Enrolment up

Officials say transfer students help increase STU population

Sarah Bulman gave the University of Prince Edward Island a chance.

TheSummerside-native spent her first two years studying arts at the Charlottetown university, but her thoughts kept drifting back to her first choice – STU.

Bulman applied to transfer to STU after her second year, drawn in by the idea of going to a liberal arts university.

“With St. Thomas, it’s all liberal arts, so all the students have the same amount of respect for one another, even if their majors are different,” Bulman said.

Bulman is one of 208 students who chose to transfer to STU this year, up from 204 students last year.

New students to STU, including transfer students, contributed to a 2.6 per cent spike in enrolment this year, reversing a six-year enrolment decline, said STU spokesman Jeffrey Carleton.

“The increase comes from a combination of a solid new class of undergraduates [including] high school students, transfer students, returning students and adult learners.”

A total of 2,449 full-time students are enrolled as undergraduates this year, in comparison to 2,386 last year. The figure includes the social work and education faculties.

The numbers come from a survey released Friday by the Association of Atlantic Universities. The advocacy organization, which represents 17 Atlantic universities, releases enrolment figures every October.

“We’re cautiously optimistic that we’ll be able to continue that in the future,” Carleton said.

Garry Hansen, director of institutional research at the university, compiled STU’s numbers for the study. He said he wasn’t surprised to see the enrolment increase.

Hansen explained that enrolment runs on a four-year cycle. STU had a particularly rough recruitment year in 2006, the class that graduated this year. The loss of the smaller class coupled with a strong intake of new students this year contributed to the increase.

“So much of it is dependent on the continuing students that you can kind of project if you get a sort of normal intake, you’re going to end up there. It’s good news,” he said.

The average student should care about enrolment numbers because more students paying tuition gives the university more money to improve programs, Hansen said.

“They care because that tuition is paying for the services that they are taking advantage of and the faculty, the administration and those kinds of things,” he said.

As for Bulman, who was recently hired as the Students’ Union’s chief returning officer, she’s happy with her decision to transfer to STU and is looking forward to her final two years.

“At St. Thomas, everyone seems to know clearly where they are headed and it’s encouraging and supportive,” she said. “I regret not coming here straight out of high school.”

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