The Scenario DTP aims to continually improve equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) among its cohorts and its practices. Following a recent review of diversity among our cohorts, we will make some changes to the way in which our applications are processed. While we have achieved a balance of male and female students across our cohorts, the proportion of BAME Home students is substantially lower than the UK-wide average among postgraduate research students. To increase the representation of BAME Home students in our cohorts, we aim to increase the number of applications from under-represented groups and the proportion that are selected for interview. For our cohorts 9 and 10, we therefore introduce anonymised applications.
We encourage applications from all under-represented groups, including candidates with caring responsibilities or those with a disability. In our project selection, we ask potential supervisors to keep EDI in mind and as a result you will find that activities such as field work or prolonged periods away from the host organisation are often optional. It is our intention that the move to anonymised applications will widen participation for all under-represented groups.
A number of barriers to success have been identified for BAME Home applicants1, including selection criteria based on a candidate’s university, publications, or research placements. For Scenario cohorts 9 and 10, to help reduce unconscious bias, supervisors will base selection to interview on a subset of information, namely: (1) your (predicted) grade and name of degree, (2) your statement of interest in the relevant project, (3) your statement of interest in doing a (Scenario) PhD, (4) your personal statement summarizing skills and experience relevant to doing a PhD. Note that we do not ask you to submit a CV or resume, so any information that you think is important for your application should be mentioned in your statements.
In addition to a more standardized application form for candidates, we will also standardize referee reports. We will only ask for succinct confirmation of (predicted) grades and relevant experience, where the latter can refer to a student research project or work experience.
Above all, we strive to provide an inclusive environment for our cohorts enabling you to thrive as a PhD student. This includes EDI training for students and we will encourage supervisors to consider best practice in EDI. For instance, we have asked supervisors to design their projects with equal opportunities in mind for all applicants. We are also looking to appoint members to our Selection Board and Advisory Board that will champion equality, diversity, and inclusivity.
While this document provides a starting point for the Scenario DTP, policies related to equality, diversity, and inclusivity are in place at all our host partners: the British Geological Survey2, UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology3, Institute of Zoology4, Surrey University5, and the University of Reading6.