One of the great debates in the past few years has been how to set the level of user fee. What the core manager must establish is what has to be recovered in terms of running costs of the facility. Obviously this will depend in part on how the core is funded. It may be funded via an Institutional grant and therefore has no need to pass costs onto users. At the other end of the spectrum, a full economic recovery plan may be in operation where all costs, machine depreciation, staff costs and even room utilities may have to be covered.
The fee will also vary with level of input of facility staff and many facilities have different levels of fee accordingly. These may be for example:
- User operation of an analytical cytometer which would attract the lowest fee
- Operation that requires input from facility staff
- Sorter operation
Many facilities will also have different rates depending on where the user is from e.g. internal users versus external or academic versus industrial.
In many cases, facilities will offer either training or one-off experiments 'free'.
There have been several surveys on usage charging over the past few years, most of these have been North American based. One recent one, by Richard Konz at the University of Massachusetts Medical School is available online