Ontario universities respond to fall enrolment figures

September 24, 2014

PSE leaders are responding to recent data that show a decline in high-school direct enrolments to Ontario’s universities. Many experts, including Academica Group’s Ken Steele, have long warned that demographic shifts in the Canadian population would lead to an enrolment decline at many institutions. Although the drop in high-school direct enrolments was partially offset by the number of students returning to school after “gap years,” mature students, and international students, some are wondering about the implications of the numbers on ON’s Major Capacity Expansion Policy Framework. York University, which has been campaigning for a satellite campus in Markham, says that it expects the population of 18- to 21-year-olds in York Region to climb by about 19,000 by 2036. “Many of those will need to go to university close to home,” said YorkU VP Academic Rhonda Lenton. Sara Diamond, President of OCAD University, says that the situation does not yet amount to a “crisis.” OCADU has expanded its emphasis to include design and digital media, and believes this strategy will allow the institution to attract more students in the future. “It will just take time to reach out to families that haven’t seen design careers as having high employment rates,” Diamond said. Some institutions are relying on international students to make up the difference; however, as Steele has pointed out, there is a tipping point at which the proportion of international students can put a strain on student supports and services. Toronto Star