Developing a global mobility framework for higher education

The global mobility of higher education staff is an area that has traditionally been difficult for universities with responsibility split between several departments. In this blogpost, Ian Ross of the North West Universities Purchasing Consortium’s (NWUPC) describes efforts to obtain better value for money in the procurement of global mobility services.

Recent years has seen changes to the HE landscape, with the market for HE becoming increasingly competitive globally. As a result, many institutions will be managing staff who spend time working overseas.

This can prove to be quite challenging for institutions, as they try to make sense of the complex international tax and regulatory obligations. Quite often responsibility will be split between HR, Payroll and Finance, and guidance may be required as to the issues that need to be addressed.

The NWUPC global mobility working party is working on behalf of the higher education sector to obtain sustainable value for money in the procurement of services relating to global mobility.

Focused contracting strategies

The working party are looking to develop and deliver focused contracting strategies which meet the demands and expectations of the sector. The BUFDG tax group is represented on the NWUPC working party creating a framework for procuring advice on the global mobility of staff, a constantly growing area which has been notoriously difficult to deal with – and individual advice expensive to procure – for many years.

When an employee spends time working abroad, consideration will need to be given to the tax obligations; failure to do so could result in financial penalties being imposed. Immigration and employment law will also need to be considered and guidance will be required by employees working abroad to ensure they are compliant with the regulations.

Equally, the institution will need to ensure anyone travelling to the UK for work abides by the regulations. Failure to address these issues could result in penalties not only for the institution but also the individual involved.

Global mobility framework

Employees expecting to spend an extended period working abroad may also require guidance and support with issues such as relocation, housing, schooling, healthcare etc. Developing a framework that will support institutions with these issues can help to free resources, promote compliance and reduce costs.

Given that most, if not all, HE institutions will require global mobility services, it would make sense to develop a framework for the sector to use. This would be a new area to the contracting programme, expanding the framework agreements on offer to consortia members and within the sector. The framework would be awarded to multiple suppliers, providing members with choice and potential savings.

The NWUPC global mobility working party is currently developing the documentation for the framework to ensure it meets the needs of the sector, and hopes to have the framework in place by late summer 2016.

For further details, contact Ian Ross, contracts director, NWUPC Ltd; tel: 0161 234 8004,

Ian Ross
Ian Ross is the contracts director of NWUPC Ltd