Marketing efforts and changes in process prompt rise in applications

Michael Bluhm, AVP Strategic Enrolment and University Registrar. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

Michael Bluhm, AVP Strategic Enrolment and University Registrar. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

Applications to on-campus programs at TRU are up by 13 per cent over last year. Michael Bluhm, AVP Strategic Enrolment pointed to the university’s “Find Your TRU” campaign as one reason for the increase.

Bluhm said that on top of the marketing campaign, the increase in applications might be explained by the fact that this is TRU’s first year completely engaged with the ApplyBC program. That program is offered by BCcampus, an organization that allows students to apply to and transfer between institutions in the province.

Now, instead of having to apply through TRU’s own website, prospective students throughout the province need only to create an ApplyBC account, choose an institution and fill in an application.

Bluhm does warn however that a drastic increase in applications right now may not carry over to actual registrations in the fall.

“My caution there is that we are part way through the application process,” Bluhm said. “We’ll see many students apply, many of those students will actually achieve admission with open admission requirements, but only a subset of those students would actually accept an offer and come to TRU.”

Despite this, Bluhm affirms that these recent applications have been fairly well-distributed across all departments.

“To me it means that there is generally more awareness and accessibility to the application process and that it is not just one particular field seeing a spike where we might not have a great capacity for,” Bluhm said.

Enrolment to programs in arts, education and social work has fallen in recent years. Law is another story.

“For us, our enrolment has gone up each year,” said dean of law Brad Morse. “What I see from the data and what I’ve been told as well is that if you took the law school out of the equation, the enrolment in TRU would go down noticeably over the past five years.”

Yet TRU’s Open Learning has the strongest growth overall. Since 2011, Open Learning’s enrolment has increased by 24 per cent. This is something Bluhm directly attributes to modern cultures moving towards a digitized world.

“It would probably follow a trend, a guess on my part, that people today have a willingness to engage in online anything,” Bluhm said. “I do all my Christmas shopping online now. Why not learn online too?”

Unlike on-campus registration, Open Learning requires only registration to be enrolled in a course. For this reason, Bluhm said, the yield for Open Learning applications is much greater. Due to TRU’s strong online learning presence in Western Canada, applicants to Open Learning come from as far away as Ontario.

“Students are always looking for alternative ways to pursue their education where they don’t necessarily have to be on a campus somewhere for that four-year stretch to get that degree,” Bluhm said.