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The TRAC Guidance

The TRAC Guidance is made up of six chapters and has been developed in a consistent format to improve accessibility and readability.

How to use the TRAC guidance






Full TRAC Guidance download Download
1 Introduction 1.1 Introduction Download
1.2 Principles and standards
1.3 TRAC activity definitions
2 Governance & Quality Assurance 2.1 Governance and quality assurance of TRAC Download
3 TRAC Process 3.1 Data required for TRAC Download
3.2 Sustainability adjustments
3.3 Direct cost attribution
3.4 Allocating departmental and central costs
3.5 Income allocation
4 TRAC Reporting 4.1 Annual TRAC return Download
4.2 Research charge-out rates
4.3 TRAC for Teaching return - TRAC(T)
5 Application of Charge Out Rates 5.1 Calculation of research project costs Download
6 Glossary 6.1 Glossary of Terms Download
Annexes   1.1a Change Log Download
  1.2a Materiality Download
  1.2b Dispensation Download
  2.1a  Requirements and processes for changes in compliance status or institutional status Download
  3.1a  Academic time allocation survey form Download
  3.2a  Infrastructure adjustment template Download
  3.2b Return for financing and investment template Download
  3.5a Income allocation table Download
  3.5b Guidance on the allocation of Funding Council grants Download
  4.1a Annual TRAC return template Download
  4.1b Peer groups


  4.2a Facility costing template Download
  4.2b Technician survey template Download
  4.2c HM Treasury letter – University Research: Costs to Government Departments (13 February 2004) Download
  4.3a TRAC(T) return template  Download
  4.3b HESA Academic Cost Centres Download
  4.3c Funding proxy for non-subject related activities (HEFCE) Download
  4.3d Funding proxy for non-subject related activities (SFC) Download
  4.3e TRAC(T) Removal of non-subject-related costs (worked example) Download
TRAC for EC Framework 7 projects  

TRAC statement of requirements

In response to feedback from the sector, we have published the TRAC requirements in each chapter and section of the TRAC Guidance in a single document below. Institutions may find this useful in assessing their compliance with the TRAC requirements as part of designing their TRAC process, and in the sign-off process for the TRAC returns.  Note this is a carbon copy of the requirements in the guidance above and does not contain any new, different or additional information.

TRAC: A guide for senior managers and governing body members

The TRAC Development Group have developed a guide on the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) that is tailored for senior managers and governing body members.

TRAC practitioners should be familiar with the guide and promote it to senior management within their own institutions.

TRAC dispensation and quartile rates

Some institutions will qualify for dispensation from being fully TRAC compliant due to the volume of their research income. The TRAC dispensation rates are revised annually and may be used by those higher education institutions (HEIs) that are eligible for dispensation from compliance with the full TRAC requirements.

The dispensation rates are to be used by eligible HEIs that claim dispensation when applying to the Research Councils and other public bodies for grants for research projects on a full economic cost basis. 

Further information about eligibility for dispensation is contained in the TRAC Guidance at section

Upper and lower quartile rates are published annually.  Institutions that have indirect cost rates or estates cost rates that are above the upper quartile or below the lower quartile should understand their data and be prepared to justify their rates to sponsors.

TRAC dispensation and quartile rates 2017-18

The Research Councils UK (RCUK) has set dispensation rates which apply from April 2017 and are valid until the end of March 2018 (Dispensation rates for 2017-18).

TRAC EC-FP7 Guidance

TRAC Guidance was further developed in 2008 for use in costing European Commission Framework 7 bids.  This page provides access to the current Guidance for the institutions that adopted this method.  Not: This guidance does not apply for Horizon 2020 bids.

The redevelopment of the new TRAC Guidance has not required this guidance to be substantially changed, but the following documents have been updated to reflect current EC rules and to incorporate what were previously standalone updates:

The Guidance consists of:

Guidance title Document
TRAC EC-FP7 Guidance (April 2014) ‌‌Download the TRACECFP7-Guidance as PDF (418 KB)
Annex 1 - TRAC EC-FP7 Endorsement letter  Download the Annex 1 as PDF (565 KB)
Annex 2 - Model Form E ‌‌
Annex 3 - Irrecoverable VAT example calculation Download the Annex3 as PDF (81 KB)
Annex 4 - Additional Audit Procedures (April 2014) Download the Annex4 as PDF (123 KB) ‌
Annex 5 - Frequently asked questions ‌‌Download the Annex5 as PDF (179 KB)
Annex 6 - Note about the irrecoverable duties from indirect costs Download the Annex6 as PDF (100 KB)

Page last updated 13 June 2017