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External Grants Policy and Procedures

The University of Sharjah (UOS) encourages its faculty, students and research groups to seek funding grants from public and private organizations that support its overall mission. This policy deals with external research grants allocated to UOS's researchers from external funding resources. It outlines the process of application for external grants and their management by the University's support Departments and the Research Funding Department (RFD) in compliance with the UOS's regulations. This policy specifies the procedures for administering external grants allocated to research projects conducted by research groups in research centers, UOS faculty, students and visiting faculty.

This policy applies to:  (1) all UOS faculty, graduate and undergraduate students, and visiting faculty (to be referred to hereafter as researchers) who are concerned with the conduct of research at UOS; (2) all administrators and research assistants who are involved in the administration of research funds associated with the University; (3) research institutes, centers and groups whether located at UOS main campus or branches; (4) the Finance Department (FD); (5) the Procurement Department, (6) the Research Funding Department (RFD); and (7) all research funds offered to the university for the purpose of conducting or supporting research, including clinical research and clinical trials.

This policy seeks to organize the processes of external research funds at the UOS and to ensure that these funds are managed in accordance with its overall Research, Finance and Procurement policies and in compliance with the ethics of responsible research conduct.  It also seeks to boost research productivity at the UOS by supporting researchers through the funding process, assist the RFD to effectively manage the processes of research funding, increase funding from external sources (particularly from industry and commerce, government and research councils in the UAE), assist researchers to write grant applications through the provision of grant writing, budgeting and technical support procedures, and achieve the UOS's mission of the preservation, pursuit, dissemination, and application of knowledge.
The UOS encourages all faculty members, students and research groups to seek and apply for external grants from recognized national and international funding bodies that support cutting-edge, basic, applied and collaborative research. This policy supports UOS's commitment to the highest standards of creativity, ethics, and integrity in pursuit of its research mission. It also regulates the whole process of external funding administration, including the pre-grant phase, grant management and close out.  The implementation of this policy under the administration of the office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies (VCRGS), the FD and the RFD will enable proper procedures to be applied in compliance with University's principal mission and executive bylaws.

The following terms shall have the meaning assigned to them unless the context indicates otherwise:

  1. Allocation: The process of assigning a cost, or a group of costs, to one or more cost objective(s), in reasonable proportion to the benefit provided or other equitable relationship.
  2. Applied Research: Research that aims at translating knowledge into applications and practical solutions.
  3. Basic Research: research that aims to examine scientific phenomena, raise knowledge about such phenomena or develop new ideas that have future application.
  4. Contract: a contract between the University and the funding body which is developed, negotiated and signed by both parties for all grants received by the University
  5. Cooperative Joint Research: research that aims at supporting cooperation between the University and public and private institutions.
  6. External Research Grants: funds obtained from private or public sponsors for purposes of research activities within an academic institution.
  7. Financial Department: the department that manages funds within an organization and plans for their expenditure on various assets.
  8. Grant: an award of financial assistance in the form of money or property by a funding source including universities, governments, non-profit agencies, private businesses and citizens which seek to support or invest in research.
  9. Principal Investigator: is the holder of a research grant administered by a university and the leader of the research project/group supported by the grant. Each Principal Investigator is responsible and accountable to the applicant organization, or, as appropriate, to a collaborating organization, for the proper conduct of the project or program including the submission of all required reports. 
  10. Research Group: a group of researchers from Faculty members who conduct joint and integrative research with the aim to establish an identity for scientific research in target areas in the service of society and local community. 

  1. UOS: University of Sharjah
  2. VCRGS: Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies
  3. PI: Principal Investigator
  4. RFD: Research Funding Department
  5. FD: Financial Department
  6. REC: Research Ethics Committee
  7. ACUC: Animal Care and Use Committee

A. Introduction
External grants or contracts are associated with research projects that are supported by non‐university (external) funds awarded as a result of an application submitted to an external sponsor by UOS faculty or staff member. External grants include one or more of the following: sponsor application guidelines; restrictions on the use of funds; a specific program period; specific performance or outcomes; and specific use of program outcomes or data.

The submission of a research grant application to an external funding agency has certain significant implications for the University. These include the following:
  1. The application represents the first step in the contracting process and the proposal promises the delivery of a certain research output;
  2. If the proposal receives funding, it will form the basis of the university's contractual obligations; and
  3. The university needs to take all practical measures to ensure that external funds are received and spent in a manner that allows for auditing through the university's systems.
B. Pre-Award Requirements
  1. Research awards are granted to the university, which assumes the legal responsibility to ensure that all its regulations are met while conducting the project.
  2. All external grants must be associated with the relevant research institutes and checked by the Research Funding Department (RFD) prior to final agreement to ensure adherence with university requirements and that the work can be completed to the required standard.
  3. The RFD assists applicants to ensure that the university requirements are met and makes recommendation to the institutes' directors and the vice chancellor.
  4. If necessary, the RFD shall assist faculty and students in preparing applications for external funding. 
  5. Primary investigators should strictly follow the instructions from the sponsor regarding the project budget preparation.
  6. If the research project involves human subjects or animals, the PI needs to get approvals from the Research Ethics Committee (To be cited hereafter REC) as well as the Animal Care and Use Committee (to be cited hereafter ACUC).

