Frequently Asked Questions

How do you get a college affiliation?

The University of Oxford has no central, uniform policy on including researchers in college life, reflecting the devolved nature of the university. If you are interested in a college affiliation, the opportunities are out there, though you will probably have to be proactive! Even if you do not have a formal link with a college, numerous research centres, guest lectures, workshops, and seminars are held in colleges. These events are open to anyone to attend whether they are a member of the college or not.

You can seek college affiliation in several ways:

1. Junior Research Fellowships

These fellowships and other college roles (such as research membership of Common Room or non-stipendiary research fellowships) are advertised here. Colleges also post opportunities on their own websites and in the Oxford Gazette.

2. Nomination from college member

Speak to your manager, supervisor, or another colleague who already holds a college affiliation. Many colleges accept proposals from existing members for new members, and they may be willing to put you forward.

3. College tutoring

The level of responsibilities, benefits, and duration of these positions are at the discretion of the college. Again, it is helpful if senior members of your department support your application to be a college tutor at their own colleges. You could also approach the Senior Tutor in the college saying what teaching you would be able to offer.

A key focus for OxRSS is to increase teaching opportunities for research staff, and we will provide more information on this in future newsletters.

4. Senior Common Room (SCR) memberships

Research staff can apply for membership of the SCR in a college with the support of a Fellow of the college. The nomination process is dependent on the college and may take some time. An annual fee may be requested and members may have to pay for their own meals, but can enjoy other benefits.

5. Associate Membership of Middle Common Room (MCR)

This is relatively easy to obtain with the support of your line manager and requires a fee. Some researchers prefer to become a member of the SCR as they share more in common with SCR members.

OxRSS has begun organising college dinners to give researchers a taste of college benefits, not the least of which is the opportunity to meet others working in different subjects and fields across the University.

Making the most of your career / personal development review

Chances are, your department has started, or is planning, a formal career / personal development review (CDR / PDR) scheme for research staff. CDR is simply what many effective PIs do naturally: they listen to their staff, they find out what’s going right and wrong, and they try to help keep things going smoothly, whether that’s through helping you to learn something new, by finding ways for you to explore a role you’d like to get into, or just saying, ‘Thank you. Well done.’ But even good PIs forget, and not every PI is a good manager. Few, if any, became a PI because they wanted to manage; many wanted to do research at a very high level, so being an effective manager is something they may well be learning, just as you are continually learning in your research role. Having a PDR system provides a framework for PIs to help them manage staff, and to help them give you the support you need, but bear in mind that CDR may be as new to them as it is to you.

CDR can be particularly useful to research staff because many are on fixed-term contracts and need to compete in a tough market for jobs. Whether you want to stay as a researcher in academia, move into industry, or move into teaching, it is vital you look at the broad range of skills you will need in order to succeed.

Put simply, CDR ensures that important conversations take place about work, about you, and about any areas where you need support, or development or where you have good ideas on how to do things better. The CDR meeting is a review point: a time to sum up the year gone and look forward to the year ahead, and a chance to plan and prioritize. Your performance will come into it, but in a way that sums it up over the year, highlighting strengths and identifying areas that need strengthening. You should receive a CDR preparation form in advance of the meeting; you could also consider using Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework to think about areas you want to focus on.

CDR can easily become a box-ticking exercise. But take the time to prepare and it can be a very useful space to step back and think about what you want and where you’re heading. Overall, CDR is for you – so make the most of it!

If you’re not sure whether you are eligible for a CDR, speak to your Departmental Administrator. All researchers in MPLS and Medical Sciences divisions should be in departments where CDR schemes are in place.

This article is based on the Guidance for PDR:

What childcare options are there for researchers with young children?

The University of Oxford nurseries are popular, and we have many happy parents and children who use our services. This article presents extracts of the most important information from the University of Oxford Child- care Services web pages

How many nurseries and nursery places are available?

We offer a total of 450 FTE places for eligible University of Oxford staff and students, 332 of which are in the University’s own nurseries. There are 5 University nurseries, 2 of which are in Headington. These nurseries are open from 8am-6pm, Monday-Friday and offer childcare for fifty weeks of the year. Two, three, four and five day attendance patterns are available.

There are also 118 spaces in 10 community nurseries across the city of Oxford. Our ratio of 1 nursery place per 30 members of University staff is significantly better than most other HEIs within the UK (the sector average for the Russell group is 1 place per 61 members of staff*).

Are there also college nurseries?

There are also 5 college nurseries, but these are separate from University Childcare Services and you need to apply to them directly.

I am on a short-term contract. Can I still apply for a place?

When you apply online your start and end of contract dates are relevant to your application. Generally you cannot keep a nursery space beyond the end of your contract, but please contact the team and they will do their best to take personal circumstances on a case-by-case basis e.g. if you are waiting to hear about future funding or if it is a short time until your child will start at school. If you expect your contract to be extended and need a nursery place after your current contract is due to end, please contact the Childcare Services team who will assist you with your application

I have heard there are waiting lists for places. How long may I have to wait?

There is a waiting list and it is prioritised e.g. parents with disabilities, single parents, those who have a child already in a nursery. Places for babies are more in demand. However, you can apply for a place when you are pregnant or when you have an offer letter to become a staff or student at the University.

How would I pay for a nursery place?

There are a number of ways to pay for a nursery place and the most popular is by using the University’s pre-tax Salary Sacrifice Scheme. Under this scheme, the employee agrees to reduce their salary by the amount of their nursery fee and in return benefits from lower tax and national insurance deductions on the reduced salary.

The salary sacrifice scheme is only available if the deduction does not take you below the minimum wage. The salary deduction is paid direct by the University to the nursery provider. There are also government schemes such as the Tax-Free Childcare scheme and free childcare hours for 3-4 year olds, more information can be found here:

Before applying for a place can I visit a nursery?

We encourage you to visit the nurseries before you make your application if at all possible as this will help you make a quick decision when a nursery place is offered to you. Some parents choose a nursery close to their home and others choose a nursery close to their workplace. Please contact the nurseries directly to arrange a visit, contact details can be found on our webpages.

How do I apply for a place?

You need to apply online from our webpages (link at top). You need to have your Single Sign On (SSO) log in details to hand and create individual applications for each of your children. You are able to nominate up to three nursery choices as part of your application. If you are applying for a place in one of our community nurseries, you will also need to apply using that nursery’s own application form. If you do not have your SSO please contact Childcare Services who will be happy to make a manual application on your behalf.

I have heard that departments have a certain number of sponsored places. Can I make use of this?

All departments and colleges are able to buy a certain number of priority nursery spaces on the waiting list. It is up to those departments and colleges to nominate people to receive these spaces each year. Please contact HR within your department to find out more.

What if I need additional childcare support?

The University has links with a number of organisations across the city, from babysitting services to school holiday and sport camps. Please see our webpages for more information.

I have other questions. Who should I contact? Please see full information on our webpages (link at top of article) and then please don’t hesitate to contact us with your specific requirements by telephone: 01865 613935 or send an email to: [email protected]

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