Informatics staff and student expenses guidance

Informatics staff and student expenses guidance.

The university's expenses policy is available here: Staff expenses

Whilst the University policy relates to staff expenses, the School of Informatics will apply the same approach to expenses claimed by students, including as described in the guidance below.

These additional guidelines provide further clarification as to how the policy is implemented within the School of Informatics. They do not override University policy.

The purpose of the University policy and additional guidance to is to ensure that claimants are reimbursed for expenditure reasonably and properly incurred in the pursuit of the University’s business. There is an expectation on claimants to be prudent in their spending and authorisers are required to be diligent in their review and approval of expenses.

If in doubt about the eligibility of any expenditure then it is advisable to check, in advance, with the authorising signatory.

If any clarification is required regarding the University policy, then this may be obtained from the University Finance enquiry desk

Timing limit on the submission of expenses claims

Claims should be submitted as soon as is practicable. This should be normally within three months of the expenditure. Any claims submitted more than three months after the expenditure was incurred must be accompanied by a documented explanation for the delay in submission. Claims submitted after closure of a grant or similar funding will not be allowable. The final decision rests with the authorised signatory.

Travel: transport and accommodation

  1. All travel on University business must be pre-approved by the budget holder. In the case of research grants, the budget holder is usually the Principal Investigator (PI).
  2. Staff and students are strongly advised to use the University’s Travel Management Service, Diversity, for booking any travel. 
  3. Hotel accommodation outside Edinburgh should be booked through Diversity unless there is a good reason otherwise. This reason should be documented.
  4. There is no financial allowance for staying with friends or relatives.
  5. University travel insurance must be arranged for all work travel. A risk assessment for overseas visits must be provided, where required.

Travel: meals and subsistence

  1. Costs will vary depending on location.
  2. School guidance is around £40 for dinner while away from Edinburgh. This should be more than sufficient for most (but not necessarily all) destinations.
  3. University policy is that alcohol costs will not be reimbursed. The School does not have the discretion to vary this policy.
  4. Itemised receipts must be provided for all expenses incurred. Credit card receipts or statements and bank statements on their own are not sufficient as they do not provide the detail needed for the authorised signatory to sign-off the claim.
  5. Where it is not possible to obtain an individual receipt (eg group meals), and the funder allows, photographs or scans of receipts are acceptable. These should be accompanied by proof of payment (eg credit card payment voucher) where available.
  6. The actual cost of personal incidental expenses such as newspapers, private calls, laundry, non-alcoholic drinks, etc, may be claimed provided that the cost does not exceed £5 per night (in the UK) or £10 per night (outside the UK). Receipts are required for such expenditures. This is not a per diem allowance, but may be used to claim reimbursement of actual expenditure. Items of a personal nature (eg toiletries) are not claimable.
  7. Note that for EU grants the submission of itemised receipts for every transaction is essential. Without a detailed receipt auditors are likely to remove the charge from the grant.

Entertaining & hospitality: guests and external contacts


  1. Hospitality as defined in the University policy is authorised by the Head of School and will be approved if it is in accordance with University and, if relevant, funder policy
  2. University policy is that the maximum allowable ratio is three Edinburgh University representatives per guest. There are instances where this ratio may be exceeded, however approval should be sought in advance.
  3. When hosting a candidate for interview, the school’s guide is that you should arrange one lunch and one dinner for the candidate.
  4. Entertaining should follow the guidance of 
    1. Dinner = up to £40 per head
    2. Lunch = up to £20 per head.

In addition, reasonable alcohol will be reimbursed and the School guideline is up to £10 per head.

Please note: these amounts are inclusive of any service charges (up to a maximum of 15%).


   4. Itemised receipts must be provided.

   5. A list of all people attending the meal (including organisation/company details) must be included with the claim.

   6. Working lunches or dinners with colleagues (ie without external guests) held away from the University are not a reimbursable expense.

Catering at business-related events

  1. The following provides general guidance, however it is advisable to seek specific guidance on individual events before incurring costs or making firm bookings.
  2. The cost of annual events such as Christmas parties and Summer BBQs, organised by Institutes, is allowable providing the event is approved by the Head of School and is open to all staff members of the School.
  3. Proportionate refreshments and catering (eg lunch) may be claimed for events held off-site, where business is a substantive part of the event. This includes such things as training events and staff development days. A copy of the business agenda for the event should be submitted with the claim.
  4. Light working lunches or dinners taken during breaks in business meetings held on University premises are an allowable expense and should normally be arranged as delivered catering.
  5. Other than the above, working lunches or dinners with University colleagues (eg lunches or dinners for research groups, departmental teams, etc) are not reimbursable.

Non-travel related expenses

The expenses process should only exceptionally be used to purchase items not related to travel and hospitality (ie expenses other than travel, accommodation and meals). For all other purchases, University procurement processes must be followed where available. Before making any non-travel or non-hospitality related purchase, check with the appropriate level admin office for the appropriate procurement route. If, exceptionally, such purchases have to be made and reclaimed through the expenses process, then the reason for not being able to follow the normal procurement route must be documented and retained on file. Such expense claims made without good reason may be refused, therefore prior approval is always advisable. Any such claims exceeding £100 will be subject to additional scrutiny.

Personal mobile phone and data contracts will not be reimbursed by the University. Staff who essentially require a mobile phone or other mobile device and/or call time and/or data contract for business use should obtain the budget holder’s permission and follow the University procurement procedure.

Personal membership subscriptions are not an allowable expense unless there is a net financial benefit to the University. Advance guidance should be sought and the benefit calculation must be documented.

Exchange rates

  1. University policy states: Foreign currency will be reimbursed in sterling using the nearest applicable exchange rate to the date that the expenses were incurred.
  2. The School will apply the above policy. It is usually acceptable to use a single exchange rate to cover the period of a claim.
  3. Any charges for money exchange (eg credit card or bank fees) may be claimed if evidence is provided.

Missing receipts

Itemised receipts must be provided for every item on the claim. If it is not possible to provide a receipt, the reason must be documented. Note scans and photos (eg of London Underground tickets) maybe acceptable where it is impractical to obtain a receipt. If a receipt has been lost then the authorised signatory will look at this on a case by case basis but be aware that costs without receipts may be stripped out of the claim. The final decision rests with the authorised signatory.