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Planning 2024 Glossary

Glossary - Financial Planning

Brief explanations of terms are set out below. The University Financial Model is explained more fully on the Finance Office website here.

Term Explanation
Fee Income or Gross Fee Income Income processed by UCD Registry as tuition Fee Income. The levy is not included as it is payable to the Student Centre limited company.
Fee Related Expenditure

Expenditure that reduces the real level of fee income earned by the university.

Fee Scholarships. Fee Commission and Transfers of Fee Income to Partners are the common examples.

Net Fee Income Fee Income after deduction of Fee Related Expenditure such as Fee Scholarships. It is the real fee income earned.
Net Direct Expenditure A unit's own expenditure. The 'net' term mean that any direct income (ie not Fee Income, not Project Income) received by the unit is taken into account.
Performance Based Funding Allocating resources to units based on performance i.e. on the level of Net Fee Income earned, compared with Target. Exceeding Net Fee Income Target increases the resources available to the unit.
Incentivisation This is another term for Performance Based Funding.
Net Fee Income Variance The actual Net Fee Income compared against the Target Net Fee Income is described as the Net Fee Income variance. If actual Net Fee Income is higher than the target, the variance is described as favourable.
Sharing of Variances

At year end the Net Fee Income variance is shared between the school (40%), college (10%) and university (50%).

At year end the Net Direct Expenditure variance against Target is retained by the school (100%).

Discretionary Reserves

A unit's share of Net Fee Income and Net Direct Expenditure variances are transferred to a Discretionary Reserve of the school. The Discretionary Reserve is under the control of the Head of School and is available to invest or to supplement recurrent expenditure. 

Committed Reserves

While Discretionary Reserves may be used at the discretion of the Head of School, subject to complying with the agreed Five Year Plan, there may be reserves where there is no discretion over how the reserve may be used. These are referred to as Committed Reserves. These reserves may be subject to legal restrictions - e.g. imposed by an external funder - or may just reflect internal decisions of the school.

University Performance Based Fund (UPBF)

The university's 50% share of additional Net Fee Income is calculated under the Performance Based Funding mechanism whereby schools receive extra resources by earning extra fee income. The university share is put into the University Performance Based Fund from where it is used to support various activities of schools, colleges, support units and the university itself. In the coming years the principal use of the Performance Based Fund will be to fund Central Pool Posts, thereby improving the Staff/Student ratio.

Term Explanation

The approved financial plan for the year.

The Budget is approved by the Governing Authority, usually at the June meeting preceding the start of the financial year in October.

While units prepare a Five Year Financial Plan, it is only the first year that is formally approved to become the Budget for that year.

The additional years indicate the trajectory of the unit and provide very significant context for assurance that the plan is sustainable, but are not themselves subject to formal approval. However an unsustainable plan may prevent approval of a plan for the year, requiring further work until the plan is sustainable.

University Budget

The financial plan presented to the Governing Authority is a plan for the entire university, and represents income and expenditure of hundreds of millions of euro. It is composed of plans for each unit (approx 100 units) and for the institution itself. 

The Governing Authority's role is governance and so, although the plan has been through an extensive and detailed process, the Proposed Budget is at a summary rather than detailed level for each unit.

The Budget approved by the Governing Authority is referred to as the University Budget and is regarded as being fixed for the year. The University Budget must be broken down to further detail (the Operational Budget) at cost centre and detailed account level and there is some flexibility in adjusting the detail during the year.

Typically the University Budget is approved at the end of June, and Heads of unit are notified of the formal approval shortly thereafter.

Operational Budget

The approved University Budget must be broken down from unit level (ie from an overall plan for a school or support unit) to cost centre level. Much of this work will already have been done in preparing the budget submission. The detailed budget is referred to as the Operational Budget.

The Operational Budget must agree to the University Budget, but the Head of Unit may approve adjustments during the year in consultation with the Finance Manager, for example moving budget between cost centres.

The individual elements of the Operational Budget cannot be regarded as independent of, or overriding, the formally approved University Budget. For example, where there is an overspend or income shortfall in one cost centre, it is not appropriate to spend up to budget level in all other cost centres. This would result in the unit exceeding it's University Budget.

Regular review of the University Budget is important and the Quarterly Outturns process is the formal mechanism for doing so. In this process Finance Managers prepare a full-year Forecast which is compared against the University Budget. Finance Managers provide Heads with a Management Pack of reports and meet with Heads to discuss the current and forecasted position.


(or Budget Target)

The Target is set formulaically for units. The primary driver of the Target is the previous year's Target.

Targets are also normally adjusted to reflect pay rate increases in Year 1 of the plan. Planning is therefore expressed in constant, Year 1, costs.

In addition, Targets for Schools may be adjusted to reflect expected Net Fee Income performance, with both the Net Fee Income and the Net Direct Expenditure Targets adjusted in proportion with the university financial model. Because the adjustment is formulaic, the School ends up in the same position (ie with the same Reserves) whether the Target is adjusted or not.

The Initial Budget Pack includes a report setting out the calculation of the Target and the Finance Managers are available to explain any element of the Target.

Static Target

Performance Based Funding utilises a formula to adjust the Target for a unit.

At the start of the planning cycle the Target is calculated and the same Target is used for each of the 5 years of the planning cycle. These are referred to as Static Targets.

In reality, over the 5 years of the plan, Net Fee Income performance is likely to vary from the current level and each year a new Target will be calculated per the UCD Financial Model.

Dynamic Target

Rather than using the Static Target throughout the 5 year planning horizon, the PBCS system adjusts the Target from Year 2 onwards dynamically, per the UCD Financial Model, based on the preceding year's plan. This replicates what will happen in reality if the plan is achieved.

A School's net position - as measured by Reserves at the end of the period - will be exactly the same whether a plan is compared against a Static Target or a Dynamic Target. With Static Targets the Transfers To/From Reserves will be larger, whereas with Dynamic Targets some of the transfers are dynamically incorporated into the Targets. A worked example illustrates this.


(or Budget Submission)

The plan that is prepared by a unit is referred to as the Budget Submission. The plan is entered on the Planning and Budgeting system (PBCS) by the Finance Manager based on discussions with the unit Head. The Budget Submission Pack reports the details of the submission and is available to the Head via the (opens in a new window)Finance Documents menu on InfoHub.

The financial plan is supported by 2 detailed plans - the Staff Plan and the Student and Fee Income Plan.

Staff Plan

A detailed post-by-post plan is prepared as part of the financial planning process. Approval of the Budget by the Governing Authority extends to the supporting Staff Plans.

The financial plan, and the supporting staff plan, are prepared for a five year period and sustainability over the five years is a critical part of the review and approval process. Staffing decisions can have large and multi-annual (perhaps over a very long timeframe) impact, so strict controls are applied to ensure that the approved Staff Plan is complied with.

In exceptional circumstances, and supported by appropriate justification, posts outside of the Staff Plan may be approved via the Authorised Variation mechanism.

Student and Fee Income Plan

A detailed Student and Fee Income plan is prepared and entered onto PBCS by the Finance Manager. The plan is driven by planned changes in Registrations to Majors and assumptions that translate the registrations into planned FTEs and Fee Income for the School. A separate strand of the planning process covers this activity here.

Authorised Variation

An Authorised Variation to the approved Staff Plan may be granted in exceptional circumstances, and must be supported by appropriate justification. Finance Managers complete an Authorised Variation Request form and submit it for consideration by central UCD Finance Office staff.

Adjustments Cost Centre

( or 'Q' cost centre)

As explained above, the University Budget is broken down to a lower level of detail which is described as the Operational Budget. The sum of the detailed Operational Budgets must equal the overall University Budget for a unit.

Adjustments to the Operational Budget may be made during the year by the Head of Unit in consultation with the Finance Manager. Usually these adjustments are nuetral overall, for example when moving budgets between 2 cost centres.

There may also be changes to budgets that are neutral overall, but represent variances from the University Budget. For example, if additional income is to be received and spent, the Head may wish to increase the Direct Income budget and also the NonPay budget. The overall Net Direct Expenditure Operational Budget would match the University Budget, but there would be opposite variances for both Direct Income and NonPay.

Rather than permit variances between the University Budget and the Operational Budget, we post adjustments to a special cost centre so that the University Budget and Operational Budget always remain synchronised. This cost centre is known as the Adjustments cost centre. The code for the cost centre will be the same as the unit code, but starting with a 'Q' rather than an 'S' and so the cost centre is sometimes called the 'Q' cost centre for the unit.

No other types of budget or expenditure may be used with this cost cente, it is just used for adjustments.

 A worked example illustrates the use of the Adjustments cost centre.

Glossary - Research Planning

Category Normalised Citation Impact The Category Normalized Citation Impact (CNCI) of a document is calculated by dividing the actual count of citing items by the expected citation rate for documents with the same document type, year of publication and subject area.  This metric is used in InCites.
Field Weighted Citation Impact The Field-Weighted Citation Impact (FWCI) is the ratio of citations received relative to the expected world average for the subject field, publication type and publication year. This metric is available in the SciVal database.
Funder/Funding Agency UCD has a diverse range of funding sources.  However, most of UCD’s Research and innovation funding predominantly comes from public sources.  In particular Science Foundation Ireland (SFI), European Commission (Horizon 2020), Enterprise Ireland, and the Irish Research Council are the largest funders of research at UCD.
Overheads  Also referred to as indirect costs, these are additional funds on top of the budgeted direct costs of a research grant.  They are typically provided as a percentage of research expenditure.  Not all funders provide overheads and the percentage varies between funders. 
Research Centres  There are several forms of funded national research centre in Ireland, such as SFI Research Centres, SFI Centres for Research Training (CRTs), EI Technology Centres, and SFI Strategic Partnerships.  They are funded to undertake a specific programme of research over an extended period.   This is distinct from UCD’s own internally designated academic centres. 
Research Funding Solution (RFS)  The Research Funding Solution (RFS) system provides end-to-end research funding management for researchers, and it replaces the technically obsolete RMS Grants system. You can access the new Research Funding Solution (RFS) at the Research Management System (RMS) icon on UCD Connect. Here you can discover funding opportunities, view migrated proposals and grant information from RMS Grants, and register new research grants.
Scopus Scopus is a source-neutral abstract and citation database, curated by independent subject matter experts.  It currently contains over 75 million records, 24,600 titles from 5,000 publishers.
UCD Institutes There are 7 cross disciplinary research institutes in UCD with members from a wide range of Schools.  The current set of UCD Institutes are:  UCD Institute for Discovery, UCD Conway Institute, UCD Earth Institute, UCD Energy Institute, UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, UCD Humanities Institute, UCD Institute of Food and Health.
Web of Science Web of Science (previously known as Web of Knowledge) is a website which provides subscription-based access to multiple databases that provide comprehensive citation data for many different academic disciplines.

Glossary - Strategic Plan


Key Performance Indicator.

To support the achievement of the objectives set out in the UCD Strategy 2020-2024 ‘Rising to the Future’, a set of 12 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) has been agreed by the UMT and endorsed by the Governing Authority.  These KPIs with targets broken-down to College and School level will be made available.  Please discuss any questions you have arising from these with your College Principal in the first instance.


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