AIOU External Funded Research Project Grant

a)      Project Initiation

  1. ORIC-AIOU in association with the Faculty Member/PI would identify the areas of research and opportunities for potential grant or funding.
  2. Faculty Member/PI shall develop a proposal according to the requirements and prescribed forms of the concerned funding agency.
  3. All correspondence between the Faculty Member/PI and the funding agency must be routed through ORIC. In case of shortage of time, advance copies may be sent to agencies directly with one copy to be sent to ORIC as well.
  4. Submission of research proposals must be relevant to Pakistan’s Socio-Economic needs, to be achieved from the forum of AIOU.
  5. Faculty Members of the university shall submit their complete Project Proposals on the prescribed application proforma (if any) set by the funding agency to ORIC through proper channel for onward submission to concerned funding agency. ORIC shall be responsible for provision of all prescribed application proforma (if any) for research funding on university website.
  6. All research proposals shall be submitted to ORIC well before the deadline set by the funding/donor agency for completion of enquired formalities. In case of any delay in submission, the ORIC shall not be responsible and proposals shall be turned down. Final draft of the proposal, including all attachments and the required forms, must be signed by the P.I and counter signed by the concerned dean, and then submitted to ORIC, prior to funding agency’s deadline (at-least 15 days before).
  7. The ORIC would scrutinize the project proposal in the light of guidelines/procedures that are specified by the concerned funding agency. If the project proposal is found complete in all respect, the approval would be issued by Director, ORIC. After approval of the project proposal, the same shall be sent to concerned funding agency after completion of required formalities. ORIC shall be responsible to send a copy of forwarding letter to all concerned quarter (those who are relevant).
  8. PI of the Project shall certify the followings;
  9. Certified that the P.I is a full time Faculty Member/Foreign Professor/Eminent Scholar/Eminent Researcher of the AIOU.
  10. Certified that the equipment(s) demanded for the subject project is / are not available in the Faculty.
  11. Certified that the project under reference has not been already submitted to any funding agency.
  12. Certified that no portion of the project has been funded in the pastby any other funding agency.
  13. Certified that the subject project is genuinely novel and that there is no plagiarized material including self-plagiarism.
  14. Once the research proposal is received by funding/donor agency, they shall process according to their rules and regulations and ORIC shall be responsible to get the updates on project proposal during the peer review process, if any.
  15. The PI and Co-PI shall be responsible to make sure that all communication (written &oral) should be processed/shared through ORIC or by keeping ORIC updated while communicating with funding/donor agency related to submittedproject.All replies/answers of queries/observations raised by the reviewers during peer review process shall be processed through ORIC.
  16. The PI and Co-PI are required to provide necessary documents to ORIC as and when required by the funding agency within the deadline period. In case of failure, ORIC shall not be responsible for rejection of application(s).
  17. Once the project is recommended by the reviewers, the funding agency may send an approval letter in whichPImaybe requested to submit a legal agreement between University & funding agency on non-Judicial paper duly signed by the Vice Chancellor. The P.I shall submit the agreement on non-judicial paperto Director/Head, ORIC for endorsement. After endorsement, the same shall be sent to the funding agency for release of funds allocated as first installment of the respective project. If the project is not recommended by the reviewers, the funding agency may intimate the P.I and the case file in ORIC shall be treated as closed.All otherapplicable rules and procedures as required by the concerned funding agencies shall also be followed accordingly.

