This Annex gives definitions of key terms relating to activities, the organisation, and costing methods, that are used extensively throughout the Guidance.
The SuperIndex provides a quick lookup guide to many other terms and phrases. The SuperIndex also provides links to the main parts of the Guidance that explain or use each term.
The material in this Annex was part of Volumes I to III, issued 2000 to 2004. There have been no changes made to definitions since then. However, there has been a clarification of:
as used in this Guidance.
This Annex gives definitions for the following
Core activities generate income or could potentially generate income. There are three core activities: Teaching (T), Research (R) and Other (O). Each includes direct costs, that have either been directly attributed to that activity, or Support costs that have been attributed between all three activities.
Teaching (T) is a core activity. It includes all costs and activities that provide or support the teaching of under-graduate or post-graduate taught students. Academics’ Teaching activities include the following:
holding lectures, seminars, tutorials
project, workshop and laboratory supervision
preparing materials for lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes
preparing materials for an agreed new course
editing and updating course materials
organising and visiting placements, fieldwork
supervision/contact time relating to projects and dissertations; and assessment
other student contact time relating to educational matters, including remedial classes
preparing and marking examination papers, including re-sits, oral examinations/vivas
reading and assessing student dissertations, reading and marking essays and other student work
invigilation of examinations including external examining (both at own and other institutions)
outreach where T is the underlying activity (i.e. Teaching funded through a Teaching Company Scheme or Knowledge Transfer Partnership)
Teaching costs also include scholarships and bursaries of taught students.
Teaching is categorised further into publicly funded Teaching and non-publicly funded Teaching.
Publicly funded Teaching (PFT) activity is generally considered, across the sector as a whole,to be fundable, at least in part, from public funds. This would include the costs of:
UK award/credit bearing courses*
all teaching activities like ESF, Erasmus, Tempus
all levels of teaching - sub-degree, degree, PGT (but not PGR)
higher education, further education, teacher training, NHS (nursing) etc
The concept of ‘commercial’ or ‘non-commercial’ courses (e.g. for the NHS) is not relevant here. All teaching contracts or arrangements could be regarded either currently or potentially on a commercial basis. They are all subject to decisions made by the institution (and perhaps the sponsor) that should, inter alia, include business/commercial considerations.
PFT students are, of course, funded in part by public funds, and in part by non-public funds. Despite this, all of their costs are attributed to PFT, and matched with all relevant income in the annual TRAC return. However, this return also gives an analysis of income between PF and NPF sources, to allow the actual source of income to be understood (see Section F of Part III).
part of the costs of award-bearing courses in the UK attended by overseas and self_funded students where the number of these students is material
teaching carried out through trading units/commercial companies
Short courses are here defined as those which are not award- or credit-bearing, and are therefore not eligible for Funding Council support (e.g. CPD courses, employer/industry specific courses, courses held overseas). They are generally considered to be NPF Teaching activity.
In some cases students attend particular modules on courses, or take part in the whole course, under an award/credit-bearing scheme. As for self-funded students (above) the attribution of the teaching effort (and therefore costs) for these courses between PF and NPF should have regard to materiality and usefulness.
Short courses commissioned by PF sponsors (e.g. local authorities) should be allocated to PFT, where material.
Research can be a specific project, or blue skies/speculative in nature. It may or may not have a defined output/sponsor.
Routine testing is excluded from R&D and should be reported as Other activities. Where clinical trials are considered by the NHS to be Research then the time on them should be allocated to Reserch.
Research work or projects that are solely funded by the institution (including through the Funding Council block grants), and that are not directed by an external sponsor, are still Research activity. They form the research sponsor category of institution-/own-funded research.
The distinction between Research and scholarship is not clear in many institutions. Definitions have tended to vary depending on the purpose for which the institutions are gathering and reporting data.
The activities that should be attributed to Research are:
research - refer to the definitions in the Frascati Manual (see Annex 1 of the Guidance)
fieldwork, laboratory, studio, desk/library work
management of projects, informal discussions, progress reports etc
recruitment and supervision of research staff
attendance at conferences, seminars and society meetings that are directly connected with specific research projects
production of research reports, papers, books
training and supervision of PGR students including training in research methodology, review of drafts and preparation of thesis, and external examining
collaboration with other departments or institutions in any of the above
outreach where Research is the underlying activity (i.e. research carried out through a Teaching Company Scheme or Knowledge Transfer Partnership)
Research is categorised further into publicly funded Research and non-publicly funded Research. The categorisation is mainly determined by the research sponsor type.
A research sponsor type is a group of sponsors that are similar in nature. It is not an individual research sponsor organisation. The word ‘sponsor’ is used in TRAC to denote funder – it is not a ‘sponsor’ as defined in a clinical environment.
Most research sponsor types refer to a group of sponsors or external funders. However, the following two are not:
PGR students are students who are registered for a research degree, where the final assessment is examined through thesis. The thesis must normally be of publishable quality, subject to an examination (e.g. viva) by a named external examiner.
This activity is concerned with production of a trained workforce (with a qualification at doctorate level). The aim of a PGR programme is first and foremost educational.
During such an educational programme a PGR student will undertake primary research under supervision. That research will have an output, usually as a thesis that is examined as part of the test for qualification. The standard set is usually that the work is to be of a publishable standard. PGRs often have their work published in peer reviewed professional journals, either alone or as part of a team. This assists in demonstrating that the required standard has been met in the work, and it is a first step in the development of a career by the student. The work published is often of considerable value in its own right, but is secondary to the principal purpose of the programme.
In research groups, PGRs are often (and rightly) considered to be an integral part of the group structure, with responsibilities to the team. They are often regarded by academic staff as junior research assistants, but this is part of their training and development. They are different from technicians, and should not be regarded as part of the research structure.
Because of these arguments, PGR training is to be regarded as a separate stream of activity for costing, and a primary activity to which direct, indirect, and estates costs are attached. Any costs connected with the research carried out by that PGR should form part of their costs of training and supervision, and should not be charged as part of the cost of research carried out for a research project.
A separate ‘research sponsor type’ should be maintained in institutions’ costing models that records the costs of the training and supervision of PGR students separately from the other research sponsor types.
All of the costs associated with the training and supervision of a PGR student should be attributed to PFR for the annual TRAC return.
These costs should include:
The above terms are as defined by HESA in the Finance Record Coding Manual (see Annex 1 of the Guidance).
Two totals one for UK-based charities, and one for all other organisations should be reported under the annual TRAC process.
Where a Research project is funded by a consortium of public and non-public bodies the time will need to be attributed between PF and NPF. Proxies could be used e.g. attribution pro rata to the direct costs funded by each sponsor.
However, where a research project is only partially funded by a sponsor (and the balance met out of internal funds) then all of the time should be attributed to the research sponsor type represented by the external sponsor. The time should not be split between the institution-/own-funded and the external sponsor categories. Work should only be attributed to institution-/own-funded if there is no external sponsor of that project.
Activities that should be classified as Other include:
other services rendered (OSR), including routine_testing and non-Research clinical_trials (i.e. activities not covered under the definition of Research in the Frascati Manual (see Annex 1 of the Guidance))
work carried out through trading/commercial companies that is not Teaching or Research
technology transfer work if remunerated through the university (e.g. directorships of start-up companies and/or consultancy contracts for the companies) – if it is not remunerated then it should be categorized as Support to Other
outreach (where the outreach activity is not Teaching or Research)
Notes: continuing education should be classified as NPF T
private consultancy should not be included here (or anywhere)
A sub-category of Other is used by institutions with medical or dental schools:
services provided to the NHS under knock-for-knock arrangements by departments of clinical medicine and dentistry (to be reattributed to T, R, O and S)
Further information on O(CS) and knock-for-knock is available in Annex 10 of the Guidance (Medical Schools, cost attribution).
‘The Frascati Manual lists situations where certain activities are to be excluded from R&D (Research) except where carried out solely or primarily for the purposes of an R&D project. These include routine testing and analysis of materials, components, products, processes, etc.; feasibility studies; routine software development; general-purpose data collection. The later stages of some clinical drug trials may be more akin to routine testing, particularly in cases where the original research has been done by a drug company or other contractor’
As well as the costs of academic time, costs attributable to Other activities include:
These are described below.
Many institutions consider these to be Support activities to Teaching part of the necessary activity to attract and help to retain students. The logic they use is that there is little difference between residences/catering/conferences and student sports facilities (or any institution’s grant to a students union). Sports, and a grant to a students’ union, are Support activities under TRAC.
However, residences, catering and conferences are different. Their main source of funding is not through the Funding Council grant. They are essentially trading activities.
Their inclusion as a Support activity would not assist with the institutional perception of them as a commercial activity, nor would it help with costing for internal pricing. The costs (or any deficits after income) would not be an acceptable cost to external sponsors.
