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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 The information on this website is historical and is no longer maintained.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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How to use the guidance

Guidance on the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) serves as a single point of reference. This page provides information on how to use the guidance.

A change log has been included in the guidance at Annex 1.1a, from version 2.0 onwards. This highlights where updates have been made since the version used for the previous year. Changes are also highlighted in the guidance documents using bold blue text.

Each chapter of the guidance is made up of a series of sections that are in a standard structure. The table below explains the purpose of each section in the structure:



The introduction explains the context for the chapter.


The aim provides a clear statement about what the chapter will achieve.

Process flowchart

A diagram or flowchart will summarise the key steps in the process that the section describes.

The requirements

This section will set out the mandatory TRAC requirements. It will differentiate these from good practice or procedural steps, which are detailed in later sections.

In some cases, elements of the ‘Process’ sub-section (described below) are also TRAC requirements. Where this is the case, this section will cross-refer to the step in the process (all separately referenced).


This describes how the TRAC process may operate to help people implement the requirements. These descriptions are only illustrations and not requirements, unless identified as outlined above.

What could go wrong

This lists common areas of non-compliance with the TRAC requirements. By pointing out these areas, it aims to help institutions avoid them.


Where templates support the process, these will be available in this section.

Associated good practice and other relevant reference material

This includes other sources of reference material or publications that could provide further insight or ideas in meeting the TRAC requirements.

How can I search the new guidance?

If readers would like to search for keywords in the guidance, they can do this in the PDF. Adobe Reader includes search features, which will allow readers to identify keywords or phrases. There is the option to download and search individual sections of the guidance, or the whole guidance document which contains all of the chapters and sections.

TRAC Guidance navigation card

This card illustrates the contents of each section within each chapter of the TRAC Guidance. This should help users to recognise the different stages of the TRAC process and to navigate between chapters and sections.

Download the TRAC Guidance navigation card

Download the TRAC_Navigation_map_November_2017 as PDF (84 KB)

The HEFCE extranet facility

UK higher education institutions have access to the HEFCE extranet facility. This facility provides access to the institutional template for the Annual TRAC and TRAC(T) returns. Further guidance on accessing the HEFCE extranet for these returns can be found in Chapters 4.1 and 4.3 of the guidance.

In addition to this, institutions in England also have access to a data checking tool providing outputs on the HEFCE-fundable student FTE data for TRAC(T). Further details on the use of this tool are provided in the document below:

Where to get help on the TRAC Guidance

The different sources of help and support available are described on the Help and support for TRAC tab.

Page last updated 9 November 2017