Academic Honorary Policy (including Visiting Academics)

1. Purpose

An Honorary appointment is an arrangement which allows distinguished individuals from other institutions and organisations to collaborate with staff at the University of Bristol. These collaborations are with academic staff and they will be given access to certain University facilities to further their own research, cooperate on joint research or contribute to the teaching of the University.

2. Scope

This document defines the criteria and process to be followed in making Academic honorary appointments

3. What is Academic Honorary status?

Academic Honorary Status

Honorary academic status may be conferred on persons other than members of staff who are of appropriate distinction and who have an on-going association with the University in the areas of teaching and/or research. The title should reflect their contribution to the University and might be different from the title they may hold in another organisation.  Academic Honorary status should be reviewed at intervals of no longer than three years.

Visiting Academic Status

Visiting academic status may be conferred on persons other than members of staff who are of appropriate distinction, who are visiting the University for a finite period of time and who are working in the areas of teaching and/or research.

Status should only be maintained for as long as the individual’s contribution remains consistent with the title conferred and may be withdrawn at any time at the University’s sole discretion.

Emeritus Status

The criteria and procedure for conferring the title Emeritus Professor or Emeritus Dean is available on the Emeritus Professors information page.

Anyone that requires access to the University’s buildings or systems, who is NOT operating in an academic capacity or does not require Academic Honorary status, should be provided with an Associate account

Those requesting an Academic Honorary or Visiting Academic status may confer one of the following titles:  

-        Honorary/Visiting Lecturer

-        Honorary/Visiting Senior Lecturer

-        Honorary/Visiting Research Associate

-        Honorary/Visiting Senior Research Associate

-        Honorary/Visiting Research Fellow

-        Honorary/Visiting Senior Research Fellow

-        Honorary/Visiting Teaching Associate

-        Honorary/Visiting Associate Professor

-        Honorary/Visiting Professor

-        Honorary/Visiting Industrial Fellow

-        Honorary/Visiting Industrial Professor

More information and definitions of the above titles can be found Identity and Access Management hub  


 When the Academic Honorary is NHS Clinical Staff

Where the Academic Honorary is an NHS clinician taking on teaching/research responsibilities in the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences, and for which the University is going to pay the NHS organisation, the Sponsor/Co-ordinator should make the request as normal. HR Employee Services will issue an Academic Honorary Contract of Employment for NHS Clinicians. 

Individuals with a senior Academic honorary title may apply for the title of Honorary Associate Professor and Honorary Professor through the University’s academic promotion procedure.

When the Academic Honorary is an Industrial Fellow

Where an individual does not have the academic credentials normally associated with an honorary academic title, yet are of such standing that an Academic honorary title is an appropriate reflection of their national and international achievements in business and/or society, Deans (or Heads of School where this has been delegated by the Dean) may confer the title Honorary/Visiting Industrial Fellow or Honorary/Visiting Industrial Professor. The Sponsor should make the request as normal via the ERP digital form

4. Terms of appointment

No remuneration will be attached to the posts (apart from agreed travel expenses)

Unless otherwise requested by the School/Directorate all appointments will be for 3 years in the first instance (each area to advise Employment Services of the duration of the appointment).

Decisions regarding extension of the appointment should be made at least three months in advance of the current appointment end date.

 Appointments may be terminated by either party in advance of the appointment end date by providing one month’s written notice.

 For the avoidance of doubt an Academic honorary appointment does not constitute a contract of employment.

 The benefits relating to the Academic honorary appointment are outlined in the letter of appointment and include use of the University library and computing facilities, as well as membership of an area within a Faculty

5. What is required?

A contract detailing role purpose and intellectual property rights

As part of the request process, a contract will need to be agreed between the University and the proposed Academic Honorary. This will be handled by the Academic Honorary & Associate Coordinator (with the exception of NHS Clinical Staff), who will store the signed contract in a secure location.

Honorary Academic engagements are typically open-ended arrangements. The end date is essentially a review date and will typically take place three years from the start date. For Visiting Academics, an end date will be specified at the outset, although this may be extended.  In both cases, any IT/Ucard access that has been granted as part of the arrangement will expire automatically unless an extension is requested. Please note, it is important to ensure that contractual dates align to any extension of access

The contract template can be found here Honorary/Visiting Academic Contract template (Office document, 47kB).

Role Purpose

When the Co-ordinator prepares the Academic Honorary contract they must include a detailed description of work to be carried out by the role-holder.  It must be wide enough to accurately capture all work that could be carried out by the Academic Honorary, so it is clear which work the IP clause in the contract does, and does not, apply to. This needs to be written carefully by the Sponsor and summarised in the H/V Status Request Form.

Some examples are given below: 

If an account needs to be extended, the Sponsor must ensure the reason for appointment is still accurate and submit an extension form in ERP. If anything has fundamentally changed, a new request should be submitted instead.

Intellectual Property Clause

If the work being undertaken by the Academic Honorary is governed by an IP clause in a separate agreement, then the Sponsor must tick the appropriate box on the Academic Honorary Request Form. When drafting the IP section of the Honorary/Visiting Academic Contract template (Office document, 47kB), the paragraph labelled ‘Option 3’ should be used.

In all other cases, when completing the Academic Honorary form the Sponsor must consider who will own any IP generated by the Academic Honorary while performing their role at the University (note - this question must be answered by the Sponsor).

