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Launch of Time Allocation Survey 2008/09.

06 Oct 2008

Academic staff to record how their time is divided.

During the next academic year, the University will be asking members of academic staff to keep a record of how they divide their time in a particular week – as part of an exercise that will be mirrored on campuses across the UK.

As part of the Time Allocation Survey (TAS) academic members of staff will record the amount of time they spend on research, teaching, supervision of graduates and other activities.

The survey forms an important element of the processes required by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and Research Councils UK (RCUK).

The detailed understanding of how staff divide their time will indicate the staffing costs associated with various activities, and will play a vital part in informing the financial viabilities of future plans.

Externally, the findings will ensure the University complies with funding council requirements, and will help to strengthen submissions for research grants.

The University already has to supply HEFCE with data on costs of activities under headings such as research and teaching. The findings of the survey, which is a part of the Transparent Approach to Costing process (TRAC) will form a part of this.

In the past 10 years TRAC data has proved critical in negotiations with the Government, which has led to significantly increased funding for research and capital.

In the next few years the data from TAS will be an important element in persuading the government that more funding is needed for teaching.

Ensuring that the TAS has been conducted satisfactorily is part of the Quality Assurance and Validation (QAV) process.

Last time the exercise was undertaken just 50 per cent of staff responded to the survey, compared to rates in excess of 75 per cent that were recorded by other UK universities.

Failure to satisfy HEFCE and RCUK that the survey is reliable will lead to the imposition of financial penalties. The university has estimated that these penalties could result in a loss of £25million in research income.

Since the last survey, in 2006/07, a number of steps have been taken to make the Time Allocation Survey (TAS) simpler, but there is still the opportunity for staff to suggest further improvements.

Unlike the last survey, this time academic staff will be asked to record their time allocation for one week, instead of two.

Results can now be recorded online. The forms have been re-designed to make them easier to complete.

Each academic member of staff will be assigned a week at random. And they will be notified of that week four weeks in advance.

Individual data will remain confidential. And the heads of each school will comment on the reasonableness of the data aggregated for their school.

The exercise is due to begin this week and it is hoped that the measures taken to improve the survey will drive up the response rate to match other UK universities, which last year reached 75 per cent and above.

To suggest further improvements to the Time Allocation Survey process, contact: