Financial Benchmarking

Embedding financial efficiency and informed investment that improves financial sustainability

Analyse over 750 benchmark metrics to inform your strategic financial planning and make smarter investment and savings decisions

Tribal Benchmarking provides comparative analysis of your resources, giving you the financial insight you need to challenge stakeholder assumptions and drive organisational investment. With separate benchmarking models used for universities and colleges, you benefit from sector specific comparisons. 

Informing institutional strategy

Comprehensive resource analysis


- Reveal the real cost of delivering each area of operation
- Identify opportunities for financial savings
- Confirm specific investment needs

Sector specific comparison


- Compare against sector trends, peer groups and “best practice”
- Evaluate distance travelled by comparing year on year performance
- Compare the performance of teaching departments against sector benchmarks

Service Effectiveness


- Assess effectiveness of Support Services
- Align service effectiveness analysis with financial analysis to produce an assessment of value for money
- Use combined analysis as a powerful tool to drive change

Preparing for the future


- Shape your cost base to improve student outcomes
- Model the impact of future financial change
- Support budget setting to achieve financial and educational targets

Financial Benchmarking for Russell Group universities

Head of Surveys and Benchmarking, Nick Pidgeon, summarises why Tribal's Benchmarking service works for the modern university, how the reporting portal gives granular and actionable insight, and why Russell Group universities are turning to our analysis to help inform strategic decision making.

Benchmarking Russell Group presentation still

NEW: Performance Benchmarking

Helping universities improve the student experience AND the financial sustainability of operations, not as isolated aspects of performance, but as a truly combined approach to ROI.



University of Nottingham

The University of Nottingham has been a customer of Tribal’s Financial Benchmarking for the last three years, aiming to positively impact the financial performance of the university to ultimately keep improving student performance.


University of York

"It lets you know you've got an issue and it tells you where to look."


University of Derby

"It has really started a debate and given us a good, rich data source for making structural changes."


Capital City College Group

"It’s an important input into informing the college's transformational journey and medium-to-long-term strategy."

What our customers say


I found that the process and methodology adopted was very robust and the findings clearly communicated at both summary and detailed level. The team were very professional and provided clear and concise insight into the results and the key challenges that were needed to be addressed.

Peter Hope, Chief Financial Officer, Ulster University


"So, for us, it has helped sharpen internal contribution accounting, financial performance, and curriculum areas, as well as confirming or challenging us on how much we're spending on certain central services."

[Read Ian's comments in full]

Ian Rule, Interim Director/VP, Richmond upon Thames College


Tribal provided a refreshingly simple yet thorough approach to benchmarking the College.  Although Tribal’s consultants were responsible for the allocation of the college to their model to ensure consistency and objectivity, we were grateful for the opportunity to provide context and be part of the validation process that presented us with a set of outputs that hold integrity. The conclusions were clear, and we benefited from Tribal’s thorough approach that modelled outputs based on several different factors which helped emphasise the key messages.  Despite the complexities of our organisation, Tribal were always on hand to explain and help throughout the process, their patience and knowledge crucial to the successful end result.  These messages have been shared with the College and have and will be a key feature of our own discussions around future strategy, now forming part of an action plan moving forward.

Will Gordon, Director of Finance and Estates, Milton Keynes College


The messages presented by Tribal have increased a collective appreciation of the Group’s position. Having these delivered via an independent and objective voice has helped focus minds on the importance of the information and how this can help shape how we address the significant challenges we are facing. A very distinctive advantage was the how quickly Tribal was able to provide outputs particularly as we had entered into our strategic planning process for 2018-19. Benchmarking is now embedded as part of the College’s ongoing continuous improvement journey and we are hopeful, with Tribal’s help, the next exercise may provide an opportunity for a more collaborative approach within the region to self-evaluation.

Nirmal Borkhataria, Chief Operating Officer, Capital City College Group


"Ultimately this is a tool designed to do a very specific task and it does it in a very helpful, clear, objective way. What we’ve got with that is some helpful comparison and granularity in terms as to how we’re operating financially as an organisation to support any of those detailed conversations."

[Read Jon's comments in full]

Jon Rollings, Chief Operating Officer, Greater Brighton Metropolitan College


"We’ve got to that stage in our post-merger recovery where we are now looking really closely at how we get that final 20% of efficiency that will take us into a more comfortable financial position. And we know (Benchmarking) can tell us which of our departments are more or less efficient, and what the underlying reasons are behind any lack of efficiency in our delivery."

