Procurement and best value

Good procurement provides the right outcome, best whole-life cost, legal compliance, reduces risk and introduces innovation. Advice is readily available on the Procurement Services website.

University commitment

The University is committed to implementing policies and procedures that support sound procurement practice and that act in a non-discriminative manner when dealing with both existing and potential suppliers. The aim is to promote engagement to encourage best provision and innovation thus improving the University’s reputation and professionalism. Integral to the competitive process is that suppliers should be treated fairly and openly and be given equal opportunity to bid for work if they can meet the needs and requirements of the University.

Colleges and Services should ensure a competitive/tender process takes place when procuring any goods and services clearly stating the relevant and appropriate requirements for those goods and services in terms of best quality and price. Such planning is vital and will enable beneficial and competitive outcomes.

Procedure to follow

The first step is to assess the value of your spend. If this is not easy at the early stages, a best estimate may be provided but the associated calculations should be documented and retained. It is important to check if an agreement is not already in place for the provision of your requirement. These agreements or contracts will have been tendered compliantly and offer best value.

If no competitive tender arrangements exist, the process to follow for the value of the work required, is outlined on our website. There are a number of actions to follow for various levels of spend. As the level of spend increases, the procurement process becomes more detailed. All procurement activity in the University must follow the financial regulations

In exceptional circumstances the University may consider waiving the University’s competitive process. In all circumstances it is important to seek advice from the Procurement team before following this route. Please note that when spending grant money, financial/procurement rules are often more stringent. Such an application needs to be agreed and authorised by the College Manager or Head of Service and, if over £25,000, will also require the Head of Procurement. Applications must be corroborated by robust supporting evidence and records must be kept in case of audit.

Placing orders

Orders for goods or services must be placed through the approved University systems of APTOS, Parabilis or purchasing card. These methods protect the University’s funds, form an auditable record of the agreement and reduce the risk of fraud and double-invoicing. To assist Colleges and Services, a range of procurement training is available via iTrent.

Best value

With regards best value and teaching quality for engagement of self-employed teachers, before contracting out teaching to individuals who are not employed by the University, Colleges should ensure there is evidence of the competence of the provider to teach to the required standard. This can be assessed through one or more of the following:

  • interview (interviews should be undertaken by at least two members of staff who are responsible for the module/programme)
  • references from other HEIs
  • student feedback and/or peer observation (where the provider has been used previously by the University)
  • CV showing qualifications and teaching assignments undertaken elsewhere.


Modules taught by self-employed providers should be subject to the same student evaluation procedures and peer observation as other programmes/modules and the outcomes of such reviews, together with any relevant comments made by external examiners and/or examination boards, should be taken into account before any further work is offered to them.

Members of staff should not be directly involved in decision-making in cases where work is offered to their former colleagues, close friends or family of staff. Where this is not possible, because they have lead responsibility for the module/programme, they should ensure that senior staff are involved in the decision-making progress.

Methods of assessing best value

While it is recognised that the specialist nature of such teaching assignments will (in most cases) prevent Colleges from seeking quotations from more than one supplier, Colleges should consider other methods of assessing that the arrangement is 'best value'. For example:

  • Is the rate for the work commensurate with the rate that would be paid to an occasional teacher or a contracted member of staff?
  • What evidence is there that a market premium is justified?
  • What negotiation has taken place with the provider about price before the contract is agreed?