By embracing the high ideals we hold ourselves to at The Franklin, and also following recommendations by Leading Routes, an organisation dedicated to creating inclusive environments in higher education and academia, we are pleased to include the following measures in our PhD programme:

(1) Transparent and detailed recruitment process

Applicants have access to all the information they need for the recruitment process on The Franklin website, including key dates, guidance on what to include in a personal statement and how to choose an appropriate referee. We will also be hosting a Q&A session for interested applicants, and there is also a Questions section for other questions. For further enquiries, please email us at training@rfi.ac.uk.

(2) Limiting unconscious bias

We have developing a recruitment stage in which the most talented and enthusiastic students can be shortlisted for interview through their academic merit and aptitude alone. To facilitate this, the assessor panel reviewing Franklin PhD applications will have no knowledge of an applicant’s gender, cultural background, disabilities, ethnicity, caring responsibilities, immigration status, socio-economic background or age. This information will only be available to our HR staff to understand the demographics of applicants, and better target groups of people we are currently not reaching with our engagement campaigns.

(3) No CVs

Applications for PhD, and indeed jobs in the wider world, introduce points of bias or preference from the assessors. This is because there are variations in how applicants format their CVs, or what information they include. To decrease subtle discrimination in points like these and to streamline the application process, we have created a standardised online application form which will be fair to everyone.

(4) Fully funded PhDs

Our PhD students will receive an extended tax-free living allowance of £18,000 per year. This does not need to be paid back. This allowance means our students will not require paid internships, or part-time jobs, and can focus on their projects without having to worry about living expenses. Furthermore, they will be provided with additional benefits, such as free parking or an ‘Unlimited’ bus pass for their daily commute into the Franklin hub (whichever may be relevant for them).

(5) Diverse interview panels

The Franklin’s proud commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion means that every PhD interview will have a mixed-sex panel, and all interviewers will have completed unconscious bias training.

(6) Not using the 'BAME' umbrella term

Although developed as a means to collate information about ethnic minorities – in education, the workplace, healthcare and in society in general – statistics on the ‘BAME’  community [Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic] can misrepresent the frequencies of individual groups within this term. Using this collective term means that the issue of under representation of particular groups within academia is not addressed in a directed manner.

Therefore, in our PhD applications and wider recruitment strategies, we will not be applying this term when describing our staff or student populations. We will continue to collect data on ethnicity, and will use this to report both to our funders and to improve our internal practices.

(7) A team of supervisors

Gone are the days of students interacting with a single PhD supervisor. Franklin students will be supervised by a team of supervisors, including Franklin scientists and collaborators from the partnering university on the PhD project. This gives our students a key opportunity to learn from, and be supported by, many scientists with a range of expertise and maximise their experience from the programme.

(8) Career guidance and developing pathways

The old rhetoric of ‘academia or industry’ choices for PhD graduates is entirely incompatible with the novel technology and research that takes place every day in The Franklin. From post-doctoral fellows, to data scientists and policy-makers, our one-of-a-kind programme will mould students into innovative, lateral-thinking, independent scientists, who will be ready to step into their chosen careers with practical guidance and support.

(9) Monitoring measures and optimising processes

At The Franklin, we aim to continue pushing boundaries and welcome good practices wherever we find them. Monitoring these initiatives help us gage where we need to work on to increase interest, engagement and applications from individuals who are underrepresented in academia and research. Analysing who applies (and is successful) during our PhD recruitment shows us how to reach (and support) applicants from across the UK, from all backgrounds and walks of life.