How to Engage Honorary Academics and Associates

See also:


1. Introduction
2. Forms and the Honorary Contract Template
3. The Role of the Sponsor
4. The Role of the Honorary & Associate Co-ordinator
5. Honorary/Visiting Academic Status - Process for Requesting/Extending
6. Process for Requesting and Extending Associate Status
7. Students
8. Budget Holder or Line Manager Status
9. Bench Fees
10. Honorary Clinical Staff
11. Buildings and IT Access
12. Essential Training
13. Intellectual Property
14. Insurance
15. Visas
Appendix 1: Honorary/Visiting Academic Titles

1. Introduction

This guidance is aimed at Sponsors (see Section 3, below) and Honorary & Associate Co-ordinators (see Section 4, below) and should be read in conjunction with the University’s Policies on Honorary Visiting Academic Status and Associate Staff.

Honorary and Visiting Academic Status can be conferred on individuals who are not employees but who are associated with the University in an academic capacity.  They may be contributing to the teaching and learning of the University or may be using the University’s facilities to undertake their own research. Although not directly employed, Honorary/Visiting Academics need to be mindful of the University's reputation, must not do anything to put this at risk and must conform to University policies.

Honorary Academic engagements are typically open-ended arrangements. The end date is essentially a review date and will typically take place three years from the start date. For Visiting Academics, an end date will be specified at the outset and is less likely to require extension.  In both cases, any IT/Ucard access that has been granted as part of the arrangement will finish automatically unless an extension is requested (see Section 6 below).

Associates are neither staff nor Honorary/Visiting Academics but nevertheless require unsupervised access to University buildings, libraries and/or IT systems.  They might be consultants, self-employed individuals or casual staff who need IT access for a time.  Associate Status is granted for a maximum of 12 months at a time but can be extended.  IT/Ucard access will finish automatically on the end date, unless extension is requested (see Section 6 below).

Hourly-paid teachers do not need Honorary/Visiting Academic or Associate status. They automatically have IT access and a Ucard. For more information see the HPT policy, procedure and guidance.

TSS (Temporary  Staffing Service) and CAG (Casual, Academic and Guest) workers have their IT access and Ucard arranged through the TSS and do not need to fill out an Associate or Visiting/Honorary Academic form.

2. Forms and Contract Template

3. The Role of the Sponsor

Every Honorary/Visiting Academic or Associate must have a Sponsor. This will be the University of Bristol staff member who initiated the request to grant Honorary/Visiting Academic or Associate status.  The Sponsor will work closely with their local Honorary & Associate Co-ordinator (see Section 4) to arrange honorary status.

Heads of School (for Honorary/Visiting Academics) and School/Section Managers (for Associates) are ultimately responsible for the appointment, but day-to-day oversight is the duty of the Sponsor.  The Head of School (for Academics) or School/Section Manager (for Associates) must ensure that the Sponsor is aware of their responsibilities.   

Sponsors are responsible for:

4. The Role of the Honorary & Associate Co-ordinator

Honorary & Associate Co-ordinators (also referred to in this document as Co-ordinators) are based locally within Faculties/Schools/Divisions and are responsible for supporting the Sponsor and facilitating arrangements for Honorary/Visiting Academics and Associates. They ensure that: 

5. Honorary/Visiting Academics - Process for requesting and extending

5.1 Process for Requesting New Honorary/Visiting Academic Status

1)    The Sponsor sends the individual an Honorary/Visiting Academic Status Request Form (see Section 2, above) asking them to complete Sections A and B and return the form along with a CV and biography.  The Co-ordinator may send the form on behalf of the Sponsor.

2)    On return of the form, the Sponsor completes their section and sends the form to the Head of School.

3)    The Head of School and Dean approve or reject the application.  In the case of Reader/Professor appointments, the Dean will add a supporting note and forward the application to the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for approval.

4)    The Co-ordinator will, on receipt of a fully completed and approved request form:

a)    produce the contract letter (see Section 2, above)

b)    arrange for the contract letter to be signed by the Sponsor or appropriate person

c)    send the contract letter to the Honorary/Visiting academic asking them to sign and return an original copy

d)    only on receipt of a signed contract from the individual, email a copy of the completed Honorary/Visiting Status Request Form (scanning in if necessary) to HR Employee Services who will set up the record in MyERP.

e)    in a secure location, file copies of the approved request form, CV and signed contract. Do not leave these as email attachments.

5.2. Process for Extending Honorary/Visiting Academic Status

Three months before the three-year anniversary of the Honorary Academic appointment (or in the case of Visiting Academics, one month before the end date), an email alert will be sent to the Co-ordinator (and also to the Sponsor where the Sponsor details have been recorded in MyERP) prompting them to review whether the Honorary status should continue.  The Co-ordinator should check with the Sponsor whether extension/continuation is required.  If continuation/extension is required:

1)    A new Honorary/Visiting Status Request form (see Section 2, above) should be completed confirming details of the proposed extension

2)    The form should be forwarded to the Head of School/Dean for authorisation.

3)    On receipt of a completed and authorised form, the Sponsor or Co-ordinator emails it (scanning first if necessary) to HR Employee Services who will update the record in MyERP.

6. Associate Status - Process for Requesting and Extending

1)    The Sponsor (or Co-ordinator) sends the individual an Associate Form (see Section 2, above). 

2)    On return of the form, the Sponsor completes their section and uses the form to gain approval from the School/Section Manager.

3)    Once the form is approved, the Co-ordinator will send a copy to HR Employee Services who will set up the record in MyERP.

4)    The Co-ordinator will file copies of the authorised request form and any letters in a secure location (scanning in if necessary).  Do not leave these as email attachments.

5)    Once HR have created a record in MyERP, an IT account and Ucard account will be automatically created.  This may take up to two working days.  The individual will be able to collect their Ucard from Security Services at Royal Fort Lodge.

At the end of the Associate Status period:

6)    The Co-ordinator will receive an alert one month (and again one week) before the end date.  The Co-ordinator should contact the Sponsor to find out if there is a need for an extension.

7)    If an extension is required, the Co-ordinator completes an Associate Request Form as before, ticking ‘Extension of existing status request’ instead of ‘New status request’ in Section B.

8)    The Sponsor/Co-ordinator will obtain the relevant approvals.

9)    The Co-ordinator will send the authorised form to HR Employee Services who will update the record in MyERP.

Associate status is granted for a maximum of 12 months at a time. IT/Ucard access will finish automatically if no extension is requested. 

7. Student email accounts

Any University of Bristol students who are given Associate status will be set up with an Outlook account which they can access via the Office 365 Portal using their University username and password. Once this happens:

8. Budget Holder or Line Manager Status

If budget holder status is required, the Co-ordinator should contact the  Faculty/Professional Services Finance team.  For line manager status, the Sponsor should contact HR Employee Services to discuss.

9. Bench Fees

Where an honorary appointment results from a request from an individual to use the University’s facilities it may be appropriate to charge that individual a ‘bench fee’.  Faculties should determine their own local policy outlining when this would be appropriate and detailing any charges.

If a bench fee needs to be paid by an Honorary/Visiting Academic, the Co-ordinator should contact the Faculty/Professional Services Finance team to arrange for the academic to be invoiced.

10. Honorary Clinical Staff

Where the Honorary Academic is an NHS clinician taking on teaching/research responsibilities in the Faculty of Health Sciences, the Sponsor/Co-ordinator should make the request as normal. HR Employee Services will issue an Honorary Academic Contract of Employment for NHS Clinicians. This is in addition to any standard Honorary/Visiting status letter issued by the school.

11. Building and IT Access

Building and IT access will be granted automatically for all Associates, but for Honorary/Visiting Academics, this is only granted where it has been specifically indicated that access is required on the form.

Where awarded, access is triggered by the creation of an Honorary/Associate record on MyERP.  It is therefore very important that forms are only forwarded to HR to set up the record after the Honorary contract has been signed and returned. Building access is granted as per the University’s Building Access Control Policy. The Sponsor is responsible for ensuring that Associates and Honorary/Visiting Academics have any health and safety induction relevant to the building or space in which they will work.

As part of the induction process, all Associates and Honorary/Visiting Academics are required to undertake Data Security training to ensure data is captured, handled and stored in a consistent and secure manner.  The training module can be found at

12. Essential Training

All honorary and associate staff are required to undertake essential training to ensure they are compliant and familiar with information security procedures, health and safety considerations, equality and diversity obligations and student wellbeing at the University.  The training modules can be accessed at

13. Intellectual Property

In the case of Honorary/Visiting Academic Status, risk vis. IPR/confidentiality must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Sponsor and Head of School must make a judgement on whether the risks of issuing a contract are acceptable.  If protecting IPR is the reason for issuing Honorary Academic Status, then this should be discussed with the individual and made explicit at the outset, preferably in writing.

14. Insurance

Individuals with Honorary/Visiting or Associate status are responsible for the security and safety of any personal possessions they bring onto University premises and should arrange appropriate insurance themselves. The University has only very limited contingent insurance cover for visitors’ property.

Both Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance policies are held in the event the University is held legally liable for death, injury or work-related illness of Associates or Honorary/Visiting Academics. Whether an individual is deemed an employee or a third party will depend on the circumstances of any given incident and their particular role at the time; for insurance purposes the issue is largely irrelevant as both policies are with the same insurance company.

The Personal Accident insurance the University arranges for its employees is predicated on salary. This means that those with Associate or Honorary/Visiting Status are not covered.

If an Honorary/Visiting Academic travels abroad specifically on University of Bristol business, they can apply for travel insurance in the same way as a University of Bristol employee.

Where teaching, research or consultancy work is undertaken on behalf of the University of Bristol for students or outside clients, individuals with Honorary/Visiting Academic Status undertaking such work are indemnified under the University’s Professional Negligence insurance in the same way as employees. Note that contractual arrangements and funding for the work must be via the University. Private research, consultancy or teaching work or work undertaken on behalf of other organisations is not insured under the University of Bristol arrangements.

15. Visas

Individuals coming from outside of the EEA (European Economic Area) for academic and research purposes will nearly always require entry clearance.

For more information please see the University’s Guidance on Academic Visitors.

Appendix: Honorary and Visiting Academic Titles

Care should be taken to ensure that honorary titles reflect an individual’s contribution to the University’s teaching and research.  The summary below gives a broad overview of the contribution expected at each level; however, it is recommended that sponsors refer to the University’s Academic Role Profiles to ensure the appropriate title is given. 

All titles will be preceded with the word ‘Honorary’ or ‘Visiting’ as appropriate.

Research/Teaching Associates will normally be responsible, usually under close supervision for:

Senior Research/Teaching Associate/Lecturer will be:

Research/Teaching Fellow

Honorary Fellows will:

Senior Research/Teaching Fellow/Senior Lecturer

Honorary Senior Fellows/Lecturers will:


As above, but with the expectation that they will be performing at the level of Professor in the near future.


Honorary Professors will enjoy a high reputation internationally, make invaluable contributions based on an extensive track record; their principle experience and expertise comes from either industry; innovative research; teaching and/or a recognised contribution to the discipline through professional activities.