All the applications are first reviewed by the Professors that applicants have themselves indicated as prospective mentors. We take mentoring very seriously and a fit with a mentor is one of our criteria. We rarely allocate more than one Fellow to any given mentor. All Professors make a number of nominations to the department, which they discuss collectively, selecting a pool of candidates that is normally 3-4 times the number we eventually choose whose research proposal and academic career plans they regard as both indicating potential and a fit with the resources available in the Institute, including getting the most out of the sort of programme we offer.
Along with one of the programme administrators, the Director then discusses this pool of candidates with the department’s representative on the steering committee, benchmarking their selection against a number of candidates who have not been selected and those chosen by other departments. We also look at the synergies between the potential Fellows as a whole, given that this is a multidisciplinary programme. Together we agree on a short list and a reserve list from among this pool, occasionally adding one or two other names that the Director may propose as having profiles that complement those in other departments. These lists are then discussed by the steering committee as a whole, taking into account the various data we have regarding the origins and gender of applicants to seek to guard against national and gender biases.
We can usually select around 4% of those who apply in any given year (for the 2017-18 call for applications it was 3.6% of the total number of applicants for a place: 49 out of 1356, as 11 continued for a second year). We choose on average an equal number for the reserve list, so that means 8% make the final list of potential candidates. Inevitably that means that many of those who are not on either the short list or the reserve list are as good as those who are. However, they will tend to be less of a fit either with our capacity to mentor Fellows in a given year, or with the opportunities the programme offers – perhaps because they are too experienced, or work in areas that have no overlap with other Fellows.
N.B. As academic staff at the EUI change very regularly, given that none has a permanent position, over time a wide range of mentors with different specialities and preferences become available for candidates to work with. So a candidate who fails to make the short list in one year may well do so in the following year.