About HERBi

Introducing the HERBi tool

The Higher Education Realisation of Benefits interactive tool (HERBi) allows users to explore the nature and scale of the potential quantitative and qualitative costs and benefits associated with sharing services within the higher education sector.

It has been developed by Falmouth Exeter Plus, which is the shared services delivery partner of Falmouth University and the University of Exeter, with support from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

Falmouth Exeter Plus provides a broad range of services on the Falmouth Campus and on the shared Penryn Campus in Cornwall. These range from library and academic skills, information technology and student support to estates, accommodation and all retail services. Falmouth Exeter Plus is owned jointly by the two universities and has its own senior management team and staff.

The HERBi tool draws extensively on the experience of Falmouth Exeter Plus, as well as on research into other shared services arrangements in the higher education sector and beyond.

How the tool works

The tool is based around three specific shared services scenarios, which are designed to cover the majority of arrangements likely to be considered by users. Furthermore, the tool can model scenarios with up to five participating institutions.

The scenarios are as follows:

  1. The user’s institution seeks to share its own services with other institutions;
  2. The user’s institution wishes to share another institution’s services; and
  3. The user’s institution intends to work with other institutions to set up a new, separate shared services organisation.

The tool incorporates those services that institutions are most likely to want to share with other organisations. Where relevant, the tool also breaks these services down into a range of individual activities.

The services included within the tool are as follows:

  • Admissions, registry and student administration;
  • Residences, retail and other campus services;
  • Library services;
  • Student support services;
  • Financial services;
  • Human resources;
  • ICT services;
  • Estates and facilities;
  • Conferences and events.

The parameters used within the tool in respect of each individual service and activity have been tailored to that service or activity. The tool does not seek, however, to define each service or activity too precisely. The main thing is that, when using the tool, users should define services and activities consistently across the participating institutions.

The tool asks users to input cost and cost driver data about their own institution, the service(s) that they would like to share and the institution(s) with which they would like to share them. If users do not have specific partners in mind, they can select from a number of generic institutions within the tool.

The model underlying the tool represents a simplified version of reality. Consequently, it is based on a number of assumptions, which include:

  • that the costs of the service(s) that users wish to share behave broadly in line with the parameters set out within the model;
  • that the nature and scope of the service(s) delivered under the shared arrangement will be broadly similar in nature and scope to those delivered currently by the user’s institution;
  • that the delivery of services will be standardised across all partners in the shared services arrangement.

The nature and scale of the potential costs and benefits outlined within the tool should be regarded as indicative and should not be relied on without further investigation. Users are advised to take suitable professional advice and to undertake appropriate project appraisal and due diligence before entering into any shared services arrangement.

How we use your data

The data that you input into the HERBi tool are used to provide you with an indication of the likely nature and scale of the potential costs and benefits associated with the proposed shared services scenario.

We use these data solely for the purpose of providing you with this information. We do not share your details or your data with any third parties, unless required to by law.

If you save your data using the facility within the tool, these data are stored securely on our servers. If you do not, then your data are deleted at the end of your online session.


While the authors of the HERBi tool and of the associated website have made every effort to ensure the robustness and accuracy of their contents, the authors, Falmouth Exeter Plus and HEFCE assume no responsibility or liability for any loss or damage suffered by any person or organisation as a result of the use or misuse of any of the information or content in this tool or on the website.

Users are advised to take suitable professional advice and to undertake appropriate project appraisal and due diligence before entering into any shared services arrangement.