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NIHR Global Health Research - Financial Management Guidance for Awards funded through Official Development Assistance (ODA)


Published: 29 November 2021

Version: 2.0 - June 2023

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Purpose of this guidance

The purpose of this document is to outline minimum NIHR and Official Development Assistance (ODA) requirements for organisations that are in receipt of NIHR Global Health Research funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in relation to good financial practice. This guidance complements the NIHR’s Host Organisation Finance Expectation Guidance issued to Contracted Organisations funded through non-ODA NIHR funding.

It should be read in conjunction with the relevant published funding call finance guidance from which a research award was funded.


This policy covers various aspects of good financial practice of all NIHR Global Health Research projects, programmes and awards, funded through ODA.

Responsibilities of Contracted Organisations

The term Contracted Organisation refers to the organisation holding the NIHR contract with DHSC. Contracted Organisations are accountable for the effective and appropriate use of all NIHR ODA funds and should be familiar with the relevant clauses relating to financial management in the NIHR Global Health Research contract (in particular sections 2 and 4).

It is the responsibility of the Contracted Organisations to ensure they undertake proportionate financial controls and assess the needs for institutional audits to provide assurance over the funds being transferred to collaborating organisations or subcontractors.

Due diligence checks for all collaborators/subcontractors must be undertaken prior to signing collaboration agreements/subcontracts. It is essential that all Contracted Organisations assess the legal and financial set-up, governance, management, internal processes, systems and procedures of all their collaborators/subcontractors to ensure they are suitable for a contractual relationship.

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.

Contracted Organisations should have in place controls relating to the flow of funds which are proportionate to the risks and amounts of money involved and take due regard to value for money and propriety of expenditure. It is the responsibility of the Contracted Organisation to provide funding to downstream collaborators for their expenditure on the project in a timely manner and systems and resources should be in place to ensure this can be achieved by the time work commences.

Details of all controls, due diligence checks and accounting records in relation to the transfer and appropriate use of funds by all collaborators and subcontractors must be available on request by the NIHR.

Contracted Organisations must be prepared to:

  • provide reasonable assistance to NIHR in relation to the audit and examination of all financial records relating to the NIHR award
  • compile regular financial reports on behalf of all collaborators/subcontractors involved in the NIHR award

Reporting Misconduct

It is the responsibility of all Contracted Organisations receiving research funds, or that are in any other way supported by NIHR, to have clearly documented, transparent and fair procedures for managing and investigating allegations or incidents of research misconduct as defined by the NIHR Policy on Reporting Misconduct Incidents Related to NIHR-funded Research. The UK Research Integrity Office provides a recommended procedure for the investigation of misconduct in research which can be used as a model by organisations.

Contracted Organisations are also responsible under this Policy for their downstream collaborating organisations and/or service level providers, and which are involved in any aspect of the performance of the research award on behalf of the contractor.

NIHR must be informed of an allegation or the assessment/investigation of an allegation as soon as possible by the Contracted Organisation, using the NIHR reporting form. If the Contracted Organisation assesses that there are evidence-based grounds to carry out a formal investigation, then NIHR must be informed of:

  • the name(s) of the relevant award(s) and lead investigator(s)
  • the nature of the allegation
  • the terms of reference for the investigation, including the membership of the investigating committee and expected timelines

Over the course of the investigation, the contracted organisation must provide NIHR with regular reports on progress. A final report must be submitted within the timeframe agreed. It must cover:

  • how the investigation was conducted
  • the evidence gathered
  • conclusions drawn and the basis of those conclusions
  • agreed summary of the opinions provided by respondent(s)

The DHSC requires the NIHR to report annually on all notified incidents and their status. NIHR will log and continuously review the status of any investigations. In exceptional circumstances, the NIHR may request its own investigation into alleged misconduct reported directly or indirectly to NIHR by organisations or individuals.

