Regulations for the bench fee of FWO fellows

As amended by decision of the Board of Trustees of 18/09/2019

SCOPE

Art. 1.

§ 1. The beneficiaries are the PhD fellows, postdoctoral fellows and holders of a senior clinical fellowship of the FWO.

§ 2. For each fellowship year, a bench fee is made available to PhD fellows (maximum two years), postdoctoral fellows (maximum three years) and holders of a senior clinical investigator fellowship (maximum five years) of the FWO to cover the bench costs of their research. No extra bench fee is granted for administrative extensions.

AMOUNT OF THE BENCH FEE PER FELLOWSHIP YEAR

Art. 2.

§ 1. For PhD fellows, the bench fee per fellowship year is fixed at €3,720.   The bench fee is automatically allocated at the time the fellowship is assumed.

§ 2. For postdoctoral fellows, the bench fee per fellowship year is minimum €4,000 and maximum €10,000. Postdoctoral fellows must apply for the bench fee per fellowship year when they submit their fellowship application.   Applications for bench fees in excess of €4,000 per fellowship year must be substantiated, clearly specifying for which purpose and during which phase of the research project the bench fee will be used.

§ 3. For holders of a senior clinical investigator fellowship, the bench fee is fixed at €20,000 per year. The bench fee is only allocated during the first fellowship period at the time the fellowship is assumed.

§ 4. The bench fee may be accumulated with any additional grants provided by the host institution.

PAYMENT OF THE BENCH FEE

Art. 3.

§ 1. The bench fee will be paid quarterly after submission of supporting documents (expense statements), into an account number of the host institution to which the fellow is affiliated.

§ 2. The Finance department of the host institution will open a credit line for the beneficiaries.

TERMINATION AND SUSPENSIONS

Art. 4.

§ 1. In the event of early termination of the fellowship, the balance of the bench fee reverts to the FWO.

§ 2. The fellowship may be suspended as set out in the relevant articles of the regulations of the Research Foundation - Flanders governing the PhD fellowship for the implementation of fundamental research projects, governing the PhD fellowship for the implementation of strategic basic research projects, and governing the postdoctoral fellowship. In these cases, the bench fee remains available, but in principle no expenses can be justified during the period of suspension. This is also the case if the FWO fellowship is assumed for less than 50% and when taking up time credit or a foreign research fellowship or grant.

USE AND MANAGEMENT

Art. 5.

The PhD fellow and his/her supervisor jointly manage the bench fee. The postdoctoral fellow of the FWO manages his/her bench fee him/herself.

Art. 6.

§1. Bench fees can be used for the purchase and financing of all items that are directly related to the research activities of the fellows. Costs for which bench fees can be used are exclusively limited to the following:

  • purchase costs for items of lasting value and useful for the research (equipment, computers, books, etc.).  Upon termination of the fellowship, those items become the property of the host institution or university hospital. The fellow is required to comply with the purchasing policy of the host institution or university hospital.
  • 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);
  • the remuneration of persons not subject to the social security system who participate in the awarded research (based on invoice or internal note);
  • travel and accommodation expenses in Belgium and abroad, excluding commuting expenses (Fellows cannot claim a fixed accommodation allowance but must justify these expenses with supporting documents such as invoices, tickets, etc.);
  • fees for student stays and participation in conferences abroad provided they are in line with the awarded research;
  • 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 thesis;
  • access to and dissemination of research results.

§ 2. Postdoctoral fellows may also use the bench fee 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.

§ 3. 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;
  • costs for the award of the PhD (invitations for public defence of the PhD thesis, costs for hiring a room, reception costs, travel and accommodation of the jury, etc.);
  • costs for the organisation of a workshop or conference.

§ 4. The PhD fellow 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. If junior and senior postdoctoral fellowships immediately follow each other, the balance may be transferred between both these fellowships.

§ 5. Under no circumstances can expenditure be charged to bench fees awarded for future financial years.

§ 6. 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.

Art. 7.

§ 1. PhD fellows 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.

§ 2. 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.

AUTHORISATION AND VERIFICATION

Art. 8.

§ 1. The PhD fellow 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.

§ 2. In the case of postdoctoral fellows and holders of a senior clinical investigator fellowship, it are the fellowship holders who autonomously decide and sign to confirm the accuracy of the data.

§ 3. 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.

§ 4. The host institution or university hospital may only charge costs which were caused by the specific implementation of the project, and insofar as the PhD fellow and his/her supervisor, the postdoctoral fellow or the holder of a senior clinical investigator fellowship agree with the charged amount.

Art. 9.

§ 1. The competent administration of the host institution quarterly reports to FWO on the status of the available account balance and the nature of the costs charged to the account.

§ 2. Upon termination of the fellowship, the original supporting documents and account statements remain with the main host institution or university hospital for the retention period for accounting records provided for by law, notably in Article III.83 of the Economic Law Code, for verification by the FWO, the FWO auditor and all bodies authorised to audit the FWO.

CONTACT

Art. 10.

§ 1. For general questions about the bench fee, the fellow shall contact the Research Coordination department of the main host institution or the relevant department of the university hospital.

§ 2. For questions about the grant management, the fellow shall contact the Finance department of the main host institution or the university hospital.

Note: the English version of the regulations are only a translation and have no legal force.