Subcontracting policy

Staffordshire University Higher and Degree Apprenticeship Subcontracting Policy

Purpose: This Policy sets out the University's approach to subcontracting its higher and degree apprenticeship provision. It outlines the framework that the University uses in selecting and regulating subcontractors including the financial arrangements for subcontracted provision.

1. Introduction

1.1 For Staffordshire University (the ‘University’), higher and degree apprenticeships continue to represent a natural extension of our work in supporting employers to develop the skills of their workforce on the basis on business need.

1.2 This policy applies to all subcontracted provision funded by the Education Skills Funding Agency (ESFA). The Subcontracting Policy is a mandatory requirement for subcontracting activity. The policy’s content has been developed to comply with ESFA Apprenticeship Funding Rules and addenda.

1.3 This policy will be updated to reflect in year amendments to ESFA regulation with any significant changes submitted to the Partnerships Committee for consideration. 

2. Rationale for subcontracting

2.1 The main reason that the University subcontracts higher and degree apprenticeship provision is to enhance the scope, reach and quality of our apprenticeship offer. The specific reasons for choosing to subcontract would be one or more of the following:

  • That a subcontractor would be able to provide access to specialist staff or other resources that would otherwise not be available
  • That a subcontractor can widen access, participation and progression with groups that are hard to engage or geographically removed from the University
  • That engaging with a particular subcontractor would bring benefits to the region in terms of business innovation and knowledge transfer with the University and its stakeholders
  • As a result of a joint bid or similar for higher and degree apprenticeship funding in which the University was the lead provider, for example to meet the needs of particular employers/ sectors of particular potential apprentices.
  • To satisfy particular needs of employers/ apprentices/ main provider related to scope, reach or quality of apprenticeship training provision. 
  • To facilitate a seamless learning experience combining elements of provision delivered by the University and its subcontractor. 

2.2 The University is a national and international higher education provider and therefore it may decide to subcontract outside its region in order to work with organisations that will enhance the delivery of particular educational/ skills needs.

3. Selection, approval and monitoring of subcontractors

3.1 The selection of subcontractors will be informed by the criteria outlined in point 4 above which may be subject to subcontracting thresholds defined by any University strategic procurement exercise.

3.2 The University applies its existing policies and procedures for approving and managing collaborative academic partnerships and provision when selecting and managing subcontractors for apprenticeship provision, supplemented as appropriate where ESFA rules require alternative or additional approaches.

3.3 Some deliver subcontractors will be existing collaborative academic partners of the University that have already successfully completed the University’s Due Diligence and Review Procedure for Existing Collaborative Academic Partners. Through this procedure, supplemented by any additional procedures required by ESFA rules applicable at the time, the University collects, and risk assesses, information about a proposed subcontractor to ensure:

  • The overall rationale for a proposed subcontract fits with relevant University policies and strategy and the rationale provided in section 2.
  • The subcontractor’s capacity and track record in provision high-quality provision including that it is able to quality assure and improve relevant provision.
  • Appropriate legal and financial due diligence checks are satisfied and measure any conflict of interest. Checks must provide assurance that the organisation is a legal person, it is not subject to legal proceedings to dissolve or wind up the company, it is up to date with submission of its statutory accounts, and these have been subject to an external audit by an independent and qualified auditor.
  • There are effective monitoring and performance review procedures to oversee the subcontract, as determined by the University Quality Enhancement Framework, policies and processes and in line with ESFA rules and requirements. Monitoring activity includes quarterly checks to ensure sustained subcontractor registration on the Apprenticeship Provider and Assessment Register (APAR), and annual conflict of interest checks.
  • There are monitoring triggers and processes to intervene and terminate subcontracts as necessary, including continuity arrangements to transfer or support current apprentices.

4. Compliance with ESFA rules and evidence requirements

4.1 Existing approved University collaborative academic partner organisations would normally be eligible to be considered for subcontracting arrangements, subject to confirmation that they can meet the specific requirements of the subcontract and can satisfy the requirements of any ESFA rules.

4.2 Proposed subcontractors that are not already approved partners of the University may be considered for approval as a new subcontractor via the Due Diligence and Approval Procedure for a New Academic Partner, supplemented by any additional procedures required by ESFA rules applicable at the time.

4.3 The University will only procure the services of subcontractors who are registered on the APAR to deliver services to employers.

4.4 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. As a minimum any subcontractor will be expected to have a policy or policies covering the following topics approved at an appropriate level in the organisation:

  • British Values.
  • Data Protection (GDPR compliant).
  • Insurance:
    • Employers (compulsory) Liability Insurance.
    • Public Liability Insurance.
  • Employment Law and Appeals.
  • Equal Opportunity/ Equality and Diversity.
  • Health and Safety.
  • Safeguarding and Prevent.

4.5 The University is responsible for ensuring that it satisfies the ESFAs requirements for subcontracting. The Apprenticeships Operations Manager will be the single, central point of contact with the ESFA.

4.6 In line with ESFA Funding Rules the University will submit a subcontractor use declaration to the ESFA at least twice each year summarising the value of any subcontracted provision paid for in the previous period. The University will also annually publish a summary of payments made to subcontractors in the previous year on its website.

 4.7 Successful partners will be issued with a legally binding contract eligible for the period from when the contract commences until the planned completion date of an apprenticeship. It will be signed 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.

 4.8 Staff involved in selecting and managing subcontractors will be supported by the Post-16 Partnerships Team, and colleagues in Business Engagement.

 4.9 The University should aim to improve the quality of apprenticeship training and/ or on-programme assessment by contributing to the delivery and/ or assessment of the provision as appropriate to the particular apprenticeship programme. 

5. Fees and charges

5.1 The University will normally apply standard fees for the management of the apprenticeship and for supporting any academic provision. Further additional charges may be negotiated between the subcontractor and the University to reflect particular additional services or support the University is providing to apprentices. These fees will reflect the University’s costs in procuring and managing subcontracts and associated academic provision. The fee and any substantial changes in fees and charges for subcontractors are subject to review and sign off by the Director of Financial Operations, and Head of Corporate Reporting and Financial Planning. 

5.2         In consideration of the fee, the University will normally provide the following support to the subcontractor:

  • Initial needs assessment.
  • Recruiting students, including the referral of students by University staff, where appropriate to the needs of the student.
  • Support with learning, teaching and assessment review and enhancement for the apprentice.
  • Support in communicating the apprenticeship offer to employers in related areas for further business development where clear subcontracting benefits might be identified.

5.3 The University will provide potential subcontractors will full contractual terms to apply to all subcontractor payments. Fees and charges will be in line with ESFA apprenticeship rules and standard University payment terms.

5.4 This policy and an outline subcontract are available to current and potential subcontractors at the point that discussions are opened for new or reviewed subcontractor arrangements. 

View the report covering the University’s subcontracting fees and charges for the funding year 2021/2022

View the report covering the University’s subcontracting fees and charges for the funding year 2022/2023

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