Everyone in the Department who is managing a grant or employed on a grant or providing admin support for a grant must be aware of the terms and conditions involved in the correct management of research grants and should be able to demonstrate proper financial management and accountability for the use of these public funds.
Use of funds: Funds are only for use on the project and may not be used to cover other grant activity. Costs cannot be charged after the end date of the grant. Subsistence rates are for guidance only. Receipts and evidence of expenditure are required for all claims. Equipment purchase may not occur in the last 6 months without prior written approval.
Starting procedures: The research organisation returns the offer letter within 10 working days (following confirmation from the Department) or else the award offer may be withdrawn. Start confirmation must be submitted within 42 days of the start date or else there is a risk of a deduction of 10% of the value of the award.
Changes: The sponsors must be informed of changes to the research project. This may result in adjustments to indirect costs.
Transfer of funds: Transfer of funds between headings is only permitted between directly incurred (and exceptions), but not equipment, which is ring-fenced. This is only allowed to meet costs associated with the project.
Extensions: Extensions of up to 6 months are often allowed to cover maternity leave or sickness, but only with prior written approval from the sponsor.
Appointments: Staff employment is the responsibility of the University. Where staff are funded from more than one source they are required to keep timesheets. All ERC-funded staff must keep timesheets.
Leave: Maternity/paternity/adoption leave (for directly incurred staff only – not PI) will be compensated at the end of the grant to cover additional costs, but only with prior approval and any unspent funds will be used first. Sick leave is compensated at the end of the grant to cover additional costs, only with prior approval.
Equipment: Procurement of equipment should be made using the University's procedures. There is an expectation of equipment sharing. Equipment usually belongs to the University and permission is required to move during the award.
Change of institution: Sponsors must consent to transferring awards from one institution to another, and have the right to terminate or withdraw support if there are issues. There is no re-costing of award on transfer.
Change of PI: The research council must be informed of a change of PI.
Reporting: An Annual Statement is required stating that expenditure incurred in accordance to T&C and summarising current awards. This is done by the Research Operations. Final Expenditure Statements (FES) must be returned within 3 months of the end of the grant. Directly incurred expenditure must reflect actual costs on the project. All grants are subject to inspection (and audit). PIs must submit a final report on conduct and outcome of the project within 3 months of the end of the grant. Research councils are using ROS and e-Val for this purpose; other sponsors have different forms. Sponsors may request information on project progress.
There are sanctions for non-compliance in relation to T&C, late FES or final reports and non-compliance with grant costing rules (TRAC non-compliance).
Public engagement: PIs must communicate research to the public.
Exploitation and impact: IP should be used to benefit UK, research outcomes disseminated. PIs should ensure publication and acknowledgement of support.
Dos and don'ts
- Read the University's financial procedures for research grants.
- Read the Research Councils' terms and conditions.
- Establish clear areas of responsibility in the management of your grant and permission to incur expenditure.
- Agree a protocol for administrative staff for certain situations: e.g. what to do when someone wants to charge inadmissible costs to a grant; what to do when monitoring of expenditure indicates budget/income/expenditure is not in balance; what administrative staff can do if there is evidence of cross spending on grants.
- Use funds from one grant to support another.
- Put costs on a grant where the costs are already incurred but are obviously ineligible.
- Make an equipment or other large purchase late in the grant without a good reason and prior permission from the sponsor.
- Use 'rule of thumb' estimates when costing your grants.
- Reduce your overall costs in the belief that this will improve your chances of winning an award.
- Breach sponsor T&Cs and ask for forgiveness later – it is better to ask for permission beforehand and they may be reasonable.
Compliance with the Universities UK Concordat to Support Research Integrity is a requirement of HEFCE and RCUK funding, which requires the University to abide by the following commitments:
- Be committed to maintaining the highest standards of rigour and integrity in all aspects of research.
- Be committed to ensuring that research is conducted according to appropriate ethical, legal and professional frameworks, obligations and standards.
- Be committed to supporting a research environment that is underpinned by a culture of integrity and based on good governance, best practice and support for the development of researchers.
- Be committed to using transparent, robust and fair processes to deal with allegations of research misconduct should they arise.
- Be committed to working together to strengthen the integrity of research and to reviewing progress regularly and openly.
For further information see: