A new set of accounting rules for universities is expected by the summer, giving universities a year to put them in place.
A member of the government group looking at financial openness in universities said this week that a method by which all universities can calculate the exact cost of their different activities should be in place by June or July.
A spokesman for the Office of Science and Technology said the idea was to get the same accounting information from every university. Many universities at present do not produce accounts in a way that clearly shows the cost of much individual research or teaching. This made it difficult to pass on the full costs of their research to the funder.
The rules are being worked out by a sub-group of the science and engineering base coordinating committee. On the group are representatives of the research and funding councils, as well as the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals. The group is chaired by John Taylor, research councils' director general.
Universities will be expected to start using the accounting rules from September 2000.