The average Top 25 university spends 57% of its total budget (including capital expenditures) on staff costs, including benefits. In the key General Operating Fund, the number averages over 73%.

The deployment of this dominant share of General Operating funds provides insight into both efficiency and the degree of commitment to academic activity.

The following chart illustrates the shift in priorities in the allocation of salaries & wages funding since 2001.




One of the reasons cited for the growth in non-academic salaries is the major increase in Student Services, where staffing levels have risen to meet the need for more forms of student service and higher enrollment levels.

However, the chart reveals that this is not the underlying cause. The most significant move has occurred in the area of Operational Support – the combination of Computing & Communications, Central Administration, and Physical Plant. This area is addressed in more depth in the Operational Support Costs topic HERE.

Operational Support’s increased share of total salaries & wages appears to have occurred at the expense of the Academic area – and, especially, allocations for the most senior grade of faculty (those holding academic rank).

As noted in numerous locations on this website, percentages can be dangerously deceptive because they can make movements seem relatively minor, when the dollar implications are substantial. The same goes for the Top 25 averages; while they seem troubling, they mask the fact that some universities are exhibiting these patterns to a far more disconcerting degree than others.

In fact, a few universities are now spending more on non-academic salaries and wages in General Operating than on academic salaries.

The university and provincial numbers are shown in the following Rankings Tables.