Welcome Trust International Exchange Programmes in Humanities, Social Science and Bioethics

This funding enables researchers to run international exchange programmes. The exchanges will help to transform careers and shape the direction of future research.


Scheme at a glance

Career stage:

Where your host organisation is based:

  • UK,
  • Rest of the world

Level of funding:

Up to £1.5 million

Duration of funding:

3 to 5 years


Who can apply

You can apply for this award if you want to run an international exchange programme specialising in health-related humanities, social sciences or bioethics.

The exchange programme you propose must:

  • help programme participants to transform their careers by experiencing academic life abroad
  • enable you and the other programme leaders to shape the direction of your future work through global partnerships.

Programme leaders

Your programme must have one leader based at an eligible UK organisationwho is the lead applicant.

There must be at least one other programme leader (co-applicant) based at an eligible organisation anywhere in the world outside the UK. You can also have further partner organisations located in the same country or different countries (one of which could be in the UK).

Each applicant must have a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract, or the guarantee of one. Your salary must be paid by your host organisation.

If you hold a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract but have to get your salary from external grant funding, you can ask us for this in your application. If this applies to you, you must commit at least 10% of your working hours to the programme and your host organisation must confirm that your employment contract stipulates:

  • your salary must come from external grant funding
  • they will not guarantee your salary if you’re not successful in getting it from external sources.

Programme leaders can be at different career stages. The lead applicant does not need to be the most experienced member of the group.

As a group, you must show in your application that you have:

  • experience in running a research programme or network, or of delivering complex projects
  • effective working relationships with each other through previous collaborations or shared research interests
  • experience in supervising researchers.


In your application, you must provide a clear plan for the proposed structure of the exchanges within your programme, including (but not limited to):

  • what participants will do, for example research, writing up, teaching, networking and other research-related activities
  • the number of participants
  • the frequency and duration of the exchanges
  • how leadership responsibilities will be shared equally
  • how you’ll support the participants, for example through mentoring, teaching and other career development activities
  • how you’ll manage issues involved in an exchange programme, for example supporting the welfare of the participants
  • your plans for selecting participants, including their level of experience and your commitment to equality and inclusion
  • your commitment to supporting a positive research culture and sharing best practice.

You must also tell us how these exchanges will:

  • help programme participants transform their careers
  • enable you and the other programme leaders to shape the direction of your future work.

What’s expected of your host organisation

The lead applicant’s host organisation must confirm that they can sign up to our grant conditions.

The co-applicants’ host organisations must confirm that they can sign sub-agreements with the lead applicant’s host organisation.

Statements of commitment

All applicants (lead applicant and co-applicants) must provide statements of commitment from their host organisations when they apply.

These statements must show that the space and resources you need have been agreed and will be made available to you from the start date through to the end date of your award.

They must also show that all of the organisations involved are committed to delivering and sustaining the programme. Examples of commitment could include providing:

  • funding for additional participants in the exchange
  • dedicated time away from other duties for the programme leaders
  • additional administrative and operational resources.

If your organisation is in a high-income country, you’ll need to show significant additional resource commitment, either from your own organisation or from another funder.

An International Exchange Programme is up to £1.5 million and lasts for three to five years.

We encourage you to think creatively about what you’ll need to achieve the aims of your programme.

The award covers the costs of carrying out the programme.

Support includes:

  • You can ask for salary costs of all staff, full or part time, who will work on your project and whose time can be supported by a full audit trail. Staff members may include:

        • research staff
        • project managers
        • communication officers, for example social media manager
        • copy editors
        • translators and interpreters
        • meeting facilitators
        • training and development staff.

    We don’t usually provide a salary for applicants for this scheme. But if you hold a permanent, open-ended or long-term rolling contract and have to get your salary from external grant funding, you can ask us for this in your application. See the ‘Eligibility and suitability’ section above for more information.

    Visa, work permit and settled status costs

    If you have named people on your grant whose salaries will be funded by Wellcome, you can ask for visa or work permit costs to help them take up their posts at the host organisation. You can also ask for:

        • visa costs for the person’s partner and dependent children
        • essential associated costs, such as travel to attend appointments at a visa application centre or embassy if you can justify these
        • Immigration Health Surcharge costs for the person, their partner and dependent children if they will be in the UK for six months or more.

    You can also ask for settled status costs if the named people:

        • are European Union citizens living in the UK
        • meet the requirements for settled status set by the UK government.

    You can also include these costs for the person’s partner and dependants.

