18 January 2001 | David Arminas
The Further Education Funding Council (FEFC) is considering tapping into higher education consortia deals in a bid to save more than £300 million of non-pay procurement spend.
Three colleges were working with the London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC) and a fourth was expected to join this month, said Tony Holloway, FEFC director of finance and corporate services. "They will establish business cases for buying through university consortia."
Further education and tertiary colleges, sixth forms, agriculture, horticulture, and art and design schools could all improve their purchasing, Holloway said.
He set up the national procurement arrangements group at the FEFC in 1999. "Procurement in many colleges is on a 'part of my job' basis. We are trying to raise purchasing's profile."
Martin Pritchette, co-ordinator for LUPC pilots and Association of Colleges director of estates, said: "We see annual savings of 10 to 15 per cent on FE non-pay spend of around £2.5 billion."
One factor inhibiting development of best practice and value for money within FE colleges is a lack of skilled purchasers. "Only around 20 per cent of the 450 colleges in England and Wales have dedicated purchasing professionals," Pritchette said.
London colleges Westminster Kingsway, Newham and Croydon are involved in the pilots.
"I'm not sure there will be many savings on letting of contracts such as maintenance," said Steve Bird, Westminster Kingsway estate and facilities manager.
Pritchette will report back to the Association of Colleges at the end of the year.