Admissions trending for Ontario universities

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Wilfrid Laurier University has experienced a large jump in enrolment of incoming students for the 2015-16 year.

Data released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre on June 12 reveals admissions acceptance is trending for schools across Ontario.

Despite a continuing downward trend in the secondary-aged demographic across Canada — a trend expected to continue in the years to come — Laurier’s recruitment team saw a 21.7 per cent increase in enrolment.

“Everything from the Ontario University Fair, open houses, to the number of students we were seeing in high school visits, all of the indicators were very positive throughout the year, so we knew we were having an impact, though we didn’t expect that it would be this large,” said Jennifer Casey, acting assistant vice-president of enrolment services and registrar.

Hardly an isolated occurrence, numbers were up across departments and faculties, a welcome sight to many at the institution.

There was also a rise in the university’s faculty of arts, which rose 22.9 per cent from last year’s numbers — a positive sign in light of a growing media trend towards the dismissal of the merits of an arts degree.

“Laurier has always been such a strong proponent of the skill set and the opportunities that are available in arts, that’s a big part of who we are,” said Casey. “Students, no matter what home faculty they’re in, the skills they develop even through an arts elective, it’s a skillset that a lot of employers are looking for.”

Laurier’s Brantford enrolment was also a surprise, as numbers were expected to fall after the announcement of the University of Nipissing discontinuing the concurrent education program after the cohort of 2019 graduates were complete.

Laurier is confident the numbers are a reflection of the “university as whole,” with its academics, student life, engaged learning approaches and innovative programming all contributing to the rise in enrolment.

“Laurier, at both campuses, always had that really strong academic and institutional reputation, and you know we’ve always believed in that — our alumni speak to that, our current students speak to that,” said Casey. “We’ve really taken the time to reflect back on why students are choosing us; talking to our current students, talking to our alumni and then really involving the entire campus.”

Though the increase in numbers may seem to many as a saving grace following financial issues, Casey warns a single elevated incoming class will not reverse all of the institution’s difficulties.

“Certainly being successful this year does help us, but it doesn’t eliminate our challenges. We need to continue to build upon that, and be as innovative as we can in all of our approaches across the institution and continue to be as efficient as we can in our delivery of service.”

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