The proposed IP ownership will need to be approved by the Head of School.  The Honorary/Associate Co-ordinator should ensure that the information provided by the Sponsor in relation to the IP questions on the form is used to select the relevant paragraphs in the Honorary/Visiting Academic Contract template (Office document, 47kB)

The contract provides for two scenarios (in addition to the third mentioned above)*:

  1. The University will own the IP (’Option 1’ on the form/in the letter); or
  2. The Academic Honorary or their employer will own the IP (’Option 2’ on the form/in the letter).

 *The contract does not provide for shared ownership of IP, as shared ownership requires complex considerations and is generally not recommended. If shared ownership of IP is required, the Sponsor and the Co-ordinator will need to take legal advice from the Secretary’s Office about the wording to go into the IP clause of the contract. Neither does the contract provide for no IP being generated. This is because IP can be generated by even routine tasks (hand-outs, slides, charts etc).


Individuals coming from outside of the UK (unless they hold pre-settled or settled status) for academic and research purposes will nearly always require entry clearance and in some cases will require an ATAS certificate.

ATAS is a UK government scheme which provides a vetting service for students and researchers from certain countries. This scheme was originally for students who had an offer to study at a UK HEI in certain, sensitive subjects. However, the Home Office has decided to extend the scheme to researchers and as of 21st May 2021, it is a legal requirement for relevant individuals to hold an ATAS certificate. The aim is to prevent technology research/knowledge from being used to support military programmes “of significant concern” overseas. Please find full details of the ATAS scheme on the following GOV.UK page

If you’re a researcher coming to the UK as a visitor, you may need to obtain an ATAS certificate before beginning any relevant research activity in the UK. However you do not need to do so before you apply for a UK visa (where relevant).

If you need an ATAS certificate as a visitor, you do not have to obtain this before applying for a visa but you should obtain it before travelling to the UK. The HEI/research institute must check the ATAS certificate before allowing the research to start, and if this is not provided you will not be permitted on-site.

For more information please see the guidance on UK visas and immigration information for managers and staff.

 DBS Checks

 If a DBS check is required, please follow advice on the DBS policy page  


Individuals with Academic Honorary status are responsible for the security and safety of any personal possessions they bring onto University premises and should arrange appropriate insurance themselves. The University has only very limited contingent insurance cover for visitors’ property.

Both Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance policies are held in the event the University is held legally liable for death, injury or work-related illness of Associates or Honoraries. The University does not have personal accident insurance for Associates or Honoraries.  Associates or Honoraries are advised to make their own arrangements.

If an Academic Honorary travels abroad specifically on University of Bristol business, they can apply for travel insurance.  Information can be found on this Finance Services page

Where teaching, research or consultancy work is undertaken on behalf of the University of Bristol for students or outside clients, individuals with Academic Honorary Status undertaking such work are indemnified under the University’s Professional Negligence insurance. Note that contractual arrangements and funding for the work must be via the University. Private research, consultancy or teaching work or work undertaken on behalf of other organisations is not insured under the University of Bristol arrangements.

Bench fees

Where an Academic Honorary appointment results from a request from an individual to use the University’s facilities it may be appropriate to charge that individual a ‘bench fee’.  Faculties should determine their own local policy outlining when this would be appropriate and detailing any charges.

If a bench fee needs to be paid by an Academic Honorary, the Co-ordinator should contact the Faculty/Professional Services Finance team to arrange for the academic to be invoiced.

6. Who needs to be involved?


Individuals receiving Academic Honorary status will always have a Sponsor, who must be a University of Bristol staff member. They are responsible for:

Honorary & Associate Administrators

 Academic Honorary and Associate Administrators (also referred to as Coordinators) are based locally within Faculties/Schools/Divisions and are responsible for supporting the Sponsor and facilitating arrangements. They ensure that: 

Head of School/Section

 Heads of School (in faculties) and Heads of Section (in Professional Services) are ultimately responsible for the appointment. They are required to approve any request for an Honorary status. They must ensure that the Sponsor is aware of their responsibilities.    

7. How do you request an Honorary / Visiting Academic Status?

 Guidance for how to complete the Request Form is available on the MyERP support site

 Related links


 The university complies with the GDPR &DPA 2018 and all information is processed in accordance with this legislation .

Staff fair processing notice | University Secretary's Office | University of Bristol

Equality, Diversity, Inclusion

 In developing this policy we have followed our process for Inclusive Decision Making to help create a working environment where people feel welcomed, valued, and supported.

Inclusive Decision-Making – our institutional approach to equality impact assessment

 Lifetime Honorary Status

 Honorary Graduates (Lifetime Status)

An honorary degree is one of higher education's most significant accolades. Each year, following very careful consideration, the University bestows a number of honorary degrees on distinguished individuals who merit special recognition for outstanding achievement and distinction in a field or activity consonant with the mission of the University.

 Honorary Fellows (Lifetime Status)

An Honorary Fellowship is the highest honour the University of Bristol can bestow.  The title is usually conferred on an individual who has attained distinction in their academic field and/or has contributed consistently and over a significant period of time to the life of the University.

Honorary Fellowships may only be conferred by Court, on the recommendation of Senate and the Board of Trustees.  More information is available on the Public and Ceremonial Events website.

Last updated

March 2024