As your Administering Organisation, UNSW enters into an agreement with the relevant funding body to administer your research grant and comply with the conditions of the agreement. As the first named Investigator, you are responsible for complying with the University’s administrative processes which have been set up to ensure the obligations of the funding agreement are met.
Please see the below for policies, procedures and current forms to download
Authority to accept grant
Although an offer will normally refer to the Chief Investigator of a specific project, research funds are legally awarded to UNSW. Most funding agencies require that a University delegate sign a grant award. Researchers are not permitted to sign grant acceptances on behalf of the University. Only the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) and approved delegates have the authority to accept research grants or fellowships and to accept conditions of award on behalf of the University.
Where an application has been successful, Research Grants and Contracts will generate and provide you with a Grants Acceptance Form. Please contact email@example.com if you require a copy of this form for a grant you have been awarded.
Review of funding contract/conditions of award
Research Grants and Contracts reviews any proposed contract for the award, renewal or modification of a grant to ensure that the conditions are acceptable, usually in conjunction with the Legal Office (Research). If necessary, the Legal Office (Research) will negotiate any changes to the grant conditions on behalf of the University. Contract review is undertaken in consultation with the researcher who is kept informed of developments.
The bare minimum required by Research Grants and Contracts before a research project can be opened is:
- Grant Acceptance Form
- Letter of Offer/Agreement
- Copy of Application
For major granting rounds such as the ARC and NHMRC, the funding body will send funding rules and agreements to the institution. UNSW also receives a copy of the award letter and we have a copy of the application. After award announcements are made we contact researchers who have been successful to request additional documentation.
When a grant application has been made through a process other than the above (i.e. when you may be undertaking contract research), you will need to provide Research Grants and Contracts with the additional documentation as listed above before funds can be released.
Information and Guidelines for Research Ethics and Safety
Research Committee Clearances may be required. For complete details see Research Ethics and Compliance Support
Early release of funds
If a grant is ready to commence and obligations are still being finalised (for some sponsors) it is possible to release part of the funding awarded to allow critical components of the research to commence at UNSW. Please contact your Post-award Team Leader to see if this is possible for your sponsor and requirements.
Once you have discussed this with your Post-award Team Leader, Head of School (HoS) approval is required. Please forward details of the funding required and purpose in an email to your HoS requesting that they forward their approval to your Post-award Team Leader stating the following:
- I understand that in the event the grant does not proceed and funds are required to be returned to the sponsor that any liability will be the responsibility of my school.
Your project must be carried out as described in your research grant proposal and in accordance with the funding agreements or conditions of the award. You must observe the conditions set out in these documents at all times during the life of your grant. Any significant changes to the project scope, timing, personnel or budget expenditure must be notified to the RGC as soon as possible. The RGC will review the matter and determine if a variation should be submitted for approval by the funding body.
All correspondence to the funding body relating to your grant should be forwarded via the Research Grants and Contracts.
Commencing employment: All funding recipients must be employees of UNSW for the duration of the funding. Research fellows must be placed on a UNSW contract of employment for the funding period. All individuals on UNSW contracts of employment are covered by the relevant Enterprise Bargaining Agreement (or AWA, if applicable, for employees who commenced employment prior to 28 March 2008).
Your Faculty HR Representative will prepare letters of offer of employment and set in place any other arrangements relating to appointments.
In submitting HR10 forms to Human Resources it is usual to request appointment for the full length of time for which funds have been provided. Please contact your School Administrator for assistance in completing HR10 forms. All HR forms can be found at http://www.hr.unsw.edu.au/hrforms.html
Account and Budget
In order for Research Grants and Contracts (RGC) to release your research account and budget, the Accepting a Grant steps detailed above need to be completed.
Your Faculty Accountant and School/Centre finance staff will assist you with expenditure management throughout the life of the grant, raising purchase orders on your behalf and reimbursing you for costs claimed. Only costs associated with research activities approved for a project can be charged against the research account for that project.
The RGC is responsible for requesting all research income invoicing. If you have completed a Milestone deliverable and need to request a related invoice for issue to your sponsor, contact your Grants Officer at the RGC. Funds from sources other than the Sponsor cannot be invoiced, transferred or journalled into the research account.
Research Finance works in partnership with the RGC to provide financial and administrative support for research funding.
The RGC is responsible for arranging and submitting all research financial statements required by Sponsors. The RGC will contact you ahead of the due date for a financial report to ensure all research project expenditure has been charged to your account. If you require a research financial statement to send to your Sponsor, contact your Grants Officer at the RGC.
The ARC and NHMRC require submission of an annual Financial Statement and Financial Acquittal for each individually funded grant. Research Finance and the RGC prepare and submit ARC & NHMRC financial reports.
It is important you keep project records to ensure accountability and transparency. Critical documents pertaining to your management of the project should be kept and be easily accessible. Record keeping makes good business sense to ensure the sustainability of your project should key personnel need to change with little notice. Internal audits may be undertaken randomly on research projects to ensure funding body and University requirements are being met. External auditing may be undertaken by funding bodies.
