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German universities discuss importance of full costing strategies and Horizon 2020 proposals

14 December 2011

Last week’s “EUIMA-Full Costing Country Workshop Germany”, jointly organised with the German Rectors’ Conference (HRK) brought together 60 representatives from German universities, research organisations, public authorities and international experts to discuss the implementation of full costing.

The workshop clearly demonstrated that full costing is an important issue for German universities. Margret Wintermantel, HRK President, underlined the connection between greater financial autonomy and the need for financial sustainability:“Full costing is not only a technical issue, but it can be used in a strategic way providing universities with the information needed to develop approaches towards financial sustainability.”

However, universities first need to be able to implement this tool, which might also imply changes in regional and national law. The diversity of possible approaches towards the implementation of full costing was illustrated by good practice examples from universities in different German Länder as well as other European countries, such as Sweden, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

How cooperation between universities and funding bodies can help in developing full costing methodologies for research funding was highlighted by the example of UK universities working together with the Research Councils. “However, you should not implement full costing just because it is a requirement from a funder, but because of its strategic usefulness for your university management” underlined Gareth MacDonald, Head of Assurance at Research Councils UK.

However, the debate in Berlin showed that funding schemes such as the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme have also been an important driver for German universities to start developing full costing methodologies. Therefore participants expressed their disappointment and concern about the recent proposal of the European Commission for the rules of participation for the future EU research funding programme “Horizon 2020” that does not foresee the option to recover the full indirect costs. “This would be a clear step backwards”, pointed out Thomas A.H. Schöck, Head of Administration at the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg and spokesman of the German Kanzler Working Group on European Affairs. Participants called upon EUA and the HRK to voice this concern in the ongoing debate at EU and national level and to put out clear statements.

The HRK will take up the results of the workshop in Berlin and further engage the leadership of German universities to foster the implementation of full costing.

More information about the country workshop is available on the event website.

European University Association (EUA)

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