Nuffield Foundation: New Funding Priorities

The Nuffield Foundation has recently announced some new research funding priorities, updating their five-year strategy which was first published in 2017. These new priorities sit under the core domains of Education, Welfare and Justice and maintain the organisation’s aim of advancing educational opportunity and social wellbeing across the UK.

The biggest shifts are in the Education domain with the development of four new themes, resulting in five areas for this strand:

  • Skills and capabilities that equip children and young people for life and work, both within and beyond educational institutions.
  • Teaching quality, particularly projects that improve practice through evidence-based interventions and those that harness digital technologies to improve teaching and learning, parental engagement and child development.
  • Young people’s pathways, with an increased focus on young people following non-HE routes.
  • Educational disadvantage, including special educational needs, physical disabilities, mental health issues, socio-economic disadvantage, geographical disadvantage and looked after children.
  • Direct interventions that improve young people’s lives and align with the four priorities identified above and which are grounded in evidence.

The welfare domain priorities now focus on:

  • Household and family dynamics, including trends in household composition, children’s well-being, the relationship between employment choices and tax, housing and welfare policies, and the impact of chronic illness, disability and mental ill health.
  • Causes of labour market, economic and social outcomes and how these relate to living standards and individual and collective well-being.
  • Digital and other technologies, including how they alleviate, exacerbate and shift vulnerability, and affect concepts of trust, evidence and authority.
  • Intergenerational issues and welfare later in life, such as how social and economic outcomes are changing within and between generations and the determinants of inequalities in later life.
  • Geographical inequalities, including how location, neighbourhoods and communities can shape people’s lives and their vulnerability to risk.

Justice welcomes proposals that focus on:

  • Family justice, and wider links with child welfare both in public and private law.
    Youth justice, particularly the factors that lead to young people encountering the justice system and interventions that might prevent this.
  • Good early decision-making, particularly exploration of the incentives and structures that might encourage such decision-making while enabling access to justice where needed.
  • Participation and rights, particularly the accessibility of the legal system for those who are vulnerable and those who lack legal representation.

Applications which cut across these themes are welcomed, and applicants can be based in a variety of settings from universities, research institutes and charities.

In addition, the Nuffield Foundation has increased their annual grants budget from £6m to £8m, providing more opportunities to gain funding.

Key Points

  • Applications up to £500,000 will be considered, however most funded projects are between £50,000 and £300,000. Occasionally smaller pilot grants for less than £10,000 are awarded.
  • Many larger projects build on earlier Nuffield Foundation funding, so there are opportunities to build a longer-term funding relationship
  • Most projects last between 6 and 36 months.
  • The application process is a 2-stage process. Outline applications are screened by the inhouse grants team against set criteria. Approximately one in seven, are invited to the full application stage which involves external peer review and assessment via Trustees.


The next deadline for outline applications is September 2019. There are usually 2 rounds a year.

Also, look out for a separate call for application to the Nuffield Foundation’s Strategic Fund at the end of 2019 or early 2020.

If you have any questions about Nuffield Foundation applications or would like support with a different bid, then please Contact Us.

The information contained in this article was obtained from the Nuffield Foundation news page and Guide for Applicants: