Research Budgets Direct Costs - Policy

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1. Purpose and Objectives

This policy sets out the requirements for calculating direct costs for inclusion in research budgets.

2. Definitions, Terms, Acronyms

No entries for this document.

3. Policy Scope/Coverage

This policy applies to all staff and students applying for research grants.

4. Policy Statement

This policy specifies the general requirements for determining direct costs for inclusion in the budget of a research/grant proposal. All University research proposals must include direct costs in their budgets. In addition, grant applications or project proposals must include indirect costs in accordance with PPL 4.10.12 Recovery of Indirect Costs from Research Funding and Consultancy Contracts. The only exception is where the funding body does not allow for indirect cost recovery (for example, the majority of schemes on the Australian Competitive Grants Register).

In a typical research budget, direct costs are categorised under a number of budget headings:

  • Personnel
  • Equipment
  • Maintenance
  • Travel
  • Other

While the information below describes the general rules for determining direct costs, instructions issued by the granting body or supplementary scheme-specific clarifications issued by UQ Research and Innovation (UQR&I) take precedence over these generalisations. For example, a granting body may prescribe eligibility to request particular types of budget items and/or impose limits on the total project or annual research funding request.

5. Personnel Costs

This is the amount required for the following purposes:

5.1 Base salaries

This includes base salary of person(s) to be appointed to work on the research project (for example a Research Fellow or Research Assistant). Multi-year proposals should allow for any annual increments (i.e., from point to point on the salary scale). Salary scales are available from the UQ Salaries and Allowances web site.

5.2 Overtime

Funds to pay overtime should be requested if any person eligible for overtime will be required to work on the project outside or in excess of normal working hours; for example, to attend to animals on a weekend or public holiday (see PPL 5.55.05 Hours of Work, Overtime and Staff Attendance (Professional Staff).

5.3 Salary on-costs

When costing research proposals, applicants must include salary on-costs for any salary items included in the budget. The components of UQ salary on-costs are:

  • Workers’ Compensation
  • Payroll Tax
  • Employer Superannuation
  • Parental Leave
  • Recreation Leave
  • Long Service Leave

On-cost percentages are calculated on the base salary, including any overtime worked.

The criteria for superannuation entitlements are outlined in PPL 5.50.12 Superannuation and in the University’s Superannuation Information. Unless the conditions of the granting body preclude it, application should be made for full superannuation costs even though the eligibility of the eventual appointee may be unknown at the time of application.

Scholarship holders are not employees of the University, hence no associated charges apply to their stipend and allowances.

5.4 Stipends

Personnel costs may also include stipends and allowances of any person awarded a Higher Degree by Research scholarship or other scholarship to work on the project.

6. Equipment

PPL 9.50.02 Property, Plant and Equipment and PPL 4.10.11 Equipment Purchased from Research Funds provide the University's definition of equipment, and guidance on equipment ownership, purchase, use, transfer and disposal.

7. Maintenance

Maintenance costs generally include consumable items or services that are essential for the conduct of the project. For example:

  • expendable materials and supplies;
  • glassware (other than equipment);
  • laboratory animals (purchase and agistment);
  • postage and telecommunication charges (where these are not considered by the granting body as basic facilities expected to be provided by the University);
  • subscription charges for access to specialised facilities (these may also be categorised under 'Other' direct costs).

8. Travel

Travel costs include:

  • eligible international and domestic fares, kilometric reimbursement, accomodation and subsistence for travel and field work to be undertaken in the course of the research project. Where permitted by the funding body, travel may include attendance at national and/or international conferences.

PPL 1.90.01 Travel provides further policy guidance, procedures and forms.

9. Other

Other costs may include those not already covered by the budget categories above:

  • eligible relocation expenses for a new appointee to relocate and take up a research staff position on the project at the relevant University campus. PPL 5.50.03 Reimbursement of Establishment Expenses for New Appointees outlines the University’s policy position on establishment expenses;
  • publication and dissemination costs;
  • facilities access and subscription charges;
  • expert services of a third party deemed necessary for the proposed project.

10. Allowing for Price Inflation

Most granting bodies require an application budget to be based on current prices. Granting bodies may automatically apply a cost adjustment factor to the awarded grant without the need for this to be specified in the proposal budget. If a cost adjustment factor is not automatically applied in payments made by the granting body, and provision exists to incorporate price inflation in the proposal budget, the applicant must estimate a reasonable figure (or use the figure specified by the granting body) and justify this in the “justification of budget” section of the proposal.

Director, Office of Sponsored Research Miss Nicole Thompson
Director, Office of Sponsored Research Miss Nicole Thompson