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Rules and Regulations

Purchasing Regulations, Guidelines and Procedures

Relevant Extracts (as amended) for Clubs and Societies:

Financial Thresholds
Seeking Quotations
Ordering by Official Order
Ordering by Purchasing Card
Purchase Order versus Purchasing Card Transaction
Purchasing Secondhand, Re-conditioned or Ex-demonstration Equipment
Pre-payment of Purchase Orders 
Confirmation Orders
Goods and Services for Personal Use
Paying Personally for Goods or Services
Delivery of Goods
Engagement of Individuals Providing Services
Inventory (Asset Management)

Financial Thresholds

The University has a number of prescribed financial levels above which different procedures apply.  The levels which apply to Clubs’ and Societies’ purchasing activities are summarised below.  Please note the change in quotation requirements with effect from 1 November 2012.

Value (ex VAT)


£2,500* - £30,000

All purchases of goods and services require at least three written quotations.


All purchases of goods and services are subject to competitive tender, which must be handled by the Purchasing Office.  (The Purchasing Office should be contacted as soon as the need is identified.)

*  even if a purchase is below the requirement for competitive quotations, if a supplier makes a direct approach to a club or society, asking if they can quote for particular goods or services, then in the interests of transparency and non-discrimination, it is best practice to accept a quotation from that supplier.

Seeking Quotations

Issuing Requests for Quotation

Invitations to quote should be sent to the required number of suppliers of the goods/services. The invitation should consist of the following:-

  • details of the club/society, including a contact name and telephone number in case of queries a closing date and time for the quotations to be submitted (this should give suppliers a realistic amount of time to submit a reply) 
  • the address (or email address) where submissions must be sent
  • delivery details
  • any special requirements
  • a specification of the goods/services required, including a pricing schedule. This forces all suppliers to submit the information in a structured way and makes comparison of prices etc easier. It is important that the potential supplier knows exactly what is required so the specification should be unambiguous whilst also ensuring that competition is not restricted or that it would "lock out" certain suppliers. The use of brand names is normally not permitted, however there may be occasions when they are necessary - particularly if the requirement is quite technical. On these occasions, the words “or equivalent" must be used.

A record should be kept of the suppliers that the requests for quotation were sent to.

An important aspect of the quotation procedure is that potential suppliers are given an equal opportunity to bid for the business and that procedures are non-discriminatory. It is necessary, therefore, that all suppliers receive the enquiry at the same time, have the same opportunity to discuss the requirement and submit the bids on or before a stated date and time.

Receipt of Quotes

The quotations should be evaluated on the basis of the 'most economically advantageous' bid and not necessarily the lowest priced bid. In relation to equipment, for example, the most economically advantageous bid can include factors such as:-

  • running costs
  • special characteristics
  • back-up service
  • technical support
  • delivery

Award of the Business

When presented tothe Clubs & Socieites Finance Office, the request to order the goods/services should be accompanied by copies of the quotations.  A note should be attached detailing the reasons why the particular supplier has been chosen.

Unsuccessful suppliers should be advised that they will not be receiving an order and the reason given if requested (note that, if it is requested, suppliers are entitled to receive this information within 15 days of the result being made known.) Whilst it will be necessary to provide certain advice to the unsuccessful firm as to why their bid did not succeed, details of the successful bid should not be discussed with unsuccessful firms as this is commercially sensitive information.

Alternatively, the Purchasing Office can undertake the seeking of quotations on behalf of the club/society.

Ordering by Official Order

To have an official order raised for goods or services, the club will need to complete a Transaction Authorisation Form which should then be sent or delivered to the Clubs & Societies Finance Office.  The order will then be raised and issued to the supplier.

As per the instructions on all clubs' official orders, invoices should be sent by suppliers directly to the Clubs & Societies Finance Office.  In the event that a club receives an invoice from a supplier, it should be sent immediately to the CSF Office for processing.

Always check the Purchasing website for the most up-to-date information on supply arrangements for clubs before completing a Transaction Authorisation Form for the purchase.

Order by Purchasing Card

Purchasing Cards ("pcards") make the purchase of low value goods and services fast and simple.  Payment by pcard is immediate, which means that no invoice will be issued by the supplier.

Transactions up to a limit of £1,500 (inc VAT) can be paid by pcard.  Any supplier which can accept credit/debit card payments can accept payment by pcard.

Examples of goods and services which can be paid for using pcard are as follows:-

  • deposits for events such as formals
  • goods and services purchased from websites which have an online ordering facility (eg AV equipment and consumables, books, sports consumables, etc)
  • hotel accommodation (although some hostels and B&Bs may only take cash payments)
  • memorabilia
  • registration fees for events
  • sportswear and sports equipment
  • travel (air, sea, rail, etc)
  • vehicle hire
Always check the Purchasing website for the most up-to-date information on supply arrangements for clubs before completing a Transaction Authorisation Form for the purchase.

Purchase Order versus Purchasing Card Transaction

If you are unsure as to whether a transaction should be undertaken using an official order or purchasing card, the staff in the Clubs & Societies Finance Office can advise on the most appropriate method.

Purchasing Secondhand, Reconditioned, Ex-Demonstration or Refurbished Equipment

Occasionally, items of used equipment will become available at a price which is a fraction of the cost of purchasing the equipment new.  Purchasing such equipment is acceptable, as long as value for money is being obtained and it can be determined that the equipment will remain fully operational for the period of its use.

To this end, when deciding whether to purchase used equipment, the usage history must be taken into consideration in line with the purchase price and the age. The seller should be able to provide a history of the equipment to inform the decision whether to proceed with the purchase. Common sense should prevail in that if the equipment has been used in an environment and for a purpose which means that heavy wear and tear is likely, it should not be purchased. 

