STU enrollment down 7%

The numbers are in and St. Thomas took a hit in enrollment this year.

The Association of Atlantic Universities calculated Atlantic full-time undergraduate enrollment is down 1.6 per cent, with a 4 per cent drop in New Brunswick.

“The same factors that are having an impact on St. Thomas are having an impact on other universities in the province,” said communications director Jeffrey Carleton.

STU itself is down 6.8 percent, or 162 students, from last year. This is the second year of decline for STU, after two years of stability and growth. Carleton said this concern is at the forefront of the university’s mind.

“STU being down 162 students is small, but it’s significant for us,” said Carleton. “In the past, we’ve been able to bounce back from those declines. It’s just a significantly tougher situation.”

The Association’s report does contain some bright spots. Full-time international students are up 14.7 percent at STU, more than any other university in the province. In the past three years international students have jumped 50 per cent.

The same success is not with domestic students. It’s tough to get domestic students at STU because there are fewer high school graduates and more students attending trade schools. Carleton said the biggest reason is the perception that a university degree, specifically a liberal arts degree, is useless. Carleton said the university will be addressing this issue head-on.

“We’re going to be a lot more aggressive in getting the data out there that supports the contention that we know to be true, that a liberal arts degree is absolutely essential in today’s economy.”

Carleton said St. Thomas is working hard at assessing the situation and reversing the numbers. It’s a complex issue with equally complex solutions.

“We’ve been looking at this for several years. There’s no one answer. If there was one answer, every university in New Brunswick would have it.”

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