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Procurement Services


This page lists a series of frequently asked questions. If you do not find a solution to your query below, please see our contact form on the right. We will get back to you as soon as we can.

If your question refers to the iProcurement module of the University Finance System (raising requisitions, problems with the ordering process), please navigate to iProcurement training manuals before contacting the UFS Helpdesk Hub.

For queries concerning contracts, terms and conditions, dispensation or if you are seeking general procurement advice, please contact us directly on 01223 (3)32333 or via the contact form.

Financial procedures

I want to purchase an item. Do I need to get quotes?

You will need to get 3 quotes for any item or service over the value of £1,000 unless the item is available on the Marketplace and is less than £25,000. For more information, please see the Competition Procedures or the Selecting a Purchasing Route section of the Buying Guide.

I want to purchase an item but I need to pay part (or all) of it in advance?

Before raising a purchase order, any advance payment upto £10,000 inc. VAT has to be approved by your Head of Department. Any amount over £10,000 inc. VAT has to be approved by the Head of Group Procurement. For any advance payments it is recommended that a creditsafe check is made on the suppliers financial stability, and for large payments a bank guarantee should be obtained from the supplier, so that in the event the goods or services are not supplied, the University can reclaim its money. 


What is dispensation and when does it apply?

A dispensation is the approval not to follow the Competition Requirements. Following approval, a single source tendering process should then be started. A dispensation is not required if the anticipated Total Contract Value is less than £1000 excl. VAT.

Can I use the paper dispensation forms?

No, as there is no audit trail for the paper copies, the electronic version has replaced the old paper copies. Please use the online dispensation form.

Who approves my dispensation form?

If the value of the order is under £50,000 then your Head of Department approves the dispensation. If the order is above this amount, the dispensation application will be automatically sent to Procurement Services for approval. If you are an approver or someone who raises Dispensation there is a training course available: The Dispensation Process-all you need to know.

I have made an error on my dispensation form, can this be cancelled?

Unfortunately if the dispensation details are incorrect this cannot be amended. You can either resubmit the dispensation, or let your Head of Department or Procurement Services know. I didn’t get dispensation for using a sole supplier. What will happen?

This will be classed as a breach of Financial Regulations and your information will be added to the Financial Breaches log which is reviewed by the Head of Procurement and the Director of Finance.

Preferred Suppliers

What is a preferred supplier?

A preferred supplier is one where they have been awarded a contract following a competitive process managed by Procurement Services. You can find out more information on our preferred suppliers, and the products they offer, here.

We use X company a lot- how can they become a preferred supplier?

In order for a supplier to become a preferred supplier a competitive process has to be undertaken. This involves the University requesting the supplier to submit a quotation or tender for a particular contract. However as the University operates a devolved purchase structure each department can purchase from any supplier of choice as long as the department follows Financial Regulations.

Financial procedures

A supplier has asked me if there are any current opportunities to tender?

Please direct the supplier to our Supplier Portal. If the supplier wishes, they can register interest via In-tend.

I wish to use the Marketplace but I don’t have access to it. What do I need to do in order to get access?

First you will need to complete the Marketplace training (LINK). Once you have completed your training, your Departmetnal Administrator will complete the registration form (LINK) on your behalf. You will then receive your login details and can access Marketplace here. <LINK>

Credit card use?

How do I get a University Credit Card?

Click here for guidance on the application process.

Once the application is sent through to Transaction Processing and Control, the information is then sent to Procurement Services to get approval from the Head of Procurement Services.

What is the University Credit Card for?

The main purpose of the Credit Card is for Travel and Subsistence; please see the University Terms and Conditions and the Credit Card Procedures.

Can I use the University Credit Card to purchase electrical items?

No, please use our preferred suppliers. If you purchase electrical items from retail shops the warranty will be void as the use of the item is for business use not for personal.

I've been asked to purchase some food for an event; can I use the University Credit Card for this?

The University Credit Card is not to be used to purchase catering items. Please use the registered catering suppliers to purchase food.

Click here or information on Catering Suppliers.

What if I have a genuine need to use an alternative supplier (such as kosher catering for an event) what should I do?

The dispensation form will have to be completed regardless of the value of catering. When completing the form you should enter the Head of Procurement’s e-mail address to ensure that it reaches Procurement Services promptly.

What are the risks if I want to use a non- preferred supplier for catering?

If a Department opts to 'step outside' of the strict controls developed by the University the individual making that decision is likely to be personally at risk of any action / prosecution in the event of some failure. They only have a defence in law where they have followed the procedures devised by an organisation to protect against food safety hazards. Ultimately, in the event of a food poisoning or sale of unsafe food, the authority would look to see whether the organisation or the individual were responsible for inadequate controls. Where an individual chooses to go outside of the food safety management system developed they would be personally liable to any prosecution and even where the authority chose to prosecute the University rather than the individual, that person can still be held liable when the matter is considered by the court. Prosecutions can lead to fines of normally up to £20,000 per offence with serious incidences leading to a risk of imprisonment.

It is unsafe to assume a supplier is "fit for purpose" without adequate risk assessment and expert checks on them. The mere fact they are registered as a food business or have been awarded a high star rating does not equate to any warranty or safeguard for the service they provide to a department. Their registration is automatic and so is without value. The star rating system has no legal status. In any event the star rating merely relates to the food operation considered by an officer at the time of inspection. That is unlikely to relate to external catering supplies as the authorities do not audit these activities. Anyone who in a commercial capacity, chooses a catering provider to supply their business or Department becomes responsible to ensure the supplier can and does provide safe food without risk under the terms sought. Equally the law is written so that they can be prosecuted for the criminal offence relating to the consumption of unsafe food.

A supplier has sent me an account opening form- can I fill this out or does purchasing need to do it?

Yes, you can fill this out. You need to ensure that you cross out the following information:

  • Terms and Conditions: attach the University ones.
  • Payment Terms: write on the form end of month plus 30 days.
  • Trade references: this is something that we don't give.

On the form it may ask for a company registration, the University does not have a company registration but we do have a VAT number which is GB823847609.

Purchasing Contacts

How do I add/remove my name to the Purchasing Contacts list?

Sign-up to the list is voluntary and staff members can request to be added or removed at any time by emailing:

What is the purpose of the Purchasing Contacts distribution list?

This list is used to distribute information on University's preferred suppliers (for all commodities, from stationery to lab consumables, IT & computer supplies to furniture) as well as advice and updates on purchasing issues and procedures that are relevant to departments across the University. This information is aimed to allow you to make informed purchasing decisions on behalf of your department and gain best value for money on your day-to-day operational requirements.

Commodity Working Groups (CWGs)

What are the Commodity Working Groups and what do they do?

You can find out more information on our Commodity Working Groups here. Commodity Working Groups were previously known as Purchasing (Working) Groups.

How do I become a part of a Commodity Working Group?

If you wish to become a member of one of the Commodity Working Groups please e-mail the secretary of that group.

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