  • You can ask for funds for research or teaching replacement to cover the cost of a temporary replacement lecturer. Costs:

    • can cover up to 40% of your contracted time and up to 40% of your coapplicant’s contracted time
    • are usually for a person at a more junior level than the post-holder
    • can be spread across the full period of the grant.
  • We will pay for the materials and consumables you need to carry out your proposed research, including:

    • archival photocopying
    • printing associated with fieldwork and empirical research
    • materials directly related to hosting workshops and interviews.
  • Equipment purchase

    You can ask for smaller items of equipment that are essential to your proposed project. Costs may include purchase, delivery, installation, maintenance and training, where necessary.

    If you want to request larger items, please contact us before applying.

    We will cover VAT and import duties if:

    • the usual UK exemptions on equipment used for medical research don’t apply
    • you’re applying from a non-UK organisation, and you can show these costs can’t be recovered.

    Equipment maintenance

    We will cover maintenance costs for equipment if:

    • you are requesting it in your application
    • it is existing equipment that is:
      • funded by us or another source
      • essential to the proposed research project
      • more than five years old
      • cost effective to keep maintaining it.

    We won’t cover maintenance costs for equipment if there is a mechanism in place to recoup these costs through access charges.

    Computer equipment

    We will cover the cost of one personal computer or laptop per person up to £1,500.

    We won’t pay for:

    • more expensive items, unless you can justify them
    • installation or training costs.
  • We cover research management and support costs if:

    • your host organisation is in a low- or middle-income country and your grant will be directly awarded to that organisation,


    • part of your grant will be sub-contracted to an organisation in a low- or middle-income country.

    We don’t cover these costs if your host organisation will include the sub-contracted funding in its annual report to the UK Charity Research Support Fund.

    They can include:

    • training costs, eg transferable skills and personal development training for you and any other people employed on your grant
    • costs for short-term professional training for administrative, technical and support staff
    • administration, eg grant management, technical and administrative services
    • other costs which are necessary for your research, eg computing and internet access costs, access to electronic resources, facility and running costs such as utilities, furniture, waste disposal and incineration, and building maintenance.

    The total research management and support costs should not be more than 20% of the direct research costs you’re requesting.

    See a list of low- and middle-income countries.

    How to apply for these costs

    You must

    • give a full breakdown of costs in your grant application form (you can’t ask for a percentage of the research costs)
    • explain why these costs are necessary for your research
    • include a letter from the finance director of your host organisation with your application, confirming that the breakdown is a true representation of the costs incurred.
  • You can ask for costs to host:

    • conferences
    • symposia
    • seminar series
    • advisory board meetings.

    Costs can include:

    • travel and accommodation for keynote speakers
    • room hire and catering
    • event publicity conference pack publication, including name badges
    • childcare or other caring responsibility costs for delegates
    • any costs related to accessibility and inclusion
    • any associated expenses that you can justify.
  • Travel costs

    You should use the most suitable and economical form of travel. Please include a breakdown for each part of your trip, eg air fares and number of journeys.

    Conference attendance

    You can ask for a contribution towards the costs of attending scientific and academic meetings and conferences, including registration fees. The limits are:

        • applicants – £2,000 a year
        • staff employed on your grant – £1,000 each a year.

    You’ll need to specify the amount you’re requesting for each person and break down the costs into registration fees, travel, subsistence eg food and accommodation.

    You can also ask for costs to cover caring responsibilities if any staff employed on your grant attend a conference. This includes childcare and any other caring responsibility they have, provided:

        • Wellcome is paying their salary
        • the conference is directly related to the research
        • the caring costs are over and above what they’d normally pay for care
        • the conference organiser and their employing organisation are unable to cover the costs.

    You can ask for up to £1,000 per person for each conference.

    Collaborative travel

    You can ask for travel and subsistence costs for collaborative visits for you and any staff employed on your grant. You’ll need to justify each visit and its duration.

    Other travel

    We may pay for other essential visits eg to facilities, libraries, archives and for fieldwork. You can include subsistence costs.

    Subsistence costs

    If you’re away for up to one month you can ask for subsistence costs. These include accommodation, meals and incidentals (eg refreshments or newspapers).

    If your administering organisation has a subsistence policy, use their rates.

    If your administering organisation doesn’t have a subsistence policy, please use the HMRC rates(opens in a new tab).