For fraud concerns or incidents, please send the completed form to DHSC’s Anti-Fraud Unit ( or and your NIHR Programme or Research Manager or specific point of contact (SPOC).

For safeguarding and security concerns or incidents, please send the completed form to

ODA eligibility

NIHR Global Health Research awards are funded via the UK Government’s commitment to Official Development Assistance (ODA). This funding supports high-quality applied health research for the direct and primary benefit of people in low and middle-income countries (LMICs), as defined by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) and listed on the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) list.

In order to be eligible to receive NIHR Global Health Research funding, all research activity expenditure must meet ODA compliance criteria throughout the life of the contract period.

Please refer to specific ODA guidance:


The lead applicant should be the main point of contact at the Contracted Organisation, and their designated NIHR Research/Programme Manager should be the specific point of contact (SPOC) within the NIHR.

Contracted Organisations need to be proactive in updating the NIHR on award activity and expenditure. As soon as it becomes apparent that scheduled payments no longer match the profiled level of forecast expenditure on the award (whether this is through underspends or overspends), the NIHR SPOC should be contacted.

Contracted Organisations must be proactive in communicating with collaborators and subcontractors throughout the life of the award, to ensure they are fully aware of the level of activities and expenditure.

DHSC payment policy

By default, DHSC will make payments quarterly in arrears. Payments are made towards the end of the final month of the financial year quarter. Monthly payments may be made if specifically requested and justified by the Contracted Organisation.

In line with HM Treasury’s rules on Managing Public Money, DHSC does not intentionally make payments in advance of need nor does it permit Contracted Organisations to have deferred income balances on its contracts. Thus, payment schedules will be regularly adjusted on the basis of information provided in quarterly finance reports (QSTOX) to manage any potential build-up of funds being held by the Contracted Organisation.

Programmes/projects should be appropriately budgeted at the outset to ensure that payments are scheduled in line with needs. Where there is a need for sufficient funds to be held to i.e cover daily costs of research activities such as salaries, these should be appropriately profiled from the start of the contract to ensure payments throughout the delivery chain can be made in a timely way. Ensuring such funds are available for smooth running of a project does not constitute being ‘in advance of need’.

Any payments released by the Contracted Organisation to any collaborator/subcontractor in advance of need are made at their own risk.

NIHR will only agree reprofiles during the QSTOX review or Variation to Contract process that are based on robust and achievable spending plans provided by the Contracted Organisation. NIHR may reprofile underspends incurred to the last year of the contract for awards that repeatedly report underspends or may reduce the overall value of the contract to prevent further risk. All revised and proposed payment schedules, that overwrite original and prior schedules, will need to be agreed by the NIHR SPOC.

NIHR will retain the greater of £100,000 or 5% of the total award value until the final report is received/validated and the Final Statement of Expenditure (FSTOX) had been checked and authorised by NIHR finance colleagues.

Financial Management and Reporting

Quarterly statement of expenditure (QSTOX)

NIHR will require Contracted Organisations to provide quarterly financial statements of expenditure (QSTOX) detailing the actual use of funds and forecasted future expenditure.

The submission quarters are:

  • 1 April to 30 June
  • 1 July to 30 September
  • 1 October to 31 December
  • 1 January to 31 March

QSTOX are due one month after the quarter end.

All financial returns submitted to NIHR must be completed in conjunction with and agreed by appropriate finance colleagues of Contracted Organisations.

Expenditure reported should equal the cost Contracted Organisations have recognised in their income and expenditure account, statement of comprehensive income (SOCI) or other relevant performance statements that are prepared on an accruals (resource) basis.

Please note, as per Section 4 of the research contract, financial returns may be audited or subject to spot checks. NIHR will request a financial ledger report from the Contracted and Collaborating Organisation’s accounting system(s) with QSTOX, which must reconcile with the figures submitted. NIHR may select a sample of transactions for further examination and request contractors to provide the supporting documentation where required.

Contracted Organisations need to comply with reporting deadlines set by the NIHR Coordinating Centre - these are the agents managing the Global Health Research funding competitions and the research contracts subsequently awarded. Late submissions may result in NIHR Coordinating Centres forecasting inaccurate figures to DHSC and to HM Treasury. Please note, NIHR reserves the right to suspend all payments to awards until financial returns are submitted.

As the funding for NIHR Global Health Research awards comes from the UK Government, payments must adhere to HM Treasury rules for managing public funds (Managing Public Money). These rules are reflected in the guidelines.

Final financial statement of expenditure (FSTOX)

A final financial statement of expenditure (FSTOX) is required to enable NIHR to meet its responsibilities in accounting for the use of public funds. FSTOX must be completed and returned within the following timescales based on the total award amount:

• total award amount less than £1m  within 1 month after end date
• total award amount between £1m and £3m  within 2 months after end date
• total award amount more than £3m  within 3 months after end date

The statement must detail the expenditure incurred during the lifetime of the project against the approved budget. Any significant movements of funds (the lower of £5000 or 10%) between expenditure headings and institutions must be fully justified. NIHR reserves the right to reject any unauthorised virements.

Estimated costs for dissemination activities should be included in the final statement of expenditure (FSTOX). A full breakdown of these costs must be provided. All dissemination activities must be finished within 24 months after the end date of the award. NIHR reserves the right to request evidence of such expenditure. See section 11 for further guidance

NIHR will ask for a full transactional breakdown (List of Transactions -LOT) at the time the FSTOX is submitted. The LOT must be in Excel with key details for fields such as date of transaction, name of the organisation/subcontractor, transaction number, type of expenditure, payee details (supplier, employee, etc), transactional currency, exchange rate (if applicable), GBP, and any other relevant chart fields. The LOT can be in any format agreed by the Contracted Organisation/project provided it contains the accounting chart fields. NIHR will ask for documentary evidence and justification for a selected sample of transactions. Any ineligible expenditure will be recovered.

Virements and changes to programmes of work

Contracted Organisations and their collaborators/subcontractors are free to manage their budgets as detailed in the funded application form, which is included within Section 4 of the contract. However, some types of changes to work or spend plans, defined as ‘Change to Programme’, need approval from the NIHR. The processing/approval times for requests for changes depend on the completeness of requests and their complexity.


Virement is the authority to move part of one expenditure heading to supplement another expenditure heading. For the purposes of this guidance NIHR considers virements to be in the following situations:

  • movements of funds between Staff Cost, Non-staff Costs and Indirect costs
  • movements of funds between institutions
  • movements of funds to undertake activities not outlined in the approved research plan

Please note, UK HEIs (Higher Education Institutions) are not permitted to increase their indirect costs allocation through this process.

Virements of under £20,000 in a rolling 12-month period are allowed without approval of NIHR. NIHR should be notified of these virements through the quarterly financial reporting process.

Large virements or any new virement once the £20,000 limit has been reached require prior approval of NIHR.

Virements to undertake activities that did not form part of the original research plan require NIHR approval regardless of value.

NIHR approval for virements is sought through the Change to Programme (CtP) process. Some examples of changes that would require a CtP include, but not limited to:

Financial changes:

  • virement of funds > £20k
  • multiple virements >£20k which exceed £100k in a rolling 12 month period
  • requests to buy equipment, vehicles, consumables, or install infrastructure not listed in the approved for funding research proposal

Additionally, Change to Programme requests must be submitted for:

  • changes to work packages or deliverables described in the application  please contact your SPOC to agree if a Change to Programme or Variation to Contract is required for proposed changes to work programmes which will be dependent on the scale of the changes
  • adding a new collaborator/subcontractor
  • substantive changes to key project staff (due to staff leaving including parental leave, retiring, illness, etc.)

The above requests do not require Variations to Contract but will follow an internal approvals system.

Variations to Contract

Examples of requests that require Variations to Contract include:

  • change of contracting (Joint) Lead Investigator or non-contracting Joint Lead investigator
  • change of Contracted Organisation
  • any change to contract length
  • any reduction in project budget
  • significant changes to contracted programmes of work i.e. major areas will now not be delivered or a significant new area or research/work package has been identified  please contact your SPOC to agree if a Change to Programme or Variation to Contract is required for proposed changes to work programmes which will be dependent on the scale of the changes
  • changes to Intellectual Property arrangements
  • increase in project budget*

No Cost Extensions will be considered where they enable completion of formal NIHR-funded training posts following unplanned circumstances and delays or where there is a period of parental/maternity leave.

* Requests for additional funding

Requests for additional funds fall into the following two categories:

1. Additional funds to complete contracted activities

As a principle, use of underspend should always be explored in the first instance and Change to Programme requests considered to vire funds.

Requests for additional funds to complete contracted work will be only be considered by exception. It is expected all activities will be completed by the end of the contractual period.

However, we recognise that the current higher level of inflation is increasing costs in research. NIHR aims to ensure that the cost of research is properly recompensed, therefore we will fund appropriate, evidenced inflationary price increases, including pay deals, within current contracts. Researchers should present evidence justifying any additional inflationary costs at contract close, with any pre-close pressures managed through normal contract management

If you require additional funds to complete contracted activities, please ask for further information from your SPOC.

2. Additional funds to complete follow-on work

NIHR will consider requests for up to 5% of the original contract value where a strong case can be made these additional costs will significantly enhance the impact of an NIHR award to its target beneficiaries. In general costs can be requested for:

  • enhanced dissemination of research outcomes to ensure knowledge exchange and research uptake into policy/practice (e.g., knowledge mobilisation activities, policy/community engagement, etc.)
  • endeavours to facilitate implementation of an intervention developed during the research programme
  • follow-on work to explore other perspectives (e.g. new geographies) arising from the programme
  • additional secondary data analyses to answer new research questions (i.e. not questions included in the initial programme)
  • additional intellectual property (IP) exploitation or commercialisation activities

Please contact your SPOC for details on how to make a request for a costed extension for follow-on work.

Process for requesting a Change to Programme or a Variation to Contract

Contracted Organisations will be required to submit a Change to Programme and Variation to Contract requests through their SPOC. When a change is requested the research team will be asked to complete a template and provide:

  • the rationale for the change
  • asummary of the change being requested and contracting implications
  • (where applicable) a justification for purchasing equipment covering:
    • 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
  • an analysis of the following:
    • impact of the change on delivery of the originally approved programme
    • risks introduced and their mitigation
    • impact on costs
    • impact on ODA compliance including capacity building
    • value for money
  • a revised budget

Contracted Organisations should draft these requests in a clear and concise manner and should consider that they are reviewed by different NIHR staff members (across finance and programme departments) who may not be fully familiar with all the details of the programme/award. This will help ensure requests are processed as swiftly as possible.

Foreign exchange rate management

Please refer to Financial Guidance for NIHR Global Health Research Programme Contract Holders - Exchange Rates for guidance on how to deal with foreign currency denominated transactions, that is any currency other than the contract currency, GBP (UK Sterling, £).

Accrual management

NIHR requires Contracted Organisations to account for financial expenditure on an accrual (resource) basis rather than a cash basis. Therefore, the cost of activities of the Contracted Organisation and their collaborators/subcontractors should be accounted for in the period the activities took place rather than when cash payments are incurred.

This will require the Contracted Organisation to be proactive when monitoring collaborator/subcontractor activities so that appropriate accrual entries can be made.

Accrual entries should be made on a monthly basis to ensure in-year expenditure updates reflect appropriate levels of activities.

NIHR does not expect underspends to be reported due to late invoicing by collaborators/subcontractors.


Forecasting needs to be realistic as this will inform future payment schedules. From a finance management perspective, it is better for under/overspends to be reported as early in the financial year as possible to enable NIHR to redistribute funds to other areas.

The NIHR Global Health Research portfolio forms part of the wider DHSC ODA budget. Accurate forecasting of ODA expenditure is also essential on a calendar year basis as DHSC contributes to meeting the government’s legal requirement towards a percentage spend of Gross National Income (GNI) on ODA each calendar year. HM Treasury closely monitors DHSC ODA calendar year forecasts against target spend and future DHSC funding may be at risk if DHSC forecasts are not delivered.

Please note, Contracted Organisations may be audited if forecast performance is deemed inaccurate.

Cost centre allocation

For audit and reporting purposes, Contracted Organisations and collaborators/subcontractors are expected to allocate award funds to a unique cost centre that is used solely for an NIHR award. Virement between award cost centres should not be permitted, i.e. no cross funding virements.
Having dedicated costs centres should reduce the time required to produce financial reports.

NIHR Maternity/Parental Leave Policy

In addition to covering the salary costs for maternity cover posts, NIHR will cover reasonable costs of enhanced maternity pay (costs over and above what can be reclaimed for statutory maternity pay) and shared parental pay (where working parents share leave usually during the first year after their child is born or placed with their family) for any posts directly funded through NIHR awards and where these costs are not already covered elsewhere.

Costs will be provided in line with the relevant UK/local partner organisation’s maternity pay policy. Policies must be made available on request. Part-time costs will be paid pro-rata.

Maternity/shared parental leave costs must be reported through the QSTOX when a staff member goes on leave. NIHR will continue to make payments on the basis of actual expenditure incurred. No additional funds will be allocated at this time. If at the end of the project the award is overspent due to maternity/parental leave costs, NIHR will increase the final budget at this stage.

NIHR will usually only cover costs incurred during the period of the contract. No Cost Extensions will be considered where they enable completion of formal NIHR-funded training posts following a period of maternity/parental leave. The length of any extension request should be reasonable and in line with local policies.


Any equipment funded by a NIHR Global Health Research award must be purchased in accordance with procurement procedures of the acquiring organisation in a manner that delivers value for money and is consistent with ODA eligibility rules. Furthermore, when purchasing equipment, Contracted Organisations and their collaborators/subcontractors must also ensure that it can be adequately maintained and insured for all appropriate risks during the lifetime of the project, and there is an agreed handover of responsibility for the item at the end of the project.

Contracted and Collaborating Organisations are expected to have assessed their equipment needs at application stage and included costs within their application budgets. 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 request to repurpose underspends to fund equipment in the last 12 months of a contract are not normally supported. Any such requests will be carefully scrutinis ed.

NIHR reserves the right to inspect the original quotations and invoices and may recover any funds provided for the purchase if the documentary evidence is not provided.

UK Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) who claim Full Economic Costing (FEC) cannot request equipment items that are included within the estates element of FEC. Equipment purchased and owned by the NHS is not eligible for NIHR Global Health Research funding.

Equipment purchased for use in the UK or other HIC (High Income Country) contracted/collaborating organisations would not normally be supported. If equipment is required for this use in the UK, a clear justification must be provided, including how the purchase will be of the direct and primary benefit to people living in ODA-eligible countries.

Costs of computers and laptops are limited to a maximum of £1000 per item. This includes the cost of any associated software and VAT.

Clear justification needs to be provided for 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
  • 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
  • can be considered an attractive item regardless of cost (e.g. mobile phones, cameras, laptops, tablets, satellite phones, vehicles, etc.)

Contracted Organisations are expected to keep an up-to-date asset register, and report this to the NIHR on an annual basis using the proforma template.

At the end of the award, 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, Contracted Organisations will be requested to submit an Asset Disposal Plan (ADP) clearly outlining the final intention for assets.

Travel, Subsistence and Conferences

Travel and subsistence costs of collaborative working visits and engagement with stakeholders can be claimed as part of NIHR Global Health Research award. Organisations involved in the project may also claim 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.

Contracted Organisations, collaborators and subcontractors are required to consider value for money and environmental impact and consider whether a trip is necessary and whether alternative cheaper options (e.g. tele-conferencing or video conferencing) offer a viable alternative.

All claims for expenditure must be accompanied by a proof of actual expenditure incurred in a way of receipts or invoices.

Per diem payments are not supported by NIHR; neither the contractor nor collaborator / subcontractor are permitted to charge per diem.

Individuals may choose their own form of transport subject to the overriding consideration of value for money. The forms of transport claimants may use in order of NIHR preference:

  • public transport – rail, underground, coach, bus, aircraft, ferry
  • privately owned vehicles
  • taxis

Public Transport

All journeys by rail or air should be made by a class of travel that is no higher than standard economy unless higher-class travel is required to comply with specific legislation. NIHR approval is required prior to making bookings for premium or business class travel. NIHR funding schemes do not fund first class travel.

The broad principle for travel booking is that all travel tickets are pre-booked in advance as this will usually reduce costs. For example in the UK, pre-booking a train journey is usually cheaper than open ‘anytime’ tickets. Open ‘anytime’ tickets should only be booked by exception where there is no certainty over the timing.

Individuals may upgrade to a higher class of travel at their own or employing institution’s expense, but NIHR will only reimburse the eligible travel costs in accordance with this policy. Quotes for standard/economy class for the same dates of travel must be submitted as part of the claim.

Sufficient documentary evidence (e.g. receipts, tickets, invoices and boarding passes) for all journeys must be kept and provided for inspection to NIHR when requested.

Loyalty programmes

Air miles or other points accrued to an individual as a result of travel as part of NIHR project activities must be used to offset future NIHR related journey. A particular airline, hotel scheme etc. should not be chosen solely to collect points.

NIHR will not reimburse travel where personal loyalty points were used to book travel or accommodation and the cash equivalent is charged to a project funded by NIHR.

Mileage in privately owned vehicles

The driver is responsible for ensuring the vehicle is in roadworthy condition, licensed, appropriately insured and has a valid MOT (UK) or equivalent vehicle licensing regulation in LMIC or any other country where the travel takes place.

The mileage rates are based on a single round trip i.e. a trip from home to another location for business and back again. The trip may involve stopping in a number of locations on the way or be over a number of days – this all counts as a single round trip.

For UK travel only

If travel is by car, apply your institution’s mileage rates. However, they should not exceed HMRC (His Majesty Revenue and Customs) approved mileage allowances. These are based on the type of transportation:

  • car/van rate per mile in the UK - 45p for the first 10,000 business miles in tax year, then 25p for each business mile over 10,000 in the tax year
  • motorcycle rate per mile in the UK - 24p
  • cycle rate per mile in the UK - 20p
  • passenger rate per mile in the UK - 5p per passenger per business mile

The rates are subject to change by HMRC and any changes will be actioned by NIHR at the time they are made.

For international travel

All journeys must be charged according to the most appropriate (basic or standard) local rate. Documentary evidence of the policy must be supplied if requested by NIHR.

Additional charges

Reasonable expenses incurred on parking, tolls and congestion charges may be claimed for a journey associated with NIHR business.

NIHR will not reimburse any fines or penalties.


Individuals may use taxis where no alternative method of transport is available, or where there is an appropriate justification e.g. for personal safety or transport of heavy luggage. Taxis used for social or non-business activities will not be reimbursed by NIHR.


Subsistence covers accommodation and meals associated with travel. All cost must be based on actual receipted expenditure and bills/invoices provided by hotels must be itemised. Alcohol and tobacco are not allowable subsistence items. Per diem payments for subsistence are not permitted.

The standard of accommodation should be modest and align with organisational policy for daily rates as well as employee safety and security. This must not be above 4*or equivalent. Justification for any planned exceptions needs to be provided to NIHR in advance of travel. Contracted Organisations and their Collaborators are reminded to ensure hotel bills are fully itemised to allow scrutiny.

Individuals may claim reasonable costs of meals and refreshments taken in the course of project activities providing that:

  • these are not provided by the event organisers or as part of the accommodation package
  • these are supported by valid receipts and invoices

Individuals must follow their employing organisation’s rules for the maximum meal allowance rates.

Gratuity not exceeding 10% of the total bill (excluding alcoholic beverages) will be reimbursed where such payment is included in the receipt or document.

Items of a personal use such as minibar, newspapers and film rental will not be reimbursed by NIHR. Where these are included in the invoice, the costs must be deducted.


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 a 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 provided. Failure to adequately justify the attendance at a conference may result in these costs not being funded.

Visa fees

Costs of visas required for travel specifically related to the Global Health Research project/programme can be claimed as part of NIHR award. 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.

Eligible expenditure also includes essential costs associated with attendance of appointments at a visa application establishment.

Training and Development

Global Health Research funding can be used for a range of training and development 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

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).

Student Fees

NIHR will reimburse full studentship costs of formal academic training courses for students from ODA-eligible countries (ODA-eligible LMIC nationals), who are registered to attend a LMIC or High Income Country (HIC) institution. The course may be taught via distance/remote learning or in person, or a combination of both.

Please note: In Global Health Research programme awards, HIC HEI student fees or associated stipend costs are eligible only for LMIC national students. Student fees or stipends for HIC national students would not be eligible, regardless of the programme and location of study.It is expected that studentships are co-terminus with the award. By exception and with prior approval, NIHR may consider supporting formal training posts where the duration of the post exceeds the length of the main NIHR funding award, provided there is clear evidence that:

  • all efforts have been made to recruit trainees in time for them to complete their programme within the original funding period
  • the work of the student will make a meaningful contribution to the overall programme of research within the timeframe of the award
  • the additional funding required to support the student after the completion of the NIHR award will be secured before a post is advertised

In cases where the application/programme includes LMIC student fees at a HIC institution (often charged at higher rates for international students), it is expected that the relevant (Joint) Lead Investigator will negotiate with the HIC institution for reduced fees for the LMIC candidate to bring them in line with those paid by nationals. NIHR would require justification where only partial or no LMIC student fee reductions have been achieved.


NIHR understands that it is common practice to provide stipends to PhD, and Post-Doctoral students, however for NIHR Global Health Research funded awards they also apply to all other academic formal training courses, so long as additional 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 ODA-eligible LMIC national students, regardless of whether they are registered at a HEI in an ODA-eligible country or HIC.

ODA-eligible LMIC national students undertaking courses in an ODA-eligible country or a HIC, will be expected to adhere to the stipend policy of the sponsoring organisation, a copy of which may be requested by NIHR.

ODA-eligible LMIC national students undertaking formal training courses 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. The stipend policy of the sponsoring organisation will apply. Pro-rata stipend, calculated as a proportion of the annual stipend figure may apply. As above, NIHR may request a copy of the policy.

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 can be claimed as additional expenditure.

For career development awards such as NIHR Global Research Professorships, applicants should refer to the specific scheme guidance on research training and development.

Dissemination Expenditure

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 that focus on dissemination of 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 an joining/attendance fee or remunerating speakers), are not eligible for funding. Conference attendance can be supported during the period for dissemination 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.

Salaries incurred after the end date of the award will not be funded. However, NIHR recognises that the nature of dissemination activities can be dependent on research findings and outputs. No Cost Extensions to complete dissemination activities including contribution to the NIHR Global Health Research Journal may be granted to cover salaries for LMIC researchers and support staff where this is required. It is expected that this need will be identified and discussed with the NIHR SPOC at least 12 months before the end of the award to ensure appropriate resourcing and financing can be put in place in good time.

Effective date

This policy applies with immediate effect.

Other relevant documents

Further information

For further information in relation to this policy, please contact: