No big enrolment surprises at CBU
Enrolment trends at Cape Breton University are largely on par with those seen in Nova Scotia as a whole, as demonstrated in a new report released this week, its director of enrolment says, with only international enrolment on the rise.
An annual digest of enrolment trends for 2015-16 was released this week by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission. It noted that, overall, 66,850 students were enrolled in Maritime universities, down 2.3 per cent from the previous year, with enrolment declines observed in all three provinces.
In Nova Scotia, total enrolment decreased 1.7 per cent, down to 43,268 students. The largest decrease of 5.6 per cent was seen among students coming to study in Nova Scotia from another Maritime province. Enrolment of Nova Scotia residents decreased by 3 per cent, and enrolment of Canadian students from outside the region decreased by 1.1 per cent. International enrolment increased by 2.6 per cent
“There weren’t any big surprises there,” CBU’s director of enrolment Eleanor Anderson said in an interview Friday. “We’re down domestically by similar percentages and we are up internationally.”
CBU has felt the impact of the decision by the Saudi Arabian government to no longer fund its students attending post-secondary institutions in this region, as that cohort graduates.
“That’s not being renewed due to the scholarship issue, so we have made a twopronged effort in international recruitment — one is to diversify so that we can spread our international applications and cohort around to more countries and that will help us strengthen our base and then also we’ve had a significant effort in India over the last little while,” Anderson said.
While two years ago, CBU had no students from India, it currently has 78 on campus.
“We’re really putting a strong effort in some of these emerging markets,” Anderson said.
Among the CBU programs that have attracted those new students are the three-year bachelor of engineering technology, business, arts, public health, as well as hospitality and tourism.
“That’s really popular internationally because it has a work component, so when they graduate they have a resume that has both education and work experience,” Anderson said. “Tourism is one industry that’s almost recession-proof, it’s growing a little bit every year globally and there’s lots of mobility with that so if they get an education here they can work just about anywhere.”
Demographic changes and participation rate shifts have affected recent trends in local enrolment at Maritime universities. Over the previous year, the population of 18-24 year olds in the region shrank 2.2 per cent while the university participation rate of Maritime residents decreased 0.1 percentage points over the previous year to 21.8 per cent.
Anderson said it’s important to CBU try to hold on to and work to increase its domestic market share an in environment that is increasingly competitive.
“All of our competitors are facing that as well — less students, increased competition, increased choice for students,” she said. “We’d like to be the number one choice for our Cape Breton students, we have everything to offer them and it’s prime scholarship time.”
Someone makes her way across the Cape Breton University campus in this file photo. CBU saw similar enrolment trends as other Nova Scotia universities in 2015-16, with only international enrolment on the rise.