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Policy on Research Residual Funds

Classification number ADM 1307
Framework category Administrative
Approving authority Senior Leadership Team
Policy owner Vice-President, Administration
Approval date February 22, 2016
Review date February 2019
Last updated Editorial Amendments, May 30, 2022; February 18, 2020


The University is responsible for the stewardship and administration of all Research Funds received by the University and to ensure compliance with Sponsor terms and conditions and University policies and procedures. The purpose of this Policy is to establish the University guidelines, procedure and processes and outline the responsibilities in identifying, recording and managing the use of research Residual Funds.


For the purposes of this Policy the following definitions apply:

“Fund Holder” means an individual responsible and accountable for the management and use of a Research Fund. 

“Internally Restricted Residual Fund” means a Residual Fund with spending terms and conditions stipulated by the Residual Fund Governance Committee.

“Research Funds” means funds provided by a Sponsor, held in trust and administered by the University to pay for expenses incurred in support of research at the University, including:

  • Internal Research Funds; and
  • Funds awarded through external Sponsors.

“Residual Fund” means the unspent balance of a Research Fund after the project has been completed with all terms and conditions met, all revenue fully received and all direct and indirect expenditures related to the project have been incurred.

“Sponsor” means the provider of funds for research activities, including both external and internal sources.

Scope and authority

This Policy applies to external Research Funds where the funding agreement is unclear regarding the disposition of a surplus.
The Residual Fund Governance Committee comprising of: The Vice-President, Research, Innovation and International (VPRII), Director of Research Services, the Vice-President, Administration (or designate), and two Faculty Researchers, is responsible for overseeing the implementation, administration and interpretation of this Policy.

Research and Trust Accounting will ensure financial systems are in place to support this Policy and to provide timely financial information to the Fund Holder in managing their Research Fund balances. 


The University is committed to providing a supportive research environment through promoting strong financial management practices in compliance with relevant Sponsor terms and conditions, University policies and procedures and Generally Acceptable Accounting Principles. To this end, the University will ensure that the appropriate financial framework is in place to control Residual Funds. 


  1. A Research Residual Fund will be deemed transferrable to an internally restricted fund if any of the following occurs:

    1. Agreement or award letter indicates that the Residual Fund remaining fund does not have to be returned to the Sponsor

    2. Agreement or award letter is silent on the surplus, no financial report is required and the Sponsor has not asked for the return of the unspent balance.

    3. Agreement or award letter is silent on the surplus, a financial report may be required but the remaining balance is below the threshold of 10% of the total value of the grant or contracted fund. In this instance, the Residual Fund Governance Committee will review and determine disposition of funds.

    4. The research project Sponsor’s contributions are based on a fixed fee or per diem basis such as a clinical trial.  After completion of research and all the terms and conditions of the agreement are met, it is implicit that the Sponsor does not have a claim of ownership for any unspent funds.

  2. When any of the above condition is met, the Residual Fund Governance Committee will determine whether the fund should be transferred to an Internally Restricted Residual Fund to be used by the Fund Holder, or to a General Internally Restricted Residual Fund.   The basis for this determination will be set out in the Terms of Reference of the Residual Fund Governance Committee.  This process will include input from the Fund Holder and the Dean.

  3. The General Internally Restricted Residual Fund will be administered by the Residual Fund Governance Committee and be used for the innovation and initiation of research at the university, as specified in Appendix A of the Procedure and within the time frame stipulated. 

  4. Once established, the Internally Restricted Residual Fund will not be permitted to go into deficit.  

Monitoring and review

This Policy will be reviewed as necessary and at least every three years.  The Vice-President, Administration, or successor thereof, is the Policy Lead and is responsible to monitor and review this Policy.  

Relevant legislation

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Related policies, procedures & documents

Policy on Conflict of Interest in Research

Policy on the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship

Procedure on the Responsible Conduct of Research and Scholarship

Intellectual Property Policy

Procurement Policy

Procurement Procedures

Signing Authority Policy

Signing Authority and Approval Procedure

Expense Policy

Expense Procedures

Policy on Over-Expenditure of Research Funds

Policy on the Use of Internal Research Funds