Obtain quotations or tenders

  1. Purchase to Pay
  2. Obtain quotations or tenders
  3. Select a supplier
  4. Order via Internal Trade
  5. Order with a Purchase order
  6. Order without a Purchase Order
  7. Receive/reject goods or services
  8. Process Invoices
  9. Make payment

The number of quotations or tenders required and involvement of the Purchasing Department depend on the value (excl. VAT) of the purchase AND whether the supplier is preferred

The price bands below apply to both a single item and multiple items which form a logical group and whose aggregate value falls within the price band. Guidance on valuing procurements is available.


Funding bodies may have specific terms and conditions relating to purchasing, and these should be verified when the award is made. Any such conditions must be applied in addition to the requirements of the Purchase to Pay process.


Research Council Funding

The terms and conditions of the Research Councils state that for all goods and services where the value exceeds £25,000 (excl. VAT) professionally qualified procurement staff must be consulted before the procurement process begins.  Please ensure that for purchases between £25k and £125k you follow the formal request for quotation process drafted by the professionally qualified staff to ensure that procurement is undertaken in compliance with these terms.

Purchasing regulations

Less than £25,000
Preferred Supplier 
No requirement for quotations ahead of placing an order with the supplier (note: for ease, some Preferred Suppliers have electronic catalogues in Oracle Financials)
Less than £2,500
Non-Preferred Supplier

Confirm the purchase price (verbally or in writing) ahead of placing an order with the supplier

£2,500 - £25,000
Non-Preferred Supplier

Obtain two or more written quotations from different suppliers ahead of placing an order with the supplier

£25,000 - £125,000
Any Supplier

Department must conduct a formal Request for Quote Process targeting receipt of three written quotations  ahead of placing an order with the supplier, unless a sole source arrangement is in place in which case the order can be placed directly with the supplier indicated.

Note: a separate process is in place when requesting proposals from the University’s preferred cleaning suppliers.

Over £125,000
Any Supplier 

A full tender process must be conducted by the University Purchasing Department ahead of placing an order with the supplier.

All requests for Purchasing Department support should be sent to purchasingprojects@admin.ox.ac.uk. Requests for support should include a completed Procurement Initiation Form which captures basic details regarding the requirement

The University’s Financial Regulations (Purchases section 3.1(4)) also require all contracts for the purchase of goods and services to incorporate the University’s Standard Terms and Conditions of Purchase or one of the other appropriate standard sets of terms. Where this is not possible (either as a result of having to agree supplier terms or due to the University’s standard terms being amended as a result of negotiation), any high-risk terms must be referred to the University Purchasing Department to ensure appropriate advice is obtained on the implications of the terms, prior to making any commitment with a supplier.  

Obtaining quotations <£25k

Undertake research to establish suitable suppliers to invite to quote. Preferred Suppliers should be given preference; if there are no suitable preferred suppliers departments are encouraged to consider contracted suppliers.

When inviting quotations, ask for these to be based on the University’s standard terms and conditions of purchase.

If re-ordering the same goods or services from the same supplier within 30 days of receiving the supplier's original quotation, contact the supplier and check whether further discounts are available for additional quantities or if the quoted price is still valid for additional orders. No additional quotes are required if the original quotation was obtained through a competitive process.

Adequate time must always be allowed for suppliers to prepare their quotations.

When obtaining quotations you should also remain alert to the possibility of suppliers engaging in anti-competitive activities.

Obtaining quotations £25k - £125k

Refer to the Formal Request for Quote Process for purchases between £25k and £125k.

Departments also have the option to run a full Tender Process for any requirement over £25k if they consider there is value in doing so.

Adequate time must always be allowed for suppliers to prepare their quotations.

When obtaining quotations you should also remain alert to the possibility of suppliers engaging in anti-competitive activities.

Additional Considerations when Purchasing Equipment

1. Complete business case 

A formal business case is required for all capital equipment purchases over £1m or where central University funds are being sought. The business case must be authorised by your Head of Department and Divisional Office, and approved by the Capital Steering Group or, for IT equipment within agreed funding envelopes, IT Committee.

2. Project Expenditure

Where the equipment purchase is to be charged to a project, a Project Expenditure Approval Form (PEA) - Equipment Projects must be completed and signed by the department and division; and then returned to the Fixed Asset Accountant for project setup. The Fixed Asset Accountant will notify the project leader of the Oracle Financials project code to use when raising a purchase order.

3. Recording Fixed Assets

Equipment over £50,000 must be recorded as a fixed asset (see the Managing Departmental Assets process).


Exemptions from competition

A competitive process should be followed for the purchase of goods and services unless there are compelling reasons to the contrary. 

The Competition Exemption Guidance Notes provide guidance, and any exception should be in line with this guidance.

For purchases between £2.5k and £125k departments should retain a written justification for not obtaining quotations (in line with the above guidance). A form is available to capture the rationale for dispensing with competition, this is optional for procurements <£25k and mandatory for procurements between £25k and £125k. Your departmental finance team will be able to confirm the agreed process for your department and provide any local form in use.

Any departure from the tendering procedures (>£125K) must be justified and approved using the Tender Exemption Request Form ahead of making any commitment to a supplier. 

Contact us

 : Purchasing Department
       Finance Division
       University of Oxford
       23-38 Hythe Bridge Street
       Oxford OX1 2ET

 :  01865 (6) 16022

 : For further information
      please contact the
      Purchasing Department