Upping the numbers
By Sabrina Carinci
A report released yesterday by Statistics Canada said Ontario's full-time university enrolment has increased and the numbers are record high.
"The number of students enrolled in full-time undergraduate studies reached a new high of 507,195 registrants," said Sandra Ramsbottom, manager of communication for the Ontario region of Statistics Canada.
According to Ramsbottom, full-time undergraduate enrolment has fluctuated between 500,000 and 504,000 for the past five years, so the increased registration of 1.2 per cent is very remarkable.
Nick Iozzo, VP-education for the University Students' Council, said he believes the new statistics are positive and equates the increase to demographics in Canada.
Iozzo explained the current situation as a mini baby boom, where the children of the baby boomers are beginning to enter post secondary school institutions.
"As the message gets out [that] a university education is valuable and it gives you the best chance of employment I'm not surprised that full-time enrolment had gone up," said Roma Harris, registrar at Western.
"I think the message in the media is the better educated you are, the more employable you are and that's important in a changing economy," Harris said. She added despite the slight decrease in Western's first-year class, enrolment numbers closely resemble last year's.
"We haven't really finalized the numbers for this year," said James MacLean, planning analyst in the department of institutional planning and budgeting at Western. "It's very, very close to last year."
According to MacLean, as of Nov. 1, 1997, Western's full-time enrolment was 18,783 and the part-time enrolment was 2,846. "This excludes the affiliate colleges," he said.
With respect to part-time enrolment across Canada, Ramsbottom said the statistics were not necessarily as impressive. "Part-time undergraduate studies declines for the sixth straight year to 200,050 students."
According to Ramsbottom, this decrease is equal to 22.9 per cent or 5,935 students.
Iozzo explained this decrease may be explained by a number of factors, including the economy and grants for part-time students. "The economy is doing well, so a lot of people are going back to work in search of practical experience. Also, elimination of Ontario student loans for part-time students [have taken place], so loan and funding options have been cut," he said.
Iozzo said the findings by Statistics Canada may also be attributed to students who have changed from a part-time status to a full-time status.
Harris said she is unsure of what may have influenced the decrease in part-time student enrolment. "This is going on all across Canada. No one has really come up with a good answer," she said.
Daniele Gauvin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education and Training, said since the Ministry has not seen the release they would be unable to comment. "Generally speaking, it's good that students are realizing post secondary school is important."