Royal Society supports social mobility programme In2research to empower people from low socio-economic backgrounds to progress to postgraduate research

21 June 2022

The Royal Society has committed to support participants through the In2research programme. This inspiring research-focused programme empowers people from low socio-economic backgrounds on the path to successful research careers. Participants engage in PhD access workshops, away days that build the in2research community, alongside a unique mentoring scheme led by leading researchers. Participants also gain fully funded 8-week research placements at top research institutions. 

This innovative programme was created to directly address the long-running problem of underrepresentation of people from low socio-economic backgrounds in academia, medicine, and science. Just 10% of life science professionals, 15% of academics and 6% of doctors come from working class backgrounds.

There are a variety of factors that can lead to bright people with an interest in research not progressing further, including the unclear PhD application processes, and the difficulty in securing prior research experience, which is notoriously hard to find and can often be unpaid.

Due to the Royal Society's support, the In2research Programme can be expanded and will offer 100 places to participants on this year's programme. As part of the In2research Programme, Programme Mentors and Placement Hosts experience high quality training, delivered in collaboration with Leading Routes and UPSIGN – two community organisations that work with Black and Pakistani students respectively to ensure that they too have the tools needed to receive a positive and nurturing experience.

Dr Rebecca McKelvey, Founder of In2scienceUK, comments: 

''We are delighted to be partnering with The Royal Society, allowing us to reach and support more people from low socio-economic backgrounds, to gain insights into research and postgraduate careers. People who hold postgraduate qualifications, particularly those with PhDs, are the experts of our society. They are often involved in policy making and policy implementation at the highest level. Those policies shape everything, from our health and welfare to our data and the technology we use. It is the people entering postgraduate research today that will solve the future's greatest problems. Underrepresentation in these fields will produce poorer outcomes for those underrepresented groups, and that is what we have set out to tackle with the In2research programme.

“Academia is extremely difficult to access. Unlike the university application, there is no clear application process and gaining unpaid research experience is not an option for many who might not have the connections or financial support to take up unpaid work. That is why it is so important that higher education and industry collaborate to help people overcome those barriers. 

“We are delighted to be receiving vital support from the Royal Society. This partnership will support people who are smart, interested, and passionate to progress to research careers and help us shape a more equal future in the health, technology, engineering, and maths of our society.”

Professor Jeremy Sanders, Chair of the Royal Society Diversity and Inclusion Committee, commented:

“I am proud to be able to announce the Royal Society’s support for the In2research initiative. It builds on our long-running partnership with In2scienceUK and will give even more talented young scientists the support and experience they need to continue to a PhD and kick-start exciting research careers of their own.

“It’s often said, in science, as in many other fields, talent is evenly distributed but opportunity is not. Mentors and institutional know-how play a huge part in navigating the winding path from postgraduate through to independent creative researchers.

“By drawing on the expertise of the Royal Society’s grant holders and Fellowship, I hope we can give more young scientists a taste of where research careers can lead and inspire them to pursue unanswered questions and fields.”