By Karena Walter
The number of applications for first-year entry to Western is down this year but some Ontario universities have had better luck attracting students.
Western's applications decreased 4.7 per cent this year but registrar Roma Harris said after seeing overall figures Western fared very well.
Applications to Ontario universities are down 2.5 per cent this year said Gregory Marcott, executive director of the Ontario Universities' Application Centre in Guelph. In 1996 there were 55,200 secondary school applications and this year there are 53,800.
There is no evidence to suggest higher tuition fees are discouraging students from applying, he added. "People are remaining interested." Marcott said one reason for the decline is demographics. There are fewer people aged 18-21 in Ontario this year. It is expected enrolment will increase for 1998.
However, despite a smaller pool of students, the University of Guelph had the largest increase in applications at 13.6 per cent. Deputy registrar Chuck Cunningham said the school's student support system, quality and reputation of faculty, community feeling on campus and promotion strategy all add to Guelph's appeal to first-year students. "What students say about their university carries as much weight as anything else," he added.
Western's recruitment strategy will now address certain niches and make more positive and repeated contacts. They will concentrate energies in the Toronto area and increase contact with high schools.
"We'll not only showcase new programs but we're also going to step up marketing for programs we've had for many years," Harris said. For instance, Western has one of the richest programs of admission scholarships in Ontario.
The week before slack week faculty and students from different departments phoned high school students interested in attending Western who had marks of 80 per cent in an attempt to reach out and explain programs. The strategy is also being used by other universities, such as Brock, who dropped 10 per cent in applications this year.
Western will also host an open-house next week during high school students' March break.