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Visiting Scholars

Visiting Scholars

The Scott Polar Research Institute is cautiously accepting applications for our Visiting Scholars Scheme. However, due to the continuing volatility surrounding COVID-19, there can be no certainty of being able to accommodate successful applicants in the Institute. We will be keeping the viability of the Scheme under routine review in light of office occupancy and travel restrictions, etc.

The Scott Polar Research Institute welcomes academic visitors from all parts of the world whose stay will be of mutual research benefit to the individual, their host and the Institute.

The visiting scholar scheme is open to researchers from outside the University of Cambridge, but is not open to recently completed PhD students from Cambridge unless employed at a different higher education institution. The Institute runs a separate Visiting Students scheme for current graduate research students from other universities. Follow the link for details of this scheme and how to apply.

Successful applicants will be those who:

  • The Institute can offer work space to during their stay (unless not required);
  • Have the strong support of a member of academic staff (the 'host') within the Institute;
  • Can demonstrate the value of their visit, both for themselves and for the Institute; and
  • Are able to pay bench fees and support themselves in Cambridge (see below).

Before applying, you must have the confirmed support of an academic member of staff. Your host within our Institute will be asked to write a case for support, which will help the Institute's Senior Staff Committee (SSC), which meets once per term, to reach a final decision.

The SSC will normally only consider a visit of a maximum duration of 12 months. However, it is possible to extend a visit for up to a further year (with discounted bench fee) subject to the receipt of a satisfactory report on the first year of collaboration. Any such extension should be discussed with the Director of the Institute well before the end of the 12-month period.

Bench fees

Bench fees apply for the use of the University and Institute facilities and are calculated as follows:

  • Between 2 weeks and 1 month £150 (£180 inc. VAT*)
  • Up to 3 months £500 (£600)
  • Up to 6 months £1,000 (£1,200)
  • Up to 12 months £2,000 (£2,400)

* VAT (20%) is chargeable to all UK and overseas visitors

Bench fees cover:

  • Overheads
  • Reasonable use of postage and faxing
  • Standard IT facilities, stationery, photocopying and printing in the Institute. Please note that Visiting Scholars are assigned in advance a reprographics balance of £5 per month of the visit (e.g. a 3 month visit = a balance of £15)
  • Access to public computers
  • A desk in the Scott Polar Library and access to Library facilities
  • Access to the University Library

Bench fees do not cover:

  • International postage
  • Long distance and overseas telephone calls
  • Equipment costs, including provision of computer hardware
  • Specialist computing resources (e.g. high performance computing; large amounts of data storage; specialist image processing facilities etc.)

Bench fees will be paid on the first day in the Institute.

Bench fees may be reduced or waived under certain exceptional circumstances, such as for visits by researchers from Institutes from lower-income countries or regions. Such requests must be notified to the proposed host and will be discussed and agreed at the SSC before the visit is approved.

IMPORTANT: Please note that it is the Visiting Scholar's responsibility to deal with immigration, visas, accommodation and family issues. Non-EEA (European Economic Area) academic visitors will need to obtain appropriate immigration clearance. The Department does not process immigration applications.

The Institute will not sign any contracts or enter into any agreements with either visitors or their institutions.

How to apply

Check the SPRI website to see which member of the senior academic staff aligns most closely with your research aims, and contact them to enquire if they would be willing to host your visit. Retired and affiliated staff, and Institute Associates, cannot host visiting scholars. Senior Academic hosts must be available throughout the period of the visit.

When you have their agreement, send a letter including a statement of your planned research and how this aligns with research in the Institute, and your host in particular, together with your CV, to the Secretary of the SSC at Your CV should include the names of two potential referees, but please note we would only seek references if the SSC feels more information is needed to inform their decision.

You are advised to apply in sufficient time to allow you to make arrangements to come to Cambridge, meeting any immigration requirements, should your application be successful.

For support on arrival, please visit Newcomers and Visiting Scholars.