Consultancy Services (CR)

Industry and business from the private and public sectors stand to benefit from University’s know-how and technical facilities through consultancy activities sponsored by them. This typically involves applied research for problem solving and in some cases systematic development of new knowledge for the benefit of the sponsor, to address current problems (threats), create new opportunities, or sometimes encounter unexpected discoveries. The experience gained contributes to the advancement of the University’s research capabilities and academic programs, making them more relevant to addressing major social and economic problems of the Sultanate, while building stronger research ties with various sectors. It also creates an innovative and entrepreneurial environment at the University for generating intellectual property, with commercial potential that would promote a new knowledge-based industry, create local employment, and bring additional revenues to the University from licensing royalties. In addition, in some colleges these activities improve the prospect for future employment of research students by sponsoring organizations. Besides expertise, the nature of the project may also require the use of University facilities.

  • Scientific Merit
    Contribution of the project to extending the existing knowledge and anticipated benefits of such new knowledge.
  • Methodology
    Adequacy and efficiency of proposed research methodology for achieving the given objectives, and feasibility of implementation using existing facilities.
  • Investigators’ Track Record
    Educational background, research experience, past achievements and productivity of the principal investigator and co-investigators.
  • Roles of Investigators
    Details of the individual contributions of investigators.
  • External Collaboration/Co-investigators
    Commitment from external organizations to collaborate and contribute resources to the project.
  • Relevance to the Sultanate of Oman
    Anticipated impact of the proposed work on issues of strategic importance to Oman or the Omani society.
  • Teamwork
    Inter and intra-departmental collaboration, with the detailed role of each investigator.
  • Mentoring Young Researchers (Research Assistants)
    Involvement of junior faculty members, graduate and undergraduate students and the job description of each research assistant.
  • Implementation Plan
    The deliverables and timeframe.
  • Budget Justification
    Efficient use of existing University equipment and facilities.
  • New Equipment
    Importance or long term value of new resources to be acquired.
  • Multidisciplinary Nature
    The project should be multidisciplinary and preferably should involve inter-college collaboration.
  • Strategic Objectives
    The project should make an important contribution to the socio-economic development of the Sultanate.
  • The criteria for performing a consultancy will depend on the nature of the service, the deliverables, timeframe, expertise and facilities required. These will all be agreed on with the sponsor.
  • Research Agreement
    The consultancy service will be formalised in a contract.
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement
    If a non-disclosure agreement is needed, it should be signed prior to the commencement of the consultancy.
  • SQU Personnel Costs
    SQU personnel costs represent a portion of the cost of consultancy services in lieu of the time spent by SQU personnel working on that activity.
  • University Overhead
    The University charges overhead for using its name, personnel and facilities. This does not include the use of specialized equipment.
  1. The PI may discuss the consultancy activity informally with the sponsor.
  2. The PI shall get the approval of HoD/Director. By so doing, the HoD/Director confirms that investigator's time, departmental/centre space, and other necessary departmental/centre facilities are available to support the proposed activity.
  3. By signing the application form, the investigators accept their respective responsibilities towards the proposed activity, assume a non-disclosure obligation and respect the intellectual property rights of the University, and declare full compliance to the policies and procedures.
  4. If a non-disclosure agreement is needed, the PI shall arrange to have it officially signed by both parties through the Deanship of Research.
  5. Proposals should be reviewed by the CRC/RCAC and endorsed by the Dean (if in a college), Director (if in a centre) and and the Deanship of Research before being submitted to the sponsor.
  6. The Dean of College, HoD/Director, ADPSR and the Deanship of Research shall be informed of approved proposals.
  7. Activity codes shall be assigned by the Deanship of Research to the approved proposals.
  8. Rejected proposals will be archived in the Research Management System (RMS). 
 

Budget Estimation

The PI shall identify which of the budget items listed below is applicable to the project. Normally, no additional funds are granted once the research proposal has been approved.

Capital Equipment

The following shall be considered when requesting capital equipment:

  1. In cases where the specified equipment is available at one of the colleges/research centres, the proposal shall justify the request for purchase of additional items.
  2. Capital equipment items acquired for consultancy services and other projects shall become the property of the University.
  3. The Deanship of Research shall enter the equipment into its inventory.
  4. The equipment shall be put under the responsibility of the department or research centre that initiated the project, including the responsibility for operation and maintenance.
  5. The home department shall make equipment available for loan to other research centres or departments, but may charge service fees for usage to cover the costs of maintenance and replacement. The cost will depend on the type of equipment, consumables needed for its operation and other service charges. The costs shall be covered by the research or consultancy funds.

Use of University Facilities

This is to compensate the department or research centre in charge of existing facilities and equipment for the cost of maintenance and replacement plus any expenses related to the use of the same.

Recurrent Items

This includes all items to be purchased or consumed specifically for the project, such as consumable materials and disposable instruments.

Computing costs

This includes specialised software and hardware purchases and online subscriptions to electronic databases.

Printing, Publications & IP Protection

This includes the costs of printing study reports, scientific books, time-limited journal subscriptions, protecting any generated IP, and getting research results published.

Insurance

This covers the cost of insuring personnel, equipment and other materials used for the project.

Miscellaneous

This includes items not belonging to any of the above cost categories.

Cost of Contracted Personnel. All contracted personnel costs shall be included upfront; this shall be the responsibility of the PI. The following shall be maintained throughout the duration of the project:

  1. Contracted personnel shall cover research assistants, post-doctoral fellows and other jobs required to provide support for the project.
  2. Availability of funds in the project.
  3. A contract agreement form shall be used for contracting any personnel.
  4. If a non-Omani staff member needs to be contracted, the appropriate form shall give reasons for not hiring an Omani.
  5. SQU students will be given priority when employing research assistants.
  6. University non-academic staff and/or students may also be contracted for specific tasks on an ad hoc basis.
  7. Personnel employment shall be in one of the following categories:

a. Full time: shall work not less than seven (7) hrs/day and will be paid a monthly-fixed lump sum amount

b. Part time: shall work defined hrs/day, or days/week, but less than full time and be paid a monthly-fixed lump sum amount.

c. On-Request: shall work upon the request of the PI; unspecified hrs/day, or days /week. On-request research assistants can be contracted to do specific tasks and paid after performing the task.

  1. For expatriates, the contract shall specify clearly whether the employee shall be granted housing, medical care, children’s school expenses or any other benefits.
  2. Contracted personnel shall be granted access to University facilities as appropriate.
  3. Contracted personnel shall complete departure clearance procedures before final departure.

Student Training

Scholarships should be an important component of research grants and consultancies.

Training and Research Visits

Approval of such training and/or research visits shall be subject to the following:

  1. Investigators may apply for funds in the project budget to travel or acquire training related to their project.
  2. Travel expenses shall cover costs of transportation, registration, subsistence and per diem allowances.
  3. Conference attendance shall not be included while budgeting for internal grant projects; instead this shall be obtained from the central conference budget.

Consultants

Typically, consultants and visiting researchers are needed for scientific advice, improved implementation of research, and technology transfer. The following conditions shall be maintained in hiring a consultant for a research project:

  1. The proposal shall clearly indicate the consulting period.
  2. Description of the consultant’s task shall be outlined in the proposal.
  3. The allowable consultancy visit shall normally be one week.
  4. Consultant and/or visiting researcher’s travel expenses (airfare and per diem) shall be covered by the project.

External Co-investigators/Collaborators

It is recommended that new proposals seek external collaborators, where appropriate. When visiting SQU, such co-investigators/collaborators shall:

  1. Be entitled to 50% of the allowance paid to a consultant.
  2. Duration of stay per visit will be determined by the needs of the project execution.

Contract Work

  1. Contracted work for any company or personnel shall be signed for using appropriate forms.
  2. All contracting procedures and processes shall be in accordance with SQU rules and regulations.
  3. The Deanship of Research shall obtain legal advice for any contract terms and conditions

Research Project Construction

  1. Any construction made within the University’s vicinity for a research project shall be in accordance with the University construction specifications and standards.
  2. Approval of the Technical Affairs Department shall be obtained for any research project construction within the University.
  3. All project construction shall be the University property once the project is completed.

Budget Reallocation

The following shall be implemented for IG, EG, JG and HMTF only for reallocation applications:

  1. The PI may apply to reallocate fund distribution from one item to another within a research project.
  2. Reallocation requests are made to the Deanship of Research and, where applicable, the sponsor.

Petty Cash

  1. Research projects shall be granted a lump sum amount at the start of the financial year for use as petty cash to meet urgent research requirements.
  2. Each year the DVCPSR shall determine the amount allocated to each research project and specifies an upper limit on the cost of a single purchase.
  3. The PI shall be responsible for petty cash expenditures and may obtain cash advances with the approval of the ADPSR, providing receipts for all purchases made under the project.
  4. Periodically, the Deanship of Research shall reconcile against the petty cash expenses, by debiting the amounts spent from the respective research project accounts, and then reimbursing the same amounts to the petty cash account.
  5. At the end of the financial year any remaining petty cash shall be returned to the Deanship of Research under the project budget.

SQU personnel costs represent a portion of the cost of consultancy in lieu of the time spent by SQU personnel working on that activity. The nature of consultancy activities may require work being done outside normal working hours and this may be performed off-campus. As an incentive to investigators putting in extra time and effort, they are provided with financial benefits as outlined in Table 1. The following shall be considered during the estimation process:

  1. Personnel cost for manpower shall include university, college, centre and department overheads.
  2. Personnel costs shall be agreed with the sponsor up-front.
  3. Actual time spent shall be recorded on a weekly timesheet by each SQU staff member to form the basis for invoicing the sponsor on the SQU personnel costs, and calculating the portion to be paid to SQU personnel.
  4. SQU personnel may not undertake paid consultancy work (including overtime) in excess of 10 hours per week. If this limit is to be exceeded approval must be obtained to use consultancy funds to cover replacement staff.
  5. Consultancy work will be based on hourly minimum rates as indicated in Table 1 for various personnel categories, including overheads.
  6. The University charges overhead for using its name, personnel and facilities. This does not include the use of specialized equipment.
  7. Government organizations and other public organizations may be exempted from University overhead charges.

Table 1: Normal rates for manpower, including overhead charges.

SQU Personnel Category

Hourly Rate (RO)

The total sum shall be distributed as shown in Table 2




Professor or equivalent

60

Associate Professor or equivalent

40

Assistant Professor or equivalent

30

Lecturer or equivalent

20

Demonstrator or equivalent

15

Research Assistant/ Other support staff

10

Table 2: Partitioning of personnel charges.

Beneficiary

Allocations (%)

Investigators

60

University

20

College/DVCPSR

10

Department/Centre

10

College and departmental shares of consultancy costs shall be administered by the College Board and the Department Board respectively.