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Bristol University UK SWOT and PEST Analysis



According to the QS World University rakings in 2015, Bristol University is among the top 40 universities in the world. The University of Bristol is one of the UK’s most successful and famous universities. (The Bristol Post, 2015). Bristol University is the red brick research university that is located in Bristol, United Kingdom (Bristol University). Bristol University is organised into the six academic faculties that are composed of multiple departments and schools offering over 200 undergraduate courses. Through its strategic planning, Bristol University uses to SWOT and PEST analysis to examine its external and internal environment. The paper will use two strategic analysis tools (SWOT and PEST) to discuss Bristol University’s external and internal climate.

Bristol University UK SWOT and PEST Analysis

SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis aims at identification of the strengths and weaknesses of the organisation and then threats and opportunities in the environment.

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Strong reputation with the stakeholders: funders, students and the government. Bristol University is ranked as one of the best universities in the world alongside Yale and Harvard. For instance, the university was listed in the top 100 for medicine and biology alongside Princeton, University of Hong Kong, and Harvard. This has strengthened the positive reputation of Bristol in the outside world. Additionally, according the National Student Survey ranks Bristol University as one of the reputable universities in the UK. Strong reputation leads to the good strike rate on the future development bids (Goldman, 2006).

Another strength is the financial stability and management. According to the annual records of the Bristol University in 2014, the university’s the Bristol’s financial statement shows cash flow generation of 10.1% in 2013/2014. This is a strong evidence on the university’s strong financial stability. Strong financial stability and management enhance the ability of Bristol University to invest in innovation while supporting other growth areas (Shattock, 2015).  Additionally, the university’s simplicity in terms of scoring and structure makes it easy in charting the scores of the individual over time. This is specifically important in case studies. Other strengths include; cultural and linguistic diversity of the students/city/staff and the increasing international, responsive to change, increasing amount and the quality of the applied research, and home student recruitment and demand (Dyson, 2000).


The tightly constrained city center site where the Bristol University is located makes it hard for it to meet the current requirements for the space efficiency. This makes it hard for the new buildings to fit in. Another weakness is the university’s poor adaptability of the processes to changes and demand, and the unnecessary bureaucracy (Clark, 2014). This makes it hard in securing the lean processes in the organisation. Other weaknesses include; few endorsements, strains of expansion, and lack of the external clout.


The increased international recruitment to Bristol University delivery of the programs overseas: The market analysis and forecasts show that there is increased number of intake to the Bristol University both locally and internationally. This is largely attributed to the university’s established representative offices in the overseas, international partnerships, the international agenda on the campus, and the academic partnerships. This opportunity has led to the increased research income from the international sources, greater resilience in terms of the student numbers, and the increased student numbers in the Bristol University.

The demand for the continuing professional development (CPD) is an opportunity for Bristol University. This can increase the university’s revenue and lead to the continued growth. Other opportunities include; the entrepreneurial climate, the university’s brand status, the strategic alliances, and the fundraising prospects of the university.


Lack of the investment in the facilities and the IT to match the rising expectations: This has made the university seek the bank loans so as to support the construction of the new infrastructures. The competition for the overseas students is also another threat. This has led to the reduction of the volume, fee rates or the return. To prevent this threat, the university has invested in the strategic partnerships. The government policy regarding more selective funding of the teaching and research is also another threat. The university can respond to this threat through the movement of the student numbers internally in order to optimise the position and the focus on the improved outcomes in the main areas such as STEM (Ringland, & Young, 2007). Other threats include; competition and declining government funding.

PEST Analysis

The PEST analysis involves factors such as political, economic, social-cultural, and technology that affects the external environment (industry) of Bristol University.


