Out Sourcing and Shared Services in Higher Education(15/04/2010)Across the public sector, employers are increasingly turning to "shared services" as a means of saving money, under the guise of increased efficiencies. Shared services means bringing together activities and processes that were previously carried out by a number of departments or employers, into a single place or body. In the past this has typically referred to “back office” operations like processing records, payroll, finance and benefits. However, shared services are now being looked at across a wider range of services.
This relates also to the Higher Education sector.The funding councils of England: Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE) and Wales: Higher Education Funding Council Wales (HEFCW) have recently issued relevant bulletins. HEFWC circular W10/06/HE on Developing a Regional Dimension to the Planning and Delivery of Higher Education stressed the expectation that the Welsh Assembly working with stakeholders and HEFCW would ‘develop a regional dimension to the planning and delivery of higher education’. This would build on the existing arrangements four regional partnerships already developed (more details at the end of this advice note).
In response to this we have produced a Higher Education specific Fact Sheet on this area which together with the bulletin can be downloaded from the links below.
Contracting Out of Services
As well as shared services there is also pressure to outsource or privatise HE support services. This leads to a fragmented HE system with institutions having less control over quality, value and accountability and consequent knock on effects on the student experience. UNISON opposes this process and has fought successful campaigns across the UK to prevent it happening and bring back outsourced services into direct provision. To support this UNISON has produced a range of materials and training to help branches influence the decisions made in the privatisation/commissioning process. Even if your institution does not currently outsource services we would recommend that you prepare for the possibility of procurement. If you university has contracted out services it is worthwhile revisiting the agreement. All the following documents can be downloaded from the links at the final page of the circular which can be downloaded from the link below . We are currently developing a route map to aid branches through the process.
UNISON Circular on Shared Services and Contracting Out
UNISON Fact Sheet on Shared Services in Higher Education