Purchases under £50,000 - How to Buy Guidance

University procedures for goods and services under £50,000, aligned with "Route One" of the Procurement Journey.

Follow these steps:

Option 1  In the first instance, check Buy@Ed search facility or contact the Procurement Office to see if your requirement can be met via a contracted supplier or an internal University service provider 

  • Services the University provides for itself include Printing Services or Accommodation, Catering & Events, as well as a range of special services and consultancy. Buyers should utilise internal providers first, as this is more efficient, flexible and helps support the University.

  • Utilising framework and contracted suppliers allows buyers to meet their legal obligations and also leverages our commercial spend to achieve favourable pricing, terms, and sustainability requirements. 

Option 2  If your requirement is not available via a current contract:

  • Obtain and record at least 3 quotations from separate suppliers prior to purchase (use the combined ITQ/3 Quote form to request and record quotes, or the standalone 3 Quote form for lower value/less complex requirements)
  • Select the winning quote that delivers the best value (in terms of whole life cost, quality and sustainability) and follow local procedures to raise a purchase order
  • Keep records locally following School or College document retention procedures


-Under the University Service Excellence Programme, the process for lower value purchasing will be changing through a Finance Transformation Programme and new People and Money system. The Procurement Office will keep this information up to date with any relevant changes. 

-Please be aware of budget holder and Procurement Office roles and responsibilities regarding procurement.

-Authority to make purchases on behalf of the University of Edinburgh is delineated by the University’s Delegated Authority Schedule, and spend authorisation for your purchase may require additional approvals.

-All University procurement, regardless of value, must be conducted in accordance with the University Procurement Strategy and must comply with EU public procurement principles (equal treatment, non-discrimination, mutual recognition, transparency and proportionality).


Please Note:

If you estimate that your purchase will be above £50,000, you must contact the Procurement Office before proceeding. See the University of Edinburgh procurement chart for thresholds and typical timescales.

See pages below for full University procedures

Contracted goods and services

Check if your requirement is available via a current University contract or framework agreement

3 Quotes - non-contracted goods and services

Get 3 quotes prior to purchase if your requirement is below £50,000 and not available via a current contract.

Thresholds and aggregation rules

The estimated value of a procurement (which excludes VAT) will determine what rules apply and is subject to aggregation rules

How to write a specification

Write a clear description of your requirement when requesting quotes for purchases below £50,000.

Key Commercial Policies

Purchasers should be aware of relevant University policies

Sustainability for non-contracted purchases

Please consider incorporating sustainability if your purchase is below £50,000

IR35 "Off-payroll" tax changes for personal service providers

How revised HMRC IR35 intermediaries rules may affect certain personal service providers at the University.

Locally based support

Some Colleges and Schools offer local procurement support for procurements under £50,000