The Graduate and Researcher College is pleased to support a new Summer Vacation Research Competition for Early Career Researchers and Black Undergraduates for 2022.

The competition attracts eligible Early Career Researchers (ECRs)* looking to support enthusiastic and motivated Black second-year undergraduate students wishing to acquire research experience. It is led by Dr Jennifer Leigh with a team including academic and professional services colleagues from across the University: Dr Helen Leech (Division of Natural Sciences), Dr Sarah Tetley (RIS), Hannah Greer and Steph Hughes (CES) and Dr Alison Charles (GRC).

Participating in this competition is a great way to boost your career: ECRs gain an intern for 4-7 weeks (via funding worth up to £2500). Undergraduates learn more about the world of research through active participation in a real-life project paid at a living wage.

The Summer Vacation Early Career Research Competition 2022 has been designed to address the lack of diversity in research which has been identified by the UK government. The aim is to encourage Black undergraduates in all disciplines to consider potential postgraduate study, whilst giving ECRs an opportunity to have an additional paid intern for 4-7 weeks.

This competition builds on the success of the University’s Summer Vacation Research Competition (SVRC), which utilises a similar format. The application process for this competition has been simplified with ECRs asked to outline their project and how their work will support Black undergraduates. Further information about the SVRC is available via the competition web page and relevant blogposts. The former includes a link to footage of previous SVRC competition winners speaking about their very positive experiences of the competition.

This innovative opportunity is part of the University’s combined strategy to support the professional and career development of academic and research staff, including ECRs, and to enable students actively to participate in research. The initiative is generously supported by the Careers and Employability Service’s Work-Study Scheme and CES manage all undergraduate applications, feedback, and employment. Other support is received from the Centre for the Study of Higher Education, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor – Research & Innovation, the Divisions, the Graduate and Researcher College, Research and Innovation Services, and the Signature Research Theme Leads. The University is also grateful to Research England for funding, which has been directed towards this and other initiatives to improve access to and participation in research, including postgraduate research study, for people from currently under-represented groups.

The Summer Vacation Early Career Research Competition 2022 is now open for ECR applications – please access the application form and accompanying information via SharePoint (Kent staff login and VPN access required if working remotely).

The closing date for 2022 ECR applications is 20 March 2022. 

To contact the competition organisers, please email

If you are interested in advertising a work opportunity to students, please contact

* For the purposes of this competition, the term ‘ECR’ applies to staff on substantive contracts who research and who self-identify as being ‘early career’. This includes Research Fellows, who are eligible to apply, but excludes more senior researchers, e.g. Senior Research Fellows. Postdoctoral Research Associates, Research Associates and Research Assistants are not eligible but are encouraged to apply for the SVRC instead. Please note, however that, as the criteria for what constitutes an ‘ECR’ varies across disciplines, panel members judging applications will follow Divisional advice in this regard.