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Oifig an Sparánaí UCD

Full Economic Costing Project
An Irish Universities' Association Initiative


There has been a rapid rate of increase in sponsored and postgraduate research activity within the University and although this is welcome it is placing great pressure on University finances and indirectly on the resources for teaching and students.

This means that core teaching funding is not keeping pace with costs, research activity and PhD numbers not fully funded, and most universities are in deficit (all would probably be in deficit on a full economic cost basis).

The seven Irish univerisities are now involved in developing and implementing a Full Economic Costing (FEC) system through an initiative led by the Irish Univeristies Association (IUA). SIF funding has been awarded to IUA for this sectoral project.

FEC is an Activity Based Costing System that will provide evidence to Research Funders, both exchequer-funded (SFI, HEA, EU, Govt. Departments etc.) and non-exchequer-funded (Irish Industry, International Organisations etc) of the need to improve funding for research.

How Will It Work?

An activity-based cost model will be used within each of the seven Irish universities to deliver new information and evidence to support the case for funding the true cost of activities. These costs will be allocated to Schools and activities. Each university will calculate its costs independently of the other universities.

The costs to be calculated include academic staff costs (through activity profiling), other school costs, major support services costs and central administration costs.

Activity profiling requires the retrospective periodic analysis of academic activity. It will involve individual academics completing an Academic Activity Profile Form (AAP) retrospectively. Guidance will be provided on the form.

The form will be completed using percentages of time by activity, rather than hours by activity, with academics and Heads of Schools agreeing on a reasonable return. All data will be treated as confidentially. Information will be used to calculate economic cos of Teaching, Research and Other Activities.

There are nine activites in total listed below:

Activity Category % Time
Teaching 1 Teaching -- Undergraduate %
2 Teaching -- Postgraduate %
3 Teaching --- Postgraduate Research %
Research 4 Research -- Sponsored with output %
5 Research -- no external sponsor with output %
6 Other Research and Scholarly Activity %
Other 7 Other Income Generating Activities %
8 Clincial Services %
9 Administration and Management %
Total     100%

The data collected will have an institutional guarantee in terms of use for any purpose other than Full Economic Costing.

Benefits of the FEC System

  • Evidence to make a reasoned case for sustainable funding of univeristy activity.
  • Accountability and reassurance to government and funders.
  • Information for use in university planning and portfolio managment.
  • Increased cost awareness.
  • Support to pricing (where applicable) -- prevent under-pricing/over-trading.

Useful Documentation

Investment Planning