ACCA APM Past Exam Rewritten - Q: GU - Benchmarking

ACCA APM Past Exam Rewritten - Q: GU - Benchmarking

Q: GU - Benchmarking


Ganymede University (GU) is one of the three largest universities in Teeland, which has eight universities in total. All of the universities are in the public sector. GU obtains the vast majority of its revenue through government contracts for academic research and payments per head for teaching students. The economy of Teeland has been in recession in the last year and this has caused the government to cut funding for all the universities in the country.

In order to try to improve efficiency, the chancellor of the university, who leads its executive board, has asked the head administrator to undertake an exercise to benchmark GU’s administration departments against the other two large universities in the country, AU and BU. The government education ministry has supported this initiative and has required all three universities to cooperate by supplying information.

The following information has been collected regarding administrative costs for the most recent academic year:





Research contract management




Laboratory management




Teaching facilities management




Student support services




Teachers’ support services








Human resources




IT management




General services













Student numbers




Staff numbers




Research contract value ($m)




The key drivers of costs and revenues have been assumed to be research contract values supported, student numbers and total staff numbers. The head administrator wants you to complete the benchmarking and make some preliminary comment on your results.


(a) Assess the progress of the benchmarking exercise to date, explaining the actions that have been undertaken and those that are still required. (8 marks)

(b) Evaluate, as far as possible, Ganymede University’s benchmarked position. (9 marks)


(a) Benchmarking Process (8 marks)

  1. Set objectives and decide the areas to benchmark:
    GU is focusing on improving efficiency, targeting all administrative operations connected to teaching and research. (1 mark)
  2. Identify key performance drivers and indicators:
    Performance drivers are delineated, with indicators stemming from each activity. There's potential enhancement by distinguishing teaching from administrative staff. (1 mark)
  3. Select organisations for benchmarking comparison:
    Three major universities were chosen by the government, sidelining five others. If the larger ones cater to similar academic areas as GU, it justifies the choice. However, the restriction may overlook potential best practices. Integrating international universities might enrich the process, but subject variations could affect the results. (1 mark)
  4. Measure performance of all organisations in benchmarking:
    The requisite data is government-provided. In the private sector, data sharing would face commercial secrecy challenges. (1 mark)
  5. Compare performances:
    The process has reached this stage. Refer to part (b) for the detailed outcomes. (1 mark)
  6. Specify improvement projects:
    Upon comparing, inferior sectors should be highlighted. Should GU lag, it ought to learn from the leader, adopting their strategies. (1 mark)
  7. Implement and monitor improvements:
    Post-implementation, a review is pivotal to assess the enhancements and extract project insights. (1 mark)

(b) Benchmarking Analysis (9 marks)

A tabulated representation illustrates the financial performances of GU, AU, and BU across varied sectors. (3 marks)

Comments on Results:

  • GU excels in research contract cost-control with the most significant research funding. It hints at possible governmental cost monitoring. (1 mark)
  • AU's per-student spending on facilities and support surpasses, even with fewer students. Enrollment might not be influenced by these factors. However, AU's premium services might yield better academic results, not considered in the benchmark. (1 mark)
  • Accounting performances are comparable among universities, with BU having a minor 3.5% lead. (0.5 mark)
  • BU's human resources is 22% costlier, intriguing given BU's substantial staff. (1 mark)
  • IT management sees varied costs. BU saves 10% compared to GU, which might correlate with the subjects they offer. (1 mark)
  • In general services, AU has a trivial 3% advantage over GU. (0.5 mark)

The comparative evaluation can be complex due to location and subject variations across universities. (1 mark)

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Categories: : Advanced Performance Management (APM)