Consultancy is one of the principal mechanisms by which universities and colleges transfer knowledge to public, private and third sector groups, and contribute to the growth of the economy and to the needs of society more generally. The provision of expert advice to external clients by university staff is a prominent example of ‘third mission’ activity, through which higher education institutions promote and support productive interaction with business and industry. Consultancy services might include: offering specialist opinion, advising on technical issues, or solving problems for firms.
Academic staff can use consultancy to generate additional income, and to engage with new or existing partners. This can be done either in your capacity as a member of University staff or as a private individual; in either case there are a number of considerations that need to be addressed prior to engaging in the consultancy so the academic and the University are not exposed to undue financial and other risks, such as conflicts of interest.
The University can derive valuable benefits by offering consultancy services, including: generating external income, enriching the experience of staff and contributing to teaching and research.
These pages outline the aspects of consultancy which should be considered prior to engaging in any project. All academics should refer to their Departmental guidelines (if such guidelines exist), and also to the University’s Working with Outside Bodies policy.
The University’s definition of consultancy is “work undertaken which relies on a member of staff's academic expertise such as advice to industry or government departments”.
Consultancy does not include work undertaken which forms part of the wider academic endeavour such as external examining, journal editing, peer review, committee work, lectures or presentations for funding bodies or other universities and academic conferences. Neither does it include work which does not depend on the member of staff's academic or administrative expertise such as membership of a governing body.
Planning your consultancy project