Recent documents have highlighted the growing concerns that the government has expressed over the long-term sustainability of research in Universities. The key concern is that research activities as a whole are not funded at a level reflecting their true cost. This has been due, in part, to the ‘low price culture’ that is prominent in the Higher Education sector, with funders of research having faced little or no pressure to cover the full costs of the work they commission. As a consequence, Universities have not been able to re-invest in their infrastructure (building, facilities and staff) in a way that would ensure long-term sustainability of research activities.
Universities are now being asked to take responsibility for the sustainability of their own research activities. To achieve this, they must ensure that they are recovering at least the full economic cost (fEC) of the research that they carry out (including a provision for investing in their research infrastructure). Research Councils have been granted significant additional funds so they have been funding research on a fEC basis since Sept 2005. Other Government Departments have also been instructed by the Treasury to fund projects on a fEC.
fEC has brought some important changes to the way we work. These are not be overly burdensome on academic staff, so time sheets, for example are not required. However, we must be able to demonstrate, particularly to public funders, that we are costing projects in a robust and accurate manner. The fEC costing methodology has been devised to ensure consistent principles are being used across the HEI sector.
For more detailed information, please go to the Summary section.