Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Modernisation and Efficiency Conference

At the UUK launch of the Efficiency and Modernisation Report. Will try and keep blogging fairly up to date, but will probably be in note form.

Opening introduction from Nichola Dandridge. In current climate, Universities have to be as lean and efficient as possible, whilst maintaining quality. Following today's conference, action plan will be drawn up for implementation by Universities.

Ian Diamond, Chair of Task Force. Economic context: we face difficult financial times with pressure of public finances and a new way of funding HE. There's a political imperative for universities to be seen to be making efficiencies, but it also important to improve student experience and research output. Not a piece of work just about reducing costs. UK HE is one of UKs biggest success stories. Have to maintain this quality. So, quality is as important as efficiency.

This report is about operational efficiency. Most of spend in Universities is on academic area, so feel that there's a need for a further task force to look at efficiency in that area.

As a sector we have to work together and co-regulate to make efficiencies. Also need to provide a framework for action.

Acute understanding of need to act
Much good practice already in the sector. But sometimes we're poor at communicating them
Not complacent about challenges, are barriers and constraints to further progress.
Need better data and to get serious about benchmarking.
As a sector, proud to be transparent.
Lack of clear understanding and data on operational costs.
Benchmarking is piecemeal and fragmented

Must improve streamlining of our own processes. Simplification and improving internal processes is essential.
More can be done on shared services but VAT remains a barrier. First must share services internally before can share them with each other.
Potential for outsourcing and shared services, including with private and rest of public sector.

Procurement not always seen a strategic part of HE but should be. There's significant potential for collaborative procurement across sector

Areas where regulation could be simplified and costs savings achieved, eg FoI and EU procurement.

Interventions should fit longer term strategic aims rather than short term
Cost reduction activities should be clear on savings
Concentrate on leaner, better processes
Better data on operational costs is needed
Set of benchmarks should be produced for sector
Advice on implications of competition law should be developed
Models for developing shared services should be disseminated
HEIs should look to exploit existing services with a track record of excellence
Government should implement mandatory VAT exemption o shared services across public sector
I light of new funding arrangements, procurement regulation relating to EU should be looked at
Better understanding of FoI costs should be developed, and sector should engage with the post legislative review
Body to lead procurement in England should be developed
Real savings to be made in IT, eg outsourcing to cloud, shared IT advice services etc.

Ian Diamond's personal 3 most important things in report:
Getting one version of the truth in organisations
Improving collaborative procurement
Improving IT

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