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

University Consultancy is conducted by a staff member on behalf of the University. Use of University address, affiliation, and resources are permitted. Staff members performing University Consultancy benefit from the University's liability and indemnity insurance policies, provided that the University has been notified by seeking the required approval.

A staff member engaging in University Consultancy will receive the support of the University in terms of:

  • Project costing
  • Contract negotiation
  • Use of University facilities
  • Oversight
  • Financial management
  • Indemnity insurance
  • Conditions

A staff member engaging in University Consultancy activity is subject to the following conditions:

  • Permission to conduct the University Consultancy must be sought from the Head of School or equivalent who will ensure that the proposed staffing is appropriate to the needs of the project and the client and that the University has adequate infrastructure for the project to be carried out
  • Head of College approval is also required to engage in University Consultancy activities
  • The project must have clear terms of reference (including milestones, deliverables, and timelines) and should be based on fully costed proposals approved by UCC Research Support Services
  • The Office of Technology Transfer must be consulted on all matters relating to intellectual property
  • A specific contract must be put in place to support all University Consultancy projects
  • All University Consultancy projects should be processed through a UCC research account and are subject to legal and financial review. The review process and research account set-up is administered by UCC Research Support Services
  • Provision should be made for VAT at the prevailing rate, chargeable to the external sponsor
  • Total Consultancy (Private and University) external activities do not exceed 20% of working time
  • External activities do not give rise to any conflict of interest for the individual member of staff or for the University
  • The University acquires no vicarious liability

Contribution to Indirect Costs of University Consultancy in consultation with UCC Research Support Services, a contribution to indirect costs, based on the direct costs of the University consultancy activity undertaken, should be agreed at the outset of the contract as per the University Overheads Rates Policy. Part of this contribution will cover the costs of professional indemnity insurance cover paid by the University on behalf of the relevant staff members.


Private Consultancy 

Private Consultancy refers to that conducted by a staff member in a personal capacity with:

  • no use of University resources
  • no use of University name
  • no University Insurance coverage
  • no liability on the University

Private Consultancy is limited to engagements that are relevant to the academic/professional expertise and interests of the member of staff in terms of their employment with the University.

Other external activities which are not related to the staff members’ expertise and employment in the University are beyond the scope of this policy.Private Consultancy activities include directorships of non-public sector companies, including public companies, private companies and family-owned companies.

University staff performing work in a private capacity do so entirely at their own risk and must make a clear distinction between Private Consultancy work and their University duties. No association should be implied between the Private Consultancy activity and the University.


A staff member engaging in Private Consultancy activity is subject to the following conditions:

  • Confirmation that the project does not interfere in any way with their University responsibilities must be sought from the Head of School
  • In this regard, confirmation provided by the Head of School for Private Consultancy does not imply responsibility for the delivery of the project but relates entirely to potential conflict with the delivery of the staff member’s University duties. This distinction should be made clear in advance of approval to the sponsor of the Private Consultancy by the staff member engaging in the activity. He/she is operating as a private individual and not as an agent or employee of the University
  • The private address of the member of staff is used for all correspondence. The use of University letterheads or other printed stationery is not permitted
  • Where University facilities are used, permission of the respective Head of College is also required. The full value of access to and hire of University equipment, facilities and support must be paid to the University on a basis agreed with the appropriate Head of School and the Finance Office
  • The University will have no responsibility for the work and this has been made clear to the client by the staff member. Members of staff may wish to take out personal professional indemnity insurance to cover their individual liabilities
  • The staff member undertakes to make his/her own declarations of Private Consultancy income for tax on a self-employed basis
  • Staff members should ensure that Private Consultancy activity does not create reputational risk for the University
  • Total Consultancy (Private and University) external activities do not exceed 20% of working time
  • The University acquires no vicarious liability Under current Public Sector Policy, remunerated Private Consultancy may not be undertaken during the normal working day Sign-off Process for Private Consultancy All staff members are required to complete the ‘Consultancy Request for Approval Form – Private Consultancy’ before undertaking private consulting activities, and submit to their Head of School or equivalent for confirmation that these activities do not interfere with the performance of normal academic duties. Where University facilities are used, permission of the relevant Head of College is required. Where issues arise relevant to the implementation of the policy in this regard, the matter should be referred to the Office of the Vice-President for Research & Innovation.


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 


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