Procurement Services


Frequently Asked Questions

Our aim is to provide professional support to departments in all Procurement related matters.

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What is a UCL Contracted Supplier?

A UCL Contracted Supplier is a supplier who has been awarded a framework agreement or contract by Procurement Services or one of the various consortia that UCL has access to. Suppliers are normally appointed to a framework following an advertised tender and competition. Sometimes these suppliers are called approved or preferred suppliers.

What should I do if I find a product or service that is cheaper from a non-contracted supplier?

Occasionally it may be possible to get a quote which appears to be lower than that from a contracted supplier. Typical reasons include:

  • Other cost factors such as maintenance, consumables, delivery, installation and disposal have not been included
  • Different service costs - a supplier maybe able to have lower service costs for a one-off but could not service the whole of UCL consistently
  • Loss leader
  • Different quality and/or standard - the product may not meet UCL's requirements for quality, health & safety compliance and sustainability.
  • UCL often requires additional elements which you may not get as a consumer such as additional warranties, more robust business models for equipment, account and technical support.

After taking into account the above factors consider if the price difference is significant both in percentage terms and absolutely. If the price of the item is low, you may wish to review if any potential savings outweigh the cost of your time spent checking the price. The cost of setting up a new supplier should not cost more than the difference in price. It typically costs an organisation about £200 to set up a new supplier.

If the price difference is significant, please inform the contracted supplier. UCL contracted suppliers are expected to match the lower prices given by non-contracted suppliers. If the contracted supplier agrees that the quality of the lower price quoted for the product or service is the same as theirs, and they are unable to match the price then please notify the relevant Procurement Manager before proceeding. In some cases the Procurement Manager will authorise the use of a non-contracted supplier however it is imperative that the Procurement Manager is consulted before any order is placed.

Who do I contact in Procurement Services to discuss a contracted supplier?

Please navigate to the procurement website (http://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/) and select 'Contracted Suppliers'.

Then select the category, and the supplier you are interested in.

Please click on the supplier's name and the contract details page will open with the name of the contract manager.

How do I complain to a supplier?

Please send an email to the supplier's UCL Account Manager and copy in the relevant UCL Procurement Manager (This will be shown on the first page of the supplier page)

A supplier has told me that they are a UCL preferred supplier, how can I check this?

By checking the suppliers listed on the UCL Contracted Suppliers webpage.

Please click on the link on the left "UCL Contracted Suppliers" box within the Procurement Homepage. You will need your UCL ID and password to get into the site. Here you will see a list of purchasing categories, please click on the desired category to see the listed contracts and supplier(s).

UCL has 'contracted' suppliers all of whom have been through a competitive selection process by Procurement Services. These are suppliers who we have formal contracts or agreements with in line with UCL Financial Regulations.

There are many other suppliers who are on the MYFINANCE system who are not contracted to UCL. Just because they may be on MYFINANCE, it does not mean that they are in any way 'preferred' or 'approved'.

What are the differences between Procurement and Purchasing?

Procurement is the management of suppliers, tendering and contracting, often carried out by a central team. It will often develop a procurement or category strategy and work to deliver that for an organisation. It works on behalf of the whole organisation to put in place good contracts and procurement processes that the organisation can benefit from. It will seek to obtain best value across a number of procurement category areas for the goods and services that the organisation purchases.

Purchasing is the transactional part - browsing catalogues, raising requisitions and approving purchase orders as well as paying invoices.

This is normally done at local level. UCL staff do this by using the financial system (Oracle Financials) called MyFinance.

Used in conjunction with MYFINANCE is Science Warehouse. This is a portal which shows the agreed catalogues from some of our contracted suppliers. Products from suppliers on Science Warehouse will be on catalogue, while orders for any other supplier will be raised as non-catalogue orders, often following quotes or tenders.

A supplier has asked me to sign an agreement/contract, what should I do?

Please do not sign, refer the matter to Procurement.

It is a common tactic for sales people to ask you to sign something quickly, typically at a week or month end. They will provide incentive such as" x% discount if you sign by this afternoon". Disregard this; it is generally a sales tactic which may not be true. Ask them to put the offer in writing and tell them that you have to talk with procurement before anything can be signed. Avoid being explicit about who can sign.

