A Training Support Fund (TSF), sometimes known as a Bench Fee or Research Training Support Grant (RTSG), provides the necessary funding to support a postgraduate student’s research. It is a charge the University may make to research students in addition to the tuition fee. Where the TSF is charged as a supplement to the fee, rather than awarded as part of a studentship package, the value must fit one of the TSF banding rates set up by the University in the Student Management system (SAMIS).
TSFs are intended to cover costs that can be related to the individual student, which are incurred to enable the student to carry out their research study. Examples of project costs are, but not exclusive, consumables and laboratory facilities, incidental costs of research training such as travel and conference attendance, fieldwork, industrial and work placements, meetings with collaborators or volunteers, printing and small equipment including laptops). Costs of an activity that fall outside of the student's funded period can NOT be charged to their TSF project code even if the costs can be incurred in advance. TSFs should not be used to supplement the living costs of the student nor pay any part of the tuition fee, unless within the terms of the agreement with, or specifically approved by, the funder. Any equipment purchased from a TSF remains the property of the University and should be returned when the student leaves.
Students submit expense claims through the Finance system (Agresso) with supporting documentation and/or relevant receipts. Internal and external ordering of goods and services will be done via their supervisor and relevant faculty finance office quoting the student’s own unique project account code. Students will need written confirmation from their supervisor or Doctoral Training Entity if expense claims are being coded to a different code than the student’s own.
Individual project account codes are set up in the student’s name, with the primary supervisor named as the Principal Investigator (PI). This is done by the Finance Office Studentships team in the Finance system (Agresso) and begin with E*.
Primary supervisors are responsible for managing the TSF codes of their students, on behalf of the sponsor. They are accountable for the appropriate use of the funds, for ensuring that they are used for the purposes given/stipulated by the funder and in accordance with the University’s Financial Regulations. Students, during the life of their study, will not normally be given direct access to the Finance system and the financial position of their TSF projects. Details of their TSF account is provided by their supervisors and/or through the relevant faculty finance office teams.
The level of TSF to be charged will be agreed internally by the supervisor, the Director of Studies or Doctoral Training Entity and Doctoral College having regard to the complexity of the student’s proposed research project. Where the amount to be charged is greater than the £1,000 pa training support fund given with a University Research Studentship, then the proposed level should be supported by a budget calculation. This will be agreed with the student and/or sponsor prior to the offer letter going out.
At the end of the student’s funded period/study or submission (whichever is the earlier), TSF accounts are considered spent. A breakdown of how the funds have been used will not automatically be provided to either a student or a sponsor, if this is requested then the student should ask for this via their faculty finance office team and/or supervisor. The only exception is where there is a requirement with a student’s sponsor to account for the actual expenditure incurred as part of the sponsor’s terms and conditions of funding or set out in the contract or other agreement. The specific, formal financial claims, reports and statements will be prepared by the Finance Office Studentship team.
If a student withdraws before the end of the course, the tuition fee will be refunded pro-rata to the length of time of study. Any unspent TSF balance will also be refunded unless there is agreement with a sponsor to carry forward such a balance towards funding for a new student. Finance Office Studentships will confirm with the Doctoral College and/or Doctoral Training Entity before any refunds are actioned.
When students complete, departments may pool individual unspent balances of up to £100 and use such funds to support other students. Provided there is not a shortfall on the sponsor’s overall award, for example, on a doctoral training grant, university funding or similar award, then balances of up to £500 may be pooled. These are identified in the Finance system as individual EA* & EB* codes. Balances on individual Industrial sponsored projects EG* of up to £5,000 may be retained by supervisors to support related research projects and/or other students. Use of balances of over £5,000 must be approved by Head of Department and/or Dean of Faculty and Director of Finance. Balances on studentships funded within a larger research R* project (treated as research income, managed by the Research Support and Funding not Finance Office Studentships) will be subject to the normal rules for Research Projects as set out in Financial Regulations.
Studentship Accountant March 2023