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CAUT Bulletin Archives

December 1998

Trends Across Canada in Undergraduate Enrolment

Preliminary enrolment data for 1998-99, released in November by the Centre for Education Statistics, showed an overall increase in the number of students registered for full-time study at Canadian universities, and a decrease in part-time registration.

For all Canadian universities and university colleges combined, there were 507,195 full-time undergraduate students registered by October 1998, and 200,050 part-time undergraduate students. This represents an increase of 1.2% in full-time undergraduates since 1997-98, and a 2.9 decrease in part-time undergraduates. The Centre suggests one of the reasons for the shift from part-time to full-time registrations has to do with cutbacks in university funding -- that universities may be concentrating efforts on full-time students at the expense of resources for part-time studies.

At the provincial level, the number of full-time undergraduate students varied from 2,425 in Prince Edward Is-land to 197,678 in Ontario. Part-time undergraduates ranged from a low of 472 in PEI, and to a high of 76,735 in Quebec.

Most provinces saw relatively small changes in full-time undergraduate enrolments of between -1.4% to 0.8%. The provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, however, experienced more substantial enrolment increases of 4.8% and 14.7%, respectively. These two western-most provinces also displayed the most dramatic changes in part-time undergraduate enrolment. Alberta increased by 10.3%, while British Columbia decreased by 18.6%.

The participation of part-timers is more important in some provinces than in others. In Quebec, for example, part-timers represent over 17% of total full-time equivalent (FTE) enrolment, including both graduates and undergraduates.

In the Atlantic provinces, on the other hand, part-timers make up between 5 and 6% of total FTE enrolment. From Ontario to British Columbia, between 8 and 9.3% are part-time students.

Final enrolment data will be collected for December, and Statistics Canada cautions that the final figures could be substantially (20%) larger at the provincial level.