Current work across the higher education sector on procurement focuses on three strategic priorities. These are:
- strategic leadership in procurement
- better collaborative procurement
- improving capability and capacity in procurement
Procurement UK has been established to provide high-level leadership and strategic coordination for procurement across the whole United Kingdom.
It is made up of representatives from the higher education, public and private sectors and is co-ordinated by Universities UK. It sets the strategic direction and monitors progress against plans.
Universities and colleges have adopted a target that 30 per cent of their spending in areas other than staff pay should be addressed through effective collaborative arrangements within five years. This objective is monitored by Procurement UK.
Improving capability and capacity
The Higher Education Procurement Academy delivers development activities, including e-learning, networking opportunities, and an online repository of information on procurement.
Procurement Maturity Assessments are being offered by Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium as part of the first phase of the Innovation and Transformation Fund.
They provide a:
- detailed independent assessment of universities’ procurement function
- bespoke action plan for improvement
- baseline for measuring improvements and a benchmark with similar institutions.
Effective procurement ensures that universities and colleges can have access to the goods and services that they need to support the delivery of their aims and objectives.
By making better use of collaborative solutions and developing in-house capability and capacity savings can be made which can be redirected to teaching and research.
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Collaborative procurement for English universities and colleges is organised through four purchasing consortia:
- London Universities Purchasing Consortium
- North Eastern Universities Purchasing Consortium (NEUPC)
- North Western Universities Purchasing Consortium (NWUPC)
- Southern Universities Purchasing Consortium (SUPC)
All four consortia are members of Procurement England Ltd (PEL), alongside the specialist higher education buying organisations, the Energy Consortium (TEC) and the University Caterers Organisation (TUCO).
The collective voice of procurement practitioners in higher and further education is the Procurement Practitioners Group.