09 May 2022
Mental Health Awareness Week

During Mental Health Awareness Week at APUC, it is a good time to reflect on our priorities when it comes to employee wellbeing:

  1. Make time to check in on our colleagues, following up with them, understanding and relating to their challenges and supporting them
  2. The importance of raising awareness and accessing experts, whether it be to have mindfulness sessions or Mental Health First Aid training
  3. Appreciation of the benefits of physical exercise, access to the outdoors, appreciation of nature, reminders to set aside time for this
  4. Setting aside time to have a cuppa with colleagues, or go for a walk, asking them about their lives outside the workplace
  5. Recognising and accepting that it is ok not to be ok!

Some specific ways we connect with our colleagues are to have walking meetings, regular virtual and in-person catch-ups, guided monthly mindfulness sessions, have fun activities on various awareness days and opportunities to connect with nature. Underpinning our wellbeing activity is our Employee Assistance Programme - contact your consortia for details of the relevant Framework Agreement - which provides an online app with a library of resources on physical and mental health and, most importantly, provides access to the counselling service which can assist colleagues when times get tough.
Don't forget to register for this week's UKUPC Webinar Loneliness and Connection hosted by HEPCW on Friday 13 May 2022 from 10am. To find out more and register your FREE place go here

17 December 2021
UKUPC Festive Campaign Day 8: How UKUPC supports SMEs

Click here to read

16 December 2021
Day 7 - Making "good" easier

This year saw environmental sustainability brought to the fore of many conversations and debates in our personal and professional lives with the arrival of COP26 in Glasgow. With most of our members engaging in the event in lots of exciting ways, it was great to see all the great work our sector is doing to pushing the agenda forward on climate. Some of the resources the UKUPC Responsible Procurement Network has made available to UKUPC members are as follows:

  • A glossary of terms - created to describe specific details of responsible procurement, ensuring consistency across all projects from all organisations
  • A standardised set of tender questions that relate back to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. A later version was released outlining 'what good looks like' to assist members in evaluating supplier responses, you can request this from your local consortium. There are over 100 questions for institutions to choose from in areas such as gender equality, carbon reporting, clean water, and sustainable forms of governance.
  • A Modern Slavery Act guidance document for suppliers to help them understand the Modern Slavery Act, and to write meaningful modern slavery statements. It was aimed at suppliers that might currently be under the turnover threshold, or those that simply need guidance.
  • The HE TOMs measure set; UKUPC, HEPA, the Social Value Portal and member institutions have been working collaboratively to identify a solution which enables organisations to procure, measure, manage and maximise social value in procurement activity in a consistent way and define the benefit in ₤'s.

Some of the ways UKUPC support members to achieve their goals is by:
  • Embedding sustainable practices throughout the procurement process, from strategy, tender and evaluation to contract and supplier management to ensure that risk around climate change are highlighted and addressed
  • Supporting colleagues within the Higher and Further Education Sector to address climate change in their procurement activity
  • Working with colleagues across the Scottish Public Sector in order to learn and share best practice
  • Engaging with, and challenging, suppliers to work with APUC to address climate change
  • Develop category specific (PIACC) guides for hot spot areas of carbon and greenhouse gases
  • Create long-term category plans to reach Net Zero
  • Produce Supply Chain Green House Gas Emissions data for institutions annually

Looking at our Veterinary Supplies framework, available to all UKUPC members, one of the suppliers planted 420 trees in the month of November of which 60 were directly attributable to activity on the framework. One tree is planted for every ₤250 spent on the framework. The same supplier are also in the process of launching a new catalogue in January centred around sustainable products (and defining what they mean by "green") and implementing their Green Plan. Members buying from items in the catalogue will not only be sourcing more sustainable products, in some cases 100% recyclable or 100% reused, but contributing to offsetting carbon within the supply chain.

