Tribal Performance Benchmarking Pilot: Project Briefing  

An introduction to Performance Benchmarking
Optimising HE performance - an introduction to Performance Benchmarking

David Round explains how Higher Education Institutions now have access to an innovative new tool to inform strategic decisions around resourcing, student satisfaction, Value for Money and Return on Investment.


Tribal’s Performance Benchmarking has been developed to help universities improve the student experience and financial sustainability of operations, not as isolated aspects of performance, but as a truly combined picture of ROI. It combines our two long-standing solutions, Financial Benchmarking and the Student Barometer survey, that have been used by the majority of UK Higher Education institutions, to bring transparency to the correlation between resource allocation/investment and student experience.

Performance Benchmarking will help answer the questions:

  1. How and why does our expenditure profile and resource allocation differ to our competitors?
  2. How does our student experience compare to other universities?
  3. How do we improve both of these comparative positions?
  4. What do students value, what features and services contribute most significantly to satisfaction, and how do we begin to measure ROI on these things?
  5. How much should a satisfied student cost our university?

It is also designed to show what strong performance looks like in the sector, in terms of financial performance and student experience, so institutions are able to pinpoint where they need to focus resources in order to increase student satisfaction and propensity to recommend.


To discuss how your institution might be involved in the Performance Benchmarking pilot program, arrange a call with Head of Surveys and Benchmarking, Nick Pidgeon


Call for participation in the pilot programme

We are collaborating with BUFDG and HESPA to introduce this pioneering solution to UK Higher Education institutions as we believe the evidence base it provides can make a real difference to how institutions inform their future resourcing decisions to positively affect the student experience and the financial resilience of the sector.

Several universities have already combined the two sets of financial and student experience data, but this will be the first formal benchmarking exercise for multiple institutions. We are therefore seeking up to 10* UK institutions to participate in the next phase of development as we look to refine the outputs to match the needs of institutions in today’s HE landscape.

*If popularity is such that we have more than 10 institutions apply to the pilot programme, we will seek to ensure that the group is representative of the sector i.e. a mixture of different sizes and types of HEI. We will work with BUFDG and HESPA to build the most appropriate group.

Pilot programme outputs

Participating institutions will receive:

  1. Financial benchmarking project
  2. Delivery of our Student Barometer survey open to all students
  3. Access to existing online reporting tools for financial benchmarking and the Student Barometer
  4. Comprehensive report combining the two datasets
  5. Opportunity to influence the design and content of the updated Benchmark+ online application
  6. Access to new outputs that bring together financial benchmarking and Student Barometer results
  7. An invite to be part of a new benchmarking community whereby Tribal facilitates a more collaborative approach to institutions discussing their benchmarking outputs, with the view to providing even greater context to the results.

These outputs, and those that are developed as part of the pilot, will help participating institutions decide on appropriate levels of investment to improve specific areas of performance, and inform the development of robust, evidence-based strategies to improve financial resilience.

Pilot requirements/expectations

The pilot will require institutions to run the Student Barometer during November by sharing the anonymised survey link with their students. Tribal’s Surveys and Benchmarking Team will help launch, monitor and optimise the survey for the greatest completion rates.

Tribal will simultaneously conduct the financial benchmarking exercise through the analysis of three university datasets (accounts, staffing, and student numbers). Experienced benchmarking consultants will apply the benchmarking model to the university's data through a combination of independent working and some liaison with key university personnel to ensure a fair, representative, and comparable allocation of all activity.

Throughout the process, and particularly at the results stage, participating institutions will provide feedback on the best way to present and report the results. Sector input will be vital as we continue to refine Performance Benchmarking so it is an indispensable tool for institutions.


Pilot costs

Our pricing model is driven by university size, but we anticipate participation costing between £20k and £40k, which represents a 50% discount on the typical cost of running both surveys individually.

In addition, those institutions will receive a 15% discount off their next Surveys & Benchmarking project, be this Performance Benchmarking, Financial Benchmarking or a Student Barometer.

Hear Nick discussing how Performance Benchmarking is designed to help universities tackle key challenges

Delivering efficient and productive Professional Services

Resourcing for, and meeting, rising student expectations

Optimising service delivery for the international strategy