Do other universities think efficiency projects make a difference? Do other universities think efficiency projects make a difference?

Yes. Higher Education Institutions, especially since the Diamond Review in 2011, have looked into effectiveness, efficiency and value for money. Institutions have pursued the benefits that come from operating more efficiently. Below are a small selection of case studies that highlight different ways in which Universities are finding savings.

If other universities can make these savings then we believe UEA can as well; do you have any ideas of how UEA can be more effective, efficient and provide value for money?

Newcastle University Newcastle University

A Procurement project lasted 18 months and was overseen by a multi-functional team.

Project: Procure to Pay at Newcastle University

Key objectives:

Identifying and implementing improvements in buying goods and services at Newcastle University

Key outcomes:

  1. year one - £1.46m savings

  2. £2.4m p.a. savings based on the university remaining at its current £100m total non-pay spend

  3. Reduced volume of work through greater efficiency

University of Cumbria University of Cumbria

The University of Cumbria undertook a ‘More with Less’ operational plan.

Project: Process improvement in HR

Key objectives:

A review of internal HR processes as part of a wider commitment to institutional efficiency

Key outcomes:

  1. 56 HR processes have been reduced to 32

  2. Introducing self service into HR procedures and records

  3. Expected to yield annual savings of £45,000 in staff costs

  4. The University feels it has a transposable model that it can now apply to similar initiatives in other functions., p. 34

Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Trent University

The University has an integrated management approach across all activities.

Project: Integrated management systems and commercial approach

Key objective:

Ensuring that its systems reinforce efficiency and effectiveness across different service elements.

Key outcomes:

The management dashboard

  1. This delivers real-time monitoring and is central to the University’s ability to manage assets, set targets and forecast

  2. The ‘dashboard’ allows everyone from the vice-chancellor to a manager of an individual school to access information on cash balance and financial performance, space utilisation as well as staff and student number data

  3. Integrated system across the university management and planning processes to ensure that there is ‘one version of the truth’

Linking benchmarking with business and industry

  1. Directors with a commercial focus sit alongside pro-vice-chancellors with academic responsibilities

  2. The University has integrated privately trained professionals so that activities benefit from a wide range of experience of business and industry

  3. Benchmarking is further enhanced through this approach by testing processes against other businesses as well as other universities., p. 27

University of St. Andrews University of St. Andrews

St Andrews University has implemented a ‘Lean' programme which involves many similar principles behind UEA's project. Details about the project can be found at

Below are two examples of processes that have been made more efficient after being looked at as part of the Lean programme:

Project: Biology examination setting process

Key objective:

Improve Junior Honours examination setting process

Key outcomes:

  1. Exam setting process reduced from 32 to 12 steps
  2. Emphasis on getting it right first time, with a significant reduction in checking of question validity, grammar, model answers, etc
  3. Clear instructions provided to all staff
  4. University deadlines met
  5. Time freed across School for all staff to do other value-adding work

Project: Student Status Letters

Key objective:

Reduce time taken to process letters confirming that students are enrolled at the University (required by e.g. banks, local Council)

Key outcomes:

  1. Letters produced by one staff member within two minutes of being requested, rather than being passed through several hands and ready for collection by students in seven to ten working days
  2. Process time reduced from thirty-one to two minutes
  3. Much happier students
  4. Saving of 0.5 fte​ (£13,000 per day)

Cardiff University Cardiff University

Cardiff has also adopted the Lean method. Below is an example of one of their projects:

Project Title: Phantom Head Lab (PHL) Allocation Model

Issue: The project was to look at ways to accommodate the increasing student numbers within the existing laboratory facilities in the Dental School from September 2011.

The main concern was the lack of appropriate laboratory teaching space to continue providing a high class teaching environment for the increased student numbers.

The current state mapping highlighted:

  • fluctuations in busy times and capacity through the year
  • current facilities had sufficient capacity to accommodate projected student increases, irrespective of the time period teaching took place
  • a shortage of appropriate equipment for technical teaching

By implementing the recommendations, the School has:

  • Improved the utilisation of laboratory resources, accommodating a 21% increase in Dental student numbers
  • Prevented staff clashes
  • Highlighted options for future state improvements by upgrading technical teaching facilities and freeing up a large area of 60m2 for other purposes within the School