Finance Division

Academic Time Survey - Information for new academics

The purpose of this webpage is to introduce Academics who are new to the University to the concept and requirements of the ATS and to help provide a clear understanding of the process.


All universities must submit an annual TRAC (Transparent Approach to Costing) return to the Office for Students (OfS) in order to provide information to the Government on the full economic costs of teaching, research and other activities. The Academic Time Survey (ATS) is a vital component of the TRAC Return process, gathering statistical data about the time spent by Academic staff on teaching, research, other and support activities. The data collected is subsequently used as a basis for allocating the associated pay costs to those activities.

The TRAC return is a valuable and influential source of data which informs the decisions of Government, concerning funding for research in higher education. Importantly, the TRAC return provides the basis for Research Council full economic cost recovery rates, which determine the amount of overhead that can be charged to a Research Council funded research project. There is therefore, a direct link between the need for a time allocation process and the amount of funding received by the University. 

The University must achieve a minimum response rate of 75% by department for the ATS from all eligible academics in order to comply with the requirements of TRAC.

ATS at the University of Sussex

All staff on ‘AT’ and ‘AR’ pay grades, i.e. those who potentially undertake a mixture of teaching and research, are required to complete the ATS. The aim of the survey is to get a reasonable reflection of how your work was split between Teaching, Research and Other and the associated sub-categories.

You will find the ATS on Sussex Direct under the “Personal” tab and a user guide, FAQ and list of TRAC activity definitions is available by clicking on the “Related Links” drop down box.

The survey takes place three times per year and each survey covers the work undertaken in the previous three/four months:

January – covering September to December

May/June – covering January to mid-May

September – covering mid-May to August

You will receive an email announcing the start of the survey and a notification will appear when you login to Sussex Direct, asking you to complete the survey. You are asked to submit your time data for each period as soon as possible after the survey opens. When completing the survey you may find it helpful to refer to planning documents, such as your workload plan/model to inform the split of your time.

Follow up e-mails will be sent initially to those who have not completed their ATS survey and subsequent e-mails to Heads of School and Department, should the targeted completion rate not be achieved.

The survey data is confidential with each individual’s return being used only as part of the whole data set and for no other purpose. Heads of School and Department and School Managers see submissions within their school/department as they are asked to confirm the data is reasonable. Other than that, the submissions are only seen by a small team that manages the survey in Corporate Accounting. All other use of the data is at an aggregated level and it will be impossible to identify any individual. The data is used solely to comply with the reporting and data requirements from OfS and UK Research and Innovation.

If you have any questions please contact the Resource Accountant: Joanne Seddon ext. 8786, email