Honorary & Visiting Academic Status: Sponsor Guidance

This guidance should be read in conjunction with the University’s Policy and Procedure on Honorary & Visiting Academic Status.

Honorary and Visiting Status

Honorary and visiting status can be conferred on individuals who are not employees but who are associated with the University in an academic capacity.  They may be contributing to the teaching and learning of the University or may be using the University’s facilities to undertake their own research.

Although not directly employed, honorary staff need to be mindful of the University's reputation and must not do anything to put this at risk (which includes making sure that they conform to university policies).  

The role of the sponsor

While Heads of School are ultimately responsible for honorary and visiting appointments the day-to-day oversight of these individuals is the responsibility of the sponsor.  The sponsor is the individual who made the initial request to grant status and it is the responsibility of the Head of School to ensure that they are aware of their responsibilities.   

Sponsors are responsible for ensuring that honorary and visiting academics are properly inducted and that any appropriate risk assessments are undertaken.  They are also responsible for ensuring that academic titles are withdrawn at the point at which the individuals association with the University ends. 

Honorary Staff Form (Office document, 37kB)

Building and Information Access

Building and information access will only be granted once a signed original copy of the Honorary Visiting Staff Contract has been returned. Honorary and Visiting staff will then be granted building access as per the University’s Building Access Control Policy. The sponsor is also responsible for ensuring that honorary and visiting staff have any health and safety induction relevant to the building or space in which they will work.

Information access will be granted to honorary staff as and when required.  All honorary staff are required to undertake the following information security training module to ensure data is captured, handled and stored in a consistent and secure manner: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/staffdevelopment/mandatory-training/

Essential Training

All honorary staff are required to undertake essential training to ensure they are compliant and familiar with information security procedures, health and safety considerations and equality and diversity obligations at the university. Honorary staff can access essential training here: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/staffdevelopment/mandatory-training/

Intellectual Property

Risk vis. IPR/confidentiality must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The sponsor and Head of School must make a judgement on whether the risks of issuing a contract are acceptable. 

If protecting IPR is the reason for issuing honorary status, then this should be discussed with the individual and made explicit at the outset, preferably in writing.


Individuals with honorary or visiting 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.

Employers Liability and Public Liability insurance is held in the event the University is held legally liable for death, injury or work-related illness to honorary and visiting academics. Whether an individual is deemed an employee or a third party will depend on the circumstances of any given incident and their particular role at the time; for insurance purposes the issue is largely irrelevant as both policies are with the same insurance company.

The Personal Accident insurance the University arranges for its employees is predicated on salary. This means that those with honorary or visiting status are not covered.

In the event that an honorary or visiting academic travels abroad specifically on University of Bristol business, they can apply for travel insurance in the same way as a University of Bristol employee.

Where teaching, research or consultancy work is undertaken on behalf of the University of Bristol for students or outside clients, individuals with honorary or academic status undertaking such work are indemnified under the University’s Professional Negligence insurance in the same way as employees. 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.


Individuals coming from outside of the EEA (European Economic Area) for academic and research purposes will nearly always require entry clearance.

For more information please see the University’s Guidance on Academic Visitors.

Bench Fees

Where an 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.

Honorary Staff with budgets

Should a faculty wish to permit an honorary staff member to be a budget holder both the main budget holder and the Faculty Manager should complete the ‘Application for Budget Holder Rights’ form. 

The new honorary budget holder will be required to sign to confirm that they have read and understood the financial regulations, and agree to stay within budget.

Appendix 1: Honorary and Visiting Titles

Care should be taken to ensure that honorary titles reflect an individual’s contribution to the University’s teaching and research.  The summary below gives a broad overview of the contribution expected at each level; however, it is recommended that sponsors refer to the University’s Academic Role Profiles to ensure the appropriate title is given. 


Honorary Associateswill normally be responsible, usually under close supervision for:

Senior Associate/Lecturer

Honorary Senior Associates/Lecturers will be:


Honorary Fellows will:

Senior Fellow/Senior Lecturer

Honorary Senior Fellows/Lecturers will:


As above, but with the expectation that they will be performing at the level of Professor in the near future.


Honorary Professors will enjoy a high reputation internationally, make invaluable contributions based on an extensive track record; their principle experience and expertise comes from either industry; innovative research; teaching and/or a recognised contribution to the discipline through professional activities.