Investigating best practice in third leg activities.

A leading UK university wanted to investigate best practice in UK universities with respect to the provision of consultancy services by university staff. The investigation included a profile of the different policies relating to consultancy, how the process was managed by support staff and the nature of the consultancy client base.

The first step was to conduct a review of university policy in this field by assessing publicly available policy documents. This information was used to construct an interview to look in more detail at the reasons for the variations in policy and the value of consultancy to universities. Heads of office were interviewed and their comments analysed and reported. The final stage was to invite academics at the university to participate in a web based questionnaire to profile the volume and nature of consultancy taking place within the university. This included a review of private consultancy (consultancy not done through the university’s office), an area which had not been profiled in detail previously. Academics were also invited to comment on current policy and the support provided to them.

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