The Graduate and Researcher College is pleased to support the Summer Vacation Research Competition.

This event attracts PDRAs, RAs and Research Associates looking to gain additional research project and line management experience, and enthusiastic and motivated undergraduate students wishing to acquire research experience through an established scheme in which they are supported University staff. The competition, now in its fifth year, was initiated and 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 (CES) and Dr Alison Charles (GRC).

Participating in this competition is a great way to boost your career: early career researchers (ECRs) gain transferable skills through developing a research proposal, shortlisting and interviewing students, and managing their own project, budget, and intern for 4-7 weeks (via funding worth up to £2500). Aimed at Widening Participation students and promoted to Work Study Scheme participants but open to all (home and international) second and third years, the undergraduates selected learn more about the world of research through active participation in a real-life project paid at a living wage.

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, the Signature Research Theme Leads and Student Services.

The 2022 Summer Vacation Research Competition has just finished and our enthusiastic participants have been working on an exciting range of projects.

For further information, please see our blogposts which include details of the 2022 competition and information about postdoc and undergraduate winners from 2021 and 2022. Kent academic and research staff can also view the recording of our ‘Valuing, supporting and developing our postdocs‘ event on 21 September 2021, during which previous winners spoke about their very positive experiences of the competition. (Please access the link via SharePoint and scroll down.)

To contact the competition organisers, please email

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