UBC Expenditure Guidelines FAQs

Last update: November 21, 2017

1. What is the purpose of these guidelines?

These guidelines are a compilation of existing UBC policies and best practice consolidated into one document for ease of reference.  The goal is to be reasonable but not too prescriptive. In an organization as large and diverse as UBC, no single practice applies to all situations.  The guidelines allow units to use judgement when assessing individual cases.
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2. Were faculty members consulted during the development of these guidelines?

Several versions of these draft guidelines were circulated to administrative and academic unit heads for review and comment over the past year. While the majority of these guidelines are a compilation of existing UBC policies and current best practices, we acknowledge there are a few changes made which may warrant further consultation. To that end, we will be establishing two working groups to explore computers and IT expenditures as well as travel expenses with faculty representatives
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3. Do I have to obtain permission for every conference I attend?

While this is a clear requirement for staff, we appreciate this change may have had unintended consequences for faculty and their academic heads of unit. We will be exploring travel expenses further through a travel-working group with faculty representatives.

In the meantime, the requirement for pre-approval for conferences and travel for faculty members who are using research funding is suspended pending further review and clarification.
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4. Is the 30-day reimbursement requirement new?

No, the 30-day reimbursement requirement is not new for travel and related expenses. UBC Policy 83: Travel & Related Expenses states “Travel Claims should be submitted within thirty (30) working days of the traveller’s return.”

Our best intention should be to process all expense claims within 30 days, but we also recognize that occasionally this may not be possible.

We appreciate the feedback on suggested changes to this timeline and will consider this in light of upcoming policy revisions. We are also working towards improving existing processes and systems to make such activities more effective for you.

Note: these guidelines are not meant to override another program’s procedures, such as the Faculty Professional Development Reimbursement Fund.
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5. The travel policy requires that all claims be submitted within 30 days. I also note that the rules for the Faculty Professional Development previously required that only 3 expense claims per year can be submitted. Are the new rules for the PDF fund really as above—i.e. claims within 30 days, only 3 claims per year?

These guidelines are not meant to override another program’s procedures, such as the Faculty Professional Development Reimbursement Fund process. Faculty wishing to use their PD funds to pay for travel would follow the timelines in those guidelines (or other similar programs) for seeking reimbursement. In the meantime, we have flagged this inconsistency in approach and will be exploring this further with those who oversee the Faculty PD Fund.
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6. Why am I being asked to buy my computer through UBC IT or my local IT team?

This request was intended to ensure the equipment purchased will have the necessary hardware and software specifications to meet your needs. We appreciate this change may have had unintended consequences for faculty members using research funds though, and will be explored further through an IT working group with representatives from faculty members, Faculty IT units as well as UBC IT.

In the meantime, we are suspending this requirement.

As an interim approach, we would like to recommend the following approach in purchasing computers:

  • If you need to run specialized software such as Windows Home Edition or Chromebooks, we would like to encourage everyone to consult with your IT support unit or a Faculty or department delegate to ensure sufficient capability to allow you to complete your work.
  • If you are using a device to access or store confidential UBC information, UBC’s Information Security Standards require these devices to be encrypted. Such devices include: laptop computers; mobile computing devices (e.g. smartphones, tablet computers); and mobile storage devices/media (e.g. USB keys, CDs, DVDs, tapes, portable hard drives). The encryption requirement was put in place to comply with our legal obligations under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

If for some reason encryption is determined by IT staff to be impractical, arrangements must be made for the storage of confidential information in a secure manner. This would also include research data of a confidential nature.
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7. What does “A UBC employee will generally be issued one computer or laptop for work purposes” mean?

We appreciate this change has generated questions regarding research computers, labs and term employees, and may have had unintended consequences and therefore we will explore this further through a working group with representatives from faculty members, Faculty IT units as well as UBC IT.

In the meantime, we are suspending the requirement for faculty members who are purchasing computers using research funding pending further review and clarification.
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