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HEFCE closed at the end of March 2018. The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.

Many of HEFCE's functions will be continued by the Office for Students, the new regulator of higher education in England, and Research England, the new council within UK Research and Innovation.

The HEFCE domain - - will continue to function until September 2018. At this point we will close the site entirely and all its information will only be available from the National Web Archive.


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New information about TRAC and financial sustainability published from April 2018 can be found via the Office for Students website.

Information published up to March 2018 will continue to be available on these pages.

On this page


The TRAC Guidance for 2016-17 returns

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

TRAC Guidance for previous years






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
  2.1b  Assurance reminders checklist Download
  3.1a  Academic time allocation survey form Download
  3.1b Pension cost adjustment calculator Download
  3.1c Indexation worksheet Download
  3.2a Margin for Sustainability 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

Download (2016-17) or go to archive

  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)


TRAC Guidance for previous years

TRAC guidance documents for previous years are available from The National Archives:

Page last updated 28 March 2018