Case Study

Financial Benchmarking for the University of Lancashire


The leadership team at the University of Central Lancashire were increasingly aware of the cost of their operations and sought a solution to identify areas where they could improve operating efficiencies.


Tribal’s financial benchmarking offered University of Central Lancashire a solution which has enabled their leadership team to make important strategic and financial decisions based on the evidence.


The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston is one of the UK’s ten largest universities, with nearly 38,000 students and staff. The university delivers first class quality education globally, with academic partners worldwide.

The Challenge 

Since 2012, like many universities, UCLan had to adapt to the rapidly evolving higher education landscape and the quasi-marketisation of the sector. It became apparent to their leadership team that a ‘business as usual’ approach was unlikely to work given the operating context had ceased to be ‘usual’.

The UCLan Executive Team examined their strengths and how they could make improvements to the everyday running of the university to provide better services to students. The leadership team initiated a business process improvement initiative called ‘Student First’ to ensure the universities efforts were focused on improving the student experience.

By looking at business processes, UCLan also became more acutely aware than ever before of the cost of operating their business. And whilst cost-savings were not a discrete aim of the Student First programme, the prospect of driving operating efficiencies to create budget savings that could be directly reinvested in the student experience were a key bi-product of the programme.

Tribal’s financial benchmarking offered UCLan a solution which would allow their leadership team to make important strategic and financial decisions, not intuitively, but from an evidence base.

“The in-depth analysis of our operating costs, and the objective comparison with similar institutions, was something which Tribal could uniquely add to our thinking. Some of the leadership team had previous experience of working with Tribal so facilitated an introduction, and when we saw the contribution that Tribal could make, it was a very straightforward decision for us to hire them.”

said Joel Arber- Pro-Vice Chancellor (External Relations)-UCLan

The Solution 

Tribal’s financial benchmarking provides UCLan with reliable, objective and independently validated comparative data which has given their Executive Team a helpful financial overview in an accessible format.

The UCLan Executive Team now has a better understanding both of how the university works but also how similar institutions choose to run their businesses, informing the university’s financial and strategic decision-making.

“The Tribal Benchmarking data has quickly become integral to informing our budget planning process. Allied to greater sophistication in our income generation modelling, it has provided an objective ‘voice’ in demonstrating where we should be investing more and similarly, highlighting areas where we could be more lean.”

said Joel Arber- Pro-Vice Chancellor (External Relations)-UCLan

Tribal’s essential evidence base has reduced the part played by departmental lobbying in UCLan’s financial planning. The data has also been particularly helpful in reshaping the structure of the professional services at Central Lancashire.

“We are a far more self-aware, better informed senior team as a result of Tribal’s input – and better run as a consequence.”

continued the Pro-Vice Chancellor.

Working with Tribal 

“Throughout the process, the Tribal team has been a pleasure to work with. Clear in their questions, probing and challenging, and both thorough and straightforward in their presentation of outcomes and key comparatives. The team values the time of our senior staff and work as an extension of our team. They have made excellent business partners during a time of positive but significant change at the university. It’s been great to have them with us on this journey.”

Joel Arber- Pro-Vice Chancellor (External Relations)-UCLan

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