Most Maritime universities experiencing lower enrolments, especially among local students

by pmnationtalk on January 27, 2016936 Views

January 27, 2016

FREDERICTON (GNB) – A report released today shows overall enrolment at Maritime universities is down 1.8 per cent over the past year and down 6.1 per cent over the past 10 years. Enrolments declined the most in the category of local students, according to the report by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

“Not only is the pool of potential university students shrinking in the region, but smaller proportions of them choose to pursue a university education, which is adding to the impact of the demographic trend,” said commission CEO Mireille Duguay.

Over the past 10 years, demographic trends contributed to enrolment decline as the population of 18-24 year olds decreased four per cent regionally, with New Brunswick seeing a much larger impact, a decrease of eight per cent.

In 2014-15, there were 68,427 students enrolled in Maritime universities, down from 69,664 a year earlier. In all three provinces, the largest one-year declines were recorded in the enrolment of local students.

The report also found that students are clearly shifting their preferences away from Humanities towards other programs. Enrollment in the Humanities went down 10.6 per cent in one year and down 24.6 per cent in five years.

Trends do vary among the three Maritime provinces.

  • With a 5.2 per cent decline, New Brunswick experienced the largest one-year decline of total enrolment, to 20,118 students in 2014-2015. This is spread across all student groups: there were 5.9 per cent fewer New Brunswickers, 5.0 per cent fewer international students, 4.5 per cent fewer students from the other two Maritime provinces, and 1.8 per cent fewer out-of-region Canadians. New Brunswickers now comprise 66.2 per cent of the student population in the province.
  • Nova Scotia saw its enrolment decrease to 44,037 students in 2014-2015, down 0.4 per cent compared to the previous year. This was largely driven by the 3.1 per cent drop in the number of Nova Scotians. International student enrolment saw a 7.0 per cent increase, but this was insufficient to offset the slide in local student enrolment. Numbers of out-of-province Canadian students posted zero or near-zero growth. Nova Scotians now comprise 49.7 per cent of the student population in the province.
  • Prince Edward Island was the only province to show an increase in total enrolment of 1.4 per cent to 4,272 students compared to the previous year. But like its neighbours in the region, the number of local students decreased significantly, down 5.5 per cent. The number of international students increased 18.5 per cent, helping to offset the decline in the number of local students. Islanders now comprise 63.4 per cent of the student population in the province.

The commission tracks university participation rates, which are an important measure of demand for education.

“This kind of data is crucial to our stakeholders,” Duguay said. “The commission’s job is to provide data for support to those who make decisions on what strategies to employ, to get ahead and stay ahead of the overall enrolment decline.

“As with all our reports, the commission encourages dialogue among our stakeholders in all sectors. Together we can use this up-to-date data as a foundation for new strategies going forward.”

For the report Annual Digest: University Enrolment 2014-2015, university enrolment is calculated from data in the commission’s post-secondary student information system, which contains detailed information on demographics, programs, and courses for all students enrolled in the 15 publicly-funded Maritime universities. The digest and more detailed information is available on the MPHEC website.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission was established in 1974 as an arm’s-length organization accountable to the ministers responsible for post-secondary education in the Maritimes. The commission comprises 20 members representing universities, the public-at-large (including students), and the three Maritime governments. Its primary orientation in carrying out its duties is to give first consideration to improving and maintaining the best possible service to students as lifelong learners.


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