UCL, in most cases will want to issue its own terms to the supplier.

What's the most suitable Procurement process that I should follow?

We have 2 resources on our Procurement website to help you find the Procurement process most suited to you:

1 - UCL Financial Regulations - By following the given link you can find a table with the Procurement Requirements against the Total Aggregated Value of the project for you to identify what type of Procurement process will apply to you.

2 - Procurement Process Flowchart - By opening the Flowchart you can follow the step by step process down the chart where you will end up with the most relevant procedure for your situation.

If you have a query or you would like to speak to someone then do get in touch, you can call or email Procurement on #09672 & procurement@ucl.ac.uk.

Why does procurement need to get the UCL set of terms agreed with the supplier?

UCL terms will offer better protection to UCL and give us more rights to rectify problems and issues in the event that something goes wrong. It also sets out UCL's and the Suppliers obligations to fulfil the contract. There are a number of reasons why it is important to protect ourselves against supplier terms, these are:

  • Should the goods be faulty or damaged, we may want to replace or get new goods. Most supplier terms try to remove this right!
  • Delivery charges - UCL contracts often have free delivery as this facilitates electronic invoicing by making sure purchase orders and invoices match.
  • Shipping charges and Duty - we request that the goods are shipped Delivery Duty Paid (DDP) from the supplier. This removes the need for UCL to pay separate additional duties and shipping charges if the item is shipped from outside of the UK. It also facilitates electronic invoicing by making sure purchase orders and invoices match.
  • Title in the goods - most suppliers retain the title in the goods until all payments have been paid. In law this means that we never own the goods until they are delivered to UCL. The terms will make this clear and this is important if a different arrangement to the one described here has been agreed. This means if goods are damaged, the owner will be the one responsible.
  • Indemnity - Terms have indemnity clauses in to set out who is responsible for issues which might be caused as a result of the goods or services provided. Suppliers normally cap their liabilities as far as they can or to the cost of the contract which may not be sufficient to pay for any remedies. However, should a member of UCL become injured due to the goods being faulty we request the supplier to indemnify UCL. This means we can sue the supplier for damages to person, property and losses.


I want to find a contractor for development/design, content management of a website or creation of a mobile application. I cannot find a suitable contracted supplier listed on the Procurement website. What do I do?

Information on websites, apps and databases is provided by ISD. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/websites-apps

There is some in-house support to for website development so please check your requirements with the team first. They will also be able to advise on the suppliers which can be used if they are not able to provide the service themselves. The team can be contacted on web-support@ucl.ac.uk.

There are a number of issues which need to be considered when using external suppliers, including information security and data protection, intellectual property, web standards, licensing and contract terms.

It is recommended that you consult with the Information Security Team before you start your project. Failure to deal adequately with information security can result in fines and loss of reputation to UCL.

I want to buy a PC/Laptop/Tablet computer and can't find it in the catalogue on MyFinance marketplace?

UCL has access to a number of different manufacturers via national framework https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/desktops-laptops

Some Dell equipment is available via a punch-out catalogue on the Science Warehouse which is accessed via MYFINANCE.  You will need to check with the MYFINANCE helpdesk if you do not have the correct access.  This will give you access to the Dell Premier page and from there you will be able to select items, including customised products as well as retrieve equotes.

A number of the resellers (XMA and Softcat) also have catalogues on the marketplace and some of the most common standard laptops they supply will be available in their catalogue. For customised items, you may still need to email the suppliers to obtain an offline quote - there is a link to generate an email with all the relevant addresses on the "How to Order" tab. Once you have selected the quote you wish to proceed with, a non-catalogue order can be raised in MyFinance.

I want to buy a PC/Laptop computer from a manufacturer who is not listed on the framework

It is recommended that you purchase only the approved brands of PC's from the suppliers listed on the procurement website https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/desktops-laptops

These suppliers supply business specification machines which are backed up by 3 year warranties etc. in the event that anything goes wrong with the equipment. They will be familiar with UCL requirements and can provide additional services like asset tagging and imaging should this be required.

If you are considering non-standard equipment, you may also want to check with your departmental IT manager to see whether they can either source it for you or recommend an alternative (there may be an equivalent spec machine from an approved supplier).  You will also need to check that they are happy to support the equipment if it is not a standard brand.  Finally you should check that you have a 3 year warranty as many suppliers do not offer this. 

I want to buy a PC/Laptop and don't know what specification I need

ISD Purchasing have lots of useful information on their webpage http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing

Details relating to Desktop@UCL and how to order is available at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing/isd-services

If your department does not use Desktop@UCL or ISD services, then a number of standard models are also recommended on the ISD Purchasing website https://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware/hardware-purchasing/non-isd-services

If you are not sure what you need, you want to purchase a PC/Laptop/Tablet which is not available from any of the approved suppliers or you need a different specification than the examples listed on the website, then ISD Purchasing can advise on the most suitable equipment to meet your requirements, arrange for a quotation and can place the order for you so it is worth contacting them in the first instance - contact the IT purchasing team

You may also want to check with your departmental IT manager to see whether they can either source it for you or recommend an alternative (there may be an equivalent spec machine from an approved supplier).  You will also need to check that they are happy to support the equipment if it is not a standard brand.  Finally you should check that you have a 3 year warranty as many suppliers do not offer this. 

I've seen a PC/Laptop computer in the local shop, can I purchase this there and claim the money back via expenses?

Information on the expenses policy is here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/expenses-policy.
Generally, computer equipment cannot be claimed back via expenses http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-expenses/2-scope.
More detail on exclusions can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-expenses/annex-2

I want to purchase Apple Equipment, why do I have to use resellers and why can't I go directly to Apple?

Apple decided not to bid for the National Apple Agreement. As a result the contract only contains resellers. See further information at https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/computer-equip-suppliers/apple

I want to purchase some software, how can I do this?

In the first instance check the ISD webpage and software database to see if UCL already has it http://www.ucl.ac.uk/isd/services/software-hardware

If the software does not exist, then you will need to comply with UCL Financial Regulations and seek competition as relevant. http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/policies-procedures/accordion-financial-regs/accordion-7-fin-regs/supplier-selection/

There are a number of issues which need to be considered when purchasing software, including information security and data protection, intellectual property, support and maintenance, licensing and contract terms.

It is recommended that you consult with the Information Security Team before you purchase your software. Failure to deal adequately with information security can result in fines and loss of reputation to UCL.

Software licensing can be complicated and can result in UCL being exposed to financial risk through poor contract terms or insufficient or inadequate licensing. It is recommended that you discuss our requirements with Procurement Services who can advise on the procurement.

Laboratories and Workshops 

I can't find a chemical that I want on the marketplace what do I do?

As UCL needs to be home office compliant for chemicals please contact Sigma or Insight Bio to source these items on our behalf. Both these suppliers are approved and can provide the data we need for the home office return.

For more info please see third party sourcing of chemicals

Does UCL hold a duty free license to purchase duty free products (ethanol and methanol)?

Please be advised that UCL does not hold a duty license centrally. Departments requiring duty free products must supply for a licenser via her majesties customs. Please see the link below:


If you do not hold a license you will be required to pay duty at the point of order, if you are entitled to claim duty products by holding a license you will need to submit this license notice number or license copy to the supplier at point of purchase.

Can I buy a domestic fridge/freezer to store my tissue and reagents in?

Please be advised domestic fridges/freezers are not spark free, domestic fridges and freezers also do not have temperature controlled sections therefore the temperature in a compartment can fluctuate between the front and back of the fridge/freezer. This is not suitable for storing tissue samples or reagents. We recommend that you purchase laboratory fridges/freezers approved suppliers at : https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements/small-bench

What shipping code should I use for shipping goods outside the UK?

If you are buying an equipment from outside the UK, you need to make sure that the supplier has quoted DDP in the cost of the quotation. DDP means delivery duty paid, this means the equipment is shipped from the supplier directly to UCL without having to be stopped in customs to pay shipping charges, insurance and duty.

All shipments should include DDP. Otherwise you would have to pay for insurance, shipping and duty coming in to the UK.

New Supplier Requests

I want to set up a new supplier, how do I do this?

It is worth checking whether there is an existing supplier or framework agreement which can meet your needs first. https://www.ucl.ac.uk/procurement/agreements

If you find you do require a new supplier, information on setting them up on MyFinance can be found here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/purchasing/new-suppliers

How long will it take to process my New Supplier Request Form?

