Academic Staff Consultancy

1. Policy and Principles

1.1 Consultancy is the provision of remunerated services to clients in the form of expert advice or assistance with problem solving, which draws on or applies the consultant's knowledge base and experience. Academic staff at UCL are allowed and encouraged to undertake consultancy where this:

  • delivers benefits to primary purpose activities (teaching or research);
  • advances the professional development of the academic staff involved;
  • promotes the reputation of UCL as a place of education, scholarship and research.

Consultancy is recognised to facilitate Knowledge Exchange as set out in Excellence and the UCL community: a shared endeavour. Further clarification on what is defined as consultancy is given in Annex D, Q1.

1.2 Within UCL's financial year (Aug-July), academics are permitted to undertake a maximum of 40 days consultancy work which requires time away from UCL duties, on days when an individual would be expected to attend work at UCL. Permission to undertake such consultancy work will be subject to their Head of Department's (HoD's) approval as set out below. Part time academic staff may undertake consultancy up to a pro rata limit on total consultancy time, unless this conflicts with any specific contractual terms of their appointment. This "40-day" rule does not apply to consultancies that are carried out during private time (which may include evenings, weekends, holiday leave or UCL closure days) although these must still be declared and approved. Exceptions to the "40-day" rule may be allowed in circumstances of exceptional benefit to UCL with approval of the Dean. Non-academic staff are not normally eligible to undertake any consultancy within normal working hours.

1.3 There are two permitted modes for undertaking remunerated consultancy:

a. UCL consultancies: where the contractual relationship is between the client and UCL Consultants Ltd (a separate limited company that is wholly owned by UCL), not the individual member of academic staff. UCL Consultants Ltd (UCLC) is liable to the client in case of problems with the project. Under this mode, individual staff members are covered by UCLC's insurance, and may use UCL's resources to carry out the project. Only UCL consultancies provide a direct financial return to the Department and UCL through the donation of the profits made by UCLC to the department and UCL. The Procedure for carrying out UCL Consultancies, given in Annex B, must be followed. UCL encourages consultancy to be undertaken through this route as it ensures appropriate risk management. b. Private consultancies: where the contractual relationship is between the individual member of academic staff, personally, and the client. The member of academic staff acts entirely in a private capacity without use of UCL resources. In this case, academic staff are personally liable for any problems with the consultancy project which arise. The Procedure for carrying out Private Consultancies, given in Annex C, must be followed.

b. Private consultancies: where the contractual relationship is between the individual member of academic staff, personally, and the client. The member of academic staff acts entirely in a private capacity without use of UCL resources. In this case, academic staff are personally liable for any problems with the consultancy project which arise. The Procedure for carrying out Private Consultancies, given in Annex C, must be followed.

Note: consultancy work may also be carried out through UCL as part of a staff member's regular employment, for which they would receive no additional remuneration.

1.4 All consultancies must be declared to and approved by the relevant HoD (or in the case of HoDs, by their Deans, and for Deans and Vice-Provosts, by the Provost), to ensure management of conflicts of interests or time commitments that arise, and to ensure that consultancy is undertaken through the proper procedures. Guidance on declaration and approval is described in Annex A. The member of academic staff undertaking the consultancy is responsible for ensuring each consultancy is declared and approved.

1.5 Any consultancy work which involves the use of UCL's resources (including name, stationery, meeting rooms, computers, facilities, technicians or IP) must be undertaken as a UCL consultancy via UCLC. Use of such resources must be charged for at their full economic cost.

1.6 Consultants may choose to donate their fee income to UCL and this is encouraged; under these circumstances the consultancy is still subject to this policy and the donation must be carried out as described in the relevant procedures as given in Annexes B and C to ensure compliance with HMRC regulations.

2. Annexe A: Consultancy Declaration and Approval System

2.1 The Head of Department (HoD) must approve all consultancies before the project commences. In cases where the consultant is a Head of Department, Dean or Vice-Provost, application for approval should be made respectively to the Dean or Provost.

2.2 It is necessary that the number of days academics conduct consultancy work, either privately or via UCLC, is recorded (via a Consultancy Approval Form) and assurances are provided that ensure appropriate procedures have been carried out. In any cases of academic staff consultants exceeding the "40-day" rule or non-academic research staff carrying out consultancy work, a record of Dean's (or Head of Professional Services Division's) approval is required. These records should be held in the Department by the HoD (or in the case of the consultant being a HoD, by the approver as detailed above).

2.3 The consultant is also required to declare the consultancy on their annual Declaration of Interests Return.

3. Annexe B: Procedure for carrying out UCL consultancies via UCL Consultants Ltd

3.1 UCL Consultants Ltd (UCLC) was formed, as a UCL wholly owned independent company, to facilitate academic staff undertaking consultancy work. As with most UCL subsidiary companies, all profits are gift-aided back to UCL each year. In the case of UCLC, any profits are shared between UCL and academic departments (pro rata to the turnover attributable to academics in a particular Department).