b)     Financial Management

  1. Approved funds by the funding agency may be released in 2 to 3 installments. First installment of approved funds may be released within 2 to 3 weeks after submission of legal agreement. In case of international funding agency, it may take more time. However, all funds shall be released by any funding/donor agency in favor of the VC or Treasurer, AIOU being the Principal Accounting Officer of the University for onwards disbursement in favor of P.I of the Project. If funds are released in favor of P.I, he/she is required to report/intimate ORIC immediately for further necessary action and completion of required formalities. Under no circumstances, funds received for any type of research grant be operated through personal bank account, violation may lead to legal action according to university rules.
  2. Finance section, AIOU shall send a copy of Funds Release Letter along with copy of cheque to ORIC, AIOU for file record, reference and for future correspondence with funding agency.
  3. Quarterly and annual financial statement of the project account shall be shared with ORIC and placed in the case file in ORIC for monitoring, reporting and record.
  4. After receiving of funds in the university, P.I shall initiate a request to ORIC for opening of joint project account in the concerned bank and to be operated by P.I and treasurer.
  5. In case of international funding/donor agency, if funds are released in foreign currency, a separate foreign currency joint account shall be opened in the concerned bank which shall be operated by PI andTreasurer.
  6. P.I shall submit the foreign currency conversion receipt to ORIC for placement in case file and the same shall be shared with finance section of the University for record and audit purposes.
  7. Any fund available for indirect overhead cost in the external funded projects shall be utilized for ORIC operational expenses only (to meet the office support, utilities etc.) as per funding agency policy. In this regard, a separate bank account shall be opened in the concerned bank to be operated by Director/Head (ORIC) or his nominee and Treasurer or his nominee.
  8. Sanctioning powers are to be held by P.I of the project and he shall be responsible in this regard.All expenditure on account of overhead costs and project costs shall be made within the limit of budget heads and no re-appropriation shall be allowed without getting prior approval of the concerned funding agency. (Policy of re-appropriation varies from funding agency to funding agency).Pre-audit of all expenditure must be done before any kind of financial sanctioning.
  9. On completion of each phase/installment of the project, funds utilization report duly signed by the Director, ORIC, PI and university auditor shall be submitted to concerned funding agency.
  10. In case of delay in release of funds(2nd& 3rdInstallments), finance section of AIOU shall make sure the availability of funds and release an advance (adjustable) from research fund/or any other budget head of AIOU in lieu of 2nd& 3rd Installments so that ongoing project activities should neither be hampered nor stopped.
  11. After completion of external funded project, balance amount if any, shall be reimbursed to the funding agency or prior approval from concerned funding agency shall be obtained for utilization of balance funds in the same project to enhance the project scope or compensate for the inflationary premium.
  12. Honorarium and stipends if any shall be released according to guide lines provided by the concerned funding agency.
  13. Salaries of the project staff shall be made from the respective budget head of the project and no re-appropriation shall be allowed. Annual increments in the salaries (if any) shall be made according to provision of funds from funding agency in the project budget.
  14. In case of delay in project completion, salaries of the project staff shall be made subject to availability of funds in the project. No internal re-appropriation shall be allowed without getting prior approval from funding agency.
  15. In case of travelling for getting samples/gathering data for project, TA/DA shall be met from the project budget head “Contingencies/Miscellaneous”. In case, if the project does not have such a budget head, the University shall have to bear TA/DA cost as per rules for smooth execution of project activities.
  16. The amount allocated under the head travel or field work shall be utilized for the implementation of the ongoing project only. This shall not be used for attending the conferences, seminars, workshops for which there is a separate provision available under travel grant program of AIOU travel grants for the University academicians. This amount should also not be used for attending any training course either.
  17. Traveling/field work shall be undertaken only for data collection and collection of other information, documents and libraries within the general scope and sphere of the project. No foreign travel is permissible within this budget head.
  18. Principal Investigator is permitted to travel for field work related to approved/sanctioned project by his own car/taxi/bus outside the city as per University rules within the amount allocated under travel head. Daily allowance shall be admissible as per University rules.
  19. Honorarium of the P.I and Co-PI shall be given after completion of the project as per university policy or as per Project Award letter.
  20. Following documents must be submitted for processing of 2nd& 3rdinstallments under the project;
  21. A copy of the final report of work done of the project in CD.
  22. Detailed information about the project in the prescribed proforma.
  23. Month wise and year wise detailed statement of expenditure towards salary of staff appointed under the project.
  24. A consolidated item/budget head wise detailed statement of expenditure incurred during the complete project period in the prescribed proforma duly signed by Principal Investigator.
  25. A consolidated Audited Utilization Certificate for the amount utilized towards the project duly signed and stamped by the university auditor.
  26. The unutilized grant if any may be refunded immediately through demand draft in favor of the concerned funding agency.
  27. Any expenditure incurred prior to the issuance of the approval letter and after the expiry of life of the project shall not be admissible.
  28. The Principal Investigator is expected to settle the accounts immediately on completion of the project. Any advances against the project shall be settled well in time. In case of failure to comply with the afore-mentioned terms, the finance section has the discretion to stop the salary or deduct the same at source.
  29. Utilization of Contingency Head: The admissible contingency grant may be utilized on spares for apparatus, photostat copies and microfilms, typing, stationary, postage, telephone calls, internet, fax, computation and printing needed in connection with the project. However, major procurement cost shall not be met from this head.
  30. Special Needs: On case to case basis, university shall provide the assistance for any other special requirement in connection with the project which is not covered under any other ‘Head’ of assistance under the scheme. However, the Principal Investigator shall make sure that all major scientific equipment is included in the project document before submission to funding agency. The Director/Head ORIC shall be the authority for approval of special need items.
  31. The contingency grant is not intended for meeting the expenditure on furniture& fixture etc. These items are normally provided by the University.
  32. Expenditure towards advertisement for post of research personnel and the audit fee may also be claimed under contingency head. However, in case of HEC approved projects under NRPU program, an amount of Rs. 10,000/- has been fixed as “Audit Fee” and “Finance Fee” respectively (as per project award letter).
  33. General Administration
  34. All research projects shall be administered under the general rules of AIOU and as per all applicable SOPs of the research projects.
  35. Once the project is approved and started in the University, it shall not be transferred to any other University/Institution. In special case, the P.I may get the NOC from concerned funding agency and the AIOU for transferring the project to another institution. However, it shall be allowed with the discretion of the VC AIOU on the recommendation of concerned Dean and Head/Director ORIC.
  36. In case, the P.I leaves the university, Co-PI may be inducted into the project with prior approval of the concerned funding agency to take over the project. However, he/she shall not be entitled to take over as P.I except in the incident of death or disability of P.I. Any P.I who wants to go for any assignment outside the country, shall inform ORIC for further necessary action to obtain NOC from ORIC.
  37. In the absence of Principal Investigator, Co-Investigator shall act as Principal Investigator for smooth execution of Project activities subject to completion of all codal formalities from respective ends.
  38. The University shall provide the enough space for establishment of lab/placement of scientific equipment, as normally funding agencies does not support infrastructure cost in the project.
  39. Once the Laboratory is equipped with the scientific equipment, it shall not be entitled with PI’s name. The title of the laboratory shall remain the same as it was mentioned in the Project document. The name of funding agency shall be displayed outside the laboratory clearly.
  40. The scientific equipment shall be available as an open facility for all the faculty members of the concerned department, however, after the consultation and approval of P.I.
  41. The scientific equipment shall not be moved anywhere without getting prior approval of the competent authority. In case of repair & maintenance, prior permission may be obtained from PI, Director/Head, ORIC and Dean and an exit pass shall be issued by the Chairman of the concerned department, which may be submitted to on duty security guard.
  42. In case of any theft in laboratory, the matter shall be reported to the concerned authorities and the competent authority shall constitute an inquiry committee to inquire and fix the responsibility.
  43. P.I may use the project laboratory for commercial purpose, however, it shall be reported at ORIC and a formal request shall be initiated for getting approval from the competent authority. Subsidized rates shall be charged and deposited in the university account. A suitable percentage of earnings from the laboratory shall be shared with the P.I. as honorarium at the end of each year.
  44. In case of any discovery/innovation, P.I must report it to ORIC, and a formal case of patent filling shall be prepared and submitted to the concerned offices in Pakistan/or in foreign countries (whatever is suggested). In this regard, the HEC shall be consulted and the discovery shall be placed for commercialization through ORIC in the relevant industry.
  45. All research publications under the Project shall be reported to ORIC and PI shall have to publish their research papers in HEC approvedJournals/ISI index journals.
  46. The Books and Journals acquired by the Principal Investigator under any project funded by National/International funding agency must be deposited to the central/departmental library at the end of the project. They shall become institutional property.
  47. Once the project is approved by the funding agency, copies of the approved project proposal shall be shared with following offices for record purpose:
  48. ORIC
  49. Office of the Treasurer

d)     Project Procurement

  1. All procurements for the Rs. 0.5 million or above shall be made as per PPRA rules and regulations and through normal AIOU purchase procedure. However, procurement for less than Rs. 0.5 million may be made through the project procurement committee.  The Project Procurement Committeemust have following members:
  2. Treasurer Office Nominee
  3. ORIC Head/Director or nominee
  4. P.I of the project
  5. Nominee of Chairman Central Procurement Committee
  6. All equipment/furniture and fixture shall be the property of the University and be entered in the university stock register.
  7. Any repair and maintenance cost of the equipment shall be made from the project budget head“Contingencies/Miscellanies”. If the project does not have Contingencies/Miscellanies budget head, the University shall have to bear this cost for smooth execution of project activities.
  8. P.I shall maintain a project stock register with the information to ORIC office; and shall be liable to provide the same at the time of annual audit.
  9. All procurements shall be made as per approved Project document and no extra provision shall be granted. P.I shall initiate the request for procurement of any equipment/consumables as per project document through ORIC which shall be verified, approved and sent to Purchase & Store section for further necessary action.
  10. Purchase & Store section shall maintain a separate data base of scientific equipment to be procured under the projects and share the details with ORIC as and when demanded.
  11. Duplication of the scientific equipment shall be discouraged and P.I shall be requested to replace the equipment with some other option(s)/up gradation.
  12. The equipment grant may be used to procure essential equipment needed for the proposed research work (as listed in the proposal).
  13. The escalation, if any, in the cost of approved equipment may be met out of savings/re-appropriation from other heads after getting the prior approval of the funding agency, especially in case of local government funding agencies.
  14. The equipment acquired by the Principal Investigator under a Research Project must be returned to University at the end of the project and it would become as institutional property.The University shall make every effort to put all the equipment available in the laboratories in effective use.

e)         Human Resource Management

  1. The funding agency may approve and provide aidto engage research staff during the tenure of the project. The Research Personnel shall not accept or hold any other appointment paid or otherwise or receive any emoluments, salary, stipend etc. from any other source during the tenure. They shall do full time work with the Principal Investigator on the research project. Eligibility and qualification criteria shall be defined by the Principal Investigator according to the post title.
  2. Project staff appointments shall be made through ORIC. In this regard, as per award letter issued by the funding agency and the submitted project document (final version), a formal request for hiring of staff shall be processed by the P.I to ORIC through proper channel.Call for applicationsadvertisement, applications receiving, and scrutiny shall be done by P.I of the project. ORIC shall thus, organize selection committee meeting. Director/Head ORIC shall issue final orders of selectionandshall issue offer letters to selectees.
  3. The composition of the selection committee shall be;
Principal Investigator Chairperson
Co- Principal Investigator Member
One nominee of field relevant subject expert (external) Member
One nominee from HR Member
Director/Head Director (ORIC) Member
Deputy Director ORIC Member/Secretary
   
  1. In case of specific policy guideline for hiring staff under approved project provided by the concerned funding agency, the nominated selection committee shall follow the same.
  2. The advertisement shall be prepared in line with the selection criteria set by the P.I. However, the criteria must be set based on academic qualification and experience. The advertisement shall be approved by the competent authority for posting on AIOU web page or published in leading national newspapers, whichever is approved by the competent authority.
  3. The advertisement shall clearly state the actual salary package to be offered to the candidate as per project document and the nature of job/engagement shall be on contract basis. It shall also be made clear to candidate(s) that this engagement/job offer is under the funded project and not under AIOU, and that this project appointment shall not entitle them to claim any future employment in AIOU on regular basis. Furthermore, it shall be made clear to them that the appointee shall follow the university employment rules and regulations in general.
  4. After receiving the applications, short listing shall follow the approved criterion. After scrutiny of the applications, shortlisted candidates shall be called for interview. In case, selection committee does not find any suitable candidate, the post shall be re-advertised, and re-interview process shall be launched.
  5. The staff in ORIC shall prepare the minutes of the meeting of selection committee after finalization of the hiring of staff. After that, minutes of the meeting shall be placed for the signatures before the committee members and finally for the approval from P.I.
  6. After approval of the P.I, ORIC shall issue the job/engagement offer letter to the selected candidates. A copy of the same shall be sent to all concerned departments.
  7. In case of acceptance of job/engagement offer letter, the candidate shall submit the joining report in the office of P.I and the same shall be forwarded to ORIC and Registrar Office for further necessary action. The joining report along with relevant documents (copy of award letter, copy of project proposal along with budget portion) duly verified by ORIC shall be submitted to finance section for release of salary on monthly basis.
  8. Salaries of staff shall be paid out from the project’s relevant head and any increment (if approved in the project document) shall be provided to the candidate on annual basis subject to provision of Annual Confidential Report (ACR)/performance Report duly signed and submitted by the P.I to ORIC. The same shall be used for extension in the contact time period of staff.

f)         Monitoring and Evaluation

  1. Midterm Progress Report (after six months from the date of starting) of project work done must be submitted by the PI or Co-PI as per prescribed proforma with a summary forwarded to ORIC.
  2. After completion of one year of the project (from the date of starting), a detail Progress Report of work done along with funds utilization report must be submitted to ORIC for internal audit and endorsement of Director/Head, ORIC for onward submission to funding agency.
  3. The relevant policy guidelines of concerned funding agency shall be followed for monitoring & evaluation.
  4. In the physical visit of the project site by concerned funding agency, the P.I shall invite a nominee from ORIC to attend the visit.
  5. ORIC team shall visit the project site periodically and prepare the review report for the university authorities.
  6. After completion of the project, a final progress report along with funds utilization report duly signed by the P.I must be submitted to ORIC for internal audit and endorsement of the Director, ORIC.The same shall be submitted to concerned funding agency for evaluation of project’s desired outcome.