15 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 6 - Mental Health and Wellbeing

With Christmas and a New Year approaching we look back and reflect on the last 18 months, it's been a period that none of us would have previously experienced nor predicted. Changes in working practices as organisations adapt to new blended working arrangements have resulted in significant changes for staff, academics and students. Notwithstanding the challenges that have been presented by Covid-19, the impact of the loss of loved ones, social distancing requirements, and the need for self isolation have all had a bearing on mental health and wellbeing.

UKUPC recognises that the changing environment is impacting upon all of its stakeholders and is working collectively to provide support and access to services that can assist with mental health and wellbeing. Some of the initiatives that have been undertaken include:
  • Providing updates on availability and lead times for PPE equipment
  • Access to framework agreements which provide Employee and Student Occupational Health and Wellbeing Services
  • Stakeholder groups meeting more frequently to increase collaborative contact and address issues as and when they arise
  • Access to framework agreements that provide goods and services that support delivery of flexible working arrangements; e.g., Desktops and Notebooks, Sustainable Furniture Solutions (replacement framework coming soon), Finance, HR & Payroll Services
  • Acknowledging the impact on staff morale and engagement and providing appropriate management to support staff throughout the pandemic.

As we head into the Christmas period, the presence of the Omicron variant will bring increased concern and possibly impact upon Christmas celebrations for many. In the event that the country moves from the current pandemic tier, it is possible that additional restrictions may be imposed that will impact upon our ability to interact freely. This will no doubt be keenly felt by many, who after having adapted to living with the pandemic for over 20 months and having been able to return to a relatively "normal" routine, will be required to comply with tighter restrictions. There are likely to be many who are struggling with their mental health and wellbeing.

Some of the following suggestions may help with improving your mental health and wellbeing over the festive period:
  • Spend time outside - make an effort to go outside rain, snow or shine. Even without a lot of daylight, being outside can brighten our moods.
  • Take extra breaks - it's good to take extra breaks and go outside or move our bodies. You can never go wrong with more movement and fresh air.
  • Turn on the lights - make the room really bright and put the lights on before it gets dark to trick your body into thinking there's still daylight. Some recommend closing the blinds, so you don't notice that it's become dark.
  • Be around nature - even if you can't get outside much, you can bring nature and plants into your house.
  • Change your workspace - if you're feeling sluggish and uninspired, try changing up your workspace. Go to a coffee shop, co-working space, library or hotel lobby.
  • Put on some high energy music -put together a playlist of your favourite upbeat music.
  • Breathe - if you spend a lot of time behind a laptop then you have probably found yourself unhealthily hunched over. Sit up straight, put your shoulders back, and take some big breaths to get the oxygen circulating.
  • Drink more water - feeling tired has been linked to not drinking enough water - and it's pretty much always good to drink more water.
  • Move more - go outside and do something physical: go for a walk/run/swim/bike ride, chop wood, go ice skating, make snow angels, jump rope...anything that gets your heart rate and corners of your mouth up! The more we move, the better we feel.

Merry Christmas everyone - take care of yourself and others and stay safe.

14 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 5 - The Real Value of Using UKUPC Frameworks

As a UKUPC partner, NEUPC membership brings about a range of added value benefits including responsible procurement activities, training opportunities and access to expert procurement advice to name but a few. What makes us stand out, and our strategic aim for us to really show our value, are the significant cash savings we deliver each year to our members through our framework agreements.

Accurate, consistent reporting of savings is increasingly beneficial across the HE sector as it seeks to demonstrate the clear value that is being obtained from professional procurement activity.

There are several ways that savings from procurement can be obtained, and as the influence of procurement in the sector increases, there is a trend towards reporting 'Delivered' savings that have a direct impact on the bottom line. Through a single methodology UKUPC have developed a savings and benefits process calculated on a realistic and prudent basis. This is evidenced with a clear audit trail to support decisions and assumptions.