3.2 From a legal perspective:

  • the academic staff member signs a consultancy agreement with UCLC for each piece of consultancy work undertaken, together with a Budget Approval Form and, if appropriate, an Income Waiver;
  • the consultant is liable to UCLC for the proper performance of the consultancy work pursuant to the consultancy agreement;
  • the work is being undertaken by UCLC who take on the liability as regards the client (as well as handling all legal and financial aspects of the relationship with the client).
  • Budget Approval Form (excel)
  • Income Waiver Form (word)

3.3 UCLC will:

  • Assist with costing and pricing of the consultant's fees;
  • Provide contractual services to protect the financial and academic interest of UCL and the consultant;
  • Prepare and issue invoices and collect payment; 
  • Arrange payment of consultant's fees to the individual;
  • Ensure departments are reimbursed for costs incurred, and donation of profit and waived fees;
  • Issue financial reports on accounts as/when necessary;
  • Issue annual statement for taxation purposes;
  • Provide Professional Indemnity cover for consultancy projects

3.4 If any UCL resources are used to undertake the consultancy, the project must be channeled through UCLC. Examples of such UCL resources are UCL staff, equipment, facilities, expertise and IP.

3.5 Staff wishing to undertake UCL consultancies should contact UCLC directly at: UCL Consultants Ltd, The Network Building, 97 Tottenham Court Road, London, W1T 4TP.  Tel: +44 (0)207 679 9796, Fax: +44 (0)207 679 9799, Email:, Website:

3.6 Consultants should ensure that all contracts and paperwork is in place with UCLC before they embark on consultancy projects.

4. Annexe C: Procedure for carrying out Private Consultancies

4.1 Private consultancies are where the individual acts entirely in a private (personal) capacity. The client contracts directly with the consultant, therefore the client has no legal link to UCL and UCL has no legal liability to the client, and this must be made clear using a Disclaimer of Liability letter signed between him/her and the client. In private consultancies, the consultant is personally liable for any problems that arise with the consultancy project.

4.2 In line with other consultancies, the individual must gain approval from their HoD (or appropriate person for HoDs and Deans) before commencing a project.

4.3 The consultant must not use any UCL address (mailing or email) in any communication with the client nor make use of any UCL resources (staff, equipment, facilities) in the course of the consultancy or do anything that might lead the client to believe that the consultant is acting in his/her UCL capacity (e.g. by using UCL headed notepaper, UCL email address etc). The consultant may say that he/she is employed by UCL, since this is a simple matter of fact.

4.4 In summary, UCL does NOT permit the following in relation to any private consultancy work undertaken:

  • use of UCL facilities e.g. equipment, support staff or space etc;
  • use of UCL's name or stationery;
  • holding meetings on UCL's property, as this may be interpreted as an association with UCL and UCL's tacit approval of the consultancy services;

4.5 UCL may own certain IP generated by members of staff in the course of their duties at UCL. In such circumstances, consultants acting in a private capacity cannot, as part of any agreement they sign with UCL Consultants or a client, license or transfer/assign any rights in any UCL IP (since they do not own that IP).

4.6 Most consultancy projects will involve the use of previously generated IPR ("Background IPR"). It is the consultant's responsibility to ensure that he/she owns and has the right to license any Background IPR. Consultants should not agree to any private consultancy contract which contains clauses which attempt to transfer/assign ownership of any Background IPR.

4.7 Background IPR may be owned by UCL and/or may be subject to third party terms (e.g. as part of a sponsored research project). In such instances the client should be told that it may be possible to have access to such IPR under licence from UCL and/or with the necessary permission from the third party concerned . Where a licence from UCL is required, the consultancy will need to be undertaken as a UCL consultancy through UCLC.

4.8 Consultants should ensure that they own any Foreground IPR generated and that they are entitled to transfer/assign or license the rights in such Foreground IPR. Consultants should avoid licensing or transferring/assigning any IPR beyond the scope of the project.

4.9 In a private consultancy, it is the consultant's responsibility to:

  • negotiate his/her terms and conditions with the client;
  • inform the client, using a Disclaimer of Liability letter, that there is no contractual relationship with UCL and therefore no liability on UCL for the work being undertaken.
  • collect the fees from the client. Fees from a private consultancy or private professional practice must not be paid directly by the client into a UCL discretionary account. However, the consultant can make a charitable donation into a UCL account under gift aid via DARO;
  • account for his/her income tax, national insurance, VAT or any other taxes due to the appropriate tax authorities on amounts earned;
  • consider carefully the risks involved and where appropriate obtain adequate professional indemnity cover through personal insurance arrangements.

Example Letter

5. Annexe D: FAQs

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