PATT Linked Grant

The Astrophysics Group has a "linked" grant that covers travel to observe using PATT approved telescopes (and a few others). This WWW page gives some guidelines for the use of the linked grant. If you have questions, please ask Mark Birkinshaw so that he can update this page to give better guidance.


The rolling grant can only be used for travel for a single observer to

For travel to other telescopes, we need to get approval well in advance of the date of travel from PATT. To get that approval, Mark Birkinshaw or the observer must contact Diane Greening of PATT at STFC with

Even then, such travel funding tends to be awarded only if we can convince PATT that there is something scientifically unique about this telescope, and that the UK-based observer is an essential observer. An example where this has been necessary is the SAAO 1.9-m telescope - permission must be requested before travel on the rolling grant can approved.

PATT will sometimes fund co-investigators' travel to telescopes, but to do this you have to be able to make the case that your presence as a co-investigator is vital. A good example might be if the nominal principal investigator is a figurehead, rather than the real researcher, or if the observing run is so long that it would be a safety hazard for a single person to operate the telescope. The additional paperwork is fairly burdensome, and again must be processed well in advance of the proposed trip because there is no guarantee that approval will be given.

Also, please note that only one observer per telescope is usually permitted: to get two observers out to a telescope also requires special PATT permission, and again this must be sought well in advance of the trip. It is usually granted only if the observations are unusually onerous. The one observer per telescope rule applies even if the other observer is from a foreign non-STFC funded institution.

The linked grant does not support student travel to telescopes at all. Such travel is funded via the student training budget, not the PATT line. Consult the STFC student observing WWW page for further information.

The only observers who can travel on the PATT award are currently

Other observers may be added, but again a case has to be made to PATT, and we need substantial warning of this in order to get it through in time for most observing trips (again, there can be paperwork involved.)

Planning the trip

STFC has a standard set of travel and subsistence rates for various parts of the world that host approved telescopes. This set of rates can be used as guidelines for costing trips in advance. The University of Bristol's accounting rules do not allow us to use these standard rates: you will need to use the standard University procedures (collect full receipts and submit them, with the usual covering form from Proactis ) to obtain tickets, an advance, and to close out the trip. This does mean, however, that the University will keep track of the overall costs of our observing trips, saving us from filling in some of the paperwork that might otherwise be needed.

The University has decreed that we should use (or at least consider using) Key Travel as travel agents. Their website address is, and the phone number is 0845 122 0103. You need not use Key Travel if you can find a better rate on-line.

To pay for tickets, or obtain advances, use charge code Phys.RF2058. The EL2 code has recently changed, with the adoption of the new Proactis purchasing and expenses system. If you have had experience of the new system in the context of the PATT grant, then it would help others to give a step-by-step description of the process here!

At the same time that you book the travel, please eMail Mark Birkinshaw about the trip: he has to keep a tally of every trip that is made, so that a suitable report can be provided for the renewal of the rolling grant. In that eMail, please let him know the amount that you will be charging to the grant, again so he can see whether we're about to run out of money (and then write begging letters to PATT to get some more, if needed), and the code number that has been assigned to the charge.

After the trip

As usual, you will have to hand over all receipts that you've collected and all boarding passes, ticket stubs, and so on in order to complete the University travel reimbursement procedure using Proactis. When you have finalised the form, please also eMail Mark Birkinshaw to tell him what the overall cost of the trip was, and to give him the code number assigned to the close-out charges. A one-line description of whether the trip was successful or not may also help when it comes to doing the renewal. This may not be necessary if Proactis works as planned, since he should be asked to authorize the charge, but at present this is a useful safety net.

STFC also require that a spreadsheet is filled in with the details of the costs incurred. Please fill in the spreadsheet and send a copy to Mark Birkinshaw ( at the end of your trip. Key to keeping this accurate is the split between costs of air travel, ground travel, and general subsistence: please take care to distinguish these.

More information about the PATT linked grant scheme may be found in the PATT guidelines which tend to migrate around the STFC WWW pages, so this link may be broken.

ESO telescopes

The linked grant will no longer support any expenses related to observing with ESO telescopes. ESO Garching will not only support the air travel, and foreign component of travel, to use their telescopes, but will also provide reimbursement for other expenses. This is explained on their visas and travel instructions WWW page, where they state "Any additional reimbursable non-private costs can be claimed by filling in the travel expense claim. This claim has to be sent to the Visiting Astronomers travel office at ESO Garching supported by the ticket stubs and receipts for miscellaneous expenses (this does not apply for passport or Observing Programmes Office costs). As a rule the most economical air, train or bus ticket will be reimbursed. If the Visiting Astronomer prefers to travel by private car or taxi to the airport, the equivalent of a train ticket (2nd class) will be reimbursed."


It is a condition of this grant that all published results gained from the observing must be lodged in an accessible electronic archive. We will probably need to prove this, so please keep track of the link to the electronic version of the paper that you finally generate. The arXiv site is suitable for this, as is the University's electronic repository.

Revised 07-Sep-2012 by Mark Birkinshaw