UKUPC have developed 4 stages to the benefits process.
  1. Target - Market analysis
  2. Forecast - Expected benefits
  3. Secured - Agreed
  4. Delivered - Actual

By working together as UKUPC through the agreed sector wide methodology on our frameworks we can provide supporting data for each agreement. UKUPC have expertise in UK public procurement law and all tenders are conducted within the regulations governing public sector bodies. We follow a rigorous process that provides a robust audit trail with established Terms and Conditions for each framework, all of which have been agreed by suppliers.

Framework agreements support longer term business planning, allowing some stability from market fluctuations and the development of longer-term commercial relationships with suppliers. More advantageous pricing can be made based on aggregated spend which delivers cash savings back to our members.

Robust contract management ensures close relationship management with suppliers, monitoring performance against set KPI's all aiming to create more value for money on each framework and assessing suppliers' financial stability to reduce risk to members.

During the frameworks lifetime savings made will be reported in the consortia's Annual Benefits Statements using various BT Saving models.

Most commonly, these benefits will be reported under 3 types of benefit savings (BT):#
  • BT1 - Direct Price Based Savings - This is the baseline for reporting cash-based savings that are delivered to the member.
  • BT2 - Price Versus Market Savings - Identified non-cash savings through the framework that would be lost if the procurement process had not been conducted.
  • BT3 - Process Savings from Use of Collaborative Arrangements - Any non-cash saving that is derived from the use of collaborative agreements. This saving is designed to reflect the avoidance of having to do a full tender exercise at the time of the renewal of an existing arrangement or the creation of a new one.

Using the framework is key to ensure that the contract delivers the anticipated savings and benefits, and your consortia category managers are always available to help. Use our Meet the Team page to find the relevant category manager to discuss any questions or queries you may have.

13 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 4 - Supporting the needs of our members through Collaborative procurement

In this #SeasonOfGiving, we look towards the true spirit of the holidays and the importance of togetherness and how collaborative procurement can best support the needs of you, our members.

The UKUPC partnership of APUC, HEPCW, LUPC, NEUPC, NWUPC, SUPC, TEC and TUCO collectively embody the true meaning of the festive period, by working together to share knowledge, best practice and to provide support to each other and the wider procurement community.

UKUPC has 5 groups (with representation from each of the eight consortia) that work together to ensure we tackle members procurement priorities in an effective and efficient way that minimises duplication:

  • UKUPC Board - The Board's vision is to leverage the benefits of collaborative procurement: working across the UK HE Consortia community to enhance procurement within HE and across our other members; helping deliver savings and efficiencies; maximising member benefits; embedding responsible/ethical procurement and social value using a sustainable supply chain management approach.
  • The Joint Contracting Group (JCG) - Provides a strategic overview of the delivery of the national Joint Contracting Programme, working collaboratively to ensure that we have the right framework agreements in place at the right time.
  • Responsible Procurement Network that has two main aims to standardise existing procurement activity within consortia purchasing. And to create resources to benefit institutions or make improvements to the supply chain.
  • Communications Group - Promotes the benefits of collaborative procurement, identifying key audiences and developing tailored messages.
  • Consortia Information Systems Strategy Group - Works together to improve the information systems used by the consortia and our member institutions.

Read more here

10 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 3 - The road to sustainability in the food industry

Sustainability has quickly become a prime concern not only for businesses, but also for individuals. Over the years we have seen a huge increase in activities related to climate change and environmental issues. One of the big challenges for the food and hospitality industry has been the reduction in plastic, especially as so many food and drink products traditionally use plastic packaging. Here, we set out the issues and give you ideas on how to tackle them.

It is important we understand why we need to reduce our use of plastics, or, where we can't, learn how to dispose of them correctly. Making these changes will not only have a positive impact on your sales (as studies show that eco-friendly brands are viewed more favourably by consumers), but also on the planet.