The UK government continue to ban on the growth in the United Kingdom’s full-time undergraduate numbers as the student support costs are becoming high. This has impacted Bristol University in that there are no fees increases in the medium term. The new private providers of the HE establishing in the United Kingdom and globally is another political factor. This has led to the increased competition for the international students, need for the establishment of the better partnerships for the overseas delivery, and the opportunity for the joint ventures with the private sector providers (De Vita, 2002). The government being more interventionist is also another political factor. This has resulted in the reduced focus on the widening of the participation and increased government regulations. Other political factors include; changes in the education policy especially if a different party is elected, the threat of the terrorism combined with the counter-terrorism measures such as the UK boarder authority regulations may prevent some of the foreign students from attending the UK HEIs, and among others.


The major economic downturn in 2009/2010 and the much-anticipated growth probably in 2017/2018 than previously anticipated has led to the budget cuts that has threatened the unit of the resources for the HELs. Additionally, the reduction of the government funding for the public sector during the 2010/2011-2013/2014 led to the reduced public sector funding for the research. These factors have adversely affected the education sector in the UK. Another economic factor is the slower growth of the global knowledge economy that has led to the creation of the reduced demand for the knowledge workers ((Peng, & Nunes, 2007). This has in turn led to the reduced demand for the graduates in the job markets. The emergence of the new sector that requires the multi-disciplinary knowledge base is also another economic factor affecting the industry. The employers are now demanding for the graduates from the multi-disciplinary courses.


The increased percentage of the old people in the population has led to the new demands for the AR in the health fields and the social care.  This has reduced the demand for the education sector. Additionally, this has created an upward pressure on the pension contributions. Another social factor is the increasing mobility and diversity of the society. This calls for the need for the constant review of the appropriateness of the curriculum and the quality of the Bristol University’s funders, students, and experience (Oatley et al. 1999). Additionally, this social challenge puts an extra pressure on the universities to prepare their graduates for the global careers.


The well-based communications and the social networking define the future and the current students. This has put an extra pressure on the universities in the UK to conduct peer-peer projects across partnerships for the students, and new research tools for those staffs that are pursuing the research agendas. The e-connectivity 24/7 and the increased use of the internet for personal, retail and financial services is also another social factor in the industry. This has led to the increased demand for the access to the university information and the services on the 24/7 basis. Additionally, this social factor has increased the self-service functionality, and the increased opportunities for the outsourcing. Other technological factors affecting the industry include; increased cost of the energy calling for the energy use and management, increased awareness on the environmental sustainability requiring for the environmental and carbon strategies, and among others (Thomas, 2007).


The SWOT and PEST analysis are often presented as the methods that can be used in aiding the generation of the new strategies. Bristol University’s SWOT and PEST analysis can play a critical role in aiding the university towards the achievement of the valuable strategic evaluations. They ensure that significant threats and weaknesses are not overlooked while also making sure that the potential of Bristol University is fully utilised.

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  • De Vita, G., 2002. Does assessed multicultural group work really pull UK students’ average down? Assessment & Evaluation in Higher Education, 27(2), 153-161.
  • Dyson, R.G., 2000. Strategy, performance and operational research. Journal of the Operational Research Society 51, 5– 11.
  • Goldman, J. D., 2006. Developing higher level thinking in sexuality education for young people. Educational Practice and Theory, 28(2), 83-95.
  • Oatley, N., Griffiths, R., Bassett, K., & Smith, I., 1999. Cultural policy and the cultural economy in Bristol. Local Economy, 14(3), 257-264.
  • Peng, G. C. A., & Nunes, M. B., 2007. Using PEST analysis as a tool for refining and focusing contexts for information systems research. In 6th European conference on research methodology for business and management studies, Lisbon, Portugal (pp. 229-236).
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  • The Bristol Post, 2015. University of Bristol again ranked as one of the best in the world. Available at: http://www.bristolpost.co.uk/University-Bristol-ranked-best-world/story-26411352-detail/story.html [Accessed 13 Oct. 2015].
  • Thomas, H., 2007. An analysis of the environment and competitive dynamics of management education. Journal of Management Development, 26(1), 9-21.


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