The NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio supports applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) on the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list, using UK International Development funding.
The below guidance covers the key principles for research supported by NIHR Global Health Research funding. The guidance is structured to specifically help research teams applying to global health research programme funding calls, such as Global Health Research Units, Global Health Research Groups, Global Health Research Centres, Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT), and Global Health Policy and Systems Research (GHPSR).
This document should be read in conjunction with each programme’s specific call guidance for details of specific eligibility requirements, scope and remit.
Career Development Awards such as NIHR Global Research Professorships will follow the principles outlined in this document, but due to these awards focussing on individuals, applicants should refer to the specific scheme guidance on research training and development
Call specific guidance is published on the relevant NIHR funding opportunity page.
This ESSENCE Good Practice Document aims to provide clear guidelines and practical tips on improving research costing and pricing. It focusses specifically on research costing and pricing for research institutions in LMICs and their funders. It outlines some of the challenges involved in research costing and offer recommendations for addressing these based on case studies from the experiences of LMIC institutions and grant managers. ESSENCE (2020)
Official Development Assistance (ODA) eligibility
The research must be for the direct and primary benefit of people in ODA-eligible countries. In order to be eligible to receive NIHR Global Health Research funding, applications must demonstrate how they meet ODA compliance criteria and outline:
- Which country or countries on the OECD DAC list of ODA-eligible countries will directly benefit?
- How the application is directly and primarily relevant to the development challenges of those countries?
- How the outcomes will promote the health and welfare of a country or countries on the DAC list?
Where some of the research is not undertaken in an ODA-eligible country during the course of the award (including where a country graduates from the DAC list during the lifetime of the award or there is a need for specialist expertise) the application must clearly state the reasons for this with due consideration to the benefit of the research to ODA-eligible countries.
Applicants should ensure they have considered existing advice on ODA eligibility and that information on how the application for funding will be ODA-compliant is included in the application. Any queries about the ODA eligibility of programmes should be raised with the relevant NIHR Coordinating Centre as early as possible.
Further information on meeting the requirements for ODA eligibility can be found in the Official Development Assistance Guidance for Applicants and Peer Reviewers.
Stage 1 submission (where applicable)
At Stage 1 of a two-stage application process, applicants should provide a total figure for costs required to undertake the proposed research on the application form, as well as further details of the cost breakdown (in particular the anticipated split of funds between the UK, ODA-eligible countries and any other international parties) by uploading a completed Stage 1 Finance Summary Form. This is available for download on the relevant funding opportunity page.
The costing should be based on current prices. These costs will be used to assess value for money. It is in the applicant’s best interests to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing.
Eligible costs for NIHR Global Health Research programmes/awards are described below (under Stage 2 submission).
Proposal and Partnership Development Award
Applicants that are successful at Stage 1 of a Research and Innovation for Global Health Transformation (RIGHT) call and invited to submit a Stage 2 application are eligible to apply for a Proposal and Partnership Development Award (PPDA). PPDA provides funding of up to £10,000 to:
- support applicants to work collaboratively with all study partners to develop Stage 2 applications
- enhance/initiate partnerships and community engagement and involvement (CEI) activities to strengthen the research proposal
- initiate preparation of study governance documentation (i.e. due diligence and finance assurance policies)
To be considered for a PPDA applicants must complete a separate PPDA application (including PPDA Finance Summary Form) at the SAME time as completing their RIGHT Stage 1 application and submit this via RMS at the same time as the Stage 1 application by the Stage 1 application deadline. The PPDA Finance Summary Form is also available for download on the relevant RIGHT call funding opportunity page.
PPDA applications will be reviewed for those applicants that are successful at Stage 1. Those applicants that are rejected at Stage 1 will not be eligible for PPDA. Those applicants that are successful at Stage 1 will be notified of the outcome of their PPDA application at the same time.
Travel and subsistence
Travel by the most economic means possible is expected. All journeys by rail or air should be budgeted by a class of travel that is no higher than standard economy unless higher-class travel is required to comply with specific legislation. NIHR funding schemes do not fund first class travel. The claimant must seek prior approval from NIHR before making a booking for business class travel. Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with travel. All costs must be based on actual receipted expenditure. Alcohol and tobacco are not allowable subsistence items. Per diem payments for subsistence are not permitted.
Partnership formation and development costs
Costs associated with establishing any memorandum of understanding (MOUs) and governance policies with potential partners, undertaking due diligence and costs related to research plan/proposal development (i.e. funding needs analysis). Costs associated with face-to-face and virtual meetings with stakeholders which may include subscription fees for online meeting/web conferencing systems for the duration of the award, or the purchase of 4G dongles with limited data bundles for key stakeholders. PPDA does not support equipment purchase (e.g. webcam, headsets, microphones, or computers/laptops) and does not generally support upgrade of WiFi or broadband package subscription for an organisation.
PPDA funds can be used to develop meaningful Community Engagement and Involvement activities to enable people and communities to genuinely shape the research and input into CEI plans (as required in the Stage 2 application form). Costs can be claimed for CEI activities including, but not limited to: local expertise to understand specific contexts and to support the involvement of people and communities in proposal development; interpreters or translators; delivery of inclusive engagement activities tailored to the needs of communities at proposed study sites. This could include reasonable travel and subsistence costs to enable people to take part.
Please note: NIHR may challenge PPDA proposed costs that it does not consider appropriate or does not offer Value for Money, for example Business Class travel.
Applicants will be required to provide an invoice for actual spend and evidence of spend at the time of submitting the Stage 2 application. Lead Applicant organisations will need to pre-finance these activities once approved by NIHR.
It should be noted that all other costs, including staff costs are NOT eligible under the PPDA.
Contracted organisations are required to pre-finance PPDA activities if successfully awarded a PPDA. Applicants should not start spending/activities until their PPDA has been approved by NIHR.
Applicants are required to complete and submit a PPDA Claim Form (this link will open an Excel spreadsheet) to email@example.com within six months of the Stage 2 application being submitted. The PPDA Claim Form is also available for download on the relevant funding opportunity page.
The PPDA Claim Form should indicate itemised expenses claimed, together with evidence of spend and an invoice. Payment will only be processed once all evidence is provided. The minimum evidence required is the standard: evidence of approval of an expenditure (for example, authorisation to travel from contracted institution), payment evidence and evidence of travel for for travel expenditure.
For example, air travel will have ticket, travel authorization and evidence of payment, and local travel may have any form of approval and travel ticket.
Once NIHR receives the completed submission, it will be processed to be included in the next payment cycle of routine requests for reimbursements subject to approval.
During the course of the award, should you anticipate any changes in the approved expenditure forecast you are required to inform NIHR and seek prior approval before incurring the cost. The total budget should not exceed £10,000.
Single stage application process and Stage 2 of two stage NIHR Global Health Research funding
Applicants are required to complete the budget section in the application form relevant to the funding scheme and to provide a breakdown of costs associated with delivering proposed research plans.
For two-stage application process only, applicants will need to justify any significant material increase in costs from Stage 1 to Stage 2 application.
All funds must be requested at current price at the time of the submission and inflation must not be included. Annual inflationary uplifts may be awarded to successful applicants by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) depending on the available resources.
The information included within the application will be used to assess value for money. It is in the applicant’s best interest to undertake a thorough, realistic and accurate costing. Applicants must provide a clear and full justification for all costs, including all costs required to secure risk management and assurance appropriate to ODA funding. Further itemisation of costs and methods of calculation may be requested. Failure to provide a sound justification for expenditure will result in costs not being funded. The justification must be clear, concise, and substantiate why a cost is necessary.
Guidance on how to complete the form is contained within the budget section of the application form.
Programme years should be calculated starting from the anticipated start date of the proposed research. The start date should be on the first of the month, e.g. 1 September 2020. All costs must be reasonable, justifiable and compliant with the principles of robust financial management. Once the contract starts, expenditure must be identifiable, verifiable and recorded in accounts with applicable accounting standards. NIHR reserves the right to inspect the accounting records at any time.
Payments will be made to the contracted organisation only and the contracted organisation will be responsible for passing on any money due to their collaborating organisation(s) including those in LMICs. For more information on post-award reimbursement, please refer to the DHSC payment policy in the Financial Management Guidance for Awards funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA).
Applicants should ensure that all costs are converted and presented as GBP (£) in the application. The exchange rate used, as well as date / source of exchange rate should also be provided. Further information on managing exchange rate fluctuations during the lifetime of an award can be found in the Exchange Rates guidance.
Appropriate sub-contracts or collaboration agreements must be put in place for any element of the research which is to be paid to another organisation. It is recommended that downstream collaborator due diligence and negotiations of collaboration agreements are done in parallel to finalising the head contract with NIHR, to ensure any downstream collaboration agreement can be signed promptly as soon as the NIHR Research contract is signed.
All applications are expected to have appropriate input from Lead/Joint-lead institutions (as applicable), Co-applicant institutions and other relevant collaborating organisations into the completion of the finance section of the application form. Applicants should make sure the project is appropriately budgeted and that payments are scheduled in line with the needs of the project to ensure timely release of payments to downstream collaborators.
Once an award has been made, NIHR on behalf of DHSC will require Contractors to provide regular financial statements regarding the actual use of funds. As this funding must be ODA compliant, Contractors will also be required to forecast their expenditure on a quarterly basis on both a resource (accrual) basis.
- 1st Apr - 30th June
- 1st Jul – 30th Sep
- 1st Oct – 31st Dec
- 1st Jan – 31st Mar
The financial reports are due one month after the quarter end.
DHSC reserves the right to send independent auditors to the contracted organisation and to collaborating organisations involved in the research programme to confirm the actual use of funds.
Organisations which are unable to reclaim value added tax (VAT) should include costs inclusive of VAT, otherwise VAT must be excluded. Seek advice of your VAT expert to determine the VAT status of your organisation.
General principles for completing the budget section
- Costs may be amalgamated in the same cost category but it may be useful to itemise costs where that provides more clarity. In the description space for each cost, please describe the method of calculation or allocation for the cost in detail (e.g. Consortium annual meetings (3 people from UK at £1000 pp (flights and transfers) travelling to LMIC partners, once per year).
- Do not give lump sums where the costs include multiple cost categories or activities (e.g. Project travel costs - £10000 - these costs should be broken up into relevant cost categories).
- Do not assume that the reviewer will understand the cost but try to make it as clear as possible by providing detail in the description.
- Do not repeat in the description what has been completed in the form (e.g. where salaries are input into the form alongside %FTE, this does not need to be reiterated in the description), unless the additional description provides additional explanation.
- Do not repeat in the justification section of the application form the methods of calculation or cost descriptions already provided line by line.
- The justification must be clear, concise, and substantiate why a cost is necessary, evidencing that value for money (VfM) has been achieved - more guidance on VfM in Section 6 below.
Information on different types of organisations
Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), Research Institutes, and other collaborating organisations based in LMICs
For applications that include HEIs or Research Institutes based in LMICs (as listed on the OECD DAC list) as contracting organisation, 100% of direct and indirect costs will be funded.
UK higher education institutions (HEIs) should determine the full economic costing (FEC) of their research using Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) methodology. For HEIs in the UK, NIHR will fund 80% of the HEI’s FEC, provided the TRAC methodology has been used.
For applications that include NHS organisations, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. No indirect costs will be funded.
Other UK-based organisations
For applications that include other types of organisations based in the UK (e.g. charities, Research Institutes, commercial organisations etc), up to 100% of direct costs will be paid. Indirect costs can be requested and should be charged in proportion to the amount of staff effort requested on the funding application. The NIHR reserves the right to set limits to indirect costs charged.
Multilateral Organisations (MOs)
For applications that include Multilateral Organisations (MOs) as Co-applicant or Collaborator up to 100% of indirect costs will be paid. We recognise there is generally little scope to negotiate MO’s cost recovery/overhead rates (indirect costs) but we expect that applicants (contracting organisations) scrutinise the costing of any proposed collaboration with MOs to achieve good value for money. For example, by checking for obvious duplication of cost elements appearing in both cost recovery and administration charges and ensuring MOs provide the appropriate level of salary or travel costs.