All of the costs of residences, catering and conferences should therefore be reported as Other activity. They should bear an appropriate full weight of all indirect costs and estates costs, including the cost adjustments, subject to materiality.
In general, internal recharging (on a cost or cost-plus basis) is an acceptable method of attribution to departments and need not be recalculated under the annual TRAC process.
The costs of services/goods provided to external customers should be reported as Other activities.
Internal charges are generally made at standard costs. Any adjustments to these to reflect actual costs (i.e. identified by a reported over-recovery of total costs) should be attributed both to Other (for the external sales) and to the internal departments. Materiality would be an important consideration here.
Gross costs are to be attributed to activities. Therefore any costs associated with the receipt of library fines, issue of photocopying cards etc. would in general be charged to activities along with all other learning resources costs. Where costs are material in size, they should be separately identified and reported under Other.
Some academics undertake institution-own-funded work that might be sold commercially at a later date (e.g. sculpture). Institutions will need to develop their own policies on how their time on this work should be attributed. It will depend largely on the purpose of the work (Research, scholarship or for resale). If the piece of work was originally prepared for Research, the time should be attributed to Research. If it was commissioned by a private sponsor, and constitutes Research (e.g. was returned under the RAE) then it would be attributed to NPF Research.
These might include:
However, if the activities carried out are Teaching or Research the costs should be attributed to NPF T or NPF R as appropriate.
The time allocated to subsidiary companies should be attributed according to the activity being undertaken. For example:
Some activities can be difficult to classify, in particular those carried out under the following schemes:
The costs associated with these projects are difficult to classify between Teaching and Other as these programmes often incorporate training, or skills transfer, either as part of a formal programme or not; and they involve both public and private funding. The concept of materiality is important here.
The following principles could be used as a guideline:
Support (S) activities are carried out in support of the three core activities of T, R and O. Support can be further categorised into Support for Teaching, Support for Research, Support for Other, and general management or institutional Support.
Academic Support activities include:
interviewing students, admissions and induction
course and other committees related to teaching
pastoral support (outside timetabled tutorials), counselling
initial course development (where the future of the course is not certain; preparing materials for an agreed new course is T)
module reviews (but subsequent updated and editing etc. is T)
quality assurance (e.g. QAA reviews)
Institutions might also wish to include here scholarship/professional development and other Support (which are covered below) such as:
drafting and redrafting proposals for new work and supporting bids to external bodies (where bids involve a significant amount of speculative research, that element can be attributed to Research)
quality assurance e.g. related to the RAE
again this might also include scholarship/professional development and other Support to Research (which are covered below) such as:
drafting and re-drafting proposals for new work and supporting bids to external bodies for consultancy and other services rendered activities (where bids involve a significant amount of speculative research, that element can be attributed to R)
negotiating contract terms and conditions with external bodies
technology transfer work that is not private, nor remunerated through the institution (e.g. supporting patent applications, licence negotiations, formation of start-up companies)
management and administration
including membership of/participation at faculty boards, senate, institution committees etc.
management duties such as deans, head of admissions, assistant deans etc
staff management; appraisal etc.
publicity; representative work on behalf of the institution or department
quality assurance contribution to sector e.g. on (unpaid) committes or secondments to RAE panels (where the QA activity relates to T or R, e.g. for QAA or RAE reviews, then it should be charged to Support for T and Support for T, respectively)
secondments , exchanges, all other tasks not attributable to other categories
Scholarship is activity that updates or maintains the knowledge of an individual; or adds to their skills and experience. The knowledge base already exists elsewhere.
Scholarship is therefore different from Research. In particular, it is different from institution-/own-funded Research. In many institutions the terms are not currently clearly distinguished.
This should be informed by the type of work submitted (and acceptable) under the Research Assessment Exercise, as well as by the definition of Research given in this Annex.
Activities covered under scholarship/CPD are as follows:
maintenance and advancement of own personal knowledge and skills (reading literature, attending professional conferences, maintaining professional or clinical skills, acquiring new skills etc.)
consultancy that is carried out in institution normal working hours, which is done in agreement with the institution, but is not contracted to the institution i.e. private consultancy in institutional time, such as maintenance and development of clinical or professional skills
Note: clinical services provided under knock-for-knock arrangements are not to be recorded here, but under other_clinical_services
Note: private consultancy, carried out in private time, is not to be included here (or anywhere)
Whilst scholarship would include the time of an individual in updating their knowledge or skills, it would not normally include the actual development of new courses or the updating of specific lectures or modules. This would generally be Teaching.
Individuals might be carrying out practical (professional/vocational) activities (e.g. practicing in law or medicine). If their position in the institution is (generally) full-time, then such activity would usually be considered to be the maintaining of professional skills and reported as scholarship/professional development.
Scholarship can be difficult to classify as Teaching, Research or Support. The following may assist institutions in their classification:
They will find it useful to confirm whether they are satisfied with the following:
Travel time should preferably be allocated in line with the purpose of the trip. If the trip is being carried out for work being carried out for a specific project or programme then it should be directly attributed to Teaching, Research or Other as appropriate. However, if work is being done during the travel that relates to another activity, then it should be charged to that other activity. If neither of these applies, then the time should be attributed to Support.
Sabbatical leave carried out under research fellowships should generally be attributed to Research (unless the individual is still undertaking Teaching, Other or Support).
Time spent at conferences should be classified according to the main reason for attending:
Time spent in preparation:
In some cases, bid preparation involves some Research – e.g. preliminary bench work and/or literature research to test the viability of a project idea before it is offered. If significant, that part of the bid time could be attributed to Research (institution-own-funded).
The preparation of research papers and books should be attributed to Research.
The time spent in designing and planning PGR programmes should generally be attributed to Support for Research. Where this requires some investigation of its viability before it is offered, and this involves some Research, then part of the time can be attributed to Research. Preparation of projects for PGRs can also involve some Research.
The preparation of teaching materials for existing courses and programmes should be attributed to Teaching.
Initial preparatory work for the development of a new course (speculative work, when the future of the course is not certain) should be attributed to Support for Teaching.
Preparation of materials for a new course (which has been agreed) should be attributed to Teaching.
The preparation of non-research papers and books should be attributed to scholarship or Support to Teaching.
Support activities and costs are those that do not relate specifically to one project or programme but are shared between many projects, programmes or activities. This term is particularly important in the annual TRAC attribution process.
Support costs include pay and non-pay costs, estates, learning resources, administrative departments, academic services, staff and student services, the infrastructure cost adjustment and the cost of capital employed.
Support costs are made up of indirect costs and the estates costs of academic departments.
Estates costs of academic departments consist of:
Support costs do not include:
Support should include an attribution of costs from O(CS) if some of the services provided from NHS Trusts to institutions under knock-for-knock are Support activities (e.g. the provision of infrastructure).
Under annual TRAC Support costs are all attributed to the three main activities, forming part of the total cost of T, R and O. The balance in Support should be zero.
The annual TRAC total for Support costs (pay and non-pay, from both academic and non-academic departments) forms the numerator (above-the-line) of the calculation of the:
Charge-out rates are used to charge research projects with Support costs. See Part IV of the Guidance (Charge-out rates).
Research is undertaken by researchers who are generally academic staff or research staff. It is often difficult to determine when other members of staff should be classified as a researcher in TRAC fEC.
Researchers who carry out Research work on a project have indirect costs and estates costs applied to their time. They are also included in the staff FTE number used as the divisor in the calculation of the indirect cost rate, and often in the divisor used to calculate the estates charges (see Part IV of the Guidance, Charge-out rates).
In general, a researcher under TRAC is anyone who will make a significant intellectual contribution to a research project. Typically such a person would be qualified to carry out independent or supervised research, might provide an academic lead for research, or could provide expert advice to a research project. A researcher has a thorough understanding of what they are doing, can interpret results and devise appropriate ways forward (rather than, for example, carrying out a set of routine operations under carefully supervised conditions).
These will normally be staff on academic or researcher grades although they may include staff on other grades where the individual is acting as a researcher. Examples of the latter include research nurses, high-grade technical staff who act in the capacity of a researcher, data managers who have a major role in structuring the data analysis.
Anyone who is eligible in the RAE as a named researcher, or is a Research Assistant, or who clearly satisfies the definition of a researcher given by the relevant sponsor, is classified as a researcher under TRAC. In other cases, a principal investigator or their institution must make a judgement on whether to return an individual as a researcher and the person would then need to be recognised as a researcher by a sponsor (or, for example, by a Peer Review Panel) considering an application. Staff who provide support to those carrying out research are unlikely to be researchers e.g. trial managers acting in a purely administrative role.
