Education & Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) provision - Subcontracting Policy 2017/18 (to cover the period 1st August 2017 to 31st March 2018)

1. Introduction and purpose

The University’s currently works with 2 subcontractors to deliver specialist provision in Production Horticulture and to serve the SME business community in the Holbeach and Spalding areas. The University has not previously sought to increase the number of subcontractors with which it works, however, with the introduction of the Apprenticeship Levy, as the Lead Provider the University will consider extending its number of subcontractors where specifically requested to do so by an employer who wishes to compliment the University’s directly delivered provision. The University will only subcontract provision at Levels 2 and 3.

The purpose of this policy is to provide accurate and comprehensive information to external agencies on how the University procures its subcontracted services and the pricing framework used.


2. Scope and Context

The policy applies to all subcontracted provision supported with the funds supplied by the ESFA.  The Subcontracting Policy is a mandatory requirement for subcontracting activity. The policy’s content has been developed to comply with the ESFA Apprenticeship and Performance Management Rules for Training Providers; May 2017 to March 2018; Version 3 and Addendum to the Apprenticeship and performance management rules; May 2017 to March 2018; issued April 2017. The University will not commence subcontracting until the 1st August 2017.


3. Fairness in Procurement

The University will at all times undertake fair and transparent procurement activities. Should the need to increase the number of subcontractors be identified, future opportunities will be advertised and procured in accordance with the University's Procurement Policy. Before appointing subcontractors the University will take its own legal advice about the impact of Public Contracts Regulations 2015 on the recruitment of delivery subcontractors.

The University will inform the Chief Executive of the ESFA in writing, about any circumstances which might lead to an actual or perceived conflict of interest.


4. Due diligence

The University will undertake a robust process of due diligence when selecting potential subcontractors to ensure the highest quality of learning delivery is made available which demonstrates value for money and has a positive impact on the experience of both Employers and Learners.Potential subcontractors must complete and submit the prequalification questionnaire at the expression of interest stage. Through this process, the University will test the robustness of the provider to assess and mitigate any potential risk to the University that the provider may not be able to uphold the ESFA’s requirements.  This will include a review of financial robustness of the provider and, their legal status and monitoring processes.

The University will not procure the service of subcontractors who are not registered on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers (RoATP) to deliver services to levy paying employers. The University may contract with subcontractors to deliver services to non-levy paying SME businesses but the value for the provision delivered between the 1st August 2017 and 31st March 2018 will not be greater that £100,000.


5. Contracting arrangements

Successful partners will be issued with a legally binding contract eligible for the period from when the contract commences until 31st March 2018. It will be signed and witnessed by the subcontractor and the University. Terms and conditions will be agreed and included in the contract. The University and the ESFA are granted full permission and rights to monitor the quality of training being provided and visit the subcontractor at their premises, training sites or employer’s premises from which they operate.  

The subcontract will reflect completely and accurately the ESFA Apprenticeship and Performance Management Rules for Training Providers; May 2017 to March 2018; Version 3 and Addendum to the Apprenticeship and Performance Management rules; May 2017 to March 2018; issued April 2017.


6. Improving quality

The University is committed to improving the quality of teaching and learning and the Apprentice and Employer experience across its provision and will work with the subcontractor to ensure continuous improvements are put in place across the range of provision offered. The following processes are in place to help monitor the quality of subcontracted provision and actively improve quality on an on-going basis:

  •     a robust schedule of quality assurance audits are carried out throughout the year
  •     annual reviews with target setting to include minimum success rates with all partners
  •     regular management meetings between the University and its subcontractors
  •     support for training and development of subcontractors and their employees
  •     regular support to ensure information, advice and guidance meets SFA requirements
  •     external review of teaching and learning and quality undertaken annually
  •     external mock inspection exercise undertaken every 3 years.

All subcontractors are required to undertake a self-assessment process in accordance with the Common Inspection Framework and produce a Self-Assessment Report (SAR). The University of Lincoln will support partners in this process and in the setting of clear targets for improvement.


7. Internal policies

Subcontractors are required to have robust internal policies to ensure compliance with legislative undertakings and general good practice and make certain that policies are regularly updated and effectively implemented, the requirements of which are identified in the contract.


8. Fees and charges

The University makes a charge of 15% of the full contracted value as a management fee for its standard sub-contracted provision. The costs cover the provision of:

  •     administration
  •     quality assurance
  •     MIS function relating to the submission of funding claims to the SFA
  •     provision of management meetings
  •     provision of a dedicated account manager
  •     provision of professional advice regarding SFA funding matters
  •     due diligence support guidance and checking

The subcontractor will be responsible for meeting the costs associated with the registration of candidates with awarding bodies and examination fees.

The University’s National Centre for Food Manufacturing shares the same site as the University Academy Holbeach (UAH). This and the volume of the UAH’s learners provide economies in the costs associated with the management of sub-contracting arrangements by the University. The University believes that it is appropriate that the benefit of these savings be passed onto UAH’s learners and therefore operates a non-standard charging arrangement for its sub-contracted provision with the UAH, which has been agreed at 6% of the contract value for 2017/18.

Non-standard charges may be applied to other subcontracting agreements in the future where costs savings can be mutually identified and agreed between the subcontractor and the University.


9. Payment

Payment to subcontractors will be made within 30 days of the invoice been received, subject to all necessary paperwork and records having been submitted within the required time scale.  A checklist of key dates and deadlines for the paperwork to be received for inclusion in the return to the Education Skills Funding Agency will be provided. Payment details are also included in the contract schedules issued to subcontractors at the start of the new contract year.


10. Policy review and communication

The University will review this policy annually. Any changes to the policy will be communicated to existing subcontractors at the contract management meetings.  The policy will be discussed with new subcontractors prior to their engagement.  An up-to-date copy of this policy will be posted on the University's website and paper copies will be made available upon request


11. Duties within the organisation

Nominated members of staff with strategic lead responsibility for subcontracting:

  •     The Director of Planning and Business Intelligence
  •     The Dean of the National Centre for Food Manufacturing

Nominated member of staff with responsibility for performance management OF subcontractors:

  •     The Deputy Head of NCFM (Apprenticeships and Business Partnerships)

Policy Approval:

  •     The University’s Senior Team Management Team


Policy sign-off

Signed on behalf of the University of Lincoln’s Senior Management Team on the 31st July 2017.


National Centre for Food Manufacturing, Holbeach Campus, Park Road, Holbeach, Spalding, PE12 7PT
tel: + 44 (0)1406 493000
fax: + 44 (0)1406 493030