    If you’re away for more than one month and up to 12 months, we will pay reasonable rental costs only, including aparthotels. You should discuss appropriate rates with your administering and host organisations, or Wellcome, as appropriate. We expect you to choose the most economical options, booked in advance where possible.

    If you’re from a low- or middle- income country and will be working in a high-income country for more than one month and up to 12 months, you can also ask for up to £20 a day to cover extra costs, such as transport and incidentals.

    If you’re away for more than 12 months, we will pay the costs of your housing. You should discuss your needs with your administering and host organisations.

    The allowance we provide will be based on family and business need. We will set the maximum allowance we pay for each location. This will be based on current market data or, where data is unavailable, in consultation with your administering organisation, using equivalent market rates. Please contact us if you need help calculating the costs.

    We will cover the direct expenses you have to pay to find and rent a home. We will not cover the cost of utilities or any refurbishment.

    Overseas research

    If you or any staff employed on your grant will be doing research away from your host organisation, we’ll help with the additional costs of working on the project overseas. Please see the ‘Overseas allowances’ section for details.

  • If you or any staff employed on your grant will be spending time in another country, we’ll help you with the additional costs of working on the project overseas.

    Our overseas allowances are:

        • a contribution towards the personal cost of carrying out research overseas, to ensure that you are not disadvantaged
        • provided on the assumption that you’ll be paying income tax, either in your home country, or the country you will be working in (your personal tax is your responsibility).
        • provided on the understanding that you or your partner will not receive equivalent allowances from elsewhere
        • determined by the amount of time you will spend away from your home country.


    See a list of low- and middle-income countries, as defined by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

    You can ask for the following allowances. You need to provide estimated costs as accurately as possible.

  • We will add an inflation allowance to your award.

    How we calculate your inflation allowance

    Your inflation allowance is based on your total eligible costs and the duration of the award. You’ll receive the allowance if the costs in your application are in pounds sterling, euros or US dollars.

    Award duration (in months) Inflation allowance
    0-12 0.0%
    13-24 1.0%
    25-36 2.0%
    37-48 3.0%
    49-60 4.1%
    61-72 5.1%
    73-84 6.2%

    These rates are calculated using compound inflation at 2.0% a year from Year 2 onwards.

    If your costs are in any other currency, we will use an inflation allowance that reflects the inflation rate of the country where the host organisation is based.

    What to include in your application

    The costs in your application must be based on current known costs, excluding inflation.

    You should allow for salary pay awards during Year 1. These should be based on pay awards already agreed; if you don’t know what the pay award is yet then use our inflation rate.

    Wellcome’s studentship stipend scales include an annual increase for inflation.

  • If your organisation receives block funding through the UK’s Charity Open Access Fund (COAF) you can ask them to cover your open access article processing charges.

    If you’re at an organisation that doesn’t receive COAF funding, we’ll supplement your grant when your paper has been accepted for publication.

    You can’t ask for these charges in your grant application.

  • If you need to carry out research using NHS patients or facilities you can ask for certain research costs. Annex A of the guidelines for attributing the costs of health and social care research and development (AcoRD)(opens in a new tab)sets out which costs you can ask us for, and which should be funded through the Department of Health in England, or its equivalent in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. If you’re based in the Republic of Ireland, we would expect you to adhere to the spirit of these principles.

    More information about our policy on clinical trials.

  • Costs you may ask for (you will have to justify these costs in your application):

    • funds to co-create your research and work with other sectors, for example fees for participants and facilitators
    • researcher care costs – we encourage you to provide training and support for staff working in challenging environments, for example by commissioning a specialist trainer
    • fees for Master’s or additional training, for example audit modules, methods training and research expenses
    • fieldwork costs, including survey and data collection and statistical analysis
    • specialist publications that are relevant to the research and not available in institutional libraries
    • consultancy fees to enable the participation of important stakeholders who would not otherwise be able to take part – for example, activist groups, non-governmental organisation staff and volunteers, and experts-by-experience
    • expenses for subjects and volunteers – includes recruitment of participants, their participatory fees and travel, as well as interviewee expenses
    • reasonable research-associated costs related to the feedback of health-related findings but not any healthcare-associated costs
    • costs associated with developing an outputs management plan
    • questionnaires, recruitment material, newsletters etc for clinical, epidemiological and qualitative research studies
    • public engagement materials where dissemination (including printing and publishing) is a key activity of the project
    • recruitment, advertising and interviewee travel costs for staff to be employed on the grant
    • purchase, hire and running costs of project-dedicated vehicles
    • computing, including recurrent costs dedicated to the project (for example software licences)
    • formal transferable skills and personal development training, including the International Funders Award, in addition to what we’d expect your organisation to provide.

