Designers put off by Durham University’s pay-for-tender plan

Durham University has ignited controversy in the design industry by charging a £100 fee for design consultancy applications to tender for upcoming design work.


The institution is looking to appoint a ‘framework’ of designers to work across its design print material, using the Official Journal of the European Union procurement system. The fee is payable before any project details are released, contravening industry best practice, whereby consultancies are paid for their time to take part in pitches.


After expressions of interest are sent in with the fee, design groups will receive a pre-qualification questionnaire, so they can be evaluated. The university will then draw up a shortlist with a view to making a final appointment next spring.


Durham University intends to select designers, printers and a fulfilment house to work across its print collateral, such as its undergraduate and postgraduate prospectuses.


A spokesman at Durham says the £100 charge helps to justify the costly process of procurement and that it is standard practice among universities in general.


‘This helps to fund the procurement office because putting out to tender is an expensive process,’ he adds.


David Bartholomew, managing director at Folio Creative Communication, says, ‘This is extremely unfair and a worrying trend. It seems outrageous to pay to pitch.’

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