Frequently Asked Questions
sponsored research projects
These are frequently asked questions about activating and managing
Q. Do I have to wait for the income to be received before I can spend on my grant?
Q. What is the difference
between the end and close dates?
Q. Can funds be moved between
Q. Will the sponsor pay
maternity leave, sick leave, unpaid leave or redundancy?
Q. What happens when a Principal
Investigator (PI) leaves the University?
Q. Can I use the unspent balance
of the overhead budget on my award?
Q. Can I spend all the funds
available shown on the award status report?
Q. Why does some expenditure
fall into the suspense account?
Q. I have a project on another
department’s award. How can I view it?
Q. How do I get access to view
Q. What training is available on
using the Grants Module?
Q. What is the Grants Module?
Q. What is the difference
between an award, a project and a task?
Q. When and how can I see my
Q. How can I monitor my award?
Q. What is a commitment?
Q. How do I spend against my
Q. What is Budgetary Control and
Q. How are grants reflected in
the General Ledger?
Q. How do I start my Research
Q. Who invoices the sponsor?
Q. Who reports on scientific
progress to the sponsor?
Q. Will I know how much sterling
my foreign currency grant equals?
Q. What if I have a specific
Q. Do I have to
wait for the income to be received before I can spend on my grant?
A. 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. What is the
difference between the end and close dates?
A. 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?
A. This depends on the Terms and Conditions of the sponsor. Please see your
award letter or contact the Grants Services Team for further clarification.
Q. Will the
sponsor pay maternity leave, sick leave, unpaid leave or redundancy?
A. 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. What happens
when a Principal Investigator (PI) leaves the University?
A. They may be able to transfer their award – please see
information on Transferring awards.
Q. Can I use
the unspent balance of the overhead budget on my award?
A. The majority of sponsors will not allow the spending of unused overheads.
Please contact the Grants Services Team with the details of your grant for
Q. Can I spend
all the funds available shown on the award status report?
A. The award status report shows budget against expenditure, and does not
reflect the income received against a particular grant. Please contact the Grants Services Team
for the current income received.
Q. Why does
some expenditure fall into the suspense account?
A. 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 the Grants Services Team for
Q. I have a
project on another department’s award. How can I view it?
A. 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?
A. 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.
training is available on using the Grants Module?
A. 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
Q. What is the Grants
A. 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 is the
difference between an award, a project and a task?
A. 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. When and
how can I see my budget?
A. 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 can I
monitor my award?
A. 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
Q. What is a commitment?
A. 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. How do I
spend against my grant?
A. 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. What is Budgetary Control and Funds Checking?
A. 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?
A. 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. How do I
start my Research Council grant?
A. 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. The Grants Services Team
will send the starting certificate to your DA when the award has been activated
on the UFS. 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 the Grants Services Team
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
invoices the sponsor?
A. 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. Who reports
on scientific progress to the sponsor?
A. 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.
Q. Will I know
how much sterling my foreign currency grant equals?
A. 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. From 1 August
2008, budgets for US Dollar grants and contracts were set at a rate of
USD$1.88/£ on the UFS. The sponsor
will be billed at a rate of 1.88 and we will receipt income received at a rate
of 1.88. The budget will remain at the UFS rate of 1.88.
Q. What if I
have a specific grant problem?
A. Should you have any queries regarding a grant that has been activated,
please contact your Grants Services Team.
Need further information?
Please contact the Administrator in your School Team.