Where does Oxford University Consulting fit in?
Oxford University Consulting (OUC) is the brand name, which Isis uses to market the consultancy expertise and services of the University and its researchers. This is a powerful brand capable of attracting organizations to approach Oxford for consultancy and service provision.
OUC can help researchers to find and manage opportunities for consulting and services. Specifically, OUC helps researchers and departments in these areas:
- Marketing the University as a resource for consultancy and services
- Negotiating better rates and terms than could be obtained by individuals
- Providing insurance cover
- Protecting researchers and departments from the liabilities of such work
- Reducing the administration surrounding consulting and services work.
Researchers are under no obligation to use OUC to assist in their consulting and services activities and using OUC does not remove the need to obtain the necessary approvals under the University’s statutes and guidelines. However, managing consulting activity is a time-consuming activity and individuals can be exposed to unattractive liabilities. The support OUC offers to researchers is intended to assist with negotiating contracts, minimising personal liabilities, arranging insurance cover and to help identify further opportunities. In summary, OUC benefits academics and researchers by:
- Reducing hassle – managing the administration and client interactions
- Reducing risk – managing contracts and providing insurance
- Increasing income – negotiating competitive rates & helping to identify new opportunities
OUC actively markets both consultancy and services to the business community in the UK and internationally. This achieves two key goals: (1) OUC helps to identify opportunities for researchers; and (2) OUC provides a contact point for companies to identify the right researcher(s) in the University with the expertise that they require. Targeted marketing through networking events, contacts made by Isis’ Business Relationship Manager, relevant conferences and the Oxford Innovation Society may lead to new consulting opportunities. OUC also uses its specialist searching skills and leads from researchers to identify potential commercial partners; prepares and distributes non-confidential marketing information; and follows up potential leads.
OUC maintains a database of researchers in the University who have registered as consultants. OUC is also aware of the full range of University research activity and approaches researchers when opportunities arise.
As a first step in the contracting process, primarily to prepare the scope of work, OUC will typically facilitate communication between the client, OUC and researcher(s). This communication is important to ensure that all parties have agreed expectations of one another. An accurate scope of work (i.e. work to be done, deliverables etc) helps to confirm this and to provide realistic costings.
The expertise delivered under consulting and services contracts is often considered to be of very high value by the client. Researchers should therefore expect an appropriate financial return for their time and expertise. A key reason for OUC to be involved in consulting support is to avoid researchers ‘under-selling’ themselves. Although there are no fixed rates for consulting because of the breadth of the expertise available, we would seek to negotiate a competitive daily/ hourly fee for the work, unless there were particular reasons for not doing so.
PROTECTING FROM LIABILITIES
When, as a researcher, you enter into private consulting contracts you may be exposed to contractual liabilities, which make you personally liable for the consequences of the work you do for your client. The liability may well extend to other people’s use of the work you have done and over which you have no control. Consulting contracts are often short in length and in time span, and individuals sometimes forget to consider key issues, which can have long-term consequences (e.g. restrictions on working in the same field and/or with other companies). Using OUC creates an arms-length relationship whereby the contract is between OUC and the Client, not with the researcher personally. OUC arranges professional indemnity and other insurance cover and negotiates the appropriate limitation of liability.
There can be considerable administrative effort involved in managing consulting activity which OUC can handle, including: rounds of sometimes complex negotiations; contractual drafting and correspondence; putting insurance in place; invoicing & debt collection etc.
COSTS AND PAYMENT
The price OUC charges the Client (the “Client Price”) for providing consultancy services includes a contribution to OUC’s costs. OUC makes payment to its consultants of 90% of the Client Price & 100% of allowed expenses, directly to their bank accounts. OUC will not pay consultants unless it has received payment from the Client.
OUC will not deduct any NI or income tax and all OUC consultants are responsible for their own income tax and NI contributions. Please note that HMRC guidelines require OUC consultants to register as self employed for tax purposes.
Full details of payment arrangements are provided here.
The price OUC charges the Client (the “Client Price”) for providing Departmental Services also includes a contribution to OUC’s costs. OUC makes payment to the Cost Centre nominated by the Departmental Administrator of 92.5% of the Client Price and 100% of allowed expenses.