Transparent Approach to Costing

This page is for Oxford Brookes University staff. Its purpose is to explain internal processes to staff members. It was moved into its current location on the website in Autumn 2022.

Page content is being revised to reflect the move to the new Research, Innovation and Enterprise Directorate.

Following the Government's Spending Review in 1998 Higher Education Institutions are required to used the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC, a costing methodology for externally funded research studies.

TRAC showed that all research was under-funded, if its full cost was calculated. It also highlighted significant problems with the investment in Higher Education infrastructure. However, the condition accompanying the additional funding was that Institutions must take responsibility for their own financial sustainability, particularly with regard to the research infrastructure. This has led to the introduction of the concept of Full Economic Cost (fEC), which is derived from TRAC.

The effect of this is that:

  • Only projects costed using fEC will be accepted by the Research Councils. Oxford Brookes bids to Research Councils can be submitted for specific calls or where there is a person-specific deadline, and also for responsive mode proposals. Please talk to RBDO to establish the costing, and your Faculty and the University will need to agree to the bid progressing.
  • Successful Research Council awards will receive an agreed proportion of the fEC, currently set at 80%
  • Government Departments should also be paying the fEC of projects from at least 1 September 2005
  • Taken year-on-year, Institutions' research accounts should be at least in balance
  • Decisions will have to be taken at a Faculty and an Institutional level as to the extent to which funders who do not pay the fEC will be approached (there might be many other reasons to ask for funding from such bodies, such as esteem, subject fit etc.)

The Joint Costing and Pricing Steering Group is a representative group, bringing together members from universities and colleges, from the funding bodies for UK higher education and from Universities UK, Standing Conference of Principals, Universities Scotland and Higher Education Wales. It supports the development and embedding of good practice in costing and pricing in higher education institutions (HEIs).

fEC costing tool: Worktribe