The financial rules and regulations of some MOs mean they will often require advance payments before work on a project can start, but applicants should make sure the project is appropriately budgeted and that payments are scheduled in line with the needs of the project and not too far in advance.
Commercial and other collaborating organisations not based in LMICs or the UK
For commercial organisations, consultancies and other collaborating organisations not based in ODA-eligible LMICs or the UK, up to 100% of direct costs will be paid but no indirect costs will be supported for these organisations.
The sections below provide further details of the types of costs that can be claimed.
Direct costs are those ODA-eligible costs that will be incurred by the Contractor (and any Co-Applicants/Collaborators) in carrying out the proposed plans. These should be charged as the amount actually incurred and should be supported by an audit record. Eligible direct costs are listed in the sub-headings below.
Reasonable and proportionate staff costs can be requested. These should include relevant on-costs, such as employer’s contributions towards national insurance (or equivalent), pension and apprenticeship levy. Applicants must provide information supporting the rates applied for each type of employer contribution.
Staff costs should be based on current salary scales and include estimated increments. Once the programme is contracted, retrospective pay awards cannot be claimed. Estimated uplifts for inflation should not be included, however agreed multi-year pay awards may be included.
Salaries may be sought at a level appropriate to the skills, responsibilities and expertise necessary to carry out the role required.
Salaries for co-applicants and collaborators must be requested within this section of the application form, unless an individual is contributing to the project in kind.
Salaries that are already being fully or in-part funded by the NIHR must be declared in the justification of costs section and cannot be claimed for again.
There are specific and detailed requirements for monitoring, reporting and financial assurance relating to the distribution and use of ODA funds. Applicants are, therefore, strongly encouraged to include appropriate resource across all collaborating institutions for programme management, monitoring and evaluation, and financial management to support these requirements.
Student stipend costs, if applicable, should be included within the salary section (for further guidance on Stipends please see guidance in ‘Training and Development Costs’ section below).
Student fees should be included within “Training and Development Costs” (see further guidance in in ‘Training and Development Costs’ section below).
Travel, subsistence and conference costs
Travel and subsistence costs of collaborative working visits and engagement with potential stakeholders can be requested. Applicants may also request travel and subsistence costs for their programme advisory groups, steering committees, data monitoring and ethics committees. Travel and subsistence in relation to programme meetings, training and dissemination activities can also be claimed.
Amalgamation of costs for similar activities are encouraged (e.g. repeated travel to the same destination or for the same purpose). Where costs are amalgamated, a comprehensive breakdown of all costs should be provided in the description.
Applicants are required to consider value for money and environmental impact and consider whether a trip is necessary and whether alternative cheaper options (e.g. teleconferencing or video conferencing) offer a viable alternative.
Applicants are required to consider value for money and environmental impact and consider whether a trip is necessary and whether alternative cheaper options (e.g. teleconferencing or video conferencing) offer a viable alternative.
The purpose of the cost needs to be stated in the description, for example, monitoring, field travel, conference, etc. The various types of costs under this category must be specific, please select whether the costs relate to travel, subsistence, conference, meeting or other. Where the cost stated is for more than one person, the number of people the cost applies to should be stated in the description.
All journey by rail or air should be budgeted by a class of travel that is no higher than standard economy unless higher-class travel is required to comply with specific legislation. NIHR funding schemes do not fund first class travel.
For UK travel only: If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates. However, they should not exceed HMRC approved mileage allowances (45p per mile for the first 10,000 business miles and 25p per mile thereafter).
For international travel: all journeys must be charged according to the most appropriate (basic or standard) local rate.
Costs of visas required for travel specifically related to the programme, should be included within this section. If a visa covers travel across multiple projects the cost of the visa should be shared across all projects where possible but if not, only claimed once.
Subsistence covers accommodation (if necessary) and meals associated with travel. All cost must be based on actual receipted expenditure. Alcohol and tobacco are not allowable subsistence items. Per diem payments for subsistence are not permitted.
Conference attendance can be supported during the contract period where this is relevant for the funded project/programme and it supports individuals’ learning and development in that area. During the contract period as well as the period for dissemination (up to two years post-contract end date), conference attendance can also be supported for individuals where the attendee has submitted (and ideally been accepted for) an oral or poster presentation. Multiple attendances should only be considered where additional support is needed or there are issues with lone travel.
Where costs for attending national or international conference (fees, associated travel and subsistence) are requested, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the programme must be included. Failure to adequately justify the attendance at a conference may result in these costs not being funded.
Essential items of equipment (lease or purchase costs) including maintenance and other related costs can be requested. The proposed cost of all equipment to be purchased needs to be fully justified and all proposed costs should be good value for money. NIHR may challenge proposed costs that it does not consider appropriate or does not offer value for money. Further guidance on VfM is contained in section 6.
Applicants are expected to have assessed their equipment needs at application stage and included costs within their application costings. It is also expected that equipment is purchased in a timely fashion to enable maximum benefit to the project/programme. Plans for purchasing equipment or to repurpose underspends to fund equipment in the last 12 months of a contract are not normally supported.
UK HEIs who claim FEC cannot request equipment items that are included within the estates element of FEC.
NHS equipment costs will not be funded by NIHR Global Health Research funding.
Equipment purchased for use in the UK or other HIC contracted/collaborating organisations would not normally be supported. If equipment is required for this use, a clear justification must be provided, including as to how the purchase will be of the direct and primary benefit to the people living in ODA-eligible countries.
Costs of computers are limited to a maximum of £1000 per item. This includes the cost of any associated software and VAT.
Amalgamation of costs for similar types/items of equipment are encouraged. Where costs are amalgamated, a comprehensive breakdown of all costs should be provided in the description.
Statements of justification must be included in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchases as follows:
- computers (including the cost of associated software and VAT) above £1000 (or equivalent in local currency) per item
- vehicles (including motorbikes, cars or other modes of motorised transport equipment) of any value
- items of equipment valued at £10,000 or more (or equivalent in local currency)
The statement of justification must cover the following:
- a clear description of the research need for the equipment and their proposed use;
- a clear value for money (VfM) analysis (the analysis should take into account realistic use of the equipment);
- where applicable, a VfM analysis of purchasing versus leasing (e.g. vehicles or other large equipment)
- that adequate insurance and maintenance plans will be in place and budgeted for;
- assurance that due consideration has been given to risk (fraud and otherwise) and sustainability beyond contract end.
NIHR reserves the right to request a full justification on lower value items of equipment.
NIHR considers any equipment and/or supplies purchased in part or fully from ODA funds as programme assets if they have a useful life of more than one year; and either
- the purchase price or development cost of the asset is in excess of £500 or equivalent in local currency; or
- is a group of lower value items (e.g. pharmaceutical products, food, relief packs, etc.) where the combined value is in excess of £500 or equivalent in local currency; or
- can be considered an attractive item regardless of cost (e.g. mobile phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, satellite phones, vehicles, etc.).
NIHR Contractors are expected to keep an up-to-date asset register, and report this to the NIHR on an annual basis.
At the end of the programme, the equipment will remain the property of the relevant Collaborator or the Contractor and must continue to be used for ODA-eligible activities. As part of the project closure documentation, NIHR Contractors will be requested to submit an Asset Disposal Plan (ADP) clearly outlining the final intention for assets.
Consumable items are normally items which will generally be used up or discarded during the lifecycle of the programme/project, including (but not limited to):
- any laboratory supplies, such as substances, compounds, specific chemicals etc, which have been specifically bought for the individual research need and once used, cannot be sold or reused in other programmes
- consumable equipment which durable goods / specific machinery needs to operate e.g. vials
- stationery such as printing of leaflets etc
Applicants should itemise and describe the requirements fully (e.g. printing of leaflets, postage, etc.). These items should be specific to the research programme, not just general office costs.
A statement of justification must be included in the ‘Justification of Costs’ section for any purchases of consumables valued at £5000 or more (or equivalent currency) per single item. Where high quantities of consumables are required the applicant must name or describe briefly the inventory control processes and policies.
Community engagement and involvement
Applicants should include realistic costs for CEI considering the UNICEF Minimum Standards for Community Engagement. Involving people in the programme requires resources in terms of time and monetary payments. It is really important to account for the costs of involvement at an early stage. These are likely to include:
- payments in recognition of time, skills and expertise
- out of pocket expenses such as travel and subsistence
- training and learning costs – training and induction for members of the public may be required for many involvement activities, payment for time for policy makers and other stakeholders and any relevant support costs. All costs should be itemised and described.
Please refer to our core guidance for Global Health Research funding for useful resources in relation to community engagement and involvement.
Costs associated with presentation of findings and activities to support policy uptake in LMICs can be claimed as part of the dissemination costs. These may include meetings to share best practice and events to disseminate research findings. All events must be run at the lowest possible cost with minimal catering.
Hosting ‘Conferences’, which are described as such (e.g. requiring attendees to pay a joining/attendance fee or remunerating speakers), are not eligible for funding.
Conference attendance can be supported during the period for dissemination (up to two years after the end of the contract) for individuals where the attendee has submitted (and ideally been accepted for) an oral or poster presentation. Multiple attendances should only be considered where additional support is needed or there are issues with lone travel. Conference attendance for learning and development only is not an eligible dissemination activity and cannot be claimed after the end of the contract.
Where costs for attending a conference (fees, associated travel and subsistence) are requested, a statement naming the conference or purpose of travel and the benefit to the programme may be requested by NIHR. Failure to adequately justify the attendance at a conference may result in these costs not being funded.
Salaries incurred after the end date of the award will not be funded.
Open access costs
Applicants should no longer include Open Access costs as part of their stage 2 detailed budget research costs.
From 1 June 2022, all contracts issued across NIHR Programmes, NIHR Personal Awards and NIHR Global Health Research Portfolio will have an Open Access funding envelope allocated to them on top of the award value, which is ring-fenced for Open Access costs of peer reviewed research articles that arise directly from the research funded by the award. This funding envelope supports contractors with the implementation of the NIHR Open Access policy and will be allocated during the contracting phase and will be based on the size of the overall contract value.
Find further information in the Open Access Funding Guidance.
Risk management and assurance
Costs associated with proportionate risk management and assurance may be requested as part of this application for funding. There are specific requirements for monitoring and financial assurance relating to the distribution and use of ODA funds.
To make effective arrangements for risk management and assurance, Applicants should consider the financial systems and financial management capacity of Co-Applicants / Collaborators and the level of risk within the country, and tailor the assurance and monitoring processes appropriately. The Good Financial Grants Practice (GFGP) may be used in order to identify gaps in financial capacity, governance, systems etc.
GFGP audits and accreditation costs can be requested. Please consider that these costs can only be requested once per organisation, and should not be claimed across multiple NIHR programmes/calls.
Costs specific to safeguarding activities are also permitted, including but not limited to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks or other statutory background checks, training, workshops and other safeguarding strengthening activities.
Breakdown of all costs and activities must be provided. Any large costs should be further detailed with a breakdown of constituent parts or a timescale profile of the costs. (e.g. due diligence cost would be expected to be profiled within the early stages of the programme)
UK statutory audit costs are not eligible direct costs.
Audits conducted in LMICs may be eligible direct costs, provided these are project audits (PA) / formal Project Expenditure Verifications (PEV). Where a PA/PEV is done as part of a statutory audit, the cost can be claimed if there are substantial project specific audits (PSA) which are referenced or embedded in statutory accounts or as a stand-alone PEV report.
Training and development costs
In Global Health Research programme applications, funds can be requested for a range of activities, for example:
- full, partial formal training posts (including but not limited to BSc, MSc, MPhil, MRes, PhD, Post docs)
- training in technical research skills and personal development skills
- other wider institutional capacity strengthening activities such as finance management, research management, data management, legal compliance and assurance training
- institutional systems for coaching, mentoring and/or peer-mentorship
These activities can be delivered through a range of mechanisms, such as through courses, workshops, exchanges and other relevant training activities.
Events to share best practice and training workshops such as sending out colleagues to provide specific training to their counterparts in ODA eligible countries can be requested within this section.
English language training in the context of all studentships is an eligible cost, provided clear justification and a strong value for money argument are given.
Please note, organisations claiming indirect costs as part of Full Economic Costing (FEC) are not permitted to claim costs for general training (e.g. common IT/software packages). All eligible training should be included as Direct costs.
NIHR will fund full studentship costs of formal academic training courses for ODA-eligible LMIC national students, who are registered to attend a LMIC or HIC institution. All studentships will be considered, including but not limited to Masters or Postdoctoral degrees provided they are co-terminus with the award. The course may be taught via distance/remote learning or in person, or a combination of both.
Please note: In Global Health Research Programme applications, HIC HEI student fees or associated stipend costs are eligible only for ODA-eligible LMIC national students. Student fees or stipends for HIC national students would not be eligible, regardless of the programme and location of study.
In cases where the application includes LMIC national student fees at a HIC institution (often charged at higher rates for international students), it is expected that the relevant (Joint) Lead Applicant will negotiate with the HIC institution for reduced fees for the LMIC candidate to bring them in line with those paid by nationals. Application for funding should show evidence of fees being reduced. NIHR would require justification where only partial or no LMIC student fee reductions have been achieved.
It is expected that studentships are co-terminus with the award. Therefore, where PhDs are being included as part of formal training plans, funding awards should be for a minimum of 48 months to allow time for recruitment and completion of training within the funded award period.
NIHR understands that it is common practice to provide stipends to PhD and Post-Doctoral students, however for NIHR Global Health Research funded programmes they also apply to all other academic formal training courses, so long as support or salary is not received from another source during the period of the training course.
It is expected that stipends are only claimed where students are enrolled in a course of a minimum duration of 12 months, unless there is a clear justification for providing stipend for shorter durations.
Stipends can be claimed by LMIC national students, regardless of whether they are registered at a HEI in an ODA-eligible country or HIC.
LMIC national students undertaking formal training course delivered via distance/remote learning registered at a UK or other HIC HEI may have to attend residential training in the HIC as part of their course. Where this is the case, stipend costs can be claimed only for the time spent in the HIC as part of the course.
LMIC national students will be expected to adhere to the stipend policy of the sponsoring organisation, and a copy of the policy should be submitted to NIHR.
Stipends are expected to cover living costs such as subsistence, routine travel and accommodation. Additional costs such as conference attendance, research expenses and international travel are not covered by the stipend, and should be included in the relevant section of the proposed project/programme costing, where applicable.
Please note, student stipend costs, if applicable, should be included within the salary section of the Finance Form.
For Career Development Awards such as NIHR Global Research Professorships, applicants should refer to the specific scheme guidance on research training and development.
Other direct costs
These are costs, not identified elsewhere, that are specifically attributed to the NIHR Global Health Research programme/award. For example, external consultancy costs, software licensing, and trial advertising costs.
Please note that external consultants must not be people who are already employed by the contracting institution or any other Co-Applicants/Collaborators involved in the programme. All employees must be shown under staff costs. Any consultancy costs must be justified, and the number of days and a daily rate must be stated.
Translation costs of programme specific documents can also be claimed as long as these can be supported by an audit record.
Ethical and other regulatory approval specific to the proposed research can also be requested as part of “Other Direct Costs”.
Indirect costs and overheads
Indirect costs may include but are not limited to:
- general office and basic laboratory consumables
- premises costs
- library services/learning resources
- finance (including audit), personnel, public relations and departmental services
- usage costs of major research facilities
- central and distributed computing
- charge out rates for shared equipment
- cost of capital employed
- statutory audits
UK HEIs may request indirect costs and estates that form part of Full Economic Costing (FEC). These are calculated on the number of full-time equivalent research effort working on the programme. 80% of these costs will be funded. Indirect costs will be scrutinised as part of Value for Money assessment and therefore these costs must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the overall research.
UK HEI indirect costs cannot be claimed on shared or support staff costs.
ODA-eligible LMIC institutions may include actual and real costs of undertaking the research in low-resource settings. Indirect costs can be claimed and should normally be charged in proportion to the total amount of staff effort (research and support staff) requested in the application for funding. Where LMIC organisations prefer to use a different methodology for calculating indirect costs, calculation methods for these should be clearly stated.
The justification of costs section should include explanation as to what services and resources are included within the indirect costs budget envelope.
UK NHS organisations
NHS organisations cannot claim any indirect costs through NIHR Global Health Research programmes.
Multilateral Organisations (MOs)
Indirect costs charged by Multilateral Organisations can be claimed but we expect that applicants (contracting institutions) scrutinise the costing of any proposed collaboration with MOs to achieve good value for money. For example, by checking for obvious duplication of cost elements appearing in both cost recovery and administration charges and ensuring MOs provide the right level of costing across all other direct budget lines (e.g. no excessive charges for salary levels or travel costs).
Indirect costs of other collaborating organisations based in ODA-eligible countries or the UK can be claimed and should be charged in proportion to the amount of staff effort requested on the funding application form.
High Income Country (HIC) organisations (non-UK)
Indirect costs for collaborating institutions based in HICs (other than the UK) cannot be claimed.
All indirect costs requested as part of application must be fully justified as to why these costs are being requested and how they will contribute to the delivery of the objectives of the programme.
The following costs are not eligible under NIHR Global Health Research programmes/awards:
- any costs that cannot be classed as ODA-eligible as defined by the OECD (this link will open a PDF document)
- cost associated with lobbying or any other political or exclusively religious activities
- first and Business class travel
- per diem costs for travel and subsistence for all staff employed on the programme
- alcohol and tobacco
- UK NHS support and treatment costs
- establishing and running new bio-banks
- fines and penalties
- costs already funded by NIHR or any other public organisations
- payments reimbursed or to be reimbursed by other funding
- contributions in kind (i.e. contributions in goods or services as opposed to money)
- VAT reclaimable from HMRC
- interest payments
- inflation or foreign exchange rate contingency
- funding will not be provided to meet the costs of basic research
- NHS Equipment costs will not be funded by NIHR Global Health Research funding
- capital investments in new buildings
Organisations claiming indirect costs as part of Full Economic Costing (FEC) are not permitted to claim costs such as staff recruitment (including advertising), redundancy costs, general training (e.g. common IT packages) and general office costs (e.g. non-programme specific printing and photocopying) as these are covered by the indirect costs envelope.
Justification of costs
Justification for all resources requested should be provided in the appropriate part of the NIHR application form.
The justification must be clear, concise, and substantiate why a cost is necessary. Do not repeat in the justification section of the application form the methods of calculation or cost descriptions already provided line by line.
Please provide a full justification for indirect costs requested clearly stating the methodology used to calculate these costs, what services and resources they include, and how they represent a good value for money.
The NIHR requires evidence of good value for money within the justification of costs and considers this to be the optimal use of resources to achieve the intended outcomes. ‘Optimal’ being considered as ‘the most desirable possible given expressed or implied restrictions or constraints’. Value for money goes beyond achieving the lowest initial price and includes consideration of Economy, Efficiency, Effectiveness, and Equity (as appropriate) and what these mean in the context of a research proposal:
Economy: Are we buying inputs of the appropriate quality at the right price? (Inputs are things such as staff, consultants, raw materials and capital that are used to produce outputs)
Efficiency: How well do we convert inputs into outputs? (Outputs are results delivered by us or our agents to an external party. We exercise strong control over the quality and quantity of outputs)
Effectiveness: How well are the outputs from an intervention achieving the desired outcome? (Note that in contrast to outputs, we do not exercise direct control over outcomes)
Equity: the extent to which the outputs of our interventions are equitably distributed.
A UK Aid Direct guide to Value for Money may be a useful resource.
Please contact the NIHR if you have any queries when completing the budget section of the application form, using the contact details provided in the call guidance.