The future of enrollment at U of R

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Regina high school enrollment is projected to decline over the next seven years. Photo - Heidi Atter

Regina high school enrollment is projected to decline over the next seven years. Photo – Heidi Atter

The Carillon spoke to Provost Dr. Thomas Chase about enrollment, infrastructure, and recruitment

With the number of Regina high school graduates declining, and empty residence rooms on campus for the first time in years, it appears that enrollment may soon become an issue at U of R.

The Carillon sat down with University of Regina Provost and Vice-President (Academic) Dr. Thomas Chase, to discuss the future of enrollment:

 

Is the seven-to-eight year projected decline in Saskatchewan high school enrollment concerning for recruitment?

 

Dr. Chase: It’s something we’re aware of, and it’s why we’re putting additional recruitment outside the usual catchment area… We’re certainly seeing more students coming to the U of R from places like Yorkton, Swift Current, Nipawin… but just as important are the people from neighboring provinces.

They have choices… but what pulls them into the University of Regina are some of our specialized programs; Police Studies, Justice Studies, Creative Technologies, Media Production, the Journalism School.

 

Enrollment at the U of R is around 14,500. How happy are you with that number?

 

Dr. Chase: Very happy. The university is increasing its reach. We’re seeing an increasing number of students from Alberta and B.C., and from Manitoba and Ontario. Over a thousand students [are] now coming to the U of R from provinces outside Saskatchewan. Our international enrollments have been strong for several years now. So we’re happy about these enrollments.

The other thing I’d point out is the increasing number of self-declared First Nations students coming not just to U of R, but to universities in general.

 

Are you looking to boost the number of international students? They currently make up about twelve per cent of the student body.

 

Dr. Chase: I don’t think we’re looking to boost. Our goal this year was to keep enrollment steady in the face of that local decline, and we’ve done a little better than that. Our international recruitment is very strong. As long as we can keep those [numbers] steady, we’ll be happy with that.

We’re looking now, in Fine Arts, for example, to attract students from the UK. We’re also looking to attract students to faculties like Arts from places like Mexico. We’ve always had a small number of students from Mexico, and we’re looking to increase that… So we’ve had some successes.

 

This is the first year that the residence isn’t full. I’m wondering if that was planned for, or unexpected.

 

Dr. Chase: When you open a new building like that, the business case called for a sixty per cent occupancy… my understanding is that we’re well ahead of the plan… we’re close to eighty per cent.

The other thing I should mention in regard to residence is that residence becomes more important as [we] draw more students from outside of Regina. If we continue to draw students from outside Regina… we need more residence space.

 

Are there other factors impacting recruitment? Specifically, I’m going to ask about infrastructure on campus. It’s no secret that the university has quite a bit of maintenance that they still have to do, and I’m wondering if you’re concerned about that impacting recruitment, either now or in the future.

 

Dr. Chase: We’re not seeing that it is impacting our student recruitment. And I think we need to be very careful to recognize that every Canadian campus has infrastructure issues. On Canadian campuses, there was a tremendous build-out in the 1960’s… and across the country, universities are finding that these buildings are reaching the end of their natural life span… Canadian universities generally are facing a challenge with infrastructure because of that generation of buildings.

Has it impacted our ability to enroll students? I don’t believe it has, I’m not aware that it has. Is it a concern of ours? Obviously it’s a concern of ours, and it’s a concern of [the] government’s. The difficulty is finding the funds to address all the infrastructure needs that we have, and that is a challenge.

 

Do you have any other thoughts on enrollment, or the future of enrollment at U of R?

 

Dr. Chase: I’ll say this – I am personally amazed at the wonderful diversity on this campus. When I walk in the hallways, when I talk to students, I find it actually very pleasing to see students from all over the country and all over the world coming to our campus and to our city. They bring such richness to our campus.

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