[Listen to Stewart's comments in full]

Stewart Cross, Director of Integration and Information, Capital City College Group


The Tribal benchmarking exercise has provided us with a useful analysis of our institution which will be invaluable for future planning. We are grateful to our Tribal consultants for their support and feedback throughout the process. The support, advice, follow up meetings, and care taken in reporting to our various stakeholder groups was excellent. Our institutional structure differs to the standard model used by Tribal and this led to queries from colleagues once the analysis had been received. We were very impressed with the way in which Tribal dealt with these questions, and the time and care taken in helping us to understand the detail of the benchmarking analysis

Sharon Harrison-Barker, Secretary and Registrar, University of Hertfordshire 


The Tribal benchmarking data proved invaluable in supporting the University decision making six years ago when the University needed to take corrective action to realign its' cost base to future income projections. Since then much value is gained from a periodic review to assess this cost base against our peers to ensure that we continue to operate within the financial KPIs we have set ourselves. The recent exercise again provided valuable insight and data to support the delivery of our workforce plans across the University.

Ian Wilmot, Director of Finance, University of Westminster


To help address the financial challenges facing the College of West Anglia and inform our future strategic direction we undertook a financial benchmarking project with Tribal.

We were aware that we needed to identify areas for savings and, to support this objective, we commissioned an independent analysis of our cost base compared to others in the sector. Tribal’s model provided a robust comparison of activity across the college, helping managers to identify areas for further investigation. Tribal’s modelling also demonstrated the impact of underachievement in 16-19 funding on its financial performance.

The team at Tribal worked closely with managers across the college to understand the data and the complexities of our organisation. As well as detailed discussions of the results with members of the executive team, Tribal presented a clear, concise summary of the key messages to the governing body providing them with critical insight needed to inform decision making.

Paul Harrison, Vice Principal Corporate Services, College of West Anglia


“Without decent planning, information and discussion, you're not really able to assess and deliver an expansive sustainable position going forward. We all have to become creative in managing this risk - fully understanding the opportunity and the resources to meet institutional aspirations. Financial sustainability is the primary concern for all of us; we need to be agile and nimble in in that complex environment. So, what's helped me?

 Across the many institutions where I’ve worked, of importance has been the availability of robust and reliable information, both internal and external; it's about using both elements to help the discussion. Good information is always valuable for analysing existing and future positions and having that robust dialogue with budget holders. This is where Tribal comes in. It's the combination of the robustness, the simplicity of the approach, and the analysis that Tribal provides. It’s key to selling the service internally because that's the challenge you're always going to face - you have to take colleagues along with you on the journey. The questions you get asked are usually the same at every institution but there are always new ones at each institution you're at, and the key thing is to remind colleagues internally that it's just one piece of information which is going to form part of budget setting for any one year. It's not the only piece of information. Frankly, the more institutions that are involved in Tribal Benchmarking, the richer the comparisons you'll have to inform those discussions.”

Nirmal Borkhataria , Interim Chief Finance Officer, Queen's University Belfast


"Harnessing the cross-university buy-in, the understanding and the ability to access the results via the [Benchmarking] portal, was great - it helped people be able to effectively ask the right questions, but also to interrogate the data to find some of the answers for themselves. Without this, they may not have got round to asking the questions in the first place. As a business intelligence tool, [the Tribal Benchmarking portal] is user-friendly and intuitive to use, and being able to drill-down so easily into the detail is a really good development for Tribal’s Benchmarking. With the portal we've got access to the granular data behind everything. So, people can actually go in and analyse and have a look at what is underpinning the data rather. People can quite easily go in and actually see who is being counted in that FTE count, where they sit, which function they're working in, and what they're doing. And that really enables us to very easily drill down into the analysis of the granular detail. That's a definite bonus.” 

Andrew Corti, Executive Director of Finance, Middlesex University



Data collection and categorisation is carried out onsite by our experienced consultants, and results are delivered through onsite feedback presentations and through our Benchmark+ web portal.

It depends on the size of the university or college. Commonly a project will take 2-4 months from start to finish, including 20-30 person days supplied by Tribal consultants.

On average we identify opportunities for savings equivalent to 3% of university/college income.

The sensitive nature of much of the data that we require means that encrypted file transfer is essential. Securesend removes the risk associated with data transfer by unencrypted email, and has the additional benefit of being able to reliably handle large files.

Your results will feed into the Tribal databank to form part of our anonymous comparator averages; we will never share your results individually.