The reality of Laurier’s 2014 enrollment numbers

I had set out on an adventure over the past month or so trying to answer the question: Is Laurier’s enrolment down this year? At the time, I did not fully understand the difficulty in answering this question. But I am going to attempt to explain the logistics and reality of Laurier’s undergraduate part-time and full-time registration this school year.

There are three important factors that you need to understand the difference between to follow this article properly: application numbers, confirmation numbers, and enrolment numbers.

A university’s application number is the amount of people – whether it be high school students, international students, mature students, etc. – that have taken the time to apply to that specific school. On average, high school students apply to approximately three or more universities, and one could assume we would find the same trend with the other groups. Therefore, this is not an extremely reliable number when considering how many students will actually go to that university.

Then there are confirmation numbers. These are a step up from application numbers because these students have actually taken the time to confirm they are going to go to that university, but, students can drop out of the confirmed school easily without losing any money. Therefore, this is also anunreliable number to go by.

Lastly, there are enrolment numbers. This is the amount of students going to class in that specific university. Again, students are able to drop out but with consequences such as losing tuition fees, so the dropout rate is less extensive then with the application and confirmation numbers. Therefore, this would be the most reliable number of the three.

The most difficult process of this investigation was getting my hands on the numbers. All my questions went through Laurier Brantford’s associate director of communications and public affairs, Kevin Klein. I spoke with Laurier’s acting university registrar, Ruth MacNeil in person, as well as Laurier’s director of recruitment and admissions, Holly Cox through email. I am very appreciative for all their help, but some of the data was hard to attain; proving how complicated this issue truly is.

I stress that some of these numbers are only rough estimations as there is a month in between the current data and last year’s numbers. It is not until Nov. 1st that each university Ontario-wide will be handing in their finalized enrolment numbers for the fall term (the number found on each university’s registrar’s report). Klein defined it well when he said “They’re basically, sort of, rolling set of numbers. So you have to make sure your comparing apples to apples.” Which is another hard thing to do when the data is inconsistent (some information is just first-year students coming straight out of high school, some are in percentages and some as standard numbers).

Let us start off with the unreliable number, the applications. As of Sept. 11th Laurier’s application numbers for first-years coming straight out of high school are down about 5.1 per cent from last year’s numbers, according to Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. This puts Laurier’s application ranking as the fifth worst out of the 28 universities listed on the statistical chart.

To move a step up in reliability, we have the confirmations. Laurier’s director of recruitment and admissions, Cox said we are down about 5.4 per cent from the confirmation target number Laurier-wide. As of Sept. 11th Laurier’s confirmation numbers for first-years coming straight out of high school are down about 13.5 per cent from last year’s numbers, according to Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. That puts us at the fourth worst confirmation number ranking out of the 28 universities listed on the statistical chart.

Finally, to get to the numbers that actually matter. As of Sept. 12th Laurier Brantford’s overall enrolment numbers are up about 136 students compared to last year’s November 1st  projection, said Laurier’s acting university registrar, MacNeil. MacNeil explained this number is estimated to drop about 2 per cent before Nov. 1st, leaving Brantford up approximately 1.5 per cent by then. MacNeil estimated the Waterloo campus will be down approximately 250-300 enrolled students come Nov. 1st after taking into account the dropouts in the month between.

When it comes down to it, Laurier’s application and confirmation numbers were definitely down this year, as were many other universities across the province. While looking at statistical charts on Ontario Universities’ Application Centre, I could see that the majorityof universities have had the same decreasing trend as Laurier. What Laurier does have though, is a great admissions and recruitment office. The expected drop in enrolment numbers due to our low application numbers was not seen as drastically. Somehow, our admissions and recruitment office had succeeded in turning a large amount of the lowered application numbers into enrolled students and that is something to take note of. But the most important factor for our campus is that through all of this, Brantford’s numbers are up! Our campus is growing and expanding into a place that people want to be and it is showing through this province-wide hardship of low university applications.

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