University enrolment drops, Humber’s leveling off

Nick Westoll
News Reporter

Numbers released this month by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre show university enrolment has dropped by 3.5 per cent.

However, Humber College is seeing growth at its campuses.

“We’ve had a really strong enrolment trajectory over the past six or seven years,” said Jason Hunter, Vice President of Student and Community Engagement.

Due to issues with capacity, Humber has had difficulty meeting the demand due to space constraints on campus.

Hunter did say, however, that the enrolment numbers seem to be leveling out.

Humber has aimed to accommodate 25,000 students and it hopes to grow at a rate of 2 per cent, or 500 students, every year. Hunter said this number could change as the school creates more classroom space, as well as other factors.

Humber’s New Student Recruitment and Advising office staff are reaching out to potential new students.  Recruiters visit approximately 500 high schools and participate in special events such as the Ontario College Fair.

The biggest challenge for recruiters is explaining the college learning environment and addressing biases against a college education as they work to explain what makes Humber’s programs distinct.

“Every school has business,” said Judy Tavares, Acting Manager of New Student Recruitment and Advising, citing an example of where staff need to highlight differences. She said Humber stands out in terms of its access to paid internships and access to degree opportunities.

Tavares said Humber sees lower enrolment in newer programs, so recruiters spend additional time reaching out to potential students to explain those programs and their curricula.

Despite an anticipated decline in post-secondary enrolment  as baby boomers’ children graduate, the government is anticipating growth after 2021.

The province has started planning to accommodate this demand at post-secondary institutions across Ontario.  As part of this planning, the government aims to create and enhance specialties at each of the institutions. Humber can expect to see expansion in Transmedia Arts and Design, Community Services and Social Justice, Health and Wellness, Business and Technology.

A spokesperson for Colleges Ontario, the province’s centralized application centre for colleges, declined to comment on for this story, saying the organization will not confirm provincial enrolment numbers until late fall.