Academic Writing Task 1 #8 Pie Chart – University Expenses

The three pie charts below describe the breakdown of costs at a Canadian University in 2000, 2005 and 2010.
Summarise the information in the charts and make comparisons where appropriate.


The three pie charts show the breakdown of spending at a particular university in Canada in 2000, 2005 and 2010.

Salaries made up the largest part of expenditure in all three years for which data has been provided (2000, 2005 and 2010). Academic salaries made up 39% of the total cost in 2000 and this figure increased to 49% in 2005 before decreasing to 44% in 2010. In contrast, technical and administrative salaries have declined steadily and were 29%, 23% and 16% in the years 2000, 2005 and 2010, respectively.

The remaining budget was spent on consumables, equipment and insurance. The spending on consumables was in the range of 14-18% in 2000, 2005 and 2010, while the spending on equipment varied widely in the 3 years provided and was in the range of 7-16% of the total budget. Insurance costs made up a very small percentage of the overall budget at 2-4% in 2000 and 2005 but this
figure jumped to 8% in 2010.

Essay Notes

This question presents the challenge of how to logically divide the data because there are three pie charts. The simplest way to manage this question is to separate the different types of costs and treat them individually. Many students will choose to write three body paragraphs for this question and break the essay down by time. In general, at the highest (paragraph) level it is usually a poor choice to separate data by time because this causes the writer to describe a particular feature (costs in this case) in three different places and makes the description of changes less clear to the reader. In the three charts,two of the largest costs are academic staff costs and technical and administrative staff costs. As both represent a large percentage of the overall cost and are both related to staffing, they were logically grouped together in the first body paragraph while all other costs were described in the second body paragraph.

The introduction describes the form of the data (pie chart), a title for the data, the specific years for which the data is presented and that the data is represented as percentages.

In the first body paragraph staff salaries are grouped together. Since the cost of academic staff represent the largest cost, they are described first and in most detail, followed by technical and administrative salaries.

The second body paragraph covers the remaining three costs. In this paragraph consumables and equipment are described first as they represent the largest of the remaining costs to be described. They are also grouped together because they are of similar size. The remaining cost, insurance, is the last cost to be described because it is the smallest and cannot be easily grouped with other costs.

It should be noted that all items in the pie charts are described allowing the reader to reproduce the data reasonably accurately from the text even though not all numbers are described.