The InfoEd Grants Management System provides you with access to all data recorded about an application or grant. You can access all records on which you are a named investigator. Documentation kept on InfoEd includes:
- Project status - received, submitted to sponsor, awarded, funds released, etc
- All project correspondence and documentation, including contracts and reports
- Up-to-date financial reports via a direct link to the NSS project record
- Deadlines for and details of milestone reports and deliverables
Ethics and Other Research Safety Clearances
Throughout the duration of your research, ethics clearance must be current and you are responsible for renewing ethics approval over the course of the project.
- Please see the Research Ethics & Compliance Support page for more information
- If you require and have not yet obtained your clearance(s), please contact the Research Ethics Compliance and Support (RECS) unit
Note: Once obtained, ethics approval does not constitute approval for project commencement. There are a number of other research governance approvals that need to be obtained prior to the commencement of your research. For external grant funding, this may include a signed contract/agreement (e.g. MIA), execution of the Sponsor’s Funding Agreement, return of a signed acceptance form, etc. If in any doubt, please speak to your Grants Officer for further information.
My project was funded, when can I start spending my money?
Prior to the release of your project funds there are a number of things that need to occur:
- The first named Chief Investigator is required to complete an Acceptance of Grant (AOG) form to provide the necessary information regarding the project, including ethics approvals, conflict of interest and distribution of funding.
- The university is required to enter into an agreement with the sponsor (please see FAQ 6.)
- When the funding agreement is signed and a complete AOG received, the RGC will liaise with Research Finance to open an account to receive the funds and prepare a Budget Release Confirmation (BRC).
- The BRC is a document generated by the RGC that contains a summary of the most important aspects of the funding agreement, i.e. funds awarded, deliverables, ethics approval required, as well information on how the grant should be managed over its duration. A RGC Grants Officer will send you a copy of the BRC and notify you that your funds are available after Research Finance has opened your project account.
Who reviews and signs grant funding agreements?
This is the responsibility of the Research Grants & Contracts Office. Please send any grant funding agreement you receive from a funding sponsor to the RGC Team Leader responsible for your School or Centre. The RGC Team Leader manages the agreement review process including referral to the UNSW Legal Office if necessary. Once the agreement is finalised the RGC Director holds the delegation to sign the agreement on behalf of UNSW (researchers and schools must not sign agreements).
Why do I need to complete an Acceptance of Grant form (even for a project where only in-kind is involved)?
A completed Acceptance of Grant (AoG) Form is required for all research projects being managed by RGC. The purpose of the AoG is to ensure that important details are captured and approvals obtained for each project researchers are working on, irrespective of any funding coming to the University. The AoG requests details of ethics approvals and safety clearance requirements so that UNSW can meet its obligations in relation to monitoring of these approvals. The AoG is approved by the Head of School confirming that there are adequate resources for the project to proceed and the ethics and safety approvals required. This form also ensures that researchers are aware of their general obligations in relation to UNSW research related Policies.
I am not sure when I will need ethics approval, what date do I enter on my Acceptance of Grant Form?
If ethics approval for your research is required you must include this information in your AOG. An estimated date is sufficient if you are unsure of the exact date you will need to have ethics approval by. You will receive an automated reminder 2 weeks prior to the ethics due date you have supplied & the date can be amended at that time, if required. You must not start research requiring ethics approval until you have received written approval from the relevant Research Ethics Panel/Committee. Consultations, staff recruitment and literature reviews to determine the scope of your project can often occur prior to applying for ethics approval.
Where do I find the classification FOR & SEO codes (6 digit codes) necessary to complete the Acceptance of Grant form?
The Fields of Research (FOR) codes and the Socio Economic Objectives (SEO) codes can be found at these links on the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Website. To access the 6 digit codes you need to Select: Section > then scroll down to select Subsection > find the right Objective/Research Field.
When should I enter the distribution of funding on the Acceptance of Grant form?
If income is to be shared with a UNSW co-investigator outside your School/Centre for HERDC purposes then you should complete this table. Do not complete the table for distribution of funds outside UNSW (e.g. to another University) or if you require a separate research account (sub-project) to be established for your other UNSW investigator(s).
If an NHMRC grant is ready to commence and agreements are still being negotiated/executed it is possible to release part of the funding awarded to allow research to commence at UNSW.
To make such a request please forward an email to your Post-award Team Leader. The email must include the following:
- I confirm that as lead chief investigator for this grant I give approval for the first 12 months of the UNSW share of the funding for [insert NHMRC grant ID] to be released to allow expenditure to occur at UNSW (please note, you must include the proposed breakdown of the funding allocation between the collaborators)
- I confirm that no work will occur at any of the Participating Institutions until after an agreement has been executed between the Participating Institution and UNSW
For Partnership Projects, CRE and Development grant schemes: In addition to the above from the Chief Investigator, Head of School (HoS) approval is required. Please forward the above email to your HoS requesting that they forward their approval to your Post-award Team Leader stating the following:
- I understand that in the event the grant does not proceed and funds are required to be returned to the NHMRC that any liability will be the responsibility of my school.