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Time Allocation Schedule survey (TAS)

As part of the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) exercise HEFCE require the university to periodically collect data on academic staff activity. At DMU the TAS survey is undertaken on a phased basis over three years involving different faculties each year. Four quarterly returns are collected from staff as follows:

TAS survey deadlines
Period Details Deadline
Quarter 1 Autumn term (October-December) 31 December
Quarter 2 Spring term (January-March) 31 March
Quarter 3 Summer term (April-June) 30 June
Quarter 4 Student summer vacation (July-September) 30 September

The TAS survey data is collected via a TAS tile on the DMU Hub. Details of how to access TAS Tile and complete the form can be found in our TAS user guide.

Further information can be obtained by contacting TASSurvey@dmu.ac.uk or from your faculty manager. 

TRAC

The Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC), formerly known as the Transparency Review is a government initiative introduced following the comprehensive spending review (CSR) in 1998.

Using activity based costing methodology TRAC aims to provide a transparent approach to the costing of teaching, research and other activities within Universities and Colleges.

TRAC was developed by a sector body (Joint Costing and Pricing Steering Group) in close consultation with institutions, with the specific intention of being useful to HEIs as well as meeting the government’s accountability requirements.

TRAC has three basic aims:

  • To demonstrate the full cost of undertaking research and other publicly funded activities
  • To use this information to underpin price negotiations with funding bodies
  • To provide improved management information on the way in which University resources are deployed.

TRAC has provided clear evidence to the government of HEIs need for additional cash to invest in infrastructure and to ensure that public funded research is adequately funded and sustainable in the long term. The funding for research under the Dual Support System has increased substantially as a direct result of the evidence of deficits on research funding revealed by TRAC.

TRAC currently has three separate but related activity based costing processes to meet the aims of TRAC.

  • Annual retrospective reporting to HEFCE of institutions income and expenditure against the University activities of Teaching, Research and Other based on the previous year’s financial statements
  • Full economic cost of research projects (fEC) on a reliable and comprehensive basis. This is then used to set the price of grants made by the government (the Research Councils and other governments (OGD’s) and informs the price paid by sponsors)
  • TRAC (T) is an initiative to understand the costs of public funded teaching by HESA cost centre.

Annual TRAC: An annual retrospective attribution and reporting of costs

DMU along with all UK HE institutions provides an annual return to HEFCE which attributes the costs from our financial statements to activities at an institutional level. This is primarily a public accountability process and leads to annual reporting of the costs of teaching (split into publicly funded and non-publicly funded), Research (similarly split) and other core institutional activity. The Time Allocation Schedule Survey (TAS) data provided by DMU academic staff is used to allocate costs to activities. The University reports to HEFCE in January each year, based on the accounts for the previous year.

The annual TRAC return provides management with useful information about Teaching, Research and Other activity which allows them to take a view about whether they are properly funded and sustainable. It also provides the data (financial and personnel) that is used to calculate the indirect cost rate, the estates charge and charge out rates for other directly allocated costs such as major research equipment and laboratory technicians. These are then used when costing research and other projects on an fEC basis.

Full Economic Cost of Research Projects (fEC)

DMU along with all other HEI’s calculates the cost of research projects on a full economic cost basis. Full Economic Costing (FEC) is:

  • A standardised costing methodology for research
  • Applied at project level
  • Used by all UK Higher Education Institutions
  • Mandatory for external research funding

The main purpose of the introduction of full economic costing at project level is to support the government’s requirement to improve the sustainability of research and other activities in higher education. Sustainability is defined along the following lines:

“An institution is being managed on a sustainable basis if, taking one year with another, it is recovering the full economic costs across its activities as a whole, and is investing in infrastructure (physical, human and intellectual) at a rate adequate to maintain its future productive capacity appropriate to the needs of its strategic plan and students, sponsors and other customer requirements.”

Research proposals submitted to Research Councils are calculated on a full economic basis with the grant awarded being equal to 80% of the full economic cost. Internally the costs of Research and other activities are costed on a full economic cost basis. The eventual price actually charged will depend on the funder’s rules about eligible costs.

FEC Costs are defined in one of three ways:

Directly Incurred Costs – costs which arise from the conduct of a project, are directly charged to a project as the cash value actually spent, and are supported by an audit record, Directly incurred costs include:

  • research staff
  • technical and clerical staff costs
  • non-staff costs (consumables, equipment etc.)

Directly Allocated Costs – costs of resources used by a project that are shared by other activities, and are charged to projects based  on actual costs on a project-by-project basis. Directly allocated costs include:

  • Principal and co-investigator’s time and costs
  • Estates costs
  • Charges for laboratory technicians and major research facilities

Indirect Costs – Indirect and Estates costs charged to the project based on the Staff FTE employed on the project and recognise the share of support departments and estates space costs incurred by the project.

  • Indirect costs and Estates charges

For more detailed explanation of Full Economic Costing please see the Research Council UK (RCUK) FAQ document for more information regarding costing.

For information and support within DMU about preparing and submitting requests for Research funding please contact the RBI or your Faculty Research Office or Faculty Finance Partner.

TRAC (T)

HEFCE project to review the funding methods for teaching. The aim is to provide management information for institutions, to inform the future funding method, and to provide better information about the costs of sustainable teaching. The project focuses on the following elements:

  • Aid Institutional planning
  • Provide data to inform the costs of sustainable HEFCE-fundable teaching
  • Provide information on subject-related costs (Subject-FACTS)

These key TRAC (T) outputs help with pricing, understanding sustainability and portfolio planning.

 
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