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Latest publications

Explaining the sustainability gap

We have developed a guide to understanding the gap between the surpluses in the financial statements and the estimated sustainable cost of institutions.

Report on evaluation of Annual Sustainability Assurance pilot

We have published an evaluation of 2013-14 Annual Sustainability Assurance Report and the Margin for Sustainability and Investment.

Policy related publications and good practice

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. The guide explains why TRAC is relevant in the current environment, explains what has been simplified in the new TRAC guidance and highlights the benefits to HEIs of the new streamlined approach to TRAC.

Study on the sustainability of learning and teaching in higher education in England

FSSG Chair’s letter March 2015

Download the FSSG Chair’s letter March 2015 as PDF (119 KB)

FSSG Report: The Sustainability of learning and teaching in higher education in England.

Download the FSSG Report: The Sustainability of learning and teaching in higher education in England. as PDF (1,820 KB)

FSSG – Evaluation of the Annual Sustainability Assurance Report

Two pilot exercises invited all UK institutions to submit an Annual Sustainability Assurance Report (ASSUR) to their respective funding councils in December 2013 and December 2014.

The outcomes from the second exercise have now been evaluated independently and the key findings are:

1. ASSUR remains an important means through which a university governing body can provide evidence of their assessment of institutional sustainability. ASSUR submission should be embedded in the funding councils’ annual accountability process (as supported by the Higher Education Code of Governance).

2. The Margin for Sustainability and Investment (MSI) should replace the two TRAC cost adjustments, the Return for Financing and Investment (RFI) and the Infrastructure Adjustment, for:

  • sustainability assessment purposes
  • calculating the full economic cost of activities.

However, further work is needed before formal implementation to confirm the most appropriate presentation of the MSI and the sustainability gap.

3. If there were to be a delay in adopting MSI, the RFI calculation should be updated.

Report on the evaluation of the 2013-14 Annual Sustainability Assurance 

Download the Report on the evaluation of the 2013-14 Annual Sustainability Assurance as PDF (410 KB)

Letter: Annual sustainability assessment by institutional governing bodies

Download the Letter: Annual sustainability assessment by institutional governing bodies as PDF (98 KB)

Evaluation of the Annual Sustainability Assurance Report pilot 

FSSG - Assessing the sustainability of higher education institutions (June 2011)

The FSSG published a report in June 2011 describing the findings of a UK-wide study to develop indicators of institutional sustainability. UK institutions can use these indicators to manage their future, and to provide assurance to their funding and regulatory bodies.

The report describes how to approach assessing sustainability, using an intelligent and forward-looking synthesis of data from a variety of sources. It has to be done by each institution in the light of its own circumstances and strategy, and is the responsibility of the governing body, advised by the senior management.

Management Information Projects

In 2010 the FSSG produced a series of guides relating to the Management Information Projects. An overview document was provided for senior management to summarise the content of each guide. This is available below.

Policy overview

In 2009 the FSSG produced a policy overview of the financial management information needs of higher education, and the role of TRAC: The Transparent Approach to Costing.

FSSG - The sustainability of learning and teaching in English higher education (December 2008)

This report looks at the sustainability of learning and teaching in English higher education (HE). The work was led by a sub-group of the FSSG, chaired by Professor Geoffrey Crossick, Warden, Goldsmiths, University of London.

The report reviews the 'state of health' of learning and teaching. It looks at the cost pressures which impact on the sustainability and fitness-for-purpose of teaching, and the distinctive UK student learning experience. A range of evidence informed the report, including case studies at six English universities.

The report highlights actions for institutions and the HE sector collectively. This includes funding recommendations.

The sustainability of learning and teaching in English higher education

Download the The sustainability of learning and teaching in English higher education as PDF (468 KB)

TRAC related publications and good practice

Read the Annual TRAC 2014-15 UK sector analysis (July 2016)

Equipment sharing in the higher education sector

The TRAC Development Group (TDG) and RCUK worked together to understand equipment sharing with the HE sector.

The summary report helps TRAC practitioners  understand how the UK has made progress in this area, and in particular how costing requirements that form part of the TRAC/fEC costing methodology take account of charges for equipment sharing.

Review of time allocation methods

The TRAC Development Group has led a review into time allocation methods across the sector. The report provides further insights and practical suggestions. This aims to help institutions enhance their management information in this area and improve the data that informs the TRAC process.

Key compliance issues

The Quality Assurance and Validation (QAV) process, operated by the UK Research Councils in 2008 identified a number of key areas where compliance with TRAC requirements could be improved.

The TRAC Support Unit produced an ‘Assurance Reminders’ document for the sector that detailed the more common areas of non-compliance. The document provides the sector with a tool it can use to assess compliance with these areas of the TRAC requirements.

TDG - Key messages about TRAC (April 2010)

These notes are intended to help those who are knowledgeable about TRAC when speaking at conferences, visits, events, committee meetings.

TRAC Regional Group

TRAC Regional Group guides

The TRAC Regional Groups produce periodic good practice reference materials for the sector.

Page last updated 28 July 2016