Spike in applications to Ontario schools

Increase won’t affect enrolment, says vice-principal (academic)

Seven per cent more Ontario high school students applied to Queen’s than last year, but the university isn’t planning to increase enrolment. “all faculties have shown an increase at this point,” said stuart Pinchin, associate university registrar, adding that the numbers can still change because students outside of Ontario and Canada still have until Feb. 16 to apply to Queen’s.

Pinchin said universities across Ontario have experienced a 5.2 per cent increase for undergraduate
first-year programs at Queen’s, the Faculty of applied science has had the largest increase, with a rise of 13 per cent. Commerce increased by 12 per cent, while applications for nursing increased by eight per cent.

Applications for arts and science increased by five per cent. Applicants within Ontario can still make amendments, additions and deletions to their applications until Feb. 16. So far, the university has received 23,766 applications for first-year undergraduate programs.

“For Queen’s, it’s about getting our message out about Queen’s university and that can be in marketing the university to potential undergraduates and [marketing] the quality of programs that
we offer,” he said. “I think the reputation for quality education for the whole Queen’s experience ... came across very strongly.”

Despite the overall seven per cent increase in applicants so far, Pinchin said, the university hasn’t made many changes in enrolment. “It you look at the strategic plan, they’re calling for maintaining enrolment in the undergraduate [level],” he said. Pinchin added that it’s hard to say whether entrance requirements will increase because the registrar only has quantitative data.

“We know how many people have chosen to apply to Queen’s but we don’t have marks,” he said.

Vice-Principal (academic) Patrick Deane said the enrolment figure isn’t sensitive to demand.

“even though there has been a rise in applications and a rise of number of people indicating Queen’s as their first choice, that won’t necessarily translate into more students on campus,” Deane said.

Deane said the student body at Queen’s isn’t automatically affected by the number of applicants.
“It just simply gets harder to get accepted at Queen’s.”

But deane said the university has experienced an increase in enrolment in recent years despite the desire to keep the student body smaller. Along with the double cohort, Deane said there are other factors influencing the increase in applications that have to do with the expectations of having higher education in the workforce.

“There’s a demand for university [education] as a minimum qualification that is growing. These things are linked with economic trends too ... when problems begin to emerge in the economy, that drives a lot of people to increase their qualifications,” he said.

Deane also cited demographic issues such as the increased birthrate 18 years ago as another factor in the increase in applicants. Deane added that one of the university’s goals is to increase the number of professors in order to provide the best education possible. “Over the last couple of years, there’ve
been constraints for the point of view of budget. Increasing the capacity of this university is complex and expensive and we continue to work at that,” he said. “In fact, keeping our enrolment more or less where it is while continuing to hire new faculty is part of the university’s strategy.”

Chris Bentley, minister of training, colleges and universities, said there are several reasons for the rise in applicants.

The participation in post-secondary skills training has been going up, resulting in an increased demand for higher education, he said, adding that the government’s reaching Higher plan, revealed last spring, should provide money for extra spaces. “We’ve provided a huge amount of funding to universities and colleges to open up spaces ... and we’re greatly increasing the amount of student assistance available so it’s more affordable for students,” he said adding that it’s becoming increasingly important for people entering the workforce to have higher education.

“Everybody from the premier to business leaders to secondary school teachers have been telling students that 70 to 80 per cent of jobs created in the future will require post-secondary education.”

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