Introducing the Higher Education Procurement Academy

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The Higher Education Procurement Academy aims to be a centre of excellence for advanced procurement capability and professional development, built by the sector, for the sector.

The ‘Diamond Review’ (published in September 2011) into the efficiency and effectiveness of higher education (HE) highlighted the important role that modern procurement practices can have in transforming spend within HE. One of the key recommendations was that an academy is established to support the HE professional procurement community by providing professional development of procurement specialists.

The British Universities Finance Directors Group (BUFDG) recognises these challenges and opportunities for the sector. With support from the BUFDG Procurement Professionals Committee and CIPS, and in collaboration with the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education and all the UK HE procurement consortia, it is in the process of establishing a Higher Education Procurement Academy (HEPA) to serve the specific procurement needs of the HE sector.

This package of emerging support for individuals and institutions represents an exciting opportunity for the professional procurement community to play an increasingly influential role in the efficiency and sustainability of their universities.

HEPA online

The HEPA microsite offers updates on developments at the Academy and BUFDG members can also find details about the Academy and the individual competency assessment tool at www.bufdg.ac.uk/resources/documents. You can also follow the Academy on Twitter @HEPAcademy and on LinkedIn.

What HEPA will provide

Although training is a key deliverable, the Academy is about more than this, and will:

  • Offer courses and support to enhance individual competencies, knowledge and skills in procurement practices from basic training, refresher training (e.g. in legal matters) to CPD
  • Provide leadership development programmes and learning opportunities for sharing best and emerging practice
  • Support regional networking opportunities for all
  • Develop and maintain an online repository of information on best practice, resources, benchmarking, news and information to support the ongoing professional development of procurement professionals
  • Provide procurement support beyond finance and procurement teams, including support for procurement colleagues in HR, estates, IT, research teams and those with purchasing authority in academic departments
  • Provide a suite of competency frameworks and job descriptions to help develop a consistent standard across the sector and help manage performance.

Working groups to develop the service

Marcus McDonald, Director of Finance and Estates at the Royal College of Music and LUPC Chair, is Chair of the Procurement Academy Steering Group. This group has established a series of other working groups that are considering how this Academy can support individuals and procurement leaders within universities, and across affiliate sectors in the arts, cultural and research sectors (over a third of LUPC’s membership).

The working groups are considering:

  • training needs
  • what courses might be offered and how these relate to existing CIPS accreditations and specific needs of universities
  • existing best practice and guidance materials which can be adapted for HE
  • how and where courses might be offered
  • and how the Academy becomes financially sustainable and develops into an established feature of BUFDG.

Procurement Maturity Assessments

BUFDG is also collaborating with Southern Universities Procurement Consortium (SUPC) which is providing Procurement Maturity Assessment (PMAs) to all universities. These will help senior leaders understand the procurement potential of their institutions and where investment in training can be focused to benefit the university concerned.

An institution involved in a PMA will receive a diagnostic report, benchmarked comparisons with other universities, and a bespoke action plan. English institutions commissioning a PMA before the 31st July 2013 will be offered a subsidised rate of £1,000 + VAT which covers the costs of two annual assessments.

Further details about PMAs are available at www.supc.ac.uk or by contacting Judith Russell j.s.russell@reading.ac.uk or telephone 07986 911918.

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