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Research Income Classification Group

Award Services is responsible for ensuring that UCL correctly accounts for, administers, and reports its research income in line with UCL’s obligations to its regulators. 

Where it is not evident that a funding proposal or award meets the criteria for sponsored research Award Services will in the first instance advise the Principal Investigator or Academic Department of the identified reasons and provide an opportunity for additional information to be considered. For example, in the case that the research scope is insufficient for the purpose of sponsored research, the PI or Department will be invited to provide additional information. 

In cases where the classification of income remains unclear, or a decision cannot be reached or is disputed, the Principal Investigator of the project (or their delegate) may refer the matter to the Research Income Classification Group for review and decision. 

The Group, chaired by the Director of Award Services, brings together senior representatives from Award Services, Contract Services, Legal Services, Vice-Provost Research, Innovation & Global Engagement, Office of Vice Provost Advancement, Central Finance and School Finance to collectively consider cases referred to them.

It is the responsibility of the individual referring the matter to the Group to present the case in writing by submitting a completed Case Referral Form and relevant supporting documentation to the Group’s Case Coordinator, Amy Rutherford, at least ten (10) working days ahead of the Group meeting. 

Research Income Classification Group meeting dates 2021


For academic year 2021/2022.

•    24th November (submission deadline: 10th November)
•    22nd December (submission deadline: 8th December)
•    26th January (submission deadline: 12th January)
•    23rd February (submission deadline: 9th February)
•    23rd March (submission deadline: 9th March)
•    27th April (submission deadline: 13th April)
•    25th May (submission deadline: 11th May)
•    22nd June (submission deadline: 8th June)
•    27th July (submission deadline: 13th July)

The Principal Investigator of the project, or their delegate, will be invited to join the relevant case referral meetingPlease contact Amy Rutherford for further information or advice.

Why is income classification important?


UCL’s accounting of external income is governed by a number of regulatory frameworks including:

  • Research England requirements
  • Financial Reporting Standards (FRS102)
  • Tax Law (UCL must maintain clear separation between primary purpose charitable activity - including research; philanthropy; consultancy/services and other 'trading' activity)
  • Charity Law (HEI research must be useful, the outcomes disseminated, and be conducted wholly or mainly for public benefit).

As such, UCL is obliged to distinctly administer different types of activity e.g. 'Sponsored research', 'Consultancy', 'Other', etc., and is subject to regular audit by its regulating bodies.  

Further, income classified as ‘sponsored research’ counts towards UCL’s research volume, and is returned in the REF exercise.  It is therefore an important measure of UCL’s research environment.  In addition, certain types of sponsored research attract additional HEFCE income, these are:

  • Charity funding sponsored research  (if open competition and external peer-reviewed)
  • Commercially funded sponsored research.