    Costs we won’t pay:

    • estates costs – such as building and premises costs, basic services and utilities. This also includes phone, postage, photocopying and stationery, unless you can justify these within a clinical or epidemiological study.
    • research, technical and administrative staff whose time is shared across several projects and isn’t supported by an audit record
    • charge-out costs for major facilities – departmental technical and administrative services, and use of existing equipment
    • cleaning, waste and other disposal costs
    • indirect costs – this includes general administration costs such as personnel, finance, library, room hire and some departmental services
    • office furniture, such as chairs, desks, filing cabinets, etc.
    • clothing such as lab coats, shoes, protective clothing
    • non-research related activities, eg catering, room and venue hire for staff parties, team-building events and social activities
    • indemnity insurance (insurance cover against claims made by subjects or patients associated with a research programme)
    • ethics reviews if you are in a UK higher education institution
    • radiation protection costs.

What we don’t offer

  • Large research projects
  • Dissemination
  • Capital costs.

We don’t fund overheads unless they’re included on this page (for example research management and support costs).

Stages of application

  1. Attend an information session

    We encourage you to go to one of four information sessions about this scheme in autumn 2019. Attendance is not compulsory.

    • 25 September (14:00 – 16:00) – London, Wellcome
    • 2 October (13:00 – 15:00) – Glasgow, University of Strathclyde
    • 7 October (14:00 – 16:00) – Leeds, University of Leeds
    • 7 November (14:00 – 16:00) – London, Wellcome

    During a session, you’ll find out more about International Exchange Programmes and Research Development Awards. Professor James Mills from the University of Strathclyde will also give a grantholder’s perspective.

    If you want to attend, register for a session as soon as possible – places are limited. Send an email to HSS@wellcome.ac.uk by 5 August 2019. Put ‘HSS information session’ in the subject line and include the following details:

    • name, department, organisation
    • your first and second choice of dates
    • whether you’re interested in International Exchange Programmes or Research Development Awards.

    We will live-stream the final session and make it available here.

  2. Submit your preliminary application to your host organisation for approval

    Online preliminary application forms will be available on Grant Tracker in October 2019.

    When you’ve completed the application form on Grant Tracker, submit it to the ‘authorised organisational approver’ at your host organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

    You’ll need to provide a letter of support from each host organisation involved in your proposal.

    You don’t need to contact us before you submit a preliminary application. We prefer to speak to applicants when we invite them to submit full applications.

    Get some tips to help you write a Wellcome grant application.

  3. Host organisation reviews your preliminary application and submits it to us

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 GMT on the deadline day.

  4. Assessment of your preliminary application

    We’ll assess your eligibility, suitability and competitiveness. If suitable, we’ll invite you to submit a full application. We’ll contact you to give you feedback on your preliminary application and answer any questions you may have. If your application is unsuccessful, we’ll provide brief feedback.

  5. Site visit by Wellcome staff and external experts

    We’ll get in touch to arrange a site visit at your host organisation with you and your co-applicants.

  6. Site report by Wellcome staff and experts

    We’ll send you a report of the site visit to help you prepare your full application.

  7. Submit your full application to your host organisation for approval

    Complete the full application form on Grant Tracker and submit it to the ‘authorised organisational approver’ at your host organisation for approval. Make sure you leave enough time for the approver to review and submit your application before the deadline. The approver may ask you to make changes to your application.

  8. Host organisation reviews your full application and submits it to us

    Your application must be submitted by 17:00 GMT on the deadline day.

  9. Review and shortlisting

    First Wellcome staff will determine the eligibility, suitability and competitiveness of all proposals.

    Then a committee of internal and external experts will assess the applications. We don’t provide applicants with the names of committee members as they are selected after the applications have been reviewed by Wellcome staff. Committee members are chosen for their specific expertise and broader research experience.

  10. Decision

    There are no interviews. We’ll give you a decision within three months of the application deadline.

Disabled applicants

If you are disabled or have a chronic health condition, we can support you with the application process.


  • Registration deadline for information sessions

    5 August 2019

  • Information sessions

    September to November 2019

  • Preliminary applications deadline

    3 March 2020, 17:00 GMT

  • Site visits

    June/July 2020

  • Full applications deadline

    November 2020

  • Review and shortlisting

    February 2021

  • Decision

    March 2021


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