Guidance for academic staff on carrying out university consultancy

A new process for setting up consultancy through the University is in place from 1 August 2019. This process is designed to reduce the University’s exposure to risk, raise the visibility of consultancy work that is carried out, and improve the efficiency of contracting such work for all involved. In order to address these issues consistently, it is implemented across all faculties.

The University now provides academics with guidance on pricing the work competitively, agrees the contract with the client, invoices the customer and distributes the surplus income to the academic(s) carrying out the work and to the School. Any income tax implications for individuals are managed by the University, as are conflicts of interest and IP scenarios. The University also provides the necessary indemnity insurance for the work to be carried out.

In the majority of cases university consultancy will result in discretionary income for the academic doing the work, and for their School. The sharing of income with the School will enable it to invest beyond its limited budgets in activities such as curriculum development, PGR support, V-C Fellowship contributions, match funding and improving facilities for members of the School.

For clarity, the attached document provides a definition of what is university consultancy. It also details what is not consultancy; there are a number of activities that academics carry out that may be interpreted as consultancy, but they are in fact just part of the normal academic role and can be handled as such.

Academics are free to choose whether they carry out consultancy through the University (university consultancy), or whether seek to carry it out privately. Private consultancy requires prior permission and declaration in accordance with the Outside Work Policy, and academics who undertake it are encouraged to follow the guidance on carrying out private consultancy.

The process for carrying out university consultancy for academics:

  1. Before making any commitments, you will need to request your Head of School (HoS) approval of the potential work, to assess any resourcing issues or risks that could be implied. You should do this by completing this form (HoS Approval Form final (Office document, 23kB) and sending it by email to your HoS;
  2. If your HoS approves the request, you should then cost the work though the fEC system (or the Award Management System from 2020), identifying it as Consultancy;
  3. Finance will check the costing and then contact you to agree a price for the work. They will use pricing guidelines that have been agreed as part of the overall process. You may wish to involve others (eg HoS) in agreeing a final price;
  4. The agreed price will be offered to the client by Finance, usually via a short-form quotation, which also forms the contract. You will also receive a copy of the quotation;
  5. Once the quotation has been accepted by the client, you may carry out the work;
  6. When you have completed the work to the client’s satisfaction, you must inform Finance;
  7. Finance will invoice the client;
  8. When the income is received from the client, Finance will allocate the income to cover the costs as identified in the approval process. Any remaining (surplus) income can be allocated between the academic and the School under the discretionary account policy. An example of possible allocation is shown in this model. The agreement regarding allocation of any surplus should be made during the approval process and documented appropriately.

Special contracts

If there are particular risks involved with the proposed work, there may be a need to establish an alternative contract and/or Terms and Conditions. In these rare cases, the proposal will be referred to the Secretary’s Office to help establish the terms and finalise the contract with the client.

Unpaid consultancy

It is known that in some faculties, academics sometimes do unpaid consultancy for external organisations. The new process should not stand in the way of these interactions, which are important for generating and developing certain partnerships. Heads of School should be made aware of these interactions as part of their overview of the activities and partnerships within the School. There is no need for the process described above to be used in these cases.