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First-year enrolment drops 19 per cent in engineering, four per cent across all faculties

By Fabian Mayer, November 6 2014 —

Enrolment at the University of Calgary dropped by roughly four per cent across all faculties this year, but some programs were hit harder than others.

Undergraduate enrolment is down over five per cent overall with the largest decrease in the faculty of engineering, which saw a 19 per cent drop in new students.

U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall said administration planned decreases in faculties  that overshot enrolment numbers in the past.

“Engineering was one of those faculties four or five years ago that took in way more students than they should have. They took them thinking they were going to increase their budget and that didn’t come to fruition,” Marshall said.

According to Marshall, a portion of the decrease was planned, but some of it was due to managerial mistakes. Administration raised admission averages this year, and Marshall called enrolment management an “imperfect science.”

“We start with high GPAs and then we start to go down. I would say those targets didn’t go down quickly enough in some cases,” Marshall said.

Students’ Union president Jarett Henry called the drop in engineering enrolment troubling. He said a drop of 19 per cent would cause concern for any program.

“I know engineering was singled out because that’s a program [administration] hopes to expand enrolment in the future. Once the new CNRL building is built, the [faculty] hopes to have increased seat capacity and the ability to fill those seats,” Henry said.

Marshall said that enrolment management in engineering is especially important if the faculty wants to expand in the future.

“We have an expectation from the province that we will have an increased number of engineering students. We want to make sure that our processes are good across the board,” Marshall said.

But Henry said that since the drop is a “one-time blip,” he believes there is no need to worry yet.

“Hopefully they can work on their enrolment management processes for next year,” Henry said.

The U of C received 7.8 per cent fewer applications this year. Henry said the drop isn’t unique to the U of C.

“Part of it is a national trend. [Administration] says across Canada, applications are down. They also raised their admission average this year and that’s another factor that’s driving down demand,” Henry said.

The U of C has 31,495 students, 25,624 of which are undergraduates.

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