Atlantic universities face declining enrolment

April 24, 2014

In the face of a declining youth demographic and lowered enrolment numbers, Atlantic universities are looking at ways to increase enrolment. In a recent University Affairs article, Cape Breton University President David Wheeler argues the enrolment growth can be achieved by increasing the number of international students, improving retention rates, increasing graduate enrolment in certain programs, and targeting programs to the needs of the province. Administrators at other Atlantic universities have taken similar approaches, including increasing marketing efforts nationally and internationally, targeting non-traditional students, and offering more scholarships. In the same article, Academica Group’s Ken Steele comments that although international recruitment will “remain a fertile ground for a few more years,” it is not without “cost or risk.” Once 25 or 30% of the student body is made up of international students there begins to be a strain on student supports and services, warns Steele. While some in Atlantic Canada are optimistic, others are cautioning that more drastic measures are needed; economist Tim O’Neill, in a 2010 paper, suggested that some of Nova Scotia’s universities consider merging and consolidating program offerings. University Affairs