Quality data and adherence to travel policy are essential to effective university travel purchasing concludes a report published today by Public Sector Travel.
The authors based the report on FOI requests to nearly 150 UK universities. The 129 that replied had a composite annual travel spend of nearly £250 million. Eight universities – Manchester, Oxford, Southampton, Nottingham, Leeds, Cambridge, Imperial and Sheffield – reported annual travel spends in excess of £8.5 million. Twenty more universities spent more than £2.5 million per annum on travel and subsistence.
A long tradition of academic independence coupled with dependence on grants to fund research has created an environment of local management and procurement. The study finds that this devolution of spending into units making independent decisions impedes both compliance to a standard policy (such as what class of travel may be purchased) and collection of the management information necessary for supplier negotiations.
The study also concludes that lack of compliance also means that individuals choose their own booking method which means that the appointed agent cannot collect the data necessary not only for financial savings but also for carbon counting and the traveller tracking necessary to ensure traveller safety in case of any incidents.
The report, supported by travel management company Portman Travel, reveals that universities are not able to take advantage of their large travel expenditure in negotiations because of the lack of visibility around that spend. Jeannette Harrison, contracts manager at Nottingham University, said, “This [the lack of MI] curtails our ability to negotiate with suppliers.”
The process of research grants will give the recipient autonomy over purchasing decisions so that university offices are unable to take account of such spend in their negotiations.
A mandated travel policy is expected to go into force for all central government departments after the active tender to replace the current framework agreements with two travel management companies, one for domestic and one for international travel, is completed.
• A Degree of Control: travel management in the higher education sector is available only to full subscribers to Public Sector Travel
• An event to discuss the findings is scheduled for the autumn. To register your interest, drop us an email
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