The CAUBO Reports consist of data covering seven funds:
- General Operating
- Special Purpose and Trust
- Sponsored Research – Entities Consolidated
- Sponsored Research – Entities Not Consolidated
The General Operating Fund covers most of the teaching and central support services, and is broken down into eight functional areas:
- Instruction & Non-Sponsored Research
- Non-Credit Instruction
- Computing & Communications
- Administration & Academic Support*
- External Relations*
- Student Services
- Physical Plant
* The area now named Administration & Academic Support has undergone some changes in the CAUBO reports. In the early years of the study period it was named “Administration & General”, but in 2003-04 some areas (“fundraising, development, alumni, public relations and public information or external communications”) were removed from its scope and placed under a new heading of “External Relations”. The Administration & General title was recently changed to the better sounding but content-unchanged Administration & Academic Support.
In order to facilitate multi-year comparisons on this site, the Administration & Academic Support and External Relations areas have been combined as Central Administration.
Within each fund and functional area there is a common set of income and expense lines.
In addition to the detailed Income and Expenditure data, the CAUBO Reports include detailed summaries of Net Changes in Assets, from the Financial Statement.
Focus on the General Operating Fund
The analysis on UniversityFinances.ca focuses on the key General Operating Fund. In its 2008 report “Trends in Higher Education”, Universities Canada (then AUCC – the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada) described the General Operating fund as follows:
- The general operating fund is an unrestricted fund used to finance the primary activities of teaching and research other than sponsored research. Most of the revenues in this fund are derived from provincial operating grants and tuition fees. It is used to pay for faculty and staff salaries and student support services as well as assist faculty in their work and cover administrative costs.
While it is certainly the most important fund for the issues addressed on this site, it is necessary to point out that another, much smaller, fund complements it – the Special Purpose and Trust (SP&T) Fund. The same report describes the SP&T Fund – and its relationship with General Operating – as follows:
- The special purpose and trust fund consists of revenues that have a purpose designated by either a government department or private sector donors. Together, the general operating fund and special purpose and trust fund provide the revenues to fund teaching, academic and financial support services for students, unsponsored research, and community activities. They also cover the costs associated with sponsored research that are not directly funded from other sources.
In an ideal situation the General Operating and SP&T Funds would be analyzed together, but that’s not practical because expenditures from the SP&T Fund are not broken down into the sub-functions that are central to the analysis of General Operating. However, in a small minority of topic areas, such as Scholarship & Bursary expenditures, data from the SP&T Fund may be introduced.
The most important consideration is that expenditures from the General Operating Fund are made at the discretion of the universities, while those from the SP&T fund are generally prescribed by other parties. This is key, because this site discusses patterns of expenditure that result from university decision-making.
Explanations and definitions covering all the funds, functions and line items can be found in CAUBO’s most recent Guidelines HERE).