Consultancy/External Activity Guidelines
Academic staff are encouraged to undertake consultancy and external activity which promotes the reputation of the University as a place of education and research. Consultancy represents external recognition of individual expertise and apart from the financial consideration, each consultancy should offer educational feedback to the department or an element of continuing professional development for the consulting academic. Academic staff have a contractual eligibility to apply for up to 35 days consultancy (including all consultancy, University or Personal and other external professional/scholarly activity) per annum. Please see the glossary for definitions.
NB Staff are reminded that this is not an entitlement but a benefit.
Reasons why consultancy activity must be declared
- Recognition for professional development
- So that Heads of Department may ensure that activity undertaken by staff accords with departmental strategy and the University mission.
- It is a HEFCE requirement.
- To prevent Intellectual Property leakage.
- To ensure adequate insurance cover.
- To ensure that an appropriate charge for the Consultancy is made.
- For reasons of public accountability and to provide an audit trail.
- To avoid charges of conflict of interest.
- To provide a record of contacts which will benefit both the individual and the University.
2. General Guidelines
All work (whether paid or unpaid) undertaken for outside agencies must be approved (not merely acknowledged), prior to its agreement with the client, by the Head of Department. In the case of Heads of Department authorisation must be obtained from the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor. In the case of Pro-Vice-Chancellors, authorisation must be obtained from the Vice-Chancellor.
Such approval will not normally be withheld provided the work involved is in the general interests of the University, no unrecovered costs will fall on the University, and the total number of days spent on consultancy does not exceed the 35 day provision (see below).
Although inter-departmental and inter-institutional collaboration is encouraged, full time members of staff may not undertake any work, outside their contract of employment in either their own or another HEI, without the permission of their Head of Department. This stipulation covers consultancy, external examining, teaching and research. Limited additional teaching is permissible with the approval of the Head of Department (e.g. DACE, WEA etc.).
2.2 35 day provision
The 35 day provision applies to days worked within paid University time and includes all work undertaken either personally, as a University consultancy or as external scholarly activity. Work undertaken during annual leave is included within the 35 days but if such work is in the discipline for which the academic is employed then Head of Department authorisation must be obtained. Academic staff and their Heads of Department should avoid any potential or real conflict of interests.
This limit also applies to University employed staff with an honorary clinical appointment. Under this provision, they may undertake work with private patients and/or consultancy for other organisations.
Where exceptionally academics wish to undertake more than 35 days in one year they should obtain permission from the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor and the Head of Department and the latter must ensure that the work of the Department and the consultant's colleagues is not jeopardised. Fees to the academic for consultancy beyond the 35 days will not exceed 50% of the total income.
Eligibility for consultancy benefit applies only to academic staff since by its nature it is intended to enhance the professional standing of an academic and to provide opportunities for establishing research contacts with external organisations.
Part time academic staff
Pro rata provision depending on contractual terms.
NB Consultancy undertaken during non University contract time does not count towards their pro rata number of days but during this time they may not use the University name, University services and facilities for paid work or other commercial purposes, unless there is prior written agreement with the Head of Department over the full charging for any use of University facilities and support staff.
Other staff (including Research, Administrative, Technical, Clerical, etc)
These staff are not normally eligible to request time off for consultancy. Permission may be given by the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor/Registrar or Head of Department if it is deemed to be clearly in the University´s interests. If their involvement is required for out of hours work then arrangements should be made for either time off in lieu or payment for work done at the agreed rates (overtime may be applicable). Any use of support staff should be fully costed and recovered.
Fully costed and authorised University consultancy and external scholarly activity will be covered under the University´s insurance policy. However the University is not liable for insurance cover for staff undertaking to consult privately or during annual leave. Although authorisation must be obtained for private consultancy, this authorisation relates only to leave of absence and the staff member must provide documentary evidence to the University that they have adequate indemnity insurance cover.
Under no circumstances may unauthorised staff sign contracts (whether for research, consultancy or other services) with external organisations on behalf of the University. Such action would be viewed as breach of contract. There is a potentially large liability risk to the University here. The University must be aware of all contractual arrangements with external organisations to ensure appropriate insurance cover.
2.5 Invoicing and payment of fees
Fees for private practice or personal consultancy must not be paid into University "discretionary" accounts. The individual concerned is responsible for collecting the fees and for their own tax arrangements.
Academics wishing to undertake consultancy through the University mechanism should complete the costing form which is obtainable from the Research & Innovation Services' web pages or discuss their requirements with the Research & Innovation Services. All direct costs such as the fee to the academic, technical and clerical support, consumables etc should be included. A zero overhead will be applied, to academic staff costs, for the first £5000 of consultancy in any one financial year, once the £5000 threshold has been crossed an overhead of 12.5% will be applied. A University contract will then be sent to the client quoting price and terms and conditions, consultancy work should not be undertaken until the signed contract is returned from the client to the University. The University will be responsible for invoicing the client (in stages if required) and on payment will distribute the income according to previous agreement with the consultant.
Fees from University consultancy may be paid into departmental accounts or via the payroll (subject to the usual tax and National Insurance deductions, including reclamation by the University of employers National Insurance contributions).
2.6 Annual returns to the University
All academic staff are required to make an annual return to their Head of Department declaring all consultancy (both personal and University) and external scholarly activity undertaken in the previous year. (Staff will not be required to divulge their personal earnings, but to declare the number of days spent and to give details of the sponsor/funding/commissioning body).
Heads of Department are required to make a consolidated annual return to the Research & Innovation Services of the amount of consultancy undertaken in their department.
Failure to disclose any external professional/scholarly activity may be treated as a breach of contract.
This term can be defined as the giving of advice or assistance with problem solving from a knowledge base. It follows then that there must be no leakage of University owned Intellectual Property during consultancy activity.
Research results in acquisition of new knowledge.
3.2 University consultancy
Consultancy in this case is undertaken, usually in the fields for which the individual is employed, through the University channels with Head of Department authorisation. The contract is between the University and the client and signed off by the official University representative in the Research & Innovation Services who will also ensure that appropriate insurance arrangements are in place. Use of other University staff e.g. technicians or secretaries, or University equipment must be costed in together with full overhead recovery for both the Department and the University.
NB It is a HEFCE requirement that the HEI obtains full overhead recovery on all commercial activity. This includes consultancy, research and services rendered.
3.3 Exernal professional/scholarly activity
This refers to scholarly activity which is clearly linked to the academic role and for which modest fees might be received. Such activity includes external examining, participation in external assessment procedures (eg TQA, RAE) carried out for national bodies, professional activities (eg membership of national institutes, Research Councils, editorial boards etc).
Whenever a contract is deemed to be appropriate for such activity, then it must be drawn up between the University, as employer, (rather than the individual) and the external body and will be signed off by an official University signatory in the Services Rendered team within Research & Innovation Services, who will also ensure that appropriate insurance arrangements are in place and that appropriate overheads are charged. Whilst it is not anticipated that any other University staff will be involved, should this be the case then these should be fully costed in.
Further information on these areas and other services rendered activity can be found at:
3.4 Personal Consultancy
Personal consultancy may also be described as private consultancy. In this case the contract will be between the academic and the client with no University involvement. Whilst undertaking personal consultancy the academic may not use the University name or make representation that s/he is acting on behalf of the University, and will only permitted minimal use of University services or facilities, including library, laboratory or computing facilities,. There is a report form issued by the Research & Innovation Services on behalf of the University which should be completed for each personal consultancy undertaken and signed by the Head of Department and returned to the Research & Innovation Services. The Head of Department must be satisfied that there is no conflict of interest.
3.5 Private practice
This is professional practice which may be undertaken by academics in various disciplines e.g. law, architecture, medicine, and it is the latter which causes some confusion in that the NHS imposes limits in terms of salary enhancement and the University in terms of number of days. To simplify matters it is recommended that Clinical academics measure their entitlement in terms of numbers of days. The 35 days may be made up of a combination of University consultancy, personal consultancy and private practice.
3.6 Consultancy undertaken for University income generating/research units (ECUS etc)
Consultancy may be undertaken by University staff with Heads of Departments permission within the 35 day provision. Staff may receive a personal fee in line with University guidelines.
3.7 External examining
Currently, this may be undertaken with permission by the Head of Department as part of Academic Consultancy under 3.3. With the anticipated changes to external examining duties under the QAA, commitments are likely to increase significantly: when the extent of commitment is clearer, the University may need to review existing arrangements.
3.8 Institutional/Inter-Departmental Consultancy Services Rendered
This may be part of the developmental strategy of a department in order to enhance, resource or further research and is required by the Head of Department as part of contractual duties. No extra payment is made to the staff member as a result of the income generated from these services. It is interesting to note that this is the norm in newer Universities where staff are not allowed to take fees from consultancy as personal payments. Where work is undertaken in another University of Sheffield department, this would normally be treated as a secondment, with interdepartmental transfers to the original salary code.
3.9 Research Grant and Contracts Income
Personal consultancy fees may not be paid to individuals from Research Income and it is inadvisable to enter into a consultancy agreement arranged seperately from the research contract but in the same field. This could result in an infringement of academic freedom to work with other sponsors or other academics, could be construed as influencing academic integrity in presentation of any results, and may inhibit the freedom of the client to use data or reports produced as unconditional third party endorsement.
3.10 Overseas consultancy/Secondment
Such activity must be treated as any other extra-consultancy or teaching activity with full authorisation from the Head of Department. Where it necessitates more than the 35 day entitlement then permission must also be obtained from the Faculty Pro-Vice-Chancellor and proper arrangements made for cover within the Department.