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TRAC and the Time Allocation Survey (TAS)

An overview of TRAC

TRAC is the Transparent Approach to Costing and, since 2000, has been the standard methodology used by the 165 Higher Education Institutions (HEI’s) in the UK for costing their main activities - teaching, research and other core activities. TRAC is becoming increasingly important in the assessment of HEI’s future sustainability and in informing the public funding of higher education. More information on TRAC and a useful policy overview by the TRAC Development Group can be downloaded from the TRAC website.

Our annual TRAC return, including the results of the Time Allocation Survey, is submitted to the Scottish Funding Council (SFC) and audited by UKRI as part of the Quality Assurance Validation (QAV) process. QAV aims to ensure the TRAC methodology is used correctly, and all costs are being calculated as robustly as possible.

The results of TRAC have direct implications for planning decisions made at national level and the SFC have reviewed subject price groups for the funding of teaching on this basis. From February 2010 all Scottish HEIs have been using TRAC data to estimate the cost of teaching, and this data has been submitted to the SFC as part of our annual TRAC return.

Scottish and UK TRAC results for 2015-16 can be found at on the SFC website.

Time Allocation Survey (TAS) and web based diary

A major element of the annual TRAC return involves allocating University costs over the main activity headings of Teaching (T), Research (R) and Other (O) and this is done by surveying how academics split their time between these activities.  This survey is completed in the form of an online diary, in which academic staff record how they spend their time over the main activity types. 

The web diary covers a 24-hour period in each day, seven days a week, so for example includes any research, administration, marking and preparation done within or outside the standard working week (36.25 hours). However we do not collect data on the number of hours worked per week, as times are summed then converted into percentages, giving estimates of the relative proportions of the total time spent across the whole school on teaching, research, general support and other activities.

During the 2018-19 academic year and beginning on 11th February 2019, we request that all University staff who are contracted to carry out both research and teaching, in all schools, complete the web diary for three periods of 2 weeks - making 6 weeks in total throughout the academic year. The aim is to achieve a minimum response rate of 75% in each school, which will provide statistically reliable data for inclusion in TRAC. If the response rate reaches this target, it will not be necessary to repeat the TAS again until academic year 2021-22.  However, a response rate of less than 75% will result in repetition of the survey next year.



Finance Department

The Gateway
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9RJ
Scotland, United Kingdom

Tel: 01334 46 2513

See also

External links