So long, guesswork

February 3, 2006

The European University Association has called on higher education institutions to improve their accounting procedures after the European Commission proposed they could recover audited indirect costs incurred during European Union-funded research.

Brussels has included the suggestion in new rules for funding under the Seventh Framework Programme for research. Under the existing programme, universities can claim flat grants to cover indirect costs, but these payments are often based on guesswork and might not reflect the amount of money universities actually spend on managing EU-funded studies.

With the development of more sophisticated accounting methods at some universities - notably in the UK - the commission has suggested that for FP7, research consortium "participants can charge all direct and indirect costs", although the flat-rate fee option would be retained.

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