WLU enrolment increases again


Enrolment at Wilfrid Laurier University has increased once again this year, with the number of first-year student acceptances being slightly over the targeted number.

“We have a target we need to reach for budget reasons, and that number comes when we present our numbers to the government in November,” said Ray Darling, office of the registrar. “Our confirmation date is early May, but between then and November 1 there is slippage.”

The target number for each year is based on previous year’s numbers as well as guesses that take into account the students who commit their attendance by the May deadline but end up withdrawing over the summer months or dropping out early in the fall semester.

According to Darling, slippage is typically around seven per cent.

VP: Academic Deb MacLatchy explained that the continued increase in enrolment each year should not have too large an impact on courses and class sizes.

“In some cases, some small elective courses might have been reorganized to be larger than they have been in the past,” said MacLatchy.

Dean of arts, David Docherty, “Students may not get every course they want, but they will get every course they need to graduate,” commented Docherty.

“We’re committed to that. It may not be the ideal time or term, but they will get every required course.”

While the current number of committed students is over the target, Darling explained that there are two main concerns about the number right now.

“One of them is that we may have more attrition because of the recession,” said Darling.

Darling explained that after the Waterloo Region, the greatest numbers of students come from Toronto, Halton and Peel.

Since students from these regions do not usually commute to Laurier, the concern is that the cost of residence, in the current economic climate, will act as a deterrent to students.

“Another concern is that a few of our main competitors’ [enrolments] are lower this year than previous years,” continued Darling.

“What can happen when they are under target is they try to steal students from other schools by lowering admission requirements and cutoffs. If this happens, we have the concern about not reaching our target.

“It gives us a buffer in case something happens,” said Darling.

Despite the current economic state, acceptances within the faculty of arts saw an increase.

Laurier usually expects to return a yield rate of about 23.5 commitments per every 100 acceptances sent out.

This year, arts saw a rate of 25 per 100 acceptances.

“This is a positive sign, especially with the drop in applications because it means students still want to come to Laurier,” said Darling.

The faculty of science’s number also remained strong. Darling attributes this to the addition of a health science program, which is often one of the more popular programs among Canadian universities. Business applications, however, were down nine per cent across the province and 12 per cent at WLU.

“We have made admission requirements for business students harder this year; however, we were still able to meet our targets, even with the decrease in applications,” commented Darling.

While cuts to the 2009-10 operating budget are being made, MacLatchy ensures the academic mission of WLU will remain strong and intact.

“The small school environment is more about the community that we build at Laurier. There are changes, yes … but I think we are able to maintain that standard [of quality].

“The faculty and staff are very invested in the students and interested in student success. We try to do everything we can to maintain that community.”

Though enrolment at WLU has been increasing for the past decade, Darling thinks it might not alwats ne this way in the future.

“We’re getting to the end of the baby boom echo, and [the young population] is slimming out,” said Darling.

New students attending Laurier

Students at the Waterloo campus

Students at Laurier Brantford

Students over the target for the 09-10 school year

What is WLU doing to deal with
increasing numbers:

Create a sub-committee to the enrolment management committee. Their job will be to look at the current composition of the student body and at future demographic predictions. They will be tasked with making the transition into the next five to 10 years as smooth as possible.

Increase graduate programs; graduate students remains a fairly untapped market.

Push forward with the growth of the Brantford campus.

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