Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact us if you have any questions in relation to your consultancy undertaking


What is Consultancy? 

The definition of consultancy activity at UCC is a form of external professional activity that is primarily to do with the application of existing knowledge to real world problems rather than the primary creation of new knowledge. It is normally characterised as work of a professional nature whereby a University academic staff member is required to provide the benefit of their knowledge, expertise, experience or skills in a particular field, for which payment is made. 

It is a commercial activity that should be priced at a commercial rate, including VAT. It may make limited use of University facilities and may use University intellectual property or know-how.  The results will normally belong to the client. Due to commercial sensitivities it may not give opportunity for academic publication. 

It will typically comprise of a small number of days and cannot exceed more than 20% of working time over the course of a calendar year. An annual declaration of all or any consultancy activity must be made by all academic staff members whether they have engaged in consultancy activity or not. 

Consultancy activities can be separated into two types: those carried out in the University's name (University Consultancy) and those undertaken by a member of staff in their own name (Private Consultancy).  


University Consultancy V's Private Consultancy

University Consultancy

This is where an academic or academics provide consultancy to an external client in co-operation with their School/Department and College, which may provide some form of support for the work, such as administration, facilities or staff. The work is carried out under the auspices of the University, supported by the UCC Consulting unit and University resources are openly used in carrying it out. The academic consultant will express their expert, independent opinion in all communications but is permitted to use the University’s logo and association with the University.  

The contract for the work is set up through the UCC Consulting Unit in conjunction with the School/Department/College. The income earned will be distributed to the college which underwrites the activity and a Consultancy account in the relevant School/Department of the academic consultant. The academic consultant cannot make personal financial gain from any income generated from University Consultancy activity. Instead the income generated can be used to support the research and teaching activities of the academic consultant. Legal liability for the work carried out rests with the University including indemnity insurance. Head of School(HoS)/Head of College(HoC) approval must be secured prior to establishing any such arrangement. 

Private Consultancy 

This is when an academic or academics provide consultancy to a client on their own, without any involvement or support from the University. The contract for the work is set up directly between the academic(s) and the client and income flows directly to them. Professional liability for this work rests with the academic(s), who must ensure that the client understands clearly that they are not acting on behalf of the University. Use of the University’s name, logo is not permitted and no association with the university can be made or implied.

No University facilities or resources may be used in the carrying out of the work, including desk, lab, email address, stationery, telephones and equipment. The academic consultant can make personal financial gain from any income generated from Private Consultancy activity and the academic is responsible for all income tax implications, costs and liabilities arising from this work and is advised to take personal, professional advice on these matters. This private work along with any University Consultancy work must be conducted within 20% of working time in an annual calendar year.


Consultancy V’s Ordinary Professional Activities 

Ordinary professional activities are those commitments which extend to academic staff’s normal institutional responsibilities of teaching, research and serving public institutions, organisations and professional bodies. Excluded from the definition of Consultancy activity at UCC are those certain activities conventionally undertaken by academics as part of their ordinary professional activities including: 

  • Writing articles or other publications 
  • Examiners for Phd vivas 
  • Book or peer reviewing
  • Advising on publications 
  • Advances or royalties from the publication of academic books or articles 
  • Professional creative arts performances 
  • Service to the Higher Education Authority or other regulatory or professional bodies 
  • Pro bono service to public sector or charitable committees  
  • Occasional external examining, lecturing, assessing or moderating 
  • Academic conference presentations 
  • Broadcasting and giving outside lectures 
  • Development of a piece of original work which will yield new results and a publishable paper 
  • External examining 
  • Authorship of distance learning materials
  • Reviewing grant proposals 
  • Serving on panels and commitees 

Where such occasional ordinary professional activities involve payment of modest fees for short periods, academic staff should contact their College Financial Analyst to arrange payment for such services. 


Consultancy V’s Contract Research 

Work is classified as research whenever it involves the creation of knowledge, regardless of how it is funded. This is in contrast to consultancy which involves the application of existing knowledge. Contract research and consultancy are handled in different ways, both administratively and financially, by the University. This document is only relevant for Consultancy. 

The key difference between Consultancy activities and Contract Research activities are outlined in figure 1 below. 

Consultancy V's Contract Research