As noted on the Front Page, universities are seldom comfortable with being compared. Of course, not everyone will agree with what I’ve chosen to measure, how I’ve measured it, or even whether it should be measured at all. A push-back from the sector is inevitable, because that always seems to happen when less-than-flattering images appear. There may be some valid responses, but – sadly – the reaction in the past has often been characterized by obfuscation and fake complexities. That’s what has allowed things to continue this way for so long.

If the numbers defy comparison, it’s because the universities (or the data-sharing organization they created over eighty ago, and continue to govern and fund) have not reported them correctly or uniformly. If our universities were sincerely committed to keeping a finger on their own pulse – and enabling outside parties to do so – they would have rectified any comparability issues long ago. Similarly, if a university is going to cite interpretational differences to explain its position in the less desirable areas of rankings tables, we must question the degree to which it has been interested in comparing itself with its peers; had it been doing so, it would have spotted any potential interpretation issues.

The analysis on this website is not definitive, and it’s nowhere near perfect. Many will take issue with it or with certain elements of it. That always happens when we push and prod at any establishment. But the important thing is that it IS analysis, and analysis of something that has long been opaque to those it serves, and to those who pay the bills. For that reason, what and how we’re comparing are less important than the fact that we’re comparing at all – especially when it comes to financial efficiency. Comparisons with the past are always insightful, because we’re looking at the same school across a time continuum. Comparisons with other schools are also valid; while there may be differences between individual universities, they all exist to do similar things, and they all have to deal with similar change in the world around us. They all reported the data utilized on this site in accordance with common guidelines, and with the involvement of Statistics Canada.

And this isn’t just about focusing on those who seem to be performing poorly, but also those who seem to be performing well; they offer a learning opportunity which, in this sector of all sectors, should be embraced.

The intent behind these rankings is to provide broad-based insight into the performance of each university in a range of areas. The breadth is important because, as the rankings show, it’s quite possible to perform well in some areas but poorly in others.


Overview of the Rankings

The rankings assess performance in five main areas, using four measures in each area; each area ranking reflects performance on its four measures.

The overall Summary Ranking reflects performance across the five main areas.

The Universities tables rank the individual universities, and the Provinces tables rank the individual provinces based on the performance of their Top 25 universities.

The measurement factors are as follows:

Education-Focused Expenditure: Summarizes the dollar expenditure levels using four education-focused measures. (Please Note: Three of the measures are based on FTE enrollment. See the caution expressed in the Data Sources page regarding possible reporting inconsistencies.)

  • Instruction & NSR Expenditure per FTE Student
  • Academic Salaries (Academic Ranks) in Instruction & NSR Per FTE Student
  • Library Expenditure Per FTE Student
  • Total Staff Costs in Instruction & NSR as a % of Total General Operating Staff Costs

Support Cost Efficiency: Summarizes the level of budget allocations to the three main operating support activities funded from General Operating, culminating with an overall measure of support costs. The values are calculated in relation to Total University Expenditure because, while these functions are funded from General Operating, they support the entire university, including Sponsored Research.

  • Computing & Communications as a % of Total University Expenditures
  • Central Administration as a % of Total University Expenditures
  • Physical Plant as a % of Total University Expenditures
  • Total Support Costs Per Dollar of Instruction & NSR AND Sponsored Research Expenditure

Budgetary Commitment to Education: Summarizes the level of budget allocations to the three main academic areas in General Operating, as well as the percentage of total university staff costs spent on academic staff.

  • Share of General Operating Expenditure assigned to Instruction & Non-Sponsored Research
  • Share of Academic Salaries in Instruction & NSR allocated to Academic Ranks (Faculty holding academic rank)
  • Share of General Operating Expenditure assigned to Library
  • Total Academic Salaries as a % of Total University Salaries & Wages (A university-wide measure)

Student Support: Measures various forms of student support

  • Student Services Expenditure Excluding Scholarships & Bursaries as a & of G.O. Expenditure
  • Student Services Expenditure Excluding Scholarships & Bursaries Per FTE Student
  • Scholarships & Bursaries in the General Operating and Special Purpose & Trust (SP&T*) Funds Per Dollar of Credit Course Tuition Fees. (* SP&T is a separate fund, accounting for funding received for a pre-defined and dedicated purpose. E.G. Funds provided to the university specifically and solely for scholarships and bursaries.)
  • General Operating AND SP&T* Share of Total University Scholarships & Bursaries

Student Cost: Measures student fees for the two forms of service they are primarily intended to fund – Instruction and Student Services, culminating with an overall measure of student cost.

  • Credit Course Tuition Fees in General Operating Per Dollar of Instruction & NSR Expenditure
  • Credit Course Tuition Fees in General Operating Per Dollar of Academic Salaries (Academic Ranks) Expenditure in Instruction & NSR
  • Other Student Fees in General Operating Per Dollar of Student Services Expenditure
  • Credit Course Tuition AND Other Fees Per Dollar of Instruction & NSR AND Student Services Expenditure


The Rankings


Summary Rankings



Detailed Key Area Rankings