C. Post-Award Requirements
  1. Once a favorable response is received from the funding agency, the PI shall inform the RFD of the outcome. 
  2. The RFD arranges through research institutes with the FD for approval of the financial agreement and opens a special account for the grant under the relevant institute.
  3. Once the grant account is opened, the FD will then forward verification of the new account number to the PI, the OVCRGS, the institute director and the RFD.
  4. The PI is notified of the financial agreement and of any additional materials received pertaining to award regulations and reporting requirements (a financial and technical progress report is issued upon request of the foundation as per the agreement).
  5. If a project proposal requires negotiation before the external funding agency makes an award decision, all aspects of such negotiation — especially those involving discussion of administrative or financial matters concerning the contract or the agreement — must be carried out under the supervision of the vice chancellor and the director of the research institute with the help of the finance department.
  6. The RFD handles the progress and spending of the award.
  7. The PI is responsible for all progress reports, technical reports and final reports. A copy of the checked reports is sent to the RFD.
  8. Before any proposed changes are made in budget amounts, any changes made to purposes different from those specified in the budget submitted to the funding source must be discussed with the funding agency, get their approval, and the VCRGS will have to approve them in writing.
  9. The PI will then be notified of any accounting changes made to their accounts by the FD. A copy of all budget revision forms will be forwarded to the RFD.
  10. The FD will be responsible for preparing and submitting expenditure reports and/or reimbursement documents to the funding agency.
  11. Should a PI choose to leave the UOS before the completion of a sponsored project, and seek to transfer this project to a new institution, the PI must get the approval of the grant sponsor and the VCRGS in order to determine if such a transfer is possible and under which conditions.
  12. Once the grant is closed and the contract is satisfied, any leftover funds can be used by the PI for research purposes.

D. Procurement and Expenses
1- Purchase of Materials
a. When grant funds are used to purchase any materials used for an externally-funded project such as software, books, DVDs, supplies, etc., those materials become the property of the UOS. They have been purchased with funds that have been transferred to the University for use on a specific project and, as such, are not the personal property of the researcher but are the property of the University. If these materials have a useable life after the completion of the externally-funded projects, they are retained by the university.
b. All purchases of goods and services, in compliance with UOS regulations, are made through the Procurement Department, including the use of mandatory sources and the respect of bidding requirements.
c. Should a PI choose to leave the UOS before the completion of a sponsored project, and seek to transfer this project and its materials to a new institution, the PI must get the approval of the grant sponsor and the VCRGS in order to determine if such a transfer is possible and under which conditions.
d. The PI can request an advance payment to cover initial expenses and speed up the purchasing process.
2- Purchase of Equipment
a. Fixed and moveable equipment are considered fixed assets of the UOS and, as such, are owned by the University and not by a specific individual or department.
b. If the equipment was acquired through a sponsored project, and the sponsor explicitly retained title to it, that equipment would not be considered a fixed asset of UOS.

3- Organizing the Purchase and Supply of Research Equipment
a. This procedure addresses research equipment falling under the limits of approved financial resources for faculty members' funded research projects, for research groups and relevant main research equipment the supply of which has been approved.  Such funding shall be provided as follows:
1. For funded projects, the PI shall complete the form for requesting such equipment and its description in the designated field. The Form shall be submitted to the RFD which refers it to the VCRGS for approval.
2. The researcher may attach a list of the names of suppliers in this area to help the Procurement Department expedite the supply of the required materials.

b. Approval to purchase this equipment shall go through the following procedures:
1. Equipment valued less than AED 5000: the researcher may purchase directly, through the research advance or upon presenting an original official receipt. The VCRGS will approve and forward the receipt to the FD to be cashed.
2. Equipment valued between AED 5001 and less than AED 50000: in this case, when such equipment is unavailable at the Central Laboratories, there should be a prior approval by the VCRGS. The approval is forwarded to the Procurement Department to follow the purchasing procedures consistent with the University's regulations.
3. Equipment valued more than AED 50001: the application is submitted to the VCRGS for approval. It is then forwarded to the Procurement Department to follow the purchasing procedures as per the University's regulations, after approval by the Vice Chancellor for Finance and Administrative Affairs.

4- Expenses
a. The PI must make sure that the particular grant for which s/he is applying allows for a given cost item before deciding to approve it.
b. The UOS will not approve the submission of a proposal that seeks external funding for expenses that would be deemed as improper or unallowable.
c. Salaries or wages paid by a grant, fellowship, contract, or agreement must be consistent with UOS policy.
d. Research assistants and students working on the research project may be paid from the external grant account.
e. Costs of preparing and publishing research results produced by the project, such as reports, reprints, illustrations, etc. must be paid from the external grant account.
f.  Other direct costs payable from the grant account, unless the funding agency specifies otherwise, include items such as rental of space, funds for equipment maintenance contracts and repairs, as well as pays for research participants.
g. Regarding indirect or operating costs, such as facilities and administrative costs, the guidelines of the funding agency and the University of Sharjah must be followed. In some cases, these costs are not included as part of the project budget.
h. Any cost sharing proposed as part of a project budget (in the form of a direct UOS contribution), must be discussed in advance and approved before a project containing such an arrangement is submitted to the external funding agency.
i. The budget justification should explain the costs listed on the budget outline and should comply with the guidelines for the amount of detail to be provided in a budget justification.