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Research Facilities

UCL Research Facilities (which can be either a single piece of major equipment or a collective suite) are classified as either a TRAC FEC Charge-out Facility or (NON-TRAC) Multi-user / PI-led. The classification (TRAC listed or NON-TRAC) determines the approach to costing and charging

FEC Charge-out Facilities (TRAC Listed)

Currently UCL has ~60 TRAC listed FEC Charge-out Facilities, the costs of which are excluded from UCL’s Estate Rate. A list of these facilities is maintained in Worktribe, and reviewed annually as part of the annual TRAC return (by UCL’s FEC Steering Group) to assess levels of recovery. As part of this exercise, an FEC compliant rate for each facility is calculated inclusive of facility staff costs, maintenance, consumables, equipment depreciation and estates costs. A charity rate is also calculated (which excludes estates costs and equipment depreciation). An appropriate Industry rate is also applicable when applying/recharging to industry funders.

The appropriate facility charge-out rate should be used when costing usage i.e the TRAC FEC rate should be used when applying to Research Councils 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.    

Further information on TRAC can be found here

Multi-user and PI-Led Equipment & Facilities (NON-TRAC)

The majority of UCL’s research facilities fall within this category. Multi-user and PI-led access charges should not be included in research proposals submitted to the funders who pay the FEC (e.g. Research Councils, Other Government Departments) nor recharged to these projects as this would be considered double accounting (the facility cost is already included in the Institutional Estates Rate). Associated directly incurred costs (e.g. solvents, reagents) may be included within such applications, if justifiable and considered eligible by the Funder.

Costs of multi-user and PI-led facilities may be included in proposals to other funders such as Charities, Industry and Overseas Bodies providing the rates have been calculated in accordance with the Funder’s terms and conditions. If awarded, the subsequent charged should be calculated based on usage and the facility’s published rate

Guidance for Academic Departments

Applications

Academic Departments should first establish the Funder’s policy regarding the inclusion of costs for research facilities within the application.  Any questions on the Funder policy should be raised with Research Services as early as possible.

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 project costing. 

If access to a FEC Charge-Out Facility is required, the appropriate published rate (FEC or Charity, Industry) should be used (these can be selected in Worktribe from the dropdown list within the Facility field).

Award

Once an application has been awarded it is the responsibility of the Principal Investigator (or their nominated delegate) to ensure only eligible costs are charged to the project.

The usage rate should be as per the appropriate Charity / FEC /Industry rate depending on funder type.

Charges for usage of the facility must relate to actual usage during the project period. 

The following costs should not be charged research projects, unless 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

Applications

It is the responsibility of the Facility Manager to ensure that both the FEC and Charity rates and if applicable the industry rate 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.

The rate quoted should be in accordance with funder terms and conditions, however it is the Principal Investigator’s responsibility to ensure the correct rate is applied for on the application submitted.

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.

Award

Once an application has been awarded, the Principal Investigator who intends to use the facility should inform the Facility Manager, confirm the appropriate funder type rate (FEC or Charity) and arrange to book usage.

Usage should be charged in accordance with published rates. For example 6 unit x £100 rate = £600 charged to the research project.  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.

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
  • Funder Type – Charity / FEC / Industry
  • Start and End Dates of 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 Research Services.

For future information with regard to UCL facilities contact UCL TRAC Accountant.