Find out how UCL Research Facilities are classified, how this determines approaches to costing and charging on research projects, and access guidance for departments and facility managers.
UCL Research Facilities are classified as either a TRAC FEC Charge-out Facility or (NON-TRAC) Multi-user/PI-led. The classification determines the approach to costing and charging on research projects.
|Type of facility||Approach to costing and charging|
FEC Charge-out equipment & facilities (TRAC-listed)
|Multi-user and PI-Led Equipment & Facilities (Non-TRAC)|
FEC Charge-out Facilities (TRAC Listed)
The facilities are reviewed annually as part of the annual TRAC return (by UCL’s FEC Steering Group) to assess levels of recovery and as part of this exercise a compliant rate for each facility is calculated.
- FEC rate: Inclusive of facility staff costs, maintenance, consumables, equipment depreciation, and estates costs.
- Charity rate: Excludes estates costs and equipment depreciation.
- Industry rate: Applicable when applying/recharging to industry funders.
The appropriate facility charge-out rate should be used when costing usage on research applications i.e., the FEC rate should be used when applying to UKRI and other funders meeting the FEC, whereas the Charity rate should be used when applying to Charities. If awarded, the subsequent charges should be calculated based on usage and the appropriate facility’s published rate.
Multi-user and PI-Led Equipment & Facilities (NON-TRAC)
To be included on research applications to external funders UCL requires all Multi-user and PI led facilities to complete an Annual financial return which will generate an appropriate charge rate for the following categories:
- Direct Costs: Can be included on proposals to FEC Funders/Charities
- Direct Costs Plus: In addition to direct costs, includes element for depreciation
- Commercial Rate: Includes full costs and should be included on applications to Industry and overseas bodies.
The inclusion of research facility costs on research applications should always be in accordance with the funder's terms and conditions.
Guidance for Academic Departments
- Applying for funding
Academic Departments should establish the Funder’s policy regarding the inclusion of costs for research facilities within the application.
It is advisable to discuss proposed facility usage with the Facility Manager (to ascertain capacity and any additional costs which may be incurred) ahead of finalising the application.
If access to an FEC Charge-Out Facility is required, the appropriate published rate (FEC or Charity, Industry) should be selected in Worktribe from the dropdown list within the Facility field.
If access to a Multi-user and PI-Led facility is required, the appropriate published rate (Direct Costs, Direct Costs Plus, or Commercial) should be used. These should be manually entered into the Research Facilities budget line on Worktribe with a clear descriptor including Facility Name/Location for review and audit purposes. Supporting information including a quote from the Facility Manager should be uploaded to Worktribe project record.
- Managing funding
It is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (or their nominated delegate) to ensure only eligible costs are charged to the research project.
The usage rate should be as per the appropriate rate depending on the funder type.
Charges for use of the facility must relate to actual usage during the project period and should be charged to the appropriate project promptly after the usage has been incurred.
The following costs should not be charged to research projects unless the funder has provided written approval of this in advance:
- Costs for usage incurred after the project has ended.
- Cancellation charges (imposed by the Facility in the event on non-attendance)
- Payments on account (in advance of need)
If you are to be charged for this type of cost, please discuss an alternative source of funding with your Department Manager.
Guidance for Charge-out Research Facilities
- Applying for funding
It is the responsibility of the Facility Manager to ensure that all appropriate rates are quoted/advertised to all intended users who are applying for external research funding.
The Facility Manager should encourage potential users to contact them at the earliest opportunity so they may provide further advice about the availability of their facility and its usage costs to ensure a correct costing rate is applied during the application process.
Where possible the facility manager should provide written confirmation of the quote and capacity available for the work to the Principal Investigator to include on their Worktribe project.
- Managing funding
The Principal Investigator who intends to use the facility should inform the Facility Manager to confirm the appropriate funder type rate and arrange to book usage.
Usage should be charged in accordance with the current year's published rates. For example, 6 units x £100 rate = £600 charged to the research project. For audit requirements, any discounts need to be published alongside the official rates and backed up with full evidence of how the discounted rate was calculated in accordance with TRAC methodology. The discount should be open to all internal users.
Usage charges should be recharged to the appropriate PTAE promptly to enable appropriate budget management and reclaiming of the cost from the external research funder.
We would advise the following information is obtained from the Principal Investigator at the time of booking and form part of the usage data stored for audit queries.
- Project / Task / Award (PTA)
- Funder Type – Charity / FEC / Industry
- Start and End Dates of the Research project
The facility must log all chargeable usage of their Facility and keep the information for a minimum of 7 years to allow the Facility Manager to address any audit queries on projects if further details are required. Therefore it is recommended that this information is stored either in a database, on spreadsheets or another appropriate method.
Cancellation charges should not be charged to the research project. Charges must always be based on actual usage incurred. The Principal Investigator should provide the facility with an alternative funding source if this charge is applicable.
For future information with regard to including facility charges on external research applications and awarded projects please contact Award Services.