Toronto immigration key to growing university applications
Posted: January 19, 2009, 1:17 PM by Shane Dingman
Joanne Laucius, Canwest News Service
OTTAWA — More Ontario high school students have applied to university this year than in any other than 2003, the last year of Grade 13, according to figures released Monday.
About 84,300 applications were sent to the university applications centre in Guelph, Ont., by the deadline last Wednesday. That number is a 1.1% increase over the record set in 2008 and a 42% increase over the 59,197 who applied in 2000, according to the Council of Ontario Universities.
This continues a pattern of steady growth for Ontario universities, said council president Paul Genest.
In the past, economic downturns have produced increases in the numbers of people who want to go to university, said Mr. Genest.
He has a few other explanations for why Ontarios numbers remain so high, despite the fact that enrolment is dropping in high schools in many districts in the province. While school boards in many areas are closing schools, the population of university-age young people in the Toronto area is still growing. Many universities in other parts of the province see Toronto as an important market for recruiting students.
Immigration patterns suggest many new Canadians have university degrees, and encourage their children to go to university, said Mr. Genest.
At the same time, other provinces are seeing stagnant or declining numbers, he said. Enrolment has flatlined in Alberta and is dropping in Atlantic Canada.
The only year in which Ontarios total was higher was the double cohort year of 2003 when 102,618 applied to university when both Grades 12 and 13 students graduated in the same year after Grade 13 was cancelled. There was also a significant increase in the number of applicants no longer in high school, including former high school students, mature, transfer and out-of-province students. Applications from this group jumped almost 10%, to 21,128.
About 3,500 of those were applicants who took a year off after high school. This appears to be a trend, according to the council. Many students take a few courses in their year off to improve their chances of getting into the program or the university of their choice.
The average student applies to four programs and there are now 20 universities in the province.