Plastics are used in all sorts of positive ways; protecting the food we buy and preventing it from becoming waste before it reaches our kitchens and fridges. However, for all the positive applications and uses of plastic there are many that are problematic or unnecessary, exacerbating the issue of plastic waste in the natural environment. WRAP say plastic packaging placed on the market in the UK totals 2.4M tonnes, and flexible plastics in the UK account for 25% of consumer packaging, yet we only recycle 4%.

TUCO have long been supporters of WRAP and encourage everyone in the industry to take a look at the work they do to encourage sustainable businesses and communities. The UK Plastics Pact, led by WRAP, brings together businesses from across the entire plastics value chain with UK governments and NGOs to tackle the issue of plastic waste. The Pact unites businesses involved in producing, selling, collecting, and reprocessing plastic to deliver ambitious targets for change by 2025:
  • Eliminate problematic or unnecessary single-use packaging through redesign, innovation or alternative (reuse) delivery models
  • 100% of plastic packaging to be reusable, recyclable or compostable
  • 70% of plastic packaging effectively recycled or composted
  • 30% average recycled content across all plastic packaging

Read more here

9 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 2 - Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity in Procurement

The festive season often brings to mind feelings of togetherness, but the reality is that within societies we all rarely have access to the same opportunities or advantages. This leaves tangible and lived experiences of inequality that we must address. Today's post is actually not about giving. It's about taking necessary action to ensure the diversity of people and experiences in the procurement profession and our wider communities are effectively represented. This goes further than our teams and organisations. It also extends to the organisations with which we work and those we contract with. How are we making sure that our organisations and our supply base is diverse and representative of society?

Within each consortium, UKUPC partners are adopting approaches to address EDI within our teams, our profession and our supply chains - though we recognise we are in the very early stages. Here are some examples of how UKUPC partners are approaching EDI activity. Please contact your local consortium for details and support.

  1. Commitment through policy and action - Having a clear EDI Policy is important to demonstrate commitment to improvement and to provide a framework and priorities for activity. The equality, diversity and inclusion policy should be supported by senior management and be reviewed annually to ensure the targets are met and activity contributes to positive onward change. SUPC, part of the SUMS group, which provides support to universities to improve performance across all professional services, has developed an EDI Policy, which outlines our commitment and objectives for the year ahead.
  2. Staff and member training - The right trainer can provide a grounding in EDI as a first step to raising awareness and facilitating change. Your trainer can help you explore EDI from an individual perspective and then think about how that impacts your procurement activity. In a safe and supported environment, a trainer can help you explore questions like: Are you sure that you are reaching ALL suppliers who could be providing a fantastic service for your University? Could there be some bias in process or decision making that favours suppliers from certain backgrounds? Would you like to be doing more to encourage inclusive practices in your suppliers?
  3. Best practice sharing - Events can highlight changing legislation, examples of best practice and case studies of how others are implementing changes. Most recently, LUPC & SUPC hosted a Responsible Procurement Webinar in November 2021 with insight from framework supplier Clyde & Co on creating a diverse workforce. You can watch this recording on-demand here. You can also catch the most recent UKUPC webinar on Environmental Social Governance here.
  4. Changes within tenders and improved supplier management - Asking a tender or SQ question in a certain way might disadvantage a certain group of suppliers? The SQ part of a tender allows us to ask questions for information only, such as 'Does the organisation have an EDI policy?', These are basic questions but we can probe further into areas such as gender and ethnicity pay gap, neurodiversity policies, disability policies, or flexible working policies for families? Questions can go much deeper into asking about investigations from The Equal Rights Commission or comparable bodies, and asking how policies and regulations within our contracting partners are cascaded down the supply chain.

9 December 2021
UKUPC Season of Giving Day 1 - Achieving a sustainable energy future

To kick off the UKUPC festive campaign we will be demonstrating how TEC is providing our Members and the Sector with sustainable energy solutions highlighting responsible procurement and social and environmental value.

