The Office for Students (OfS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), along with the higher education funding bodies for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, have agreed the scope of a review into the effectiveness of the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) system.
TRAC is a UK-wide, activity-based costing system, designed to collect consistent, periodic and high-quality data on the costs of higher education research, teaching and other activities at universities. It was established in 1998, designed with the higher education sector, and since then has evolved alongside sector developments.
The OfS, UKRI, and the higher education funding bodies for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, will work collaboratively to oversee this review through a joint action group reporting to the Regulators and Funders (Financial Sustainability) Group (see below).
Focus of the review
The review will focus on understanding the burdens associated with the TRAC system and to evaluate this in relation to its benefits. It will aim to identify improvements to the efficiency and effectiveness of the system in meeting the needs of the multiple stakeholders and users.
The review will look at ways to provide better information and utility from the TRAC system that can support higher education providers in delivering high-quality teaching and research, while encouraging efficiency and value for students and taxpayers.
A key element of this review will be the engagement of the many interested stakeholders to seek to understand the information needs of stakeholders and any concerns that they have about burden. Conscious of the pressures facing higher education providers at this point in time, we will ensure that any engagement is timely and necessary.
The joint UK funders and regulators have appointed KPMG to deliver the review and make recommendations on how burden could be reduced while enhancing the benefits of the TRAC activity-based costing system.
The aim is to complete the review by September 2021.
The Regulators and Funders Group
The Regulators and Funders group will oversee this review. The Regulators and Funders group is a collaborative group of UK higher education funders and regulators. It comprises:
- the OfS
- Research England
- Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
- Scottish Funding Council
- Department for the Economy (Northern Ireland).
Its central purpose is to discuss higher education financial sustainability issues.
Membership of this group is:
||Director of Resources and Finance, Office for Students (Chair)
||Director of Risk and Assurance, UKRI
||Deputy Chief Executive, Higher Education Funding Council for Wales
||Director of Finance, Scottish Funding Council
Head of Quality and Governance, Higher Education Division, Department for the Economy, Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland