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Success on the board: unlocking the power of underrepresented voices in research

Wellcome is funding the second year of the pilot of ‘Success on the board’, a development programme open to researchers and professional research services staff from underrepresented groups in UK universities and research institutes, who are interested in exploring joining a board.

Wellcome and Advance HE are entering the second year of piloting a fully-funded development programme targeted at those in research that belong to groups currently underrepresented on higher education (HE) and research boards and governing bodies. 

Analysis of the diversity of UK university and research institute governing body membership, as well as data on governance from the Higher Education Statistics Agency, indicates that there is an underrepresentation of certain minoritised groups, compared with the sector and society at large.

Wellcome has put diversity, equity and inclusion at the heart of its new strategy and will work with the research sector on change. With increased gender, ethnicity and disability representation on UK HE and research boards, the diversity amongst key decision makers will be improved. Such changes in leadership will be essential to help build a better research culture – one that is creative, inclusive and honest. 

The programme aims to support participants to explore the membership of committees and boards of research institutions, universities, and other organisations relevant to the sector, such as charities, hospitals, funders and research organisations. 

Following a successful first year of the programme, there will be a further ten places available this year, to begin the year-long scheme at the end of September 2022.

The programme is open to researchers and professional research services staff from underrepresented groups in UK universities and research institutes – namely women, trans people, people from ethnic minority groups and disabled people (including those with long term health conditions).

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An introduction to the programme from the Chair of Wellcome, Julia Gillard

We spoke with the Chair of Wellcome and Former Prime Minister of Australia about her experiences.

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The programme

‘Success on the board’ is a comprehensive development programme running over 12 months. The programme aims to equip participants with skills and guidance on how to access opportunities. The programme includes:

  • online training
  • coaching
  • opportunities to shadow boards
  • reflective learning
  • online webinars
  • an online community across a year-long programme.
  • an in-person concluding event

Participants are required to commit to a total of three full days of scheduled activity and to commit to an additional four days in total over the course of the year to engage fully in the suite of activities and the community.

To ensure participants can get the most out of the programme, each applicant will need to find an institutional champion who will submit a supporting application. We will not be able to accept applications without the necessary institutional support. Advance HE can provide support to help applicants find an institutional champion – more information on this will be available when applications open on 6 June 2022.

Register your interest 

Applications for the programme will open 6 June 2022 for the 2022/2023 programme. Register your interest to be notified when applications open.

Register here
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Dr Shewly Choudhury discusses her experiences of joining a board

We spoke with Dr Shewly Choudhury, Trustee at the MS Society, to discuss her experiences of joining a board, and her top tips for those thinking about applying for the programme.

How will places be allocated?

There will be two stages to the assessment process. Firstly, applications will be assessed against an eligibility threshold. If an application is eligible, it will then move to the second stage and be put into a lottery draw (randomised selection) for places. More information on the eligibility threshold and selection process will be shared on the frequently asked questions page, which will go live on 6 June 2022 when applications open.

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About Wellcome

Wellcome supports science to solve the urgent health challenges facing everyone. We support discovery research into life, health and wellbeing, and we’re taking on three worldwide health challenges: mental health, global heating and infectious diseases.

Find out more
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Frequently Asked Questions

To support potential applicants and institutional champions, a frequently asked questions page will go live on 6 June 2022, when applications open.

If you have any immediate questions, please email NED@wellcome.org.

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