When are Universities Bound by EU Public Procurement Rules as Buyers and Providers? - English Universities as a Case Study

58 Pages Posted: 24 Nov 2015 Last revised: 14 Mar 2016

See all articles by Andrea K. Gideon

Andrea K. Gideon

The Liverpool Law School

Albert Sanchez-Graells

University of Bristol - School of Law

Date Written: November 19, 2015


In this study we provide an up-to-date assessment of situations in which universities are bound by public procurement rules, as well as the combined changes that market-based university financing mechanisms can bring about in relation to the regulation of university procurement and to the treatment of the financial support they receive under the EU State aid rules. National differences in funding schemes are likely to trigger different answers in different EU jurisdictions. This study uses the situation of English universities as a case study.

The first part focuses on the role of universities as buyers. The traditional position has been to consider universities bound by EU public procurement rules either as state authorities, or because they receive more than 50% public funding. In the latter case, recent changes in the funding structure can create opportunities for universities to free themselves from compliance with EU public procurement rules.

In the second part, we assess the position of universities as providers. Here the traditional position has been that the State can directly mandate universities to conduct teaching and research activities. However, new EU legislation contains specific provisions about how and when teaching and research need to be procured if they are of an economic nature. Thus, accepting the exclusion of university services from procurement requirements as a rule of thumb is increasingly open to legal challenge.

Finally, the study assesses if and in how far universities can benefit from exemptions for public-public cooperation or in-house arrangements either as sellers or buyers.

Keywords: Public procurement, State aid, higher education, universities, teaching, research, funding, governance, England, HEFCE, BIS

JEL Classification: H25, H57, I23, K23

Suggested Citation

Gideon, Andrea K. and Sanchez-Graells, Albert, When are Universities Bound by EU Public Procurement Rules as Buyers and Providers? - English Universities as a Case Study (November 19, 2015). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2692966 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2692966

Andrea K. Gideon

The Liverpool Law School ( email )

Brownlow Hill
Liverpool, L69 3BX
United Kingdom

Albert Sanchez-Graells (Contact Author)

University of Bristol - School of Law ( email )

Wills Memorial Building
Queen's Road Clifton
Bristol, BS8 1RJ
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.howtocrackanut.com/

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