Research and Innovation Services



All major funders require assurance that research and innovation funding is being managed appropriately. Find out more about audit and assurance requirements for projects.

Funders expect recipient institutions of external research funding to provide assurance that public funds are spent efficiently and in a cost-effective manner. Project funding should therefore be managed appropriately and only used for the purpose for which it is awarded.

Some research projects are subject to financial audits initiated by the funder. scientific and management risk audits may also take place. 

All sponsored research audits are managed by Award Services. If you have an audit query or are approached by a funder or by their appointed auditor to arrange an audit, please get in touch with your designated Award Services Post-Award contact in the first instance.

Types of audit

Individual project audits

As part of the reporting process for some research projects, there may be a requirement to include an independent report prepared by an external auditor of factual findings according to the terms and conditions of the award. Funders who require this include the European Commission and Innovate UK.

Institutional audits

Some funders (or their appointed auditors) conduct audits covering UCL’s research management procedures, processes, and the financial transaction controls of specific research projects. This is to ensure that expenditure has been incurred according to the terms and conditions of the award and UCL financial regulations. 

Visits usually span several days and all funders have the right to audit the research they fund. During all visits, the external auditors may wish to interview the Principal Investigator (PI), project staff and local administrative staff about the project progress and local management of the project in accordance with UCL policies and award terms and conditions.

Preparing for audits

Submitting IDTs and IDJs

When preparing financial reports and audits for funders, Award Services will collate and review documentation for internal services from UCL systems and departments, including inter-departmental transfers (IDTs) and intra-departmental journals (IDJs). Visit our Financial management page to find out what you need to do when submitting IDTs and IDJs to ensure you are prepared for project and institutional audits.

European Commission projects

All European Commission (EC) projects are subject to audit for up to 5 years after the projects’ end date by auditors appointed by the EC regardless of the value of the award. EC audits generally focus on checking the costs claimed during the execution of a contract, project accounting methodology, the calculation of staff and overhead rates, and the underlying rates and documentation (e.g., invoices, bank statements, salary payments, timesheets, contracts of employment).

Checklist for departments

Departments should ensure the following documents are available during the audit:

  • General information about the contractor, e.g. Collaboration agreements in place with partners
  • Project management information, e.g. periodic activity and management reports, periodic/mid-term reviews, and other non-financial deliverables as specified in Annex I of the contract (with the date of submission to the EC and of EC approval)
  • General financial information, such as back-up documentation for any costs journaled into the project from other accounts (e.g., projects, discretionary, department)
  • Supporting documents for personnel costs, including a list of all staff (full- and part-time) in the project, indicating period(s) they worked and their classification/category, i.e., temporary/permanent and grade (this is required electronically before the audit), employment contracts (i.e., UCL Contract of Employment), and SIP documents for project staff, and certified timesheets for staff working on the project
  • Supporting documents for durable equipment, such as voucher/expense account of accounting entries, inventory register or fixed asset register/ledger for the equipment, and equipment usage diary/register. The existence and use of equipment for the project may be checked during the audit
  • Supporting documents for travel, including list and date of trips by project staff (this is required electronically before audit), authorised travel request forms, EC approval for any destination outside the territory of member states, associated states, or a third country where a contractor is established (unless such a destination is provided for in Annex I), and voucher/expense account of accounting entries
  • Supporting documents for consumables, including purchase order and tendering documents, voucher/expense account of accounting entries, and inventory register/ledger.

Other required documentation not listed above will be supplied by Award Services.

If you have any questions or require support with an EC audit, get in touch with your designated departmental Award Services Post-Award contact.

UCL Third Party Notification Group

Many funders require recipient organisations to inform them about matters that have the potential to adversely impact the research they support. In particular, this relates to bullying, harassment, and misconduct. 

UCL's Third Party Notification Group was established to assess, ensure compliance with, and report on UCL’s contractual and regulatory obligations regarding potential matters of research misconduct, public interest disclosure, fraud, and bullying and harassment to identified third parties such as funders, collaborators/research partners, NHS Trusts, UCLB, and professional bodies.

You can find further information about the UCL Third Party Notification Group on the UCL Governance and Compliance website.