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TRAC Time Allocation Schedules FAQ TRAC Time Allocation Schedules FAQ

Q:  Where should preparation for lectures / tutorials be included?

A:  Time spent preparing materials for lectures, tutorials and laboratory classes should be included directly under Teaching and NOT Support for Teaching (Note this also applies for organising and visiting placements and fieldwork).

Q:  Where should marking of exam papers be included?

A:  Preparing and marking examination papers, including resits should be included directly under Teaching.

Q:  Should only contact time be included under direct teaching?

A:  No, preparation for Teaching should also be included.

Q:  Should travelling time to conferences be included?

A:  Yes, time spent travelling to conferences should be attributed to the activity relating to the conference, eg, if the conference is relating to research, then the time should be added to Support for Research.  (Note:  if specific time is spent preparing for teaching / lectures whilst travelling to a research conference, then this should be included under direct teaching).

Q:  Where do I include Advising?

A:  this is one of the grey areas, if this is classified as student contact time relating to projects, dissertations, assessment or other educational matters then this should be included under direct teaching, however if this is deemed as pastoral support or counselling then it should be included under support for teaching.  This is a judgment call for the individual to make.

Q:  Where do I enter time refereeing papers?

A:  Refereeing papers should be included under Support for Research, however, production of research reports, papers and books should be included under direct research.

Notes / Problems on completing the return

The Time Allocation form may not open if OpenOffice software is used rather than Microsoft Excel, this is due to the file being partially password protected. If you only have access to OpenOffice software please contact transparency.review@uea.ac.uk and an unprotected form will be forwarded to you that can be opened with OpenOffice.

When completing the forms new data should be entered each week in the relevant column.  Thus at the end of the 4 monthly period, all weeks columns should contain data.

Study Leave:  When taking study leave you will be required to complete the data in two places on the form.  You will need to enter the number of days near the foot of the form for that week and also enter the amount of time spent in the normal way (this is because study leave activities differ between departments).

Resources for Research Resources for Research

This briefing note is of importance to all staff across all disciplines.  The changes to the way in which we will receive and apply for research funding will affect you all, this briefing note will introduce the action you will be required to undertake.

Background

Recent Government Spending Reviews have increased the funds available for supporting research projects via the Research Councils.  In order for universities and researchers to access these funds the Government has changed the way in which it requires universities to manage research activity in the future.

The Government is keen to ensure that researchers and universities have a better understanding of the full costs of the research they undertake.  This note is to explain Full Economic Costing (fEC).

Currently we use the direct costs of the research (staff employed to work on the project, consumables, equipment etc) and an overhead/indirect cost rate (46% of staff costs for Research Council projects) to determine the cost of an individual research project.  It has become clear that this way of costing projects does not actually cover the full cost of undertaking research.  It does not take into account all the other facilities we have to support to run a project (infrastructure costs, support staff, and other support services) which, together with the direct costs, would make up the full economic cost of a particular project.  Most universities do not currently know, or have the methods to calculate, the full costs of undertaking externally-funded research.

The Government has established the Joint Costing and Pricing Steering Group (JPCSG) which is working with universities and Research Councils to develop methods of calculating all these additional costs.  Once developed, we will be in a position to attribute these additional costs to individual research projects.

fEC will be of significance not only to research funded by Research Councils; for example, the Government Departments have also accepted the principle.  It is likely that, at least some, other funders will accept the fEC principle.

What will it mean for me?

Support to cover the full economic costs of research means there will have to be changes to the way we manage research, and will affect all members of staff.  At the moment the main changes will affect research, but it is the Government's intention that - in due course - this kind of approach to understanding full costs will be extended to cover teaching and other activities.  However, most of the current discussions regarding fEC are focused on research.

An important aspect of these new costing methods which will probably affect you first is the requirement to collect information on the way in which each member of staff spends their time on various activities.  You may already be familiar with this type of process; it was introduced to the sector about 5 years agao and is known by the unfriendly title of Time Allocation Survey or TRAC.  The new costing methods will mean that we have to collect further data, with some changes to the way it is collected.  The information will need to be collected from all members of academic staff in all Schools. 

We know that - all things being equal - you would prefer not to spend time on filling in these forms.  However, all things will not be equal, since large amounts of research funding are involved.  We shall, therefore, be grateful for your co-operation in this important exercise, especially since we are asking you to complete the forms at weekly intervals.  The forms are quite straightforward and will take only small amounts of time to complete each week; their completion is in all our interests.

The information from this collection exercise will then be fed into the costing methodology developed by the JPCSG and will assist in the calculation of the full economic costs of our research undertaken at UEA.

This survey is important

By September 2005 the new costing methods will have to be applied to all applications to Research Councils.  In order to be able to apply on this basis we are required to meet various criteria; one of these is robust time allocation data.  If we do not meet the criteria it is most likely that we will lose large amounts of research funding because default costing rates would have to be applied to our projects; this rate will be significantly less favourable than the properly calculated rate.

The introduction of these new methods is a requirement across the HE sector.  The ability to understand the full costs of the research we undertake will enable us to increase the funds we receive to support our research and to ensure the future sustainability of research activities at UEA.