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

Albert Sanchez Graells, Andrea K Gideon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number4
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages58
JournalIus Publicum Network Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 9 Mar 2016
EventResearching the Europe of Knowledge: Insights for policymakers from the UACES CRN - European Commission, Directorate General Research & Innovation, Brussels, Belgium
Duration: 3 Mar 2016 → …


  • Public procurement
  • State aid
  • higher education
  • universities
  • teaching
  • research
  • funding
  • governance
  • England
  • BIS


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