As of the first day classes on Thursday, Sept. 3, enrolment at the University of Saskatchewan (USask) for Fall 2020 is up by two per cent and on track to be the university’s highest enrolment ever.
“We expect this to be the sixth straight year of planned enrolment growth,” said Alison Pickrell, assistant vice-provost of strategic enrolment management. “It goes without saying, we were watching the spring, summer and fall term enrolment numbers even closer this year, and the numbers tell us students continue to see the value of obtaining a university degree, particularly during a pandemic.”
By the end of the academic year in April 2021, Pickrell said student enrolment should exceed 26,000, the highest enrolment in USask history. As of the first day of classes, undergraduate enrolment has increased significantly (2.4 per cent) with growth among both Canadian and international students.
Graduate enrolment on the first day of classes is similar to last year. Pickrell said there has been a significant increase in Canadian graduate students (2.5 per cent) whereas, international graduate student enrolment is down by five per cent.
“We recognize this is a very challenging time for international students,” said Pickrell. “While thrilled to see our international undergraduate student numbers are up, we will continue to work on drawing international graduate students back to USask. We are hoping changes to federal guidelines in the coming months will remove at least some existing barriers.”
Indigenous student enrolment is up 1.1 per cent as of the first day of classes, with all of the growth at the undergraduate level.
“Our existing enrolment plan is certainly focused on a growth agenda,” said Pickrell. “To that end we have added seats in certain programs, however, given the effects of the pandemic, we are pleasantly surprised to see evidence of growth in these challenging times. A full analysis of our fall term enrolment numbers will take place after our census day in October.”
Pickrell said retention rates are the next crucial enrolment statistics to monitor and understand.
“Faculty and staff have been working tirelessly over the summer to prepare engaging and meaningful learning experiences for students,” said Pickrell. “We continue to expand the tools and platforms available to support remote teaching and advance evidence-informed online teaching practices. We need to make sure students feel confident in how to access the many supports available to ensure their success in this virtual environment. We have enhanced online resources for new students and we’ve learned new and innovative ways to bring people together and build virtual communities.”