Project management

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If you are considering hiring new staff or deploying existing staff overseas, University HR provides extensive guidance on their website.

The issues that need to be considered will depend on a number of factors, including:

  • the type of work being undertaken;
  • where the work will be based;
  • the employee’s normal country of residence; and
  • the length of any such engagement.

If the new recruit will be based overseas for the entire duration of their employment/engagement with the University, it might be appropriate in some cases to engage an individual on a self-employed consultancy or contractor basis, rather than on an employee basis for example, where a service is being provided.

The University’s employer obligations abroad are country specific (e.g. social security, benefits, tax, annual leave). This can be a complex area and departments are advised to seek guidance as early as possible. Departments can contact their HR Business Partner for further advice on contracts and employment status

The University does not ordinarily make payments into non-UK bank accounts. Where a department appoints a non-UK national who will also work and live outside the UK, the Payroll team should be contacted in advance for advice on payment of salary.

Any choice of supplier or subcontractor needs to comply with the university’s financial regulations and the funding terms for the particular project, which may involve specific requirements regarding tender processes, mechanisms to avoid conflict of interest etc. It is essential to discuss supplier choice with your department finance manager at a very early stage to ensure that adequate budget is available and that the correct supplier choice procedures have been followed.

Send the supplier the University's standard terms & conditions and ask them to accept them. Any variations to these terms must be referred to the University Purchasing Department.
Ask for a fixed price in your preferred currency (usually GBP), inclusive of all import taxes, custom duties and delivery. Please note that overseas payments are often more successful if sent in the local currency. If a currency other than GBP is proposed, ensure that it exists in Oracle Financials. All payments are electronic. US$ is the preferred currency for South America.  Payments to individuals in China are more successful in GBP or USD as local currency might not be accepted locally.

Check if any special licenses are required to export/import and ask for the supplier to complete these as part of the purchase. Please note some scientific goods can qualify for reduced import and customs duties. Please contact the University Purchasing Department for more details.

If you would like a credit check done on a foreign company, please contact the University Purchasing Department.
If payment is to be over £50,000 in a foreign currency and is payable in over three months’ time contact the Treasury Department.

You must account for UK reverse charge VAT on most services received from overseas suppliers. For a non-business research contract, this VAT is not recoverable and is a cost to the department.

You are obliged to account for acquisition VAT on the receipt of goods from EU suppliers and to pay import VAT on the receipt of goods from non-EU suppliers, unless one of the specific VAT reliefs applies (e.g. equipment for medical research).

            Further information provided by the Finance Division:

Export controls and research collaboration

Export control regulations apply to the physical movement of goods or the transfer of software, data, technology or know how by any means (including by email and telephone) from the UK to a destination outside the UK. The controls restrict the export of goods or technology with the aim of preventing proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and countering terrorism. Where an export falls under one or more of the controls, a license may be required before any transfer can be made.

The main areas of concern are technologies that can be used in nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons or their means of delivery. The transfer can be physical or electronic. Two categories of control are important in an academic context:

  1. Military items

Items with a specific military application to be exported outside the UK fall into this category. Some examples are: thermal imaging devices; target acquisition and tracking systems; phased-array radar antennae; and weapon-locating systems.

  1. Dual use items

Items with a legitimate civilian application which also have military application, to be exported outside the EU, fall into this category.  Some examples of dual use items: dual-use parts and materials for nuclear reactors; chemicals (e.g. precursors for toxic chemical agents); micro-organisms & toxins (e.g. live cultures of lassa fever virus, apart from vaccines); navigation and avionics (e.g. continuous output accelerometers); unmanned aerial vehicles and associated technology.

There is no automatic exemption for academics and researchers.  Failure to obtain an appropriate licence to export controlled goods is a criminal offence. 

See more information on the Research Services webpages.

Importing natural materials or samples

Individual academics and researchers in the University have a legal obligation to comply with the Nagoya Protocol.

The Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization (the ‘ABS’ Protocol) is an international agreement that implements the access and benefit-sharing obligations of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It entered into force on 12 October 2014.

Genetic resources in this context includes any material of plant, animal, microbial or other origin containing functional units of heredity which is of actual or potential value, or derivatives. Researchers who source or use such material are required to 'exercise diligence' to ensure that genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with those resources have been accessed in accordance with applicable access and benefit sharing laws implemented by the source country. 

EC Horizon 2020 Guidance on the ABS Regulation and how award holders should address requirements can be found on the European Commission website. This includes a 'decision tree' to answer the question of whether research falls within the scope of the Regulation.

See the full guidance on the Research Services webpages.

A Material Transfer Agreement (or other valid agreement) is required except for Oxford units abroad. MTA must be signed by Research Services and should contain details of consent assurance and details of what should happen to the samples at the end of the project. For information on research agreements, please contact your research contracts specialist.

For imports to be used in a project under ethical approval from OxTREC, a University research ethics committee, or under ethical approval from an ethics committee outside the UK (including research tissue banks abroad): samples of relevant material must be registered under an HTA Licence; guidance is available from the Research Governance, Ethics & Assurance Team.

For imports to be used in a project under current and valid ethical approval from an NHS REC or other ethics committee that is recognised by the HTA, there is no requirement to store the samples under an HTA Licence. More information on Ethics Committees is available on the Research ethics (including CUREC) website or contact the Research Governance, Ethics & Assurance Team

Only certain Oxford University buildings and certain buildings of the Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust can store imported tissue under an HTA Licence – more information can be found on the Research Support website. Contact the Research Governance, Ethics & Assurance Team if you are not sure whether the work will take place on premises that are licensed by the HTA.

Imports (and exports) of human tissue must normally be declared to HM Revenue and Customs.

Records of imported tissue must be kept for at least 5 years after disposal, return, or use: sample inventories, courier slips, research agreements.

Under the Human Tissue Act, shipping human tissue to/from Scotland is considered import/export.

Additional guidance:

Being aware of risks around bribery and fraud is necessary for good management of research funding and especially as some activities may take place in territories where corruption is a greater risk. Transparency International provides information on global corruption.

The University Compliance webpages provide guidance on Bribery & Fraud. This includes a risk awareness toolkit and case studies dedicated to travel and overseas business.

Gifts and hospitality accepted or offered in relation to research projects are covered by the University's policy on accepting/providing gifts and hospitality.