The cream of the crop
By Laura Koot
The mission has been determined. Bring quality students to Western. Keep them here. And get noticed worldwide.
While this has been an unwritten principle at Western for some time, a 10-member committee comprised of representatives from the Western community has put a plan in writing and a more-organized set of wheels in motion.
In a report released to the Western community yesterday, the provost's advisory committee to review undergraduate student recruitment made several recommendations to continue the recruitment programs which have been going on for the past few years. One goal is to raise the admission average for first-year students from 75 per cent in 1996-97 to 80 per cent by 2000-01.
"Recruitment of good students and retention of those students is everybody's business," explained Roma Harris, Western's associate VP-academic and registrar. "We are trying to tease out which initiatives are having an effect but it will be difficult to measure."
Committee chair Martin Westmacott explained the committee's findings and recommendations were arrived at following meetings both on and off campus, examining briefs which were submitted for review and committee discussions.
"We have to look at new ways and new ideas to attract students," Westmacott said. "The environment is different than it was three years ago. It is highly competitive."
While Lori Gribbons, manager of applicant and liaison services in the office of the registrar, said no recruiting programs were ended this year, three new initiatives were put in place: guidance counsellor breakfast, business/law day and faculty Fridays.
Other initiatives such as individual school visits, information programs, the ambassador program, March break open houses and the faculty information programs will all continue, but will be more closely monitored.
The University Students' Council's VP-finance, Chris Keith, who sat on the committee, said there was a lot of discussion about developing a consistent image of Western. "There were a lot more holes than ineffective programs," he said. "[The administration] has never systematically gathered information on the student body at Western.
"You need the information to design a proper recruitment program."
Westmacott said the committee did put forward a suggestion to have a fairly lengthy survey of people's attitudes toward the community. He added a number of other suggestions were put in the document including a marketing and recruitment strategy and public advertising campaigns.
Keith said another issue brought up by the committee was the importance of attracting a diverse group of students. "I think the type of school you are is reflected in your student body."
Harris said this concept extends to attracting international students. "There is a huge demand for higher education in a few Asian countries," she said. "Canada has very good schools, we just have to make ourselves known.
"We want to be known on an international level and in order to do that we need to have a very diverse student population," Harris said, adding Western is one of the top universities in the country.