Research Development Accounts Policy


This policy applies to all  University  academic  staff  members  who are involved in  the use and administration of Research Development Accounts (RDAs).


To provide a policy framework for the use and administration of RDAs.


The Research and Consulting Incentives Policy outlines the incentives for academic and other approved staff to undertake externally funded research and consulting activity. This includes financial allocations from externally funded projects to a Research Development Account (RDA) in the name of the Principal Investigator.

This policy sets out the administration and management of these RDA accounts and the uses to which these funds may be applied.

This policy also sets out the requirements for the establishment and administration of RDAs for Research Centres and Research Platforms.


Establishment of RDAs for academic staff

1. Academic staff RDAs may be established only for staff members who hold an appointment with the University of Auckland as outlined in the prevailing Academic Staff Collective Agreement.

Note – The current Academic Staff Collective Agreement includes lecturer, senior lecturer, associate professor, professor, senior tutor (only where research is part of the role as defined in the job description), research fellow, senior research fellow, professional teaching fellow, postdoctoral fellow roles.

2. Students may not hold RDAs.

3. Honorary academics and emeritus professors may not hold RDAs.

4. When set up, each RDA is to have a nominated account “Account holder".

5. Any incentive sums arising from research and consulting projects, as determined in accordance with the Research and Consulting Incentive Policy, are to be automatically credited to the appropriate academic staff RDA.

Note – Incentive scenario must be agreed to and signed off by the academic head, in accordance with the Research and Consulting Incentive Policy, prior to work commencing on the research and consulting contract.

Establishment of RDAs for research centres

6. RDAs will be established for all University research centres and faculty research centres.

7. The nominated account holder for a Research Centre RDA is to be one of the research centre directors, as agreed between the directors.

8. RDAs may only be established for department / school research centres in exceptional circumstances with the approval of the Chief Financial Officer.

9. The source of credits to a research centre RDA shall be limited to research centre investments made from:

a) academic staff RDAs,
b) dean or large-scale research institute (LSRI) director faculty administration account.

Note – The investment request must be initiated using the ROC-27 Research Centre Investment Form. The minimum investment amount per transaction is $500.

Establishment of RDAs for research platforms

10. RDAs are to be established for all research platforms.

11. The nominated account holder for a research platform RDA will be the professional staff lead for the research platform.

12. At the end of each financial year, the balance of each research platform’s cost centre (surplus or deficit) shall be transferred to the relevant research platform RDA.

Utilisation of funds held in Research Development Accounts

13. Funds in RDAs are explicitly funds of the University and may not be transferred to any other institution.

14. Any new funds placed in RDAs are required to be expended within the expiration period of 36 months.

15. Funds in academic staff RDAs are to be used exclusively for academic purposes.

Note - This includes conference costs, travel, books, subscriptions, office equipment, research, research equipment, academic and student research or scholarships. If in doubt, the Research Operations Centre (ROC) gives advice on what expenditure is permissible.

16. Funds in Research Centre RDAs are to be used exclusively to fund activities that advance the mission of the centre and are aligned to the strategy and operating plan that has been approved for the centre by its sponsor. In accordance with the Research Centre Guidelines, all RDA-funded costs are to be transacted through the centre cost centre and must not be directly charged to the Research Centre RDA.

17. Subject to clause 29 (Disestablishment of RDAs), funds that are invested into a Research Centre RDA cannot subsequently be transferred to another RDA.

18. Funds in Research Platform RDAs are to be used exclusively to fund platform operations and investment in new platform capability that has been previously authorised by the faculty/LSRI Platform Oversight Group.

In accordance with the Research Platform Guidelines, all research platform costs and revenues are to be transacted through the platform cost centre and not directly to the Research Platform RDA.

19. No direct or indirect personal payments may be made from RDAs.

20. Expenditure is to be initiated by the account holder of the RDA (or a staff member acting on the written authorisation of the account holder) and approved via the University Financial Delegation Policy.

21. Employment of staff members: fixed term and casual staff members may be employed from the RDA if the outcome supports further research activity. This can include the RDA account holder where the relevant academic head has approved the additional activity to be completed following the employment agreement variation. Permanent positions may not be funded from RDAs.

Note - The hiring of staff from the RDA is subject to the recruitment and appointments policies of the University.

22. Equipment Purchases: RDA funds may only be used to partially or fully fund purchase of research equipment (including capital expenditure) where the requirements of the Procurement Policy and Capital Expenditure and Fixed Assets Accounting Policy have been satisfied, including the treatment of ongoing depreciation costs (where applicable).

23. Equipment purchased through RDAs is the property of the University.

24. An academic may be refunded for expenses incurred for academic purposes that conform with all relevant University policies.

25. When on Research and Study Leave (RSL), an academic may claim expenses for academic purposes in excess of the RSL financial assistance. These include airfares and hotel expenses.

Note – The expenses must conform with all relevant University policies, including the Research and Study Leave Policy and Travel Policy.

26. Funds may not be transferred, or "repaid" from the University to the RDA.

Note - For example, if funds from a RDA are used to cover costs of resources pending activation of one or more University-based grants, these costs may not subsequently be "repaid" from a University account when the research grant(s) become available.

As an alternative, certain projects are eligible for early activation prior to contract execution. Please see Research Fast Track Project Activation process for further information.

27. Academic staff RDAs are permitted to go into temporary deficit of up to $5,000 when there is sufficient R2 incentive income forecasted to the RDA. Deficits in excess of $5,000 require Academic Head approval. In limited cases, Academic Head approval may be provided where there is insufficient R2 incentive income forecasted provided there is a reasonable likelihood of the incentive income being generated within 12 – 18 months from new research and consulting projects.

Note: An academic staff RDA may go into deficit through RDA expenditure or through project closure in accordance with the Balances of Research Project Accounts at Project End Date Policy.

28. Research Centre RDAs are not permitted to go into deficit.

Disestablishment of RDAs

29. RDAs must be disestablished and the RDA balance must be transferred to the relevant faculty/LSRI administration account where:

a) the account holder of an academic staff RDA ceases to hold an academic appointment with the University, as outlined in the prevailing Academic Staff Collective Agreement,
b) the Research Centre associated with an RDA is disestablished or re-categorised as a Department / School Research Centre,
c) the Research Platform associated with an RDA is disestablished.

Note: For the purposes of clause 29(b), the Chief Financial Officer may grant approval in exceptional circumstances for a newly classified department / school research centre to retain its RDA under clause 8 of this policy.

Management & Administration of RDAs

30. The management and administration of RDAs is to be undertaken by the Research Operations Centre.

31. The Research Operations Centre is to be the first point of contact providing support services to the account holder and Faculty / Institute Research Services Teams (FIRST), including:

  • overseeing the process for the allocation of cash flows from research and consulting projects into RDAs in accordance with the Research and Consulting Incentives Policy
  • overseeing the process for transferring funds to a Research Centre RDA as outlined under clause 9(a) and (b)
  • answering queries, such as the allowable use of RDA funds and balance queries where the information is not otherwise available.

32. Expenditure from RDAs will follow the University’s purchasing and payment policies through the Shared Transaction Centre.

Expiration of funds

33. At the end of the expiration period of 36 months, the expiring funds must be transferred as follows:

a) expiring balances from academic staff RDAs or Research Platform RDAs must be transferred to the relevant faculty administration account for discretionary use by the dean of the relevant faculty or director of the relevant Large-Scale Research Institute (LSRI) to support research in the faculty/LSRI. After a further 36 months at financial year end any residual funds in the relevant faculty administration account are to be transferred to the University.

b) expiring balances from Research Centre RDAs are to be transferred to the University.

Note: The different treatment of expiring balances in Research Centre RDAs is due to the fact that Research Centre RDAs can be funded from the discretionary account of the faculty dean or LSRI director under clause 9(b).


R2 incentive income means the 30% proportion of Principal Investigator time charged to a research project that is eligible to be paid into a Research Development Account in scenario R2 of the Research and Consulting Incentives Policy.

Research centre means a research centre that is formally approved in accordance with the Research Centres Policy.

Research platform means a research platform that is formally approved in accordance with the Research Platforms Policy.

Staff member refers to an individual employed by the University on a full or part time basis.

University means Waipapa Taumata Rau | University of Auckland and includes all subsidiaries.

University research centre, faculty research centre and department / school research centre are the three categories of research centre set out in the Research Centres Policy.

Key relevant documents

Document management and control

Owner: Deputy Vice Chancellor Research
Content manager: Director Office of Research Strategy and Integrity
Approved by: Vice Chancellor
Date approved: 1 October 2023
Review date: 1 October 2028