TRU says enrolment to stay steady as secondary population drops

Open Learning and sciences set to grow, arts and business to continue decline

TRU’s 2016 budget contains both retrospective data and projections for future enrolment which show that TRU will be a very different place in the years to come.

The budget, released in January, predicts that the university’s overall enrolment will remain stable, despite challenges such as declining local high school enrolment for at least the next five years.

Although the number of Grade 12 students in School District 73 has declined from approximately 1,400 to just over 1,115 since 2009, the number of SD73 students moving on to TRU is predicted to remain stable. TRU’s overall enrolment is also projected to remain stable.

“Our strategic enrolment planning for the last little while has been a little more ad hoc than we’d like it to be, so now we’re moving into a little more structured approach to really look at markets, look at where there are opportunities, and make the proper investments to make sure we’re getting the biggest return on our recruitment and marketing dollars that we possibly can,” said TRU’s VP Administration and Finance Matt Milovick.

On-campus enrolment has declined five per cent since 2011, but Open Learning enrolment has increased 24 per cent.

Despite the overall stability of enrolment, some programs are rapidly expanding while others are in decline. According to the budget report, Faculty of Science course enrolments have increased 20 per cent since 2011. Faculty of Science Dean Tom Dickinson said that his faculty is recovering from a downturn in recent years making the greater enrolment even more impressive.

“We’ve created additional pathways for people interested in engineering. We created a second year in engineering transfer studies where students can get a direct path to the University of Victoria,” Dickinson said.

Dickinson also pointed out expanding Architecture and Engineering Technology and Respiratory Therapy programs as contributing to the department’s growth.

In the Faculty of Human, Social and Educational Development, which was recently renamed the Faculty of Education and Social Work, there was a 34 per cent decrease in the same time period.

Faculty of Arts enrolment has started a slight decline following its peak in 2010.

Trades enrolment has returned to levels similar to 2012, following a spike in enrolment in 2013 and 2014.

The document also includes projections for future enrolment through the year 2020. Science enrolment is projected to continue to rise through that year, while enrolment in the Faculty of Arts and School of Business and Economics is poised to decline steadily.

The number of international students on campus is projected to decline at the same pace of other on-campus enrolment, continuing to account for approximately 25 per cent of course enrolments.

Declining enrolment may pose a challenge for the university in the years to come both in terms of revenue and maintaining low-enrolment programs. TRU’s 2016 budget cites declining enrolment as a specific budget challenge and the Digital Art and Design program folded in 2015 due to low enrolment.

Lower revenue will be an issue as the university also pledged in the budget to reduce their overall operating costs by approximately $3.3 million in 2016 and 2017.