How do we assess the efficiency of our universities, individually and collectively, other than by analyzing the data they release through organizations they created long ago with the specific objective of data collection and sharing? (See DATA SOURCES)
In fact, that is our only way to monitor and compare their financial efficiency. For their own wellbeing, they need to stand the test of those comparisons – comparisons not just with eachother, but also, given the clear long term efficiency declines, with their own past.
There may be occasional differences in how universities report their data, but the comprehensive definitions in the CAUBO Guidelines, which have evolved over many years, should ensure that they are not significant enough to undermine the comparisons. There are no such issues when it comes to historical comparisons; a university doesn’t suddenly start reporting its numbers in a different way.
Rankings are provided for the eight expenditure-based areas in the Topics menu. While each university is unique, they all exist to do similar things, adopt similar approaches, and must deal with similar change and challenge.
In the final analysis, this isn’t just about focusing on those that seem to be performing poorly, but also those that seem to be performing well; they demonstrate that higher standards are attainable.
Against that backdrop, there are two types of ranking:
Efficiency Rankings, which rank Canada’s Top 50 universities based on their current performance in each Topic area.
Change Rankings, which rank the universities based on the change since a base year.
These are more fully described below:
Efficiency Rankings for the latest year are provided on Topics such as Operational Support Costs, Administrative Cost, Academic Commitment, and measures relating to Student Interests (See the TOPICS menu).
Performance is measured from four different angles, which could involve:
- A percentage share of a total (e.g., % of General Operating expenditure, or % of total staff costs)
- A relationship with another factor (e.g., Instruction expenditure per dollar of Tuition Fee income, or Academic Salaries as a percentage of Total Salaries & Wages)
- A $ value per FTE (full-time equivalent) student; this angle is particularly insightful because it is a “real dollar” measure – adjusted for both inflation and changes in enrollment.
The use of four different angles of measurement enhances the likely validity of the Ranking. All the values that form the bases of these measures are inflation-adjusted.
The Ranking for each Topic is a combination of the rankings from the four measurement angles.
The Change Rankings assess the degree to which a university’s performance has improved (or deteriorated) over time, for each of the factors utilized in the Efficiency Rankings.
The “change” is the percentage change in the factor value. For example:
- for something that has moved from $100 per FTE Student to $140 the “Change” value would be 40%;
- for something that has moved from a 60% share to a 70% share the “Change” value would be 16.7%.
The highest-ranked schools in each Topic area are those that appear to be heading in the right direction.
There are two Change Rankings – one for the Top 25 universities, using 2010 as the Base Year, and another for the Top 50 universities, using 2020 as the Base Year.
All Rankings favour Instruction and students; performance that could detract from those interests is ranked accordingly.