All researchers’ costs should be charged to research projects as directly incurred or directly allocated costs, and their FTEs should carry indirect costs and estates costs, i.e. count towards the FTE multiplier for the indirect costs and estates charges. They should also be included in the FTE count used as the denominator for working out the indirect cost rate and estates charges. Particular care should be taken with the staff who are not on researcher grades but who are carrying out some Research work and are included on a research project as a researcher. If material, their time on research should be included in the FTE count used to calculate the estates charges and indirect cost rate, each year.
All costs should be attributed to academic departments.
‘Department’ is defined here to refer to a management unit in an institution. A department would generally cover either non-academic or academic areas. This term is generally interpreted by institutions as referring to a ‘department’ or ‘school’ or ‘research unit’ within a ‘faculty’.
Where an institution currently operates with large numbers of departments, these can be grouped for TRAC purposes.
The subject types are:
Time allocation data needs to be robust at the level of each of the three discipline groups.
Estates charges need to be calculated at the level of two discipline groups – laboratory and non-laboratory (laboratory and clinical can be grouped under laboratory for this purpose). Institutions can, if they wish, calculate estates charges for more discipline groups than this. For example, a fourth subject-type category has been used in HEFCE funding methodology for teaching that has covered low-cost laboratory subjects, or ‘part-laboratory’ subjects (other funding councils used still more subject types). Institutions could, if they wish, calculate estates charges for a fourth subject-type category as well (or indeed individual departments) but this is not a requirement of TRAC.
Subjects are defined in a number of ways, for different purposes by the different Funding Councils, under the funding methodologies, for HESA etc. The three main subject type classifications (above) are not defined. Institutions should map their departments onto these three types of subject in line with the majority of the work being carried out in those departments. Departments need not be split (unless institutions wish to do so).
Costs by discipline group are not reported under TRAC. Costs by individual subject are not reported for TRAC.
Under annual TRAC, all costs are either directly charged to an activity and classified as part of the direct costs of that activity, or are classified as a Support_cost.
Under TRAC fEC, all costs are then further classified as a directly incurred cost, a directly allocated cost, or as an indirect (apportioned) cost:
Directly incurred costs (DI) specifically relate to one programme or project. They would not be incurred if that programme or project did not take place. This term is very specifically used when costing research projects under TRAC fEC. See in particular Part V Section C of the Guidance for a further discussion of DI and DA for academic and research staff costs; and Part V Section D of the Guidance for other costs.
Directly incurred costs include Research Assistants, technical staff (dedicated to a project), consumables, equipment (purchased on that project), etc. Sponsors of projects funded on a fEC-basis will generally allow spend on DI costs to be vired (budgets transferred between cost headings within the DI cost total).
Actual costs are recorded on the project cost records. These costs should be supported by a full audit trail – e.g. timesheets for staff (unless they are wholly chargeable to one project); records of receipted payments etc.
Under the annual TRAC process, these costs are obviously categorised as T, R or O. R costs would include costs directly incurred on a research project; T costs would include costs incurred on a programme such as field trips, or placement costs.
Directly allocated costs (DA) are related to specific programmes or projects, but cannot be easily identified with one particular programme or project. They are shared costs. Again, this term is used very specifically when costing research projects under TRAC fEC. (See in particular Part V Section C of the Guidance for a further discussion of DI and DA for academic and research staff costs; and Part V Section D of the Guidance for other costs.)
Directly allocated costs are not charged to research projects and programmes on the basis of actual expenditure, but on a standard charge-out rate. This can be a proxy – such as academic/research staff FTEs.
Examples of directly allocated costs on research projects include investigator time/costs, technicians (other than DI technicians), major research facilities, animal houses, estates.
Sponsors of projects priced on a fEC basis will generally not allow virement of budgets within DA cost headings, or between DA and indirect cost totals.
Most DA costs are within the Support cost total under annual TRAC. The exception is academic staff time spent on T, R, and O which under annual TRAC is a direct cost, not a Support cost.
Apportioned costs are shared costs that are grouped into cost pools and attributed to activities on the basis of a proxy – a cost driver. These costs make up the significant part of the Support costs in the annual TRAC process. Indirect cost rates and charge-out rates (see Part IV of the Guidance) are the techniques used to charge research projects (and programmes) with the various types of Support cost.
This term is defined in Chapter D.1 of Part III of the Guidance (Annual TRAC).
This term is defined in Chapter D.1 of Part III of the Guidance (Annual TRAC).