Returning Carers' Scheme (RCS)

RCS logo 2024

The purpose of the Returning Carers’ Scheme (RCS) is to support academic staff in re-establishing their independent research careers on their return from extended leave for reasons connected to caring (such as maternity leave, adoption leave, shared parental leave or leave to care for a dependant).


In order to be eligible for the RCS, you must be due to go on, currently be on, or have returned from one of the following types of leave: 

  • Maternity leave 

  • Shared parental leave 

  • Adoption leave 

  • Additional paternity leave 

  • Leave to care for a dependant 

This leave must be a continuous period of 16 weeks.  

You will need to explain the impact the leave has had on your research activity and how access to scheme funds will help you to re-establish your independent research career.  

Awards criteria 

Applications for funding will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account your circumstances and needs, and in accordance with the following criteria: 

  • Applicants must be core funded, be a named co-Investigator on a research grant, or hold an externally funded independent research Fellowship. 

  • Applicants must have research as part of their job role. This includes pedagogical research. 

  • Awards will be capped at £10k unless the circumstances are deemed to be exceptional. 

  • Awards will be made only for the purposes identified in the application. 

  • The application for funding fits with University, Faculty and School research priorities and will benefit the independent research career of the applicant. 

  • Priority will be given to those who are requesting funds for the first time. 

  • Direct childcare costs will not be considered. *  

  • There will be no right of appeal against the decision. 

  • No support will be approved for expenditure following the end of a contract of employment. 

The scheme depends on the availability of funds. If funding availability is exceeded the application process will be paused.  


The Returning Carers Scheme runs continuously throughout the year, therefore there is no fixed deadline. However, applications can only be made by members of staff who have returned from caring-related leave within the last twelve months, are currently on caring-related leave, or are due to go on caring-related leave.  

A completed application will need to be approved by the following: 

  • Head of School 

  • Faculty HR Business Partner 

Funding must be spent within the financial year and the subsequent financial year as indicated by the applicant in the application form.  

For questions related to the Returning Carers Scheme at the University of Bristol please email:    

*With the exception of conference attendance for applicants who are currently breastfeeding who need to take their child with them. 

I applied for help from the RCS following six months of extended paternity leave (following on from my partner, who had taken maternity leave for the first six months of our son's life). I used the award to buy myself out of a proportion of a heavy teaching load, which allowed me some vital mental space to start some pilot projects, which has so far led to a publication and some developing grant applications. Without the award, that work would either not have happened, or would have eaten into the precious time I had to support my family and the career of my partner

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