How we are widening access to research careers

Our nine-week summer student training programme gives undergraduates a taste of life in the lab. Our director of academic training Sally Leevers explains how and why we’re making changes to the programme this year to give groups that are under-represented in science access to valuable research experience.

There is increasing awareness of the lack of diversity in UK science careers, with data showing inequalities by ethnicity, by socio-economic background, and for different regions of the UK.

At the Crick, we’re committed to increasing diversity within our own programmes, and to supporting progress in this area across the UK research community.

Inequalities in research careers are particularly obvious at the undergraduate to postgraduate stage, so we are making some changes to one of our undergraduate programmes.

Following the data

For the past five years, we’ve welcomed around 20 undergraduate students to our labs and facilities for nine weeks every summer to experience life as researchers.

This year, we are focusing our summer student training programme on excellent students who might be less likely to have access to practical research experience because of financial or social barriers, not because of a lack of academic potential.

By diversifying the pool of students who have access to research experience as undergraduates, we hope to diversify the group of people pursuing PhDs and other scientific careers in the future.

We are adding three eligibility criteria. To be eligible in 2023, students must be:

  • of Black ethnicity, and/or
  • studying at a university on our priority institutions list, and/or
  • in receipt of enhanced maintenance support from the relevant UK student finance agency to help with their living costs during their studies.

These criteria were chosen because they target inequalities we have identified in our programme. They do not account for every group that is under-represented in science, but rather groups with significant disparity between the UK undergraduate population and the Crick summer student training programme to date.

Building a sustainable programme

We hope that these changes will give a broader pool of undergraduates access to our training programme, and help them to make informed decisions about their future careers.

The programme will also provide a valuable experience to our postdocs, who will train and supervise the students.  We’ll share updates on our progress later this year.


We believe that this change is needed to widen participation in science by providing important lab training and experience for students from groups that are under-represented in science.

We hope that these changes will mean that a more diverse group of students will progress to PhD and science careers at the Crick and beyond.

John Diffley

Principal Group Leader & Associate Research Director

I’m delighted the Crick is doing this. Our summer placement is a major enhancement to any undergraduate CV and will enhance future PhD or job applications.

The changes to eligibility criteria mean that we can attract high potential, talented students from lower income backgrounds, from under-represented ethnicities, and from a wider range of UK universities.

We will host excellent, motivated students who would otherwise be much less likely to access quality scientific training and work experience because of financial or social barriers – not because they lack academic potential.

Alison Forbes

Inclusion Manager

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