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Research Operations Office


Q. Do I have to wait for the income to be received before I can spend on my grant?

No. As soon as an award is activated and the start date has passed you will be able to spend against the awarded budget.

Q. When and how can I see my budget?

The Award Budgets screen within the Grants Module is available to departments immediately after an award has been activated. Procedures on how to use this screen can be found on the UFS website. This screen indicates the award number, project number, award short name, duration of the project and the budget.

Q. How do I spend against my grant?

 Goods and services are purchased and paid for to undertake the research using the Purchasing and Accounts Payables Modules. Expenditures are booked to the correct award by filling in the Project, Task and Award codes by the department, as well as the expenditure type (e.g. Other Costs/Consumables) and expenditure organisation (department or research group). There is daily processing to pass data from these Modules to the Grants Module. Once a staff appointment has been accepted, Payroll/Personnel will need to be informed of the details accordingly. If you are an academic you will need to send your expenses to your DA. Please contact them for further information.

Q. How do I start my Research Council grant?

Research Councils have a deadline from the announced start date, within which you must ‘start’ the grant. They consider the actual start date of a grant to be when the first member of staff starts work on a project. Your DA will ensure that the certificate is completed when a staff member is appointed and will submit it to the sponsor when the staff member actually starts working on the project. A copy of this certificate needs to be sent back to the Research Operations Office to your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants so that the start and end dates on the UFS can be amended appropriately. Once a member of staff is appointed, we have 42 days to notify the Research Council. If starting certificates are submitted outside of this deadline, the award may be penalised.

Q. Will I know how much sterling my foreign currency grant equals?

For those awards that are granted and are payable in US Dollars, Euros or other foreign currency, please note that these will be budgeted for in the Grants Module in sterling.

These budgets are reconciled with each cost statement sent and with each change in the University’s set rate; therefore the total value of the award may fluctuate. For US Dollar awards, forward contracts will be undertaken to hedge exchange rate movements and result in a budgeted rate being set for a financial year at a time. For example, for the month of June 2015 budgets for US Dollar grants and contracts were set at a rate of USD$1.54/£ on the UFS. The sponsor will be billed at a rate of 1.54 and we will receipt income received at a rate of 1.54. The budget will remain at the UFS rate of 1.54.

Q. What is the difference between the end and close dates?

 All expenditure must be incurred between the start and end dates of your award. Expenditure can still be charged between the end and close dates to allow for the payment of invoices received after the end date as long as it relates to expenditure incurred before the end date.

Q. Can funds be moved between budget headings?

This depends on the Terms and Conditions of the sponsor. Please see your award letter or contact your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants at the Research Office for further clarification.

Q. What is a commitment?

The UFS is a commitment accounting system, which means that details of any order placed in the Purchasing Module are transferred into the Grants Module and funds are then reserved for the purchase.

Q. What is Budgetary Control and Funds Checking?

The Budgetary Control function allows limits to be placed on the expenditure against your award budget; once these limits have been reached, further transactions will fail Funds Checking. Funds Checking operates when coding expenditure to a grant; if there are sufficient funds, the expenditure can be posted, otherwise the transaction is said to be Funds-Checked failed. Further information can be found on the UFS website.

Q. How are grants reflected in the General Ledger?

The General Ledger reflects all of the University’s financial expenditure. Posting expenditures to a grant is done within the Grants Module and an automatic process generates the necessary General Ledger account codes.

Q. Can I spend all the funds available shown on the award status report?

The award status report shows budget against expenditure, and does not reflect the income received against a particular grant. Please contact your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants for the current income received.

Q. Why does some expenditure fall into the suspense account?

The suspense account acts as a holding account for disallowed expenditure. Expenditure may be disallowed due to incorrect coding or if it is out of the award date range. Please contact your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants for guidance.

Q. I have a project on another department’s award. How can I view it?

 You can view the status and expenditure of your project via the Project Status Enquiry and Actual Expenditure Enquiry screens within the Grants Module of the University Finance System (UFS). You will not be able to view an award status report, however you can view the Project Status Report for your own project. Further information can be found on the UFS website.

Q. How do I get access to view my grants?

If you are the PI or the PI has given permission for you to have access, you will need to be named on the award and project. The UFS Key Contact in your department can then request that you are given the UFS responsibility of Grants Investigator. This responsibility restricts access to the grants that you are named on.

Q. What is the Grants Module?

Detailed information relating to research awards is held within the Grants Module on the UFS website. This includes details such as the start and end dates; overhead recovery rate indicators; VAT rate; PI; award budgets and award/project-related expenditure. For training courses please the UFS website.

Q. What training is available on using the Grants Module?

Regular training courses are held at Greenwich House. Departmental visits and coaching sessions can also be arranged on request. More information can be found on the UFS Training website.

Q. What is the difference between an award, a project and a task?

 A ‘grant’ consists of two main parts: an award and a project. The award represents the funding from the sponsor and includes details such as the start and end dates, VAT, name of the PI, sponsor, and Terms and Conditions. The project describes the way in which the funds are spent. It is also possible to break the project into more than one task. This is useful where departments want to break the project into jobs or work packages.

Q. How can I monitor my award?

All departments have access to the Grants Module reports, enabling them to monitor their award. Reports can be run for an individual award, a range of awards, and a range of awards by PIs and for outstanding commitments against an award. You may need to obtain details of the available funds in your award, particularly if you need to see whether you have sufficient funds to cover a new commitment. If your department has arranged for you to have access to the Grants Module you will be able to do this yourself at any time. If not, please ask your Departmental Administrator (DA). Procedures on how to run grant reports can be found on the UFS website.

There is also the Research Grant Expenditure application which gives onstant access to research grant budget, expenditure commitment and remaining balance. For further information on this and to gain access please visit Research Grant Expenditure. 

Q. Will the sponsor pay maternity leave, sick leave, unpaid leave or redundancy?

This depends on the Terms and Conditions of the sponsor. In every case justification will need to be put in writing to the sponsor.

Q. Who invoices the sponsor?

We are responsible for generating and sending all research grant claims to the sponsors. We also chase for payment where necessary, and, where payment may be a problem, will contact the DA or PI (as appropriate) as soon as possible.

Q. Can I use the unspent balance of the overhead budget on my award?

The majority of sponsors will not allow the spending of unused overheads. Please contact your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants with the details of your grant for further clarification.

Q. What if I have a specific grant problem?

Should you have any queries regarding a grant that has been activated, please contact your Finance Analyst - Research & Grants.

Q. What happens when a Principal Investigator (PI) leaves the University?

 They may be able to transfer their award – please see information on Transferring Awards.

Q. Who reports on scientific progress to the sponsor?

Some research sponsors, for example the Research Councils, require you to submit a scientific report within a specified period, as a condition of payment. Departments are responsible for ensuring that deadlines for the scientific reports are met so that the University’s expenditure can be promptly recovered. Where final reports are submitted late, the sponsor may disallow claims and issue a financial sanction to the University. The University has no funds for meeting disallowed claims and the cost will therefore have to be charged to the department.