The average Top 25 university spends almost three-quarters of its total General Operating budget on staff costs – $548 million at the average Top 25 university in 2019.

There are four categories of staff cost:

  • Academic salaries – Academic ranks: This includes “both full and part time staff members who hold an academic rank at the reporting institution and are engaged in instruction and research activities.” These are the most senior and experienced faculty.
  • Academic salaries – Other instruction and research: This covers “payments to both full and part time staff and non-staff members without academic rank at the reporting institution, but who are engaged in instruction and research activities.” This category includes adjunct faculty, sessional lecturers and teaching assistants.
  • Other salaries and wages: This category includes full and part time non-instructional staff, clerical and secretarial, professional and managerial, janitorial, trades and maintenance. It also “includes payments to individuals who may hold an academic rank, or equivalent thereto, but are engaged in activities other than instruction and research”, such as the president, and vice-presidents.
  • Benefits: Covered in this area are the institution’s contributions or payments for pension, group life insurance, salary continuance insurance, dental plans, workers’ compensation, health taxes, employment insurance and other benefit programs.

The full definitions in respect of these categories can be seen on page 14 of the CAUBO reporting guidelines HERE.




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The Summary Rankings are derived from the detailed rankings in the first four of the tables below. Additional analyses are included but do not form part of the Summary Ranking.


These tables show the 2001 and latest spending levels, the latest expenditure, and the dollar impact of spending level variances (the amount by which the university is over-spending or under-spending, compared with past levels or current peer group levels).


Given the common mission, and the clarity concerning reporting in this area, it is disconcerting to see the wide disparities in allocation levels.

  • Since 2001, the growth in Other Salaries & Wages in G.O. (89.8% – Table 3.3) has exceeded the growth in Total Academic Salaries (71.7% – Table 3.5).
  • Total Academic Salaries represent 63.0% of total G.O. Salaries & Wages at the highest university, 48.1% at the lowest. (Table 3.5.)
  • In fact, two universities are now spending MORE on non-academic salaries & wages in General Operating than on academic salaries. (Table 3.6.)

One of the reasons cited for the growth in Other Salaries & Wages 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 most significant dollar-value 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.

Further analysis of Academic Salaries expenditures can be found HERE, and on Other Salaries & Wages HERE.