TRAC - Transparent Approach to Costing

These pages provide links to resources on financial sustainability and costing in UK higher education.

We have published an archive of useful resources on financial sustainability. These resources were commissioned through the Financial Sustainability Strategy Group, a group which led evidence-based policy research in this area and had oversight of the work of the TRAC Development Group until 2019.

We also link to detailed guidance on the costing methodology developed to help the higher education sector cost their activities - the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC).

TRAC is managed by the TRAC Development Group, which provides information and guidance for UK higher education providers and policy makers on financial and academic sustainability.

Financial sustainability resources

Understanding the impact of income cross-flows on financial sustainability in the UK higher education sector

This report provides important information on how UK institutions pool financial resources to deliver a diverse range of activities, and - for the first time - illustrates the range of financial performance as reported in the Transparent Approach to Costing. It provides a detailed understanding of how institutions plan financially for the medium term, to sustain activities and deliver public benefit.

Different by design – exploring alternative delivery of undergraduate provision; benefits and opportunities

This report provides insights on the development and delivery of undergraduate provision via alternative methods. It aims to support those embarking on developing new ways of delivering undergraduate programmes, providing examples of both strategic and tactical solutions. It is also designed to challenge those institutions already pursuing a different delivery agenda to reach further and faster, including a range of examples from across the UK.

  • Different by design: this report explores alternative delivery of undergraduate provision, its benefits and opportunities

Sustaining medium-scale research facilities in the UK higher education sector

This report researched and identified the approaches UK higher education providers take to meeting the capital, operational, and replacement costs of medium-scale research facilities. The review provides advice about how different operating models impact on sustainability. It also explores the links between bidding for funding for research facilities and equipment.

Margin for Sustainability and Investment: Analysis of 2016-17 data

This report summarises the analysis of the Margin for Sustainability and Investment (MSI) data reported in the 2016-17 Annual Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) returns to UK higher education funding bodies.

This follows the adoption of the MSI in place of the two sustainability adjustments used up to 2015-16 for calculating TRAC full economic costs (or full sustainable costs) – the Infrastructure Adjustment (IA) and the Return for Financing and Investment (RFI).

Please note: The file was amended on 26 September 2018 to rectify incorrect column headings in Table 2.

Logos of Office for Students, The Scottish Funding Council, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), The Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) and the Department for the Economy Northern Ireland
Last updated 03 February 2022
03 February 2022
Link name changed to 'TRAC guidance 2020-21'
22 February 2021
Revisions to the structure of information, and links added to details of the review of TRAC.
20 December 2019
Link to new publication added

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