It is also advisable to seek as a minimum a 12-month warranty with any used equipment rather than the 3 or 6 months' cover which is usually offered.

With regard to competitive quotations, if other sellers are offering similar used equipment, then these may be used for comparison purposes.  In most cases, however, such equipment becomes available as a 'one-off' and hence, when satisfied that a purchase of used equipment should proceed, the request to purchase should be accompanied by a quotation for the used equipment, together with a quotation for the item if it were to be purchased new. If possible, the 'new' quotation should be from an alternative source but if not, a quotation from the same supplier will suffice.

Pre-payment of Purchase Orders

On some occasions, it may be necessary to pay for goods or services prior to receiving them.  It should be noted that wherever possible, pre-payment against a purchase order should be avoided as it places clubs’ and societies’ funds at risk and it may be very difficult to obtain a refund if the supplier does not honour the purchase order. This is of particular importance where large sums of money are involved.

Confirmation Orders

Confirmation orders are defined as official orders which are raised after a request for goods or services has been communicated to a supplier eg verbally or by email and after the invoice for the goods/services has been received. This means that expenditure of the funds has not been authorised and that the commitment has not been recorded. 

Where a confirmation order is deemed absolutely necessary, it must be endorsed "confirmation order" and must state the arrangements made, together with the name of the contact person in the club or society. 

Where there is inadequate justification for the use of a confirmation order, the club may be fined.

Goods and Services for Personal Use

Official purchase orders, University notepaper or any other form purporting to come from the University must not be used to obtain goods or services for a member’s personal use, nor will University funds be made available to any member for goods or services for personal use. 

Paying Personally for Goods or Services

Permissible Expenditure

If payment by purchase order or purchasing card is not possible, club members are permitted to purchase goods/services within the following categories only, having completed a Transaction Authorisation Form:-

  • Expenses for travel, accommodation, hospitality or entertaining* (excluding deposits for formals) up to a limit of £500 (ex VAT)
  • Equipment and consumables (excluding items on a dedicated clubs' supply arrangement) up to a limit of £50 (ex VAT)
  • Essential, unforeseen expenditure whilst the club is at an event or on a trip, away from the University

* the purchase of alcohol for entertaining must be within reason.

Non-permissible Expenditure

In the event that a club member considers it necessary to purchase goods/services which are not included in the 'permissible expenditure' list then, in addition to approval of the TAF by two club officers, approval must be obtained as follows, in order of preference:-

  • Students' Union Vice President Clubs & Societies
  • Clubs & Societies Co-ordinator

Approvals must be obtained on a hard copy TAF.  Clubs must always allow sufficient time for the required approvals to be sought.

Claiming Back Expenses

Once the purchase has been completed, the authorised TAF should be submitted to the Clubs & Societies Finance Office, accompanied by all associated receipts.  Where receipts have not been provided, the cost will not be reimbursed.

Personal Payments for Contract Items to Non-Contracted Suppliers

Where a club member tries to bypass the requirement to purchase goods or services from a contracted supplier by paying personally for those goods or services, and claiming the cost back, this will not be reimbursed and a fine will normally be levied on the club.

Delivery of Goods

When the goods detailed on the purchase order have been received, their accuracy should be checked and the quantities received should agree with the delivery note which accompanies them. 

Goods retained for what the law terms "a reasonable time" will be deemed to have been accepted.  It is therefore essential that all goods are checked as soon as possible and any deficiencies, faults etc notified to the supplier as soon as possible, and confirmed in writing.

Engagement of Individuals Providing Services

With regard to individuals providing services to clubs (eg guest speakers), there are a number of factors which will determine how their payment is treated.  Enquiries regarding such engagements should therdore be directed to Tricia Massey, Head of Purchasing (, who will advise on the correct method of payment.

Inventory (Asset Management)

All equipment, costing or valued above £500 ex VAT, which is purchased by, donated to or acquired in any other by a club or society, must be recorded on the University's Inventory Register (asset management system).  Each item is identified by a discrete inventory number which is used to track the piece of equipment during its lifetime with the club.

The recording of equipment on the inventory system, and subsequent deletion of the equipment from the system, is undertaken, on behalf of clubs and societies, by the Purchasing Office.

In order to record an item on the inventory system, a Clubs & Societies Equipment Inventory Registration Form (IMS-1C) must be completed and an inventory label, containing a discrete number for the item, must be obtained by the Club from the Clubs & Societies Co-ordinator.

The completed IMS-1C Form should be sent to the Purchasing Office for recording the item on the inventory system.  The inventory label should be affixed securely by the club to the item of equipment.

Any equipment already in a club's possession, but which has not been recorded on the inventory system, must also be added, following the above procedure.  Again, completed forms must be returned to the Purchasing Office for processing.

If an inventory record is required to be deleted from the system, a Clubs & Societies Equipment Inventory Deletion Form (IMS-2C) must be completed and, as with the IMS-1C Form, sent to the Purchasing Office for processing.

The Clubs & Societies Co-ordinator will act as Inventory Liaison Officer for all clubs.

Any enquiries regrading equipment registration or deletion should be directed to the Purchasing Office.

It is preferable that clubs and societies also maintain their own inventory lists, recording, at a minimum, all items valued at or above £100 ex VAT.  These items should be clearly marked as belonging to the club or society - for example, with permanent marker.

Grant Applications - Review of Inventory

When clubs and societies apply for their grants each year, they will be required to submit a full equipment inventory list for their club as an appendix to the grant application.  Clubs which do not present this inventory list will have their grants withheld until such times as the inventory list is provided.