The Overheads Conundrum: Can a Research Support Office be Self-sustained?

The Overheads Conundrum: Can a Research Support Office be Self-sustained?

The Overheads Conundrum: Can a Research Support Office be Self-sustained?

Meet and discuss with the EARMA's Finance and Governance Committee (FGC)

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Event date: Thursday, October 26, 2023

Event time: 14:00 - 15:00 CET

Registration: This event is free of charge, but as for all our events, registration is required. Just click on the yellow button at the top of this page and see here how to access the event


Event Description:

Overhead money is often the source of a tug-of-war between research support offices and principal investigators. Institutional policies are often in place to regulate the use of overhead money. Yet there seems to be no right or good models that prevail, hence discussions are ongoing and at times inconclusive. The aim of this session is to present the overheads conundrum to the audience, compare some of the models applied in a number of institutions and encourage participants to share their views on the challenges and models of overheads applied in their respective institutions, By the end of the session, attendees should be in a position to identify what other institutions are doing with overhead money, what challenges they are facing and how they are overcoming them, in order to help them assess whether their model requires improvements, and if it does, what options are possible. Ultimately the session tries to answer the question as to whether it is at all possible for Research Support Offices to be self-sustained through the money allocated from overheads.


This session is being presented by members of EARMA’s Finance and Governance Committee as part of EARMA’s initiative to bring its committees closer to the RMA community.  Attendees will have the opportunity to interact and familiarise themselves with the Committee’s members while also engaging in a discussion that is believed to be very common among RMAs in their day-to-day work.




Christian Bonnici1
Christian Bonnici

Dr Christian Bonnici has been an EARMA member since 2013 and is currently the vice-chair of the Finance and Governance Committee. He holds a Bachelor of Commerce (B.Com), a Bachelor of Accountancy (B.Accountancy Hons.) and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Management from the University of Malta. Christian started his career as an accountant working in an audit and advisory environment with a Big Four professional services firm specialising on Financial Services. In 2008 he joined the University of Malta, first as a Finance Manager and subsequently as a Deputy Director leading the Project Support Office. His role involved overseeing the management and implementation of all externally funded projects awarded to the University of Malta. He was responsible for a multi-disciplinary team ranging from project managers, project administrators, lawyers, accountants and project support officers. The team handled project proposals submitted for funding by researchers to local, European and international funding agencies that promote research activities in individual and collaborative projects. During his term at the University of Malta, Dr Bonnici was also a member of the Professional Development Working Group within EARMA. Before being appointed Director of Research Support Services, Dr Bonnici spent two and a half years as head of KPMG Learning Academy in its mission to provide training courses in a wide range of areas for the Continuous Professional Development of accountants, auditors, tax practitioners, IT specialists and project managers, among others. In his doctorate studies, Dr Bonnici specialised on university-based research management in European small island states. He conducted a comparative study between the national universities of Iceland, Cyprus and Malta in the management of their research, the researchers and the research environment. Dr Bonnici is also a part-time lecturer at the University of Malta, covering subjects in Accounting, Management, Research Methodology and Doctoral Studies. He regularly supervises students in their dissertations at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels.

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