Rising inflation, budget cuts, and increasing public scrutiny have placed immense pressure on colleges and universities to pursue cost savings and affordable education. Yet, individual institutions often lack the scale and leverage needed to drive significant cost reductions from suppliers or overhaul ingrained procurement processes.
Higher education cooperative agreements offer an alternative via pooling resources and attacking these challenges collectively.
There are two types of higher education cooperative agreements. The first type refers to statements of mutual interest to collaborate on academic goals or research but do not commit to any specific obligations. The second type involves the use of cooperative agreements in procurement, pooling resources across educational institutions to leverage bulk buying power.
In this article, we will be exploring the second type and how higher education cooperative agreements benefit colleges and universities.
Cooperative purchasing creates significant benefits.
By leveraging shared contracts and the combined negotiating powers of multiple schools, these agreements can create significant cost-savings that would likely not be possible for individual colleges or universities to achieve on their own. Using higher education cooperative agreements, academic institutions can successfully reduce expenditures in areas ranging from scientific equipment and library resources to office supplies, telecom, and energy services.
Cooperatives also decrease per-unit transaction costs compared to each university independently managing individual contracts and processes. The combined savings can be reinvested into advancing academic operations or making a college education more affordable through lower tuition.
Besides cost control, cooperative agreements can expand market options. Larger, combined contracts are more attractive to vendors and may get a higher volume of bids and more competitive pricing and terms.
This expands the options for participating institutions to a wider assortment of products, alternative technologies, and niche service providers. The aggregated purchasing power of cooperatives also makes it feasible for vendors to customize offerings around the specialized shared needs of multiple universities. The shared perspective across institutions and the cooperative’s market influence also help shape vendors’ product roadmaps to better fit the needs of higher education.
Working with a member cooperative such as E&I Cooperative Services, member institutions can choose from a wide variety of suppliers to help meet diversity and sustainability goals in the procurement process.
Cooperative agreements elevate service quality and reliability. Suppliers are more at risk when servicing larger contracts, so delivery timelines, response times, fill rates, and support are prioritized over smaller contracts.
Participating institutions report strengthened purchasing processes, contract compliance, and user experiences after adopting higher education cooperative agreements. When you work with E&I Cooperative Services, you get dedicated support from a team of procurement experts who work exclusively in the education sector and understand your unique needs.
If you are working in procurement, you know that the cycle never ends. As soon as one project is successfully completed, there’s another to work on. Procurement professionals today are often working longer hours due to staff shortages and increasing demands—often resulting in increased turnover and higher levels of burnout.
Cooperative agreements ease the workload and streamline the traditional RFP/RFQ process. Agreements are ready to use and tailored to higher education. These contracts can be used to fill immediate needs or gaps or become long-term relationships to handle college and university supplier requirements.
Cooperative members often find ways to consolidate purchasing as well, providing benefits including:
With E&I Cooperative Services, colleges and universities have no obligation to use any of the available, competitively solicited contracts. Members can view an expansive list of available agreements, compare them to their current purchasing, and opt in to those they choose.
With student affordability and increasing pressure to control costs, higher education institutions must pursue creative approaches to maintain quality and innovation at a reduced price. Joint purchasing through cooperatives offers an opportunity to stretch limited dollars and shape vendor offerings to institutional needs.
Amplified purchasing power, informed negotiators, and streamlined procurement from higher education cooperatives create value for participating colleges and universities far beyond each one attempting to purchase on their own.
E&I Cooperative Services is the only member-owned non-profit that focuses exclusively on education. Connect with a dedicated E&I rep for your higher education institution today.