Bridging support scheme

Central funding for the Bridging Support scheme was discontinued with effect from 1 August 2011.  However, divisions and/or departments are encouraged to consider local arrangements to support continuity of employment across gaps in funding, whilst research grant application outcomes are awaited.  The guidance below may be used as a basis for any such arrangements

Suggested eligibility criteria and maximum length of funding are given. However, in exceptional circumstances, where a particular project is of strategic importance to the University, the length of service requirements may be reduced and/or the maximum length of grant extended.

1. Introduction

The Bridging Support Scheme is intended to permit the employment, in certain circumstances, of academic-related research staff between fixed-term contracts at the University of Oxford, for whom no other source of funding is available, in order (a) to encourage the retention of experienced and skilled staff; and (b) to avoid the traumatic and disruptive break in employment and career which might otherwise be faced by such staff. The scheme is only available for staff who are employed by the University; staff working in university departments but not on the university payroll are not eligible for the scheme.

There is no central funding available for any associated costs (salaries, equipment,  consumables, etc) which remain the responsibilities of the department/division concerned.

2. Eligibility

There are two modes for support under the bridging support scheme.

Mode 1 - where further funding has been confirmed

Applicants must normally have:

(i) at least two years' service in academic-related research contract posts at the University of Oxford;

or (ii) a total of at least six years' service in academic-related research contract posts in universities or comparable institutions.

Applicants eligible under Mode 1 may normally apply for up to six months' funding.

Mode 2 - where further funding has not yet been confirmed

Applicants must normally have at least six years' service in academic-related contract research posts in universities or comparable institutions.

Applicants eligible under Mode 2 may normally apply for up to three months' funding in the first instance. If during this time confirmation of future external funding is received, additional bridging support up to a total of 6 months may be sought.

3. Rules of the scheme

(a) The applicant may not normally receive more than six months' support under the Bridging Support Scheme in the three years up to the end of the period for which bridging support is currently requested.

(b) Efforts must have been made to secure a new grant for further funding in good time before the expiry of the present contract and all other relevant sources of support fully and satisfactorily pursued.

(c) Every effort must have been made (and where appropriate continue to be made) to secure from the external funding body the early start of a new award, so as to minimise the period between contracts and the length of time for which bridging support is sought.

(d) The head of department must support the application for bridging support and provide an assessment of the benefits which would result to the department and individual concerned.

(e) A satisfactory programme of work must be agreed with the head of department to cover the period of employment for which bridging finance is sought, and brief details must be provided.

(f) Where no further funding has yet been secured, bridging support may be requested until the likely start of further funding, provided this period does not exceed three months. If, within the three-month period, the application to the funding body is rejected, bridging finance will nonetheless continue for the reminder of the three months.

4. Application procedure

(a) All applications for bridging support must be made through the head of department or the chairman of the faculty board, (a suggested application form is available)

(b) Applications should consist of a completed application form detailing the following:

(i) a precise summary of the salary costs requested, making allowance for any annual increment due and including full on-costs (National Insurance and pension);

(ii) a brief description of the research to be undertaken during the period for which bridging support is requested;

(iii) details of any previous bridging support received by the applicant (or a statement that no previous support has been received);

(iv) information about the efforts which have been made to secure a new grant, and to arrange the early start of any new award;

(v) signed declaration by the Head of Department;

(vi) a statement from the head of department, indicating his/her support for the application and outlining the benefits which would result to the department and the applicant (the applicant may also submit, if he/she wishes, an assessment of the benefits which would result from bridging support);

(vii) where the application is made under Mode 2, i.e. where further funding has not yet been obtained:

  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae for the applicant, including a list of publications, and
  • an academic reference from outside the University.

5. Financial arrangements

(a)There is no central funding available for bridging support.  It is therefore for divisions/departments to consider what funding may be available locally, and set up an appropriate process for fairly considering applications for funding.

(b) If funding is obtained from an outside body within the period covered by a bridging support grant, the bridging support will cease as soon as the outside funding begins. Any savings will be returned to the departmental/divisional bridging support fund. Where an external funding body agrees to provide retrospective funding to support a researcher for a period covered by bridging support, then the bridging support budget must be reimbursed accordingly.

(c) Grants must be used within a period of three months for the purpose for which they were allocated.

6. Review of the operation of the scheme

Where bridging support is provided, heads of department may be asked to submit a brief report to the division, commenting on any benefits of the award and future funding arrangements.  The operation of the scheme should be reviewed annually in the light of experience.