then the funding will move with them.  The fund will only support studies in a physics department, school or faculty that has either a Juno or Athena SWAN award and on a physics-related topic at a recognised graduate degree awarding institution in the UK and Ireland.
  5. Selection for funding will be made by a small panel convened each year by the IOP.  For the purpose of this fund the definition of under-represented groups in physics will be kept under review. In this first instance our definition includes: women, students of Black-Caribbean, Black-African and other minority ethnic (BAME) heritage, students with disabilities, or who require additional funding to support inclusive learning, LGBT+ students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds who may struggle to find the levels of funding needed to complete their studies.  People with qualifying refugee status who meet the above criteria are also encouraged to apply. Priority will be given to students who meet multiple criteria and the decision of the panel on qualification and funding amounts will be final.
  6. No student will be eligible for more than one grant award, although extension to grants may be granted under extenuating circumstances and at the discretion of the IOP panel.  No institution will be able to hold more than one student with a funding grant in each academic year of a study.

Role of the IOP Panel

The IOP Panel will consist of a chair and deputy and be constituted from across the physics community.  Amongst the panel there should be representation from senior leadership in universities who will have close familiarity with graduate programmes in physics in the UK and Ireland.  Membership of the Panel will rotate every three years however initial panel members may be asked to serve extended terms in order to introduce a stagger in rotation so knowledge and expertise is not lost.

The first Chair of the panel will be Professor Helen Gleeson, the Cavendish Professor of Physics and Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds.

The IOP Panel will undertake the following activities:

  • meet once per year (normally in the November) to consider applications that have been provisionally sifted by the IOP against the eligibility criteria;
  • agree with the IOP the amount of funding to be released;
  • determine the applicants suitable for funding in a prioritised list and the allocation appropriate for each applicant, noting and guided by the monitoring statistics of past successful applicants;
  • make recommendations to the IOP on how to improve and develop the activities of the fund.

Role of the IOP

The IOP will administer the Scholarship fund at no cost to the fund.  The fund will be administered by a Grant Manager in the Development Team.  The administrative responsibilities will include:

  • advertising and promoting the fund, opening the call each year normally in October;
  • fundraise for the fund to encourage additional donations to be added in support of the funds programme of work;
  • managing applications and ensuring they meet qualifying criteria;
  • co-ordinating the applications review process and meetings of the IOP Panel;
  • ensuring a three-year rotation of IOP Panel members, with some stagger to allow for continuity;
  • agreeing with the IOP Panel the amount that will be allocated each year;
  • administering payment of the grants and issues and logistics related to these;
  • provide a small additional amount for the student to cover the payment of their IOP membership costs (allowing full membership of the IOP at no cost to the individual);
  • maintain an alumni list of successful applicants and bring these together each year at a suitable event so that we maintain contact and we can follow and support their career development;
  • work with the Chair of the IOP Panel to appoint new panel members.