New TRAC guidance that applies from 2014-15 has now been published. This is hosted on the HEFCE web site on behalf of all funders. The current TRAC requirements continue to apply for TRAC reporting for the year ending 31 July 2014, but once the 2013-14 TRAC reporting is complete, the HEFCE web site will become the sole resource for TRAC as well as financial sustainability materials.
Part III - Annual TRAC
Section D: All other costs
Chapter D.3 Further levels of attribution
- Having attributed costs to departments and activities, and from Support to Teaching, Research and Other, costs must then be attributed:
- from O(CS) to T, R, O, S
- from T to PF T and NPF T
- from R to research sponsor type.
Clinical services costs to T, R, O, S
- Some staff and non-staff costs (in medical or dental schools) will be identified as services provided to the NHS by the HEI under knock-for-knock. These should be attributed firstly to a ‘clinical services’ cost pool (a lower-level O activity – O(CS)); then reattributed to T, R, O or S on the basis of the services being provided to the HEI by the NHS. This is covered in Annex 10.
Cost drivers to attribute T to PF and NPF; and R to research sponsor type
- T costs should be attributed to PF and NPF; and R to the seven types of research sponsor. The seven types of research sponsor will then be aggregated to provide the totals of PF R and NPF R.
- Some non-staff costs, as well as staff costs, will already be identified by research sponsor type as they are recorded in the financial accounts as a directly incurred cost on a research grant or contract.
- Alternative methods of attributing T time to PF T and NPF T, and R time to research sponsor type were suggested in the context of attributing academic staff time. These use either staff time (via the time allocation schedules) or a proxy such as the number of Research Assistants working on projects in each sponsor group, and PGR student numbers. These attributions could then be used as the basis to attribute all non-staff costs. In non-laboratory departments the heads of department need to give an informed allocation, as RA and PGR numbers are unlikely to be a useful proxy there.
- Institutions should ensure that the methods they are using to attribute Research costs to research sponsor type are robust. This will involve considering the use of:
- time, collected via the time allocation schedules; or
- a proxy: such as the numbers of Research Assistants and PGR students; or total direct costs (i.e. excluding overheads);
- a weighted proxy (a Research Assistant weighted against a PGR student).
- When preparing their costs for the annual TRAC return to the Funding Councils, institutions should ensure that the total of the Research indirect costs that has been attributed to the PGR activity category is the same as that that could be calculated using FTE weighting of 0.2 for a research student (compared to a weighting of 1.0 for an academic and research staff FTE working on Research). This is irrespective of the cost drivers that have been used in their cost allocation model when estates costs are allocated to Research.
- Institutions should review their cost drivers for PGR costs so that they are in a position to inform a UK study of PGR weightings in 2006.
- Chapters D.4 and D.5 provide more detail on the requirements for attributing library and estates costs. Annex 6 (definitions) provides lists of costs within each activity type.
- Annex 14 provides guidance on attributing costs in the following specific areas:
- national museums and libraries
- sports facilities
- parks and gardens
- botanical gardens
- farms and woodlands
- veterinary schools
- sales and leasehold schemes
- costs covered by special initiative funds.
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