Sustainability is the forefront of both our mission and vision statement, we harness our expertise to achieve a sustainable and secure energy future. TEC aims to manage its operations, and those of the selected framework suppliers, in ways that are environmentally sustainable, economically feasible and socially responsible.

How are we procuring energy to achieve a sustainable energy future?

Scope 2 emissions

TEC's approach to securing renewable energy for our members via our frameworks ensures no "greenwashing". This is because electricity supplied through our Power Purchase Agreements which are directly with renewable generators is from specific UK Renewable sources from specific windfarms and backed by a bundled Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin (REGO) which remains with the electricity and cannot be resold.

For those not signed to the PPA, there is the option of renewable power from renewable sources including wind, solar and hydro-electric but also electricity generated using gases (including methane from landfill and anaerobic digestion).

Finally a half-way house comes with the availability of a so called "Clean-Tech REGO" product, electricity generated in fully renewable facilities, including onshore and offshore wind and solar parks but excluding electricity generated with renewable gases.

All these requirements are hard-coded into our framework specifications, with bidding suppliers offering the widest and most cost effective renewable energy solutions receiving the highest scores in our evaluation. And it's not just in the current framework - it will remain a requirement of future frameworks too.

Without off-takers such as TEC members, there would be less investment in new-to-earth renewable electricity which is designed to assist in the UK, European and global aspiration of carbon reduction so we can genuinely state that electricity supplies through the TEC framework are a contributor to our collective climate change mitigation and carbon reduction goals.

11 November 2021
A welcome announcement

As a devastating warning is issued by the Climate Action Tracker suggesting COP26 "has a massive credibility, action and commitment gap", pressure continues to mount in the final days of the conference as UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson returns to Glasgow and calls for nations to "pull out all the stops".

As the day progressed all eyes were on a surprise announcement by China and the US as a joint declaration promising action was released. Both sides pledged their commitment to work together and called for stepped-up efforts to close the "significant gap" that remains to achieves the 1.5C temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement. Agreement was made on a range of issues including methane emissions, the transition to clean energy, and de-carbonisation. Commentators are hopeful that this statement could be a recognition of the urgency of the situation.

Our colleagues at University of Strathclyde were honoured to receive a visit from Former US President Barack Obama earlier this week. See what their Principal, Professor Sir Jim McDonald had to say here. Check out the University of Strathclyde's Planet Pod COP26 Series Podcast here.

03 November 2021
COP26 continues

Announcements on methane reduction, protecting forests and accelerating green technology were key developments made yesterday at COP26.

The Glasgow Leaders' Declaration for Forest and Land Use has been endorsed by 114 work leaders including China, Russia and Brazil and commits to protecting forests and reversing land degradation by 2030. 105 countries, including 15 major emitters, signed up to the Global Methane Pledge - led by the US and the EU - which aims to limit methane emissions by 30% compared with 2020 levels. The Glasgow Breakthrough Agenda has been backed by 35 world leaders including India, the US and the EU which aims to scale up and speed up the development of clean technologies.

See what University of Edinburgh have to say on their participation at COP26 and beyond...

The University of Edinburgh is committed to tackling the climate crisis through our research, teaching, industry and community partnerships and in the way we operate as an organisation. We're proud to be participating in over 70 events at COP26 to showcase our research on climate impact, mitigation and adaption and profile the many successful projects and partnerships we're involved in across the world.

Beyond COP26, our new Edinburgh Earth Initiative will act as a focal point for the University's world-leading teaching and research on climate, with an emphasis on supporting global partnerships to deliver climate solutions.

Find out more here:
COP26 summary
Edinburgh Earth Initiative

02 November 2021
COP26 Kicks Off


COP26 truly got underway in Glasgow, as around 120 leaders gathered to launch global negotiations, making clear their commitment to tackle climate change and signaling their ambition for the summit.

If you missed the Earth to COP film shown during the Opening Ceremony, you can catch up on all the action of the summit by going to the Cop26 YouTube Channel.

As part of the COP26 University Network, over 80 UK-based universities and research centres working together to ensure that the UK academic sector plays its role in delivering a successful COP26, creating lasting partnerships and legacies beyond this single event.

NEUPC members University of Birmingham, University of Sheffield and the University of York have described what COP26 means to them and their institutions long term objectives as part of our COP26 member focus today.

For the University of Sheffield (UoS) "The aims of COP26 are crucial to our collective health, wellbeing and livelihoods; our entire way of life depends on the success of our action to tackle climate change." Explains James Merryclough, the universities Sustainability & Communications Manager. "As one of the small number of UK universities awarded passes to the inner Blue Zone at COP26, we'll be helping to shed light on the talks by sharing insight and expert comment from our academic and student attendees. We'll also be highlighting how our research is finding practical solutions to global food, energy and climate challenges and showcasing our work to make our campus more sustainable and meet our 2030 carbon neutrality target."

The University of Birmingham (UoB) is leading the way in the sector through research to help mitigate and adapt to the risks and impacts associated with climate change and headline projects as: The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) creating future climate conditions to help us understand our actions clearer today. This year, the UoB will become the first university in the world to roll out "Internet of Things" (IoT) technology at scale. Starting in Autumn 2021, the first phase of this major energy efficiency project includes the roll out of 23,000 Enlighted IoT sensors across the University estate. Partnering with Siemens this will create the smartest university campus in the world, and in effect a living Lab across the University Estate which helps to understand and create a carbon neutral environment.

When asked what does COP26 mean to the University of York (UoY), Rob Hunt, the universities Director of Procurement & Transactional Services said, "it is an opportunity for the university to showcase it's world leading climate relevant research, impactful environmental activities and make connections with new and influential partners - all with the aim of promoting environmental sustainability for all communities." The UoY hosted a suite of workshops and seminars in the week preceding COP26, focusing on COP26's main themes. They have sent a delegation to COP26 to promote the UoY flagship initiative BioYorkshire, which will deliver a bold new green agenda to create jobs, boost the regional economy - and develop sustainable solutions for some of the UK's most pressing environmental challenges. They will be engaging in both Blue and Green Zone events, hosting meetings, and attending workshops/seminars.

01 September 2021
UKUPC Market Insight Document

UKUPC and its professional category leads throughout the UK has produced a document providing insight to members on what is happening in national and international supply chains. The report was emailed to heads of procurement on 1 September and will be updated and circulated quarterly. We hope this comprehensive support document will be helpful to our members and their teams when considering their current procurement activity and strategic planning.

Understanding real time information regarding the markets from which we are purchasing is key to making good, strategic and commercial procurement decisions. Recognising and acknowledging challenges and opportunities means we are able to appropriately manage our requirements to ensure continuity of supply at appropriate pricing, whilst also managing risks.

We would welcome your comments on the content, structure and usefulness of the Insight document in order that we can make edition two, which will be published in December (and quarterly thereafter), even more valuable.

Please contact Claire Skinner for a copy of the document (members only) or to provide feedback.

25 March 2021
UKUPC Impact Statement

APUC is pleased to publish this year's UKUPC (UK Universities Purchasing Consortium) Impact Statement, highlighting how institutions have benefited through consortia collaboration. For further information about UKUPC and the work taking place, keep an eye out for the next edition of our newsletter due for publication in April or visit

01 March 2021
Climate Literacy eLearning Launched

We're delighted to announce that the Scottish Government's Procurement & Climate Forum have today launched the Climate Literacy for Procurers eLearning module. This free resource is designed to help public sector buyers really understand the Climate Emergency challenge, and to appreciate how procurement activity can support net-zero aims for their organisation and Scotland as a whole. Anyone can access the eLearning by registering on the Scottish Government's Sustainable Tools platform here.