The University has had an explicit Value for Money (VFM) strategy since 2004, most recently updated by Executive Board in 2009. It follows the HEFCE’s published guidance available at:
Our VFM web site is available at:
The University is an educational charity that receives a substantial proportion of its funds from public sources. We seek to achieve value for money (VFM) from all our activities, however they may be funded. The University’s strategy is to embed value for money as part of our ongoing business processes and decisions.
Value for Money has three components, economy, efficiency and effectiveness. In the short term it can often be simplified as lowest price or cost but this is a mistake and it is important to try to achieve an outcome that also recognises the efficiency of any process or function and its effectiveness.
To achieve good VFM, we seek:
Since 2009, much of our work in this area has been under the heading of the ‘One University’ concept. Our commitments are to:
The single largest initiative under this heading has been procure to pay (P2P).
The University’s governance structures are similar to those found in a majority of pre-1992 universities with Council as the governing body and Senate the supreme authority on academic matters. The University has adopted the CUC guidance on the operation of the governing body.
Responsibility for pursuing value for money lies with all members of staff; in a formal sense, the following roles have been agreed:
The HEFCE’s Financial Memorandum sets out the terms and conditions for payment of HEFCE grants to higher education institutions and imposes a formal obligation to deliver VFM. The governing body of each HEI must take reasonable steps to ensure that there are sound arrangements for risk management, control and governance, and for economy, efficiency and effectiveness (Value for Money). The Financial Memorandum requires Council to designate an accountable officer, who will normally be the head of the institution, as the person with responsibility for satisfying the governing body the conditions of the Financial Memorandum are being complied with. The Vice-Chancellor is the University's accountable officer.
Executive Board agreed the following mechanisms to help achieve our VFM objectives.
In line with the HEFCE's code, the annual report from the Internal Audit Team must include an opinion on the adequacy and effectiveness of arrangements for:
Value for money considerations will form part of the agreed audit annual plan on the areas to be reviewed in the year. Value for money considerations will form an integral part of the routine work of the internal auditors. The Internal Audit Team will give an opinion on each investigation on value for money aspects. We will continue to ask the Internal Auditors to undertake specific value for money studies where appropriate. A member of the Internal Audit Team serves on the VFM Steering Group.
The Procurement Office will continue to operate value for money procedures in the oversight of all the University's procurement. The Head of Procurement serves on the VFM steering group.
Financial Monitoring and Budget Scrutiny Group specifically consider value for money issues when considering submissions and project proposals from the four budget holders (three PVCs for Faculties and the Registrar) and report on such matters to Executive Board.
The Registrar has particular responsibility for ensuring that the arrangements described above operate effectively.
Managers have the executive responsibility to maintain an awareness of good practices in their own area of operation and to ensure that these are followed appropriately.
All staff should endeavour to seek and achieve VFM in all activities and to bring to management's attention any opportunities for improvement.
We have good systems for generating management information. The way we measure and how we report will never be perfect but they are sufficient to enable good questions to be asked and further work undertaken to produce answers or solutions. For example, the Transparent Approach to Costing (TRAC) mechanism allows us to cost our research teaching activity in a way that was simply unavailable ten years ago.
Within the framework of the University’s strategy Vision 2021 we have developed a comprehensive set of KPIs. We can measure the success of our learning, teaching, research and engagement activity.
Benchmark data is weaker. It normally lags by at least 12 months and there are doubts about the consistency of measurements between HEIs. The results of the National Student Survey and Research Excellence Framework are central to any assessment of our effectiveness and hence to any assessment of VFM.
The key objectives in our financial strategy are to:
26 April 2013