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I'm starting a lecturer position in Computer Science in the UK, which is roughly equivalent to a tenure-track assistant professor position. However, the department head told me that, while they do provide some support for conference travel, they do not offer any kind of startup package and we are expected to acquire our own grant funding to hire postdocs etc.

  • Is it the norm that new faculty members do not receive any kind of startup support in the UK?
  • If yes, how do new faculty members start building up their career? (I would love to continue devoting all of my time to research, but I will have some teaching obligations which will certainly lower my individual research output.)

I'm still a PostDoc in Canada for a few months and my supervisor is as puzzled as I am about this information.

Background: The UK university is part of the Russell Group, which is a self-selected collection of UK universities that are (supposedly) the most research-active.

Edit (Regarding Teaching Load): I have a 1+1 teaching load (reduced to 1+0 in the first year) but I was told that, in the UK workload model, one also has other obligations such as tutorial classes, taking on several project students, and master thesis supervisions. These students are being assigned to me and their projects are not necessarily related to my research.

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    Minor point: some of the infrastructure costs that one might normally pay out of a start-up grant are, in several UK places, covered by the Department. The same goes for PhD studentships: although they might not be guaranteed for a new faculty member, there is often a "tradition" that when it comes to allocating the small number of studentships, one tries to help out junior faculty where this is deemed reasonable/appropriate – Yemon Choi Sep 6 '16 at 22:18
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    That said, I know of some cases where the answer to your second question is simply "with difficulty". – Yemon Choi Sep 6 '16 at 22:19
  • On a less frivolous note: my impression is that many places, and especially the RG institutions, will have some standard rule whereby new faculty get a reduced teaching load, or "more workload points allocated towards research", for the first year or two. So one doesn't necessarily need a research buyout of one's time – Yemon Choi Sep 6 '16 at 23:02
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    One thing that you can do is to find a research project that you can do without post-docs or PhD students and do the research yourself. It is the expectation of U.K. researchers that a significant proportion of their time is spent on research (the three halves of the job being teaching, admin and research ;o), so if you are not writing grant proposals or supervising post-grad/docs then use the time doing research and publishing papers. This is what I did, and it involved a change in my research direction after my PhD. – Dikran Marsupial Sep 7 '16 at 7:14
  • Regarding your edit: welcome to the UK. If it helps at all, think of it as a trade-off against being able to walk around outside in January without a coat :) I would add that, having experienced tenure-track life in Canada before I moved back to the UK, it's not all roses in that system. (You're welcome to email me privately if you want me to elaborate or want a more detailed discussion.) – Yemon Choi Sep 7 '16 at 12:27
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Research grants for new academic staff are offered competitively by the various research councils, depending on your subject area.

You can learn about the various research councils and what grants they operate through the web site for Research Councils UK.

For Computer Science you should be eligible for an EPSRC New Investigator Award (up to £100k), however the competition is fierce, so you should be sure to seek the advice and support of the research office of your University who can assist you in writing a successful grant proposal.

Some Universities, as noted, do offer their own support for new academics, but irrespective of funding available locally there is national funding, and also perhaps one might also look at European Funding for new researchers whilsts the window of opportunity remains open.

For an ambitious and promising researcher the position is not necessarily as pessimistic as you might feel.

  • How much money can one expect from an EPSRC new investigator grant (formerly known as EPSRC first grant)? – Mohamed Khamis Mar 18 '18 at 11:30
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    @MohamedKhamis URL and text fixed. Thanks for heads up. – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Mar 18 '18 at 12:25
  • Are you sure about the 100k cap? At my own institution (in Maths) the word seemed to be that one could go higher, indeed this was one reason those of us who were on the old 1st Grant scheme felt we missed out – Yemon Choi Mar 18 '18 at 16:51
  • @YemonChoi I was just quoting the web site. – Brian Tompsett - 汤莱恩 Mar 18 '18 at 16:59
  • Perhaps I'm looking at the wrong part of the page, but the reference I see is to eligibility, saying "you shouldn't have received a grant of 100k+ FEC". See e.g. gow.epsrc.ac.uk/… for a NI Grant exceeding 100k – Yemon Choi Mar 18 '18 at 19:48
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In my experience, startup packages for Lecturers in the UK are much smaller than for Assistant Professors in the US. That said, I have never heard of a Science/Engineering School in the Russell Group offering no startup funds.

My School would typically:

  • Guarantee £30,000 contingent upon the Lecturer applicant applying for a £15,000 Royal Society Research grant (if the application was not successful the school would provide £30,000, but if the application was successful the school only provided £15,000) These grants have a very high success rate.

  • Guarantee funding for a 3 year Phd studentship

  • Guarantee "research" computers for the Lecturer and PhD student

The school also had a small amount of internal money for running pilot experiments (applications up to £5,000) conditioned on a large grant proposal at the end and conference travel (applications up to £1,000) conditioned on presenting work. These could be applied for every other year. New lecturers were given a boost to their application scores for their first 3 years.

The school also could recommend new Lecturers for money from the University (up to £25,000). They could only recommend only person per year and the money was somewhat competitive.

If the new Lecturer was successful everywhere (which is not too difficult), they could expect £67,000 and a PhD student. The school would also make sure there was suitable lab space with furniture. In the UK, you are also paid on a 12 month contract so there is no need for summer salary.

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    I think start-up grants might be more common in lab-based, or equipment-intensive areas? I don't work at a Russell Group institution so I'm not contradicting what you say, but in mathematics or TCS a start-up grant would be seen in many places as a luxury – Yemon Choi Sep 6 '16 at 22:59
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    " they could expect £67,000 and a PhD student." This is on top of salary right? – PVAL Sep 7 '16 at 0:22
  • @PVAL: There are fixed salaries scales to which all universities in the UK abide to and the lecturer scale is around 38-42k £ :-/ – movingToUK Sep 7 '16 at 10:43

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