8.1 Additions to Allocation and financial management
A commentary on the School’s financial position is at Annex C describing a number of strategies pertinent to managing Risks 1, 4 and 6 on the Register – although arguably a sound financial position for the School underpins management of all the risks that it faces.
The School recognizes that its financial and RAM position is precarious, while being very successful in winning major grant awards and achieving good results in the REF. Pertinent factors around this situation are costing grant applications and philanthropic opportunities properly, including Principal Investigator time; the increasing attitude of major charities that their funding should be matched, topped-up or underwritten by University/School funds; and the way embedded space and NHS-funded clinical academics are treated in the RAM. The University’s new model of how to treat transferred-in Units eliminates previously expressed concerns about the consequences under the RAM of step change in response to new strategic priorities.
For the MPhil in Genomic Medicine course, we are requesting an increase to allocation based on the premium fees being charged for this course. Due to the number of taught modules, the nature of some of the modules (involving lab work with expensive materials and equipment), the involvement of partners such as EBI and Sanger (and therefore the number of teachers who are not UTOs), course costs are substantially higher than usual. We request:
- Overseas – 5fte @ premium fee of c£5,300 @50% = £13,500
- Home Fee – 5fte @ price differential of c£4,374 @ 50% = £10,935
In the 2014-15 Planning Round exercise, the Senior PVC agreed that the School could operate under a framework in which 50% of the costs of replacing Clinical Academic Reserve posts could be additional to allocation as and when the posts fall empty. We are therefore requesting an increased allocation for 2016-17 and forward to cover 50% of a Chair in Rheumatology and University Lecturer (Clinical) in Radiology. The former post has been an important strategic position within the immunity theme of the Department of Medicine and the latter has been a key teaching position in a relatively small Department with few academic positions.
We are also requesting an increase in allocation in respect of the increased numbers of clinical students retained from academic year 2017/18. The rationale for requesting a 75% split on the income to the University deriving from the increased cohort of clinical students is as follows. The fee for each student is £9k and HEFCE T at 10.1k (clinical rate) resulting in a total of £19.1k. The College is paid £4.5k and the University retains £14.6k. For standard students the University retains a fee share at 50% which is equivalent to £2.25k. In addition, it would receive HEFCE T (preclinical rate) of £1.5k, totalling £3.75k for a standard preclinical student. If we assume that for the central University the clinical students consume resources at no greater rate than preclinical students (which seems a reasonable assumption) then 25% of £14.6k should be sufficient to cover central University commitments, leaving the balance of the income to be applied within the course, where there will be increased costs to cover. The School has already agreed with the School of Biological Sciences (SBS) to increase the allocation for Pathology to 8% in both Years 4 and 5 (subject to final confirmation when Year 5 is first taught, using the agreed detailed spreadsheet-based methodology).
The School will be participating in the follow-up to the Anatomy Review and will discuss with SBS how they might be able to reduce ongoing teaching costs while being educationally leading edge. We are aware that SBS is developing such proposals although the financial case is not yet fully developed and needs to be considered in parallel with how other medical schools deliver anatomy teaching cost-effectively. Anatomy teaching in the clinical years is carried out by Clinical School staff as sessions directly related to surgery or radiology. The Clinical School also contributes significantly to teaching on the pre-clinical course, especially under the new programme and any discussion about the costs will need to be supported by good data from both Schools.
To tackle the deficit, the School continues to examine its costs and to drive up high quality income and has in the past year reduced the volume of approvals for forward commitments. As detailed in this plan and the previous plan, we will:
- Support Heads of Department in resisting pressure to apply their discretion to allow less than 10% of PI time to be requested on grant applications by developing informal School advice on what should be normal and to raise awareness in the School of the importance of requesting PI time;
- Promote a “balanced portfolio” approach for Departments and individuals in their spectrum of grants (mitigating Risk 6);
- Emphasize that for philanthropic opportunities, activities need to be fully costed, not at the grant-funded charity rate as charity QR does not apply to help balance the deficit on an under-costed piece of work;
- Strategically prioritise posts to be funded when, for example, CAR support stops on retirement of an individual;
- Look for Departmental commitment to funding requests through use of donation accounts and Departmental reserves (but recognizing that if too much pressure is placed on academics with donation accounts, they will simply move that activity under the NHS umbrella – and that those donation accounts may have constraints);
- Analyse systematically the bids for resources required to teach the increased number of clinical students, aiming for a balanced level of support across Departments that reflects their input to the course;
- Resolve the ongoing discussions with the School of Biological Sciences over support for Anatomy and Pathology, using a data-based methodology and taking into account national benchmarks;
- Discuss with the MRC Units their spending plans for REF uplift payments due under the terms of the transfer agreements to ensure that these are sued strategically, for example to underwrite key appointments in the Units;
- Continue to seek opportunities for efficient working across the School to limit the rate of growth in support costs as the School grows and expands with new incoming units.
8.2 Capital Equipment Strategy
The School has a high demand for expensive leading-edge equipment. Some of our buildings were built and equipped relatively recently in building terms but at a time distance that now drives a requirement for bulk equipment renewal. In recent years the external sources of funding for capital equipment have reduced markedly. We will:
- Take account in our normal annual call for equipment the longer-term strategic needs of the School, specifically to equip new buildings where the items are unlikely to be of interest to either grant awarding bodies or philanthropists – we will set aside monies in advance to anticipate these needs;
- Ensure that the Project Boards of new building projects address the issue of whether legacy equipment can transfer and where it cannot, plan fund-raising requirements well in advance of need.