Regulations for the bench fee of FWO fellows
Since the 2007-2008 academic year, an annual fixed bench fee has been given to the PhD fellows and Postdoctoral fellows of the FWO to cover the bench costs of their research. From 1 January 2016 this bench fee is also for the Doctoral grants strategic basic research. This bench fee is granted for each fellowship year.
Annual fixed amount of the bench fee
The fixed bench fee for one academic year is as follows:
- for PhD fellowships and Doctoral grants strategic basic research of the FWO: EUR 3,720
- for Postdoctoral fellowships of the FWO: EUR 4,000
The FWO bench fee for fellows can be accumulated with any additional grants provided by the host institution.
Payment of the fee
The bench fee will be paid quarterly after submission of supporting documents (expense statements), into an account number of the university/principal host institution to which the fellow is affiliated.
The Finance department of the host institution will open a credit line for the beneficiaries.
The beneficiaries are all PhD fellows, Doctoral grants strategic basic research and Postdoctoral fellows of the FWO in function.
If the fellowship is terminated prematurely, payment of the bench fee will also cease. If the grant is suspended temporarily in the event of a research assignment, payment of the bench fee will also be suspended temporarily. This also applies if the fellowship is carried out for less than 50%.
Use and management
The PhD fellow of the FWO and his/her supervisor jointly manage the bench fee.
The Postdoctoral fellow of the FWO manages his/her bench fee him/herself.
Bench fees can be used for the purchase and financing of all items that are directly related to the research activities of the fellows. These include:
- purchase costs for items of lasting value which are useful for PhD research (equipment, computers, books, etc.). When the fellowship ends, those items become the property of the university;
- costs of consumables (reagents, test animals or plants, chemicals, etc.);
- operating expenditure (based on invoice, internal note, or final statement) for photocopies, searches and data traffic (mail/fax/internet);
- travel and accommodation costs in Belgium and abroad (excluding commuter traffic);
- publication costs for articles with the fellow as first author (or as co-author on the basis of a reasonable cost-sharing);
- printing costs of the PhD fellow's and Doctoral grant strategic basic research thesis;
- accommodation costs for participation at a congress.
Specifically and only for [PEGASUS]2 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Postdoctoral Researchers, the bench fee may also be used for participation in training activities to promote transferable skills (communication, valorisation, leadership, career planning, etc.), provided this does not compromise the initially approved research activities.
The bench may under no circumstances be used for:
- costs for registration on the university roll or as a regular student in Belgium or abroad;
- costs for registration as a PhD student and for the PhD programme;
- the fellowship holder's or the supervisor's strictly personal expenditure, including accommodation and commuter traffic;
- the settlement of central management costs and/or general operating costs by the research group/department or the university;
- expenditure already covered by other financing sources;
- costs of other scholarship students, PhD students, postdoctoral fellows or staff members.
The PhD fellow and Doctoral grant strategic basic research and his/her supervisor or the Postdoctoral fellow are free to plan the use of the bench fee. This means, among other things, that the bench fee balance can be carried forward to a subsequent fellowship year, within the term of the awarded fellowship.
Upon expiry of the fellowship, unused funds can no longer be used and return to the FWO. Expenses incurred prior to the start of the fellowship cannot be financed either.
PhD fellows and Doctoral grants strategic basic research of the FWO and Postdoctoral fellows of the FWO who are awarded this bench fee cannot apply to the FWO for grants for short stays or for participation in conferences within Europe. The same applies to IWT grant holders who have also been awarded a bench fee.
PhD and Postdoctoral fellows of the FWO will, however, still be eligible for long stays abroad and short stays outside Europe and grants for conferences outside Europe.
The PhD fellow and Doctoral grant strategic basic research and his/her supervisor authorise the charging of expenditure to the bench fee by approving in writing each original invoice or internal accounting record which they then forward to the competent finance department of the host institution. With their signatures they acknowledge the correctness of the charged amount in accordance with these regulations.
In the case of Postdoctoral fellows, it is the fellowship holder him/herself who autonomously decides and signs to confirm the accuracy of the data.
For this, the following shall be taken into account:
- the bench fee shall not be increased if the actual expenditure exceeds its amount. It is therefore in the interest of the research project to manage these funds correctly;
- the university may only charge costs which were caused by the specific implementation of the project, and insofar as the PhD fellow and Doctoral grant strategic basic research and his/her supervisor or the Postdoctoral fellow agree with the charged amount.
The competent administration of the host institution quarterly reports to the FWO on the status of the available account balance and the nature of the costs charged to the account.
This is done for each individual fellowship holder. The document signed by the PhD fellow or Doctoral grant strategic basic research and his/her supervisor or the Postdoctoral fellow shall therefore contain at least the following information:
- surname and first name of the signing fellowship holder;
- surname and first name of the signing supervisor in the case of a PhD fellow and Doctoral grant strategic basic research;
- indication of the months of the reporting period;
- final balance at the end of the quarter;
- description of the nature of the costs charged to the account.
The original supporting documents and account statements remain at the university for verification by the FWO, the FWO auditor and all bodies authorised to audit the FWO.