Transparent approach to costing (TRAC)

Introduction by Deborah Smith

In my role as Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Chair of the University's TRAC Steering Group, I maintain oversight of this significant and increasingly important activity.

TRAC has a dual role in providing financial data to government and our funders about the relative cost of our main activities, and in providing information for our own use in management of the University. The TRAC return also contains information about research costs which is used to derive rates for allocating indirect costs and estates costs to externally funded research projects. These rates are used when working out what a proposed project is going to cost the University.

TRAC is crucial to enabling us to have a positive impact on the future funding of teaching, research and other activities. It also gives us a better understanding of the nature of our costs. We strive to make the process as streamlined as possible whilst generating accurate results that we and our funders can rely on.

At the national level, the Higher Education Funding Committee for England (HEFCE) (Office for Students (OfS) from Sunday 1 April 2018) has created the TRAC Development Group chaired by Ian Creagh, formerly Vice-President Operations and College Secretary at King’s College London. The role of this group is to ensure that institutions have the financial management information they need to manage their own sustainability, and that this information is used effectively by the sector to protect and enhance the sustainability of publicly-funded activities.

Deborah Smith
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research
deborah.smith@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 323492

TRAC Steering Group

The TRAC Steering Group, formed in December 2008, has oversight of the TRAC process and the mechanisms in place to ensure compliance with national TRAC standards.

The group meets formally three times a year and its terms of reference are:-

  • To approve and review the annual TRAC process;
  • To review and recommend to the University Executive Board (UEB) the annual TRAC return and the estates and indirect rates used in research grants;
  • To review reasonableness testing of the results;
  • To undertake high-level adjustment to TRAC numbers if appropriate and ensure methods or systems are amended to avoid the need to take such action in the future;
  • To approve any post 1 February adjustments;
  • To consider appropriateness of the cost drivers;
  • To consider and (where appropriate) instigate any action recommended by Internal Audit;
  • To understand and improve the quality of TRAC data and thereby increase the use of the data in the management of the University.

TRAC Steering Group members

Contact us

Catherine Jones
TRAC Accountant
catherine.jones@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 323515
Group Financial Accounts, Heslington Hall

Ruth Clark
Group Financial Controller
ruth.clark@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324417

Academic membersFinance and Planning members
Professor Deborah Smith, PVC (Chair) Rebekah Desport (Director of Planning)
Professor John Robinson, PVC Teaching, Learning and Students Gary Sheen (Assistant Director - Management Accounting)
Professor Duncan Bruce (Chemistry) Ruth Clark (Group Financial Controller)
Professor Lawrence Black (Modern History) Kirsty Dillingham (RGC Operations Manager)
Professor Jo Swaffield (Economics) Catherine Jones (TRAC Accountant)
Jennifer Gilmartin (Associate Director and Head of Research Services  

Contact us

Catherine Jones
TRAC Accountant
catherine.jones@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 323515
Group Financial Accounts, Heslington Hall

Ruth Clark
Group Financial Controller
ruth.clark@york.ac.uk
+44 (0)1904 324417