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Financial management

Find information and guidance to help you with the financial management of your research or innovation project.

The Principal Investigator (PI) has overall responsibility for the scientific, technical, and financial management of their research award. This includes:

  • Management of the project within the terms and conditions of their funding and in line with associated UCL policies
  • Adherence to Funder reporting requirements and timely communication of significant project changes/developments.

The day-to-day management of an award may be delegated by the PI to administrative or other staff however accountability for compliance ultimately remains with the PI.

The UCL Post Award Policy (pdf) sets out the responsibilities of academic departments and Award Services in the management of sponsored research projects at UCL.

Charging expenditure


All research and innovation project expenditure should be:

  • Charged directly to the project for which the purchase is intended
  • Within the awarded budget
  • Meet UCL's financial regulations and the funder’s terms and conditions
  • Incurred during the lifetime of the project.

Any change from the original budget awarded outside of the funder's terms and conditions should be approved by the funder before the commitment of expenditure.

As an educational charity, UCL is an 'eligible body' entitled to certain relief in respect of VAT. Further information about VAT, tax, sales, and receipts can be found on the UCL Finance website.

Charges for internal services, for example, Biological Services Unit (BSU) and facilities costs should be completed promptly via an inter-departmental transfer (IDT). The charge amount should only be related to costs incurred and full backup documentation provided to confirm how the charge was calculated. Staff and student costs should be charged to projects following standard HR and registry processes. 

To correct a transaction posted to the incorrect project an intra-departmental journal (IDJ) should be completed as soon as a need has been identified. The description entered should be relevant and understandable for an external funder with supporting documentation available. Visit our Audit and assurance page for more information on submitting IDTs and IDJs. 

Salary and studentship costs transfers can only be approved and processed by Award Services. Contact your designated Research Finance Administrator for further advice.

Managing budgets


It is best practice to conduct a monthly review of all live projects. At a minimum, accounts should be reviewed at least quarterly by Academic Departments. Reviews should ensure:

  • Expenditure incurred on the project is in line with the funder's terms and conditions
  • Expenditure is reviewed in accordance with the budget awarded on the award letter or contract. If budgets are expected to be insufficient the PI should seek to either vire funds (if permitted) or request supplementary funding from the funder
  • Equipment expenditure is as agreed in the application and award. Equipment budgets should generally be spent in the early stages of the project to allow for the full utilisation of the piece of kit
  • Staff costs charged to the project are for staff working on the project and any timesheets required as per the funder's terms and conditions are being completed
  • Commitments on MyFinance are reviewed at least quarterly. If they are outstanding for a considerable time they should be investigated and cleared. When preparing invoices and financial statements committed costs cannot be included unless approval has been obtained from the funder
  • Internal facility costs are charges as per their published unit rate, with appropriate documentation stored.

Project amendments


During the lifetime of the project, budgets and end dates can be amended if agreed with the external funder. Amendments will need to be agreed with your Head of Department before contacting the funder for approval. You should check your funder’s terms and conditions if you plan to amend your project budget. 

Requesting a supplement

Supplements should be costed and approved within Worktribe to demonstrate how the additional funds will be spent.

You should create a supplement request by selecting 'Create Supplement' within the Worktribe project. Once approved internally and by the external funder the supplement will automatically update in MyFinance/Axiom.

If the supplement requires adjustment to the contractual agreement you will need to generate a contract request in Worktribe.

Requesting a no cost extension

A no cost extension is when the funder extends the end date of a project but no additional funding is provided.

You should request an extension by selecting 'Extend' within the Worktribe project. Once approved internally and by the funder, the end date will be automatically updated in MyFinance/Axiom.

If your extension requires an adjustment to the contractual agreement you will also need to generate a contract request in Worktribe. 

Requesting a budget virement

If your funder allows budgets to be vired between awarded headings, you can request this change with the Award Services Post-Award team provided there is sufficient budget available.

You should request a virement by selecting 'Create Virement' within the Worktribe project. Once approved internally, the virement will automatically show in MyFinance/Axiom.

Financial monitoring reports


To support the management of the externally funded research projects PI’s and academic departments have access to a suite of reports on Axiom, including:

  • Project Investigator report
    Provides a monthly report of the expenditure against the budget awarded. A PDF version is also emailed to PIs monthly
  • Research & DTAs report
    Provides a budget versus expenditure view of costs to date with drillable transaction information
  • Transaction reports
    Provides a full transaction report of all expenditure incurred
  • Exception report
    Provides a view of equipment and staff budgets that have not been fully utilised.

For further information on Axiom, visit the UCL Finance website.

Invoicing and financial statements


All research invoicing and financial reporting to funding bodies are managed and authorised by our Post-Award team. If you are contacted by your funder for an invoice or financial statement get in touch with your dedicated Research Finance Administrator who can provide this information.

Post-Award reconciles projects on a regular cycle to ensure invoices and financial reports are submitted to the funder, in accordance with their terms and conditions.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and several other funders pay the university automatically via a payment schedule (known as profile payments) and this income when received is recorded against the appropriate award.