Scale up of ‘vital initiative’ welcomed as Early Career Researcher Network expands to London

10 Jan 2024

London becomes the latest regional cluster in the British Academy’s Early Career Researcher Network (ECRN), through a new partnership led by the University of Greenwich, King’s College London, Middlesex University and University College London.

Funded by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) and the Wolfson Foundation, the ECRN is an inclusive, UK-wide network for and led by Early Career Researchers (ECRs) in the humanities and social sciences, providing opportunities for skills development and networking.

Since the Network’s launch in Autumn 2021 in partnership with the Wolfson Foundation, the ECRN has welcomed 47 institutions participating across four clusters – in the Midlands, the South West of England, Scotland and now London. As of December 2023, the network has attracted 3,045 members, over 58% of whom are based at non-Russell Group universities.

According to an independent evaluation of its early pilot model conducted by the Technology Development Group in 2022, the ECRN is an 'undoubted success with ECRs,' which 'adds value' to their experiences. It has since gone from strength to strength, securing investment from the Wolfson Foundation to develop a programme beyond its initial scope. Its expansion to London marks a significant chapter in the Network’s development.

The ECRN is committed to fostering a dynamic and engaging community for its members. To this end, new members in London will have the opportunity to shape the network's future by participating in a survey which will allow them to express their preferences for the network's offerings and opportunities.

The London launch event will take place on 28 February 2024 at the British Academy, bringing together ECRs from across the city to develop a programme of activities by ECRs, for ECRs. This programme will be collaboratively created with our partner universities leading the London cluster and ECRs from our existing regional clusters.

The British Academy’s new purpose-built hybrid event spaces, set to launch to the public in 2024, will further enable opportunities for early career researchers to connect in the heart of London.

Early career researchers based in London are invited to apply to join the ECRN via the British Academy’s registration form.

Professor Simon Swain, the British Academy’s Vice-President for Higher Education Research and Policy, said: 

"It is a pleasure to witness the continuing growth of the Academy's Early Career Researcher Network. Its popularity underscores the pressing need for initiatives addressing the unique challenges facing Early Career Researchers throughout the UK in a way that is led by them and centres their own voices and experiences. Following successes across our existing clusters in the South West, the Midlands, and Scotland, it is exciting to see the Network expand to incorporate London. The ECRN is a vital initiative, and I eagerly anticipate following its progress over the coming years, with the intention that it will evolve into a nationwide force—a joint effort crafted by and for the very researchers shaping the future."

Paul Ramsbottom, the Wolfson Foundation's Chief Executive, said:

“Support for high quality research in the humanities and social sciences is crucial for a healthy society. A crucial part of this is investment in - and support for - researchers during the earliest stages of their careers. We have been delighted to see the initial success of the Early Career Researcher Network and welcome this further expansion. We are keen that this continued funding is seen as a mark of confidence in the next generation of researchers.”

Members of the ECRN London planning group said:

“As ECRs from the London university partners, we are delighted to be part of a network directed by ECRs for ECRs. We want the London cluster to honour diversity in all its forms and celebrate ECRs - our achievements, best practices, and ideas that will bring about positive change. Paving the way for a more inclusive academic environment, we aim to create a collaborative and interdisciplinary community where ECRs can connect, support each other, shape change across London and beyond, raising and tackling issues we face. We warmly invite you to help shape our agenda and share our excitement for what the ECRN will achieve in London.”

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For further information contact the Press Office on [email protected]  / 07500 010 432.

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