More students are flocking to the Atlantic provinces to get their education, according to numbers released by the Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) Thursday.
The biggest jump came from international enrolments, up a whopping 16.5 per cent from last year. Graduate enrolments increased by 5.4 per cent, while undergraduate and first year enrolments increased by more modest numbers — 1.5 per cent and 0.4 per cent, respectively. Dr. Colin Dodds, president of Saint Mary’s University and chair of the AAU, attributes the increase to the quality of education, as well as student life in the Maritimes.
“People are looking for good quality education, they’re looking for a campus experience,” said Dodds. “It’s not just the academics, it’s not just the research, but it’s the total experience … if you go to some of the other universities across the country, you’re not going to get the same experience.”
According to Dodds, the music, theatre, and social scenes in relatively small Atlantic universities provide students with an experience unique to the region. Dodds said a drop in this year’s enrolments was expected by many, due to the uncertain economic climate. But he said while times may be tough now, university graduates will be in high demand down the road.
“In three, four, five, six years time, people are going to be chasing our students desperately, because people like me are going to be retiring,” he said. “There is going to be a talent shortage. The demographics tell you that.”
Nova Scotian universities saw part- and full-time enrolments increase by 2.2 per cent. Dalhousie University led the way with an increase of 650 students, or 4.2 per cent.
The Nova Scotia Agricultural College had the highest percentage increase with 8.5 per cent, or 71 students.