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Consultancy – University of Reading

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University consultancy is a service provided to a client when you use your expertise and existing knowledge to help then with a problem. Usually short term and low risk, University Consultancy can be a useful way to start a long term relationship with a company which could lead to student placements and research projects, as well as being an opportunity to provide income for you and your School.

The University is committed to supporting staff to make the most of University consultancy opportunities and Research & Enterprise will co-ordinate and support you with consultancy activities.

What is University Consultancy?

Where a member of staff engages with a client for a fee or other benefit as an employee of the University, this is recognised as University consultancy. They gain the full support of the University and professional indemnity insurance cover, as well as legal, taxation, marketing and business support services from Research & Enterprise. The prior approval of the Head of School or equivalent must be obtained before the consultancy is undertaken. In the case of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Pro-Vice-Chancellors, Deans, Heads of Schools or equivalents the prior approval of the Vice-Chancellor must be obtained.

  • University consultancy should take place where a clear opportunity exists to provide benefits for the individual member of staff, the School, the Directorate, the Faculty and the University.
  • In addition and for further clarification, if the activity embraces any of the following University and/or its subsidiary companies' resources, it is 'University' consultancy:
  • Staff, including Technicians and Administrative support, specifically when the consultancy is derived from employment by the University
  • Space and/or facilities, including - office, lab, meeting rooms, lecture theatres, conference facilities
  • Resources or infrastructure: including IT infrastructure (email address/internet access)
  • Job Title
  • Crest/logo/University name or address.

Why undertake University Consultancy?

The benefits associated with undertaking University Consultancy are numerous and include:

  • creating opportunities for generating additional personal income or funds for research to your SDA account
  • building links with private and public sector companies and bodies which could lead to impactful relationships
  • accessing new industrial and commercial opportunities for collaboration or contract research
  • providing supporting information for teaching and research
  • developing new skills and experience
  • generating recognition for fostering enterprise activity and credit in an evaluation of academic performance.

 How do I undertake University Consultancy?

Once you have received a request to undertake consultancy, your first steps should be to discuss any proposed work with your Head of School or Directorate and to gain approval. You should then complete a  University Consultancy: Permissions and Payments Form (PDF-110KB) - please be aware that without the form no invoice can be raised and you will not receive payment.

A contract must be place before you start any work. Research & Enterprise will work with you and the client to set this up to ensure that all legal aspects of the work are understood by both parties.

A realistic fee, based on FEC and reflecting a typical market rate should be charged to the client. Research & Enterprise can provide advice and, where appropriate undertake negotiations on your behalf.

You can find details of the procedure in the Staff Guide to Consultancy (PDF-186KB).

For clarification on any issue or for help in getting started, please contact your

Importance of contracts

The University is the proper party to a University consultancy contract and, whether or not documentation refers to any individual employee as the principal consultant, the contract must be drawn up between the University and the Client.

This will be done and signed by Research & Enterprise to ensure that the contract provides an appropriate framework and scope for the work to minimise risk for the individual and for the University.

It should be noted that if a member of staff signs a contract, or operates without a contract, they shall do so at their own risk.

Download a sample University Consultancy Contract (PDF-359KB)

Costing / Pricing

The University has established a Policy in regard to costing and pricing of consultancy activities so that it is conducted on a fee for service basis and the fee is based on the University's full economic costing (FEC) model.

FEC is an amount which, if recovered across an institute's full programme, would recover the total cost (direct, indirect and total overhead) of the University, including an adequate recurring investment in its infrastructure. It does not include a profit above the cost of an activity.

Price charged to the client however, should include additional factors which reflect the market rate whenever a market will bear this. The price charged to the client will therefore depend on a number of environment/market factors including the:

  • Extent of the client's needs
  • Urgency of the client's requirement
  • Level of expertise involved
  • Time involved on the project
  • Availability of competitive alternative Consultancy
  • Availability of public domain knowledge
  • Extent of convenience, intrusion and relevance to Research & Teaching activities to the member of staff, their School or equivalent
  • Expectation of knock-on benefits
  • Historic relationship.

Consultancy may be charged on a daily or hourly fee basis (plus additional other direct costs such as consumables, travel or expenses). Whilst the rate to be charged for Consultancy work is influenced by a variety of factors, it is useful to remember that many expert consultants to industry charge £1000 to £2000 per day (plus other expenses) for work in their field of expertise.

Staff must seek guidance from Research & Enterprise or their Finance Business Partner on appropriate pricing. If the activity is not going to recover FEC the member of staff must gain approval from their Head of School prior to undertaking consultancy. There is, however, no guarantee that the University will agree to undertaking consultancy below FEC.

Please note that invoices for University consultancy are subject to VAT. VAT recovery is a normal activity for client organisations and as it is unlikely to affect the competitiveness of the proposed charge; it need not be viewed as an additional burden to competitiveness or cost to the contract.

How will I get paid?

You can choose to be paid either:

  • as salary with the normal deduction of income tax, employees National Insurance Contributions (NIC) and, in addition, the value of the University's Employer's NIC. No superannuation will be payable.
  • via the School and then to your SDA for your research purposes.

You can only be paid once the client pays the University - please remember to inform your Research Accounts Assistant to confirm that the work has been completed so that the invoice can be raised.

Private Consultancy

Private consultancy is undertaken by a member of staff who operates in a personal and private capacity in return for a fee or other benefit. Please see the private consultancy page.

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