Value for Money Strategy

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The University’s strategic plan states that we will work as one Oxford bringing together our staff, students and alumni, our colleges, faculties, departments and divisions to provide world-class research and education. We will do this in ways which benefit society on a local, regional, national and global scale. The University’s ambitious agenda, as outlined in the Strategic Plan, has been set at a time when global competition for staff, students and resources is increasing while the national funding environment remains challenging. 

The University therefore recognises the importance of obtaining value for money from its resources. This is reflected in the most recent Strategic Plan, which embeds financial and environmental sustainability as a key enabler to permit continuing investment in our people and infrastructure. 

Value for Money may be defined as Making the best use of the resources available to maximise benefit and achieve the desired result.

Achieving value for money, therefore, goes beyond narrow definitions of financial efficiency, ensuring that resource is focussed on delivery of key academic priorities set out in the strategic plan and that the plan is operationalised at divisional and service level.

Objectives of the University’s Value for Money strategy

The University’s value for money activities seek to make the best use of limited resources to ensure effective delivery of the University’s strategic objectives, including long term financial sustainability. Overall objectives are:-

  • To increase the efficiency and effectiveness of our systems and processes
  • To embed the pursuit of increased efficiency and effectiveness
  • To challenge current practices and approaches in order to improve performance and position the institution to meet future challenges.
  • To apply the lessons learned from local investigations and reviews, across the University in order to maximise the benefit of this work.

Specific objectives will be determined and benefits reviewed for each discrete VFM activity undertaken.

Responsibility for pursuing value for money is shared by all members of the University. More specifically:

Council is required by sector regulators to ensure that economy, efficiency and effectiveness are being achieved.

Council has delegated responsibility to Planning and Resource Allocation Committee (PRAC) for University-wide Value for Money objectives.  In order to discharge its responsibilities, PRAC will:

  • Agree a programme of VfM activities annually in Trinity Term
  • Task operational groups with the delivery of individual VfM initiatives
  • Provide funding for the Focus Programme to undertake VfM projects
  • Receive reports on the programme of service reviews led by the Registrar

PRAC will report to Audit and Scrutiny Committee on the University’s VfM activity in Michaelmas Term so that Audit and Scrutiny Committee can provide Council with assurance that satisfactory arrangements are in place to promote economy, efficiency and effectiveness.

The University seeks to improve efficiency and effectiveness in the following ways:

  • Using performance indicators to monitor progress against strategic plan priorities;
  • setting and monitoring budget targets for Services and Divisions which meet sustainability targets;
  • benchmarking the University’s performance in discrete areas externally where possible and appropriate, including in collaboration with other research-intensive universities, and internally by breaking these down to academic and service function level;
  • investigating areas where benchmarks or other indicators suggest that we are underperforming or underachieving to establish how we can revise our practices and approaches to improve our performance;
  • undertaking a rolling programme of reviews of service areas (led by the Registrar) to identify where improvements in efficiency and effectiveness can be made and to identify and disseminate examples of good practice using the range of internal and benchmarked data available

Drawing on information and expertise provided by UUK, Russell Group and other organisations on best practice in ensuring Value for Money both within and outside the sector.

PRAC will receive a termly progress report on VfM activity and will report annually to Audit and Scrutiny Committee.

Approved by the Planning and Resource Allocation Committee at its meeting on 28 April 2020.