All requests go to the New Supplier Team. When referred to Procurement Services for approval, it will be assessed by Procurement Services within 4 working days. Occasionally it may take longer than this, for example when there is insufficient information on the request form to assess the requirement or where terms and conditions need to be agreed.

In these instances, the requestor will be contacted by Procurement Services who will follow up the requirements with the requester.

Once approved by Procurement Services, the request goes back to the New Supplier Team to set it up on MyFinance within 2 working days - their SLA's are here http://www.ucl.ac.uk/finance/purchasing/ap-service-standards

How do I add or amend a company?

If you wish to add or amend a company or self employed individual's site address, please email New Suppliers as usual (these will be processed within 2 working days).

I want to use a consultant to provide services for a special piece of work, what terms do I need to put in place?

For low value or routine projects, UCL Standard Terms and Conditions (word) can be used. 

However it is important that you check the trading status of your supplier as this may impact which contract terms should be issued to the supplier. Contact Procurement Services if you are not sure. There may be tax implications for UCL if the supplier is not properly assessed.

There are three types of supplier to consider, each requiring different terms:

Sole Trader - a single person trading under their own name, from their home address with no employees. You will also need to complete a Self Employment Questionnaire and Application Form (word). Special Sole Trader Terms (word) should be used for this type of suppliers.

Personal Services Company (PSC) - usually a single person trading under a limited company. They are shown as the director of the company and may use their home address. You must contact your HR Business Advisor if using one of these suppliers as they require an assessment due to new legislation - see guidance. Special PSC Terms (word) should be used for this type of suppliers.

Standard Company - trading as a limited company or LLP, with a number of employees and directors. UCL Services Terms (word) should be used for this type of suppliers.

Responsible Procurement

How can I be a responsible buyer?

On each product and service category you will find a section on responsible procurement specific to it. Please read this to understand how you should apply these principles when you are buying goods and services.

Before making a purchase or starting a procurement process ask yourself these additional simple questions:

Do I actually need to buy it?

The most environmentally sustainable option is to avoid unnecessary purchases. Can you find an alternative elsewhere in the university? We have a number of reuse portals to help unwanted items find new homes.

Visit our reuse page.

Even better, do you have an idea on how to reuse items? If so UCL would like to hear from you.

What is it made of?

As a consumer, you should question the materials that products are made of. On each of our guides you will find useful information on standards and labels that demonstrate sustainable material usage for these areas.

Under what conditions was it made?

You should question how the product was made. UCL is engaging with all contracted suppliers to ensure they pay their staff living wage and committed to ensuring that there is no Modern Day Slavery or human trafficking in our supply chains or in any part of our business.

UCL has written a Modern Day Slavery Statement.

As the buyer you should also ask questions about this too.

How far has it travelled?

You should seek to source products from as near as possible to minimise the distance travelled. This causes less harm to the environment. Ask yourself, can you get this product from a supplier nearer to UCL?

UCL supports buying locally. Local suppliers may be, although not always, small and medium size enterprises (SMEs). Promoting the use of local suppliers demonstrates investment in the community, close proximity makes it far easier to travel to them for supplier development and contract management purposes, Supply chains are generally shorter leading to greater certainty and predictability of delivery times.

How can it be disposed of?

Nearly all products will come to the end of its life. If the item still has value, you may want to consider putting it on WARPit. This way, somebody else will take it hassle free, the item is reused and UCL saves money.

Suppliers may have take-back schemes. For example this is commonplace with IT hardware. It may even be mandatory as with white goods products. In the product guide for product category you will be able to find out if this applies to the product.

If you are unsure about to how to dispose of an item you should visit UCL's waste page.

What is it packaged in?

Products are often packaged heavily. You should understand what the packaging is made of. Is the packaging made from recycle materials and can it itself be recycled? You may even be able to request the supplier to reduce the packaging. You should plan ahead, and find out how to sustainability dispose of waste packaging.

Visit our waste page.

How will it be used?

Understanding a products intended use can help steer your purchase.

  • Is it durable to meet the rigours of work?
  • How often will it be used? For example if a computer is intended to be on for a long period of time, it may be cheaper in the longer run to buy a more energy efficient computer despite having higher purchase costs.

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