Funding opportunity: ADR UK welcomes applications for GRading and Admissions Data for England (GRADE) Research Fellowships

The GRADE Research Fellowship is being launched in partnership with the Office of Qualifications and Examination Regulation (Ofqual), the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) and the Department for Education (DfE). Together, we invite applications for Research Fellows to conduct research and analysis to demonstrate the policy impact potential of the linked, de-identified datasets under the GRADE initiative.

About the data

The GRADE initiative has led to the creation of de-identified, linked administrative datasets to allow external researchers to conduct independent research and evaluation. The Ofqual–DfE–UCAS datasets are the result of a data sharing agreement signed between the three departments in August 2021. Research Fellows will access the data via the Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) Secure Research Service (SRS). Data is kept secure in line with the Five Safes framework: safe data, safe person, safe place, safe project and safe output.


The data shared through this initiative includes three main sources of administrative data:

  • Ofqual – including data on GCSE and A level examinations and qualifications collected from awarding organisations
  • DfE – including extracts of the National Pupil Database (NPD) for GCSE and A level students
  • UCAS – including data from the university application process

Research topics that could be developed using the GRADE data include, but are not limited to:

  • Scrutiny of the standardisation model introduced in summer 2020
  • Impact of awarding approaches on students and schools/colleges
  • Relationship with other measures of attainment (validity related questions)

This is by no means a restrictive set of research interests and applications exploring other topics are also encouraged.

Funding and eligibility

Researchers can apply for a fellowship grant of 12 months in duration, up to a maximum of £130,000 per annum at 100% full economic cost (FEC). ADR UK will fund 80% full economic costs subject to ESRC’s funding policy.

Proposals are welcome from individual researchers from eligible research organisations, as per the Economic and Social Research Council’s standard eligibility criteria. This includes early career researchers, for whom a mentor is mandatory. Researchers on fixed term contracts are eligible to apply if their institutions are willing to extend their contracts to cover the period of the Fellowship.

Successful proposals will be conditional on full approval from data owners to lawfully access the data (see full details in the funding opportunity specification).

Fellows will be expected to conduct public engagement as part of their work, and to participate in ADR UK stakeholder engagement events. They will also be expected to publish their research in accessible formats to increase its impact on policy and practice, as detailed in the funding opportunity specification.

Full details of how to apply can be seen in the funding opportunity specification - this and other relevant guidance documents can be accessed below.

On 30 September we are holding an online applicant workshop for those who want to learn more about this funding opportunity. Please register on the Eventbrite page.


Share this: