Dear Colleagues

This circular is for information only.

Review of Cost Centres

Colleagues will be aware of the current review of HESA Cost Centres and of the sector-wide consultation on a number of proposals for change which took place in February this year.  This is the first major review of the Cost Centres and the sector was invited to consider questions in relation to the Cost Centres structure and relationship to Research Excellence Framework (REF) Units of Assessment (UoAs), the mapping of professional services within institutions to HESA non-academic Cost Centres and the collection of mapping of departments to Cost Centres information.

81 responses to the consultation were received from a range of HE institutions.

This circular sets out changes which have now been agreed and which will be implemented simultaneously across the 2012/13 HESA collections (Student, Staff and Finance) in parallel with the implementation of JACS 3.0.

Individual Cost Centres, Cost Centres codes and order and relationship of Cost Centres to Ref UoAs

Colleagues were invited to consider a number of questions with reference to this proposed Cost Centre structure and relationship to UoAs. Following analysis of responses, these changes will be implemented:

New set of Cost Centres

There was much support for the proposed revised list of Cost Centres and a small number of changes suggested by colleagues has been made in addition:

  • The proposed Cost Centre ‘Agriculture, Forestry, Veterinary & Food Science' included ‘Veterinary science' which was a separate Cost Centre prior to this review.  ‘Veterinary science' has been reinstated as a separate Cost Centre with ‘Agriculture, Forestry and Food science' as a single Cost Centre;
  • Old Cost Centre 05 ‘Nursing and paramedical studies' is now ‘Nursing and Allied Health Professions', which is more in alignment with the REF UoA ‘Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy';
  • The ‘Geography' Cost Centre is now ‘Geography and Environmental Studies' and so better aligns with the Ref UoA ‘Geography, Environmental Studies and Archaeology'. ‘Archaeology' remains a separate Cost Centre;
  • The Cost Centre ‘Politics' which was created as part of the proposals for consultation has been renamed ‘Politics and International Studies' in order to align with the ‘Politics and International Studies' Ref UoA;
  • The Cost Centre ‘Anthropology' was also created as part of the proposals for consultation and is now called ‘Anthropology and Development Studies', which aligns with the relevant REF UoA.

Cost Centres codes

A new coding frame will be adopted for the Cost Centres; a three-character numerical code will be assigned to every Cost Centre. This will ensure that:

  1. any possibility of re-using a two-digit code will be avoided;
  2. there is no possibility of confusing Cost Centres with REF UoAs (which use two-character numerical codes), particularly as revised Cost Centres have been developed so that they align closely with the UoAs;
  3. there is flexibility for future revisions of the Cost Centres. The existing two-character frame allows little room for expansion.

Cost Centres order

The revised list of Cost Centres has been developed so that it aligns with the order of the REF UoAs as a number of colleagues who responded to the consultation indicated that this would be useful. The order also broadly reflects that of the subject codes in JACS 3.0.

Colleagues can view the revised list of Cost Centres, alongside a mapping of old Cost Centres to new Cost Centres and mapping of new Cost Centres to REF UoAs.

Non-academic Cost Centres

The current list of non-academic Cost Centres will remain unchanged. Following careful analysis of the responses, acknowledging that there is some support for a more detailed breakdown of these Cost Centres, the conclusion was that on balance it is more beneficial to retain the broad non-academic Cost Centres in order to enable the most meaningful comparison.

  • Total academic services
  • Central administration & services
  • General education expenditure (HESA FSR with HE-BCI Survey only)
  • Staff and student facilities
  • Premises (split into ‘repairs and maintenance' and ‘Other expenditure' in the HESA FSR with HE-BCI Survey)
  • Residences and catering

From 2012/13 the non-academic Cost Centres will be known as ‘Professional Services'.

Mapping of departments to Cost Centres

Analysis of the responses to the consultation revealed that there is general support for the routine collection and publication of the academic department/Cost Centres mapping. Colleagues recognised that this exercise would assist with benchmarking and analysis benefit, give greater transparency to HESA data, and assist with internal checking between various HESA returns. The message is that the added value of the collection and publication of the department/Cost Centres mapping would be greater than the cost of collecting the information.

Therefore, from 2012/13:

  • HESA will collect as contextual data each institution's allocation of departments to the revised Cost Centres;
  • The provision of this information to HESA will be compulsory in England and optional for institutions in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland;
  • This data will be collected by expanding the current Campus Record, which collects metadata about campus locations, to become a broader metadata collection.
  • The allocation of professional services to Non-academic Cost Centres (Professional Services Cost Centres from 2012/13) will not be mapped and returned to HESA;
  • The metadata collection will be made for the first time in summer 2013.

Next steps

The revised Cost Centres will be implemented into the HESA, Student, Staff and Finance Statistics Return with Higher Education Business and Community Interaction (FSR with HE-BCI) Record for 2012/13. Further details of the metadata collection will be released in due course.


If you have any queries about the content of this circular, please contact HESA's Institutional Liaison team at [email protected] .