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Calculating total costs in the university and university college sector

Applicants from the university and university college sector whose institutions have implemented the Norwegian TDI model (common full costing methodology) for project costs are to use this model when specifying project budgets in grant applications to the Research Council.

The TDI full costing methodology for research is a common national model designed to ensure that the full costs of all activities in connection with externally-funded research projects are identified. The model has been developed by the university and university college sector for use in, among other things, grant applications for financial support from the Research Council. Further, the 2014 allocation letter from the Ministry of Education and Research explicitly states that the higher education sector is to make use of the TDI model.

The model provides a method for presenting the full costs incurred by an institution when it carries out research activities, including projects receiving funding from the Research Council. Use of this model will help to promote:

  • more accurate financing of the actual costs of research projects for the institutions;
  • better resource management within the institutions;
  • better insight on the part of the Research Council about the resources to be used in research projects;
  • simplified and improved follow-up of project finances, for the institutions and the Research Council alike.

To achieve these goals, it is essential that applicants from the higher education institution (UHR) sector employ all the elements of the TDI model when setting up the budgets in grant applications to the Research Council.

For more information about the TDI model, please see the guidelines about the TDI model from the Norwegian Association of Higher Education Institutions.

Use of the TDI full costing model in grant applications to the Research Council

All organisations that take part in the project and receive support from the Research Council (grant recipients) and/or contribute in-kind activities must calculate the costs in their budgets using the four cost categories employed by the Research Council. Organisations in the higher education sector are to use the TDI model as their basis for calculation. Any partners from other sectors are to follow the budgeting rules for their respective sectors, even when the Project Owner comes from the higher education sector. The Project Owner is to obtain the calculated costs in the budgets from all partners, and is responsible for entering these into the Research Council application form.

If the project includes commissioned research activity, i.e. when an organisation delivers a commissioned R&D service to the Project Owner or partner in the project for a specified contract sum, the budgeted sum is to be entered as “Procurement of R&D services”.

In the TDI model, the cost elements are divided into direct and indirect costs (table 1). The direct costs are assigned to specific activities. The indirect costs constitute “shared costs” at the institution that are distributed across the various projects. The indirect costs in a research project comprise a proportional share of the joint costs of the institution, and correspond to the project’s share of the institution’s overall activity. Both the direct payroll and personnel costs (elements D1, D2 and D3) and the indirect costs (IG and IA) are scaled to the time allocations for personnel.

Applicants are to list personnel resources (number of person-months or person-years in the project) and other operating costs in the Specification field in the Research Council’s grant application form.

Table 1: Cost elements in a research project in the university and university college sector

  Direct costs UHR cost category Research Council's cost category (cost plan)
D1 Academic personnel  Salary Payroll and indirect expenses  
D2 Any administrative or technical support personnel not included in either IG or D5  Salary Payroll and indirect expenses
D3 Doctoral and post-doctoral fellowships, personal visiting researcher grants and personal overseas researcher grants   Salary Payroll and indirect expenses
D4 Activities related to project operations, such as travel and meeting costs and smaller deliveries from sub-contractors   Diverse costs   Other operating expenses 
D5 Costs for research infrastructure resources (RIR), including operation of research infrastructure, consumables, costs associated with infrastructure administrative or technical support personnel and depreciation costs for internal equipment investments Operating costs Equipment 

R&D services performed on commission by other institutions. (NOTE – not performed by partners)

Diverse costs Procurement of R&D services 
  Indirect costs    
IG “Institution-specific generic indirect costs” generated by time allocations for personnel categories D1, D2 and D3 Indirect costs   Payroll and indirect expenses 
IA “Core activity-based supplement” generated by time allocations for personnel category D1 and D3 Indirect costs 
Payroll and indirect expenses
  Sum Total Total