Enrolment: raising the bar

If all goes according to plan, York University will meet its enrolment targets for new admissions for the 2006-2007 academic year. That means that 7,100 new faces will wander the halls of Canada’s third largest university this September.

Left: York is expecting 7,100 new faces this fall. Photo by Bethany Hansraj.

The July statistics released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre show that 8,376 secondary school students made York their first choice for the 2006 academic year, down slightly from 8,561 students in 2005, for a difference of 185 students. Applications from non-secondary students rose, with 4,920 students who selected York as their first choice. That figure is up from 4,783 in 2005 for an increase of 137 students. (For a full breakdown of second, third and fourth program choice statistics, visit the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre Web site.)

While applications to the University are down for secondary school students who listed York as their first choice, the quality of students applying to York is up, says Rob Tiffin (right), York vice-president students. “We’ve increased our cut-off averages for almost every program by one to two per cent and that is significant,” says Tiffin. “We are experiencing fewer applications from students with lower averages, however. In terms of what we are seeing today, our numbers show that we are on target for the fall.”

York is also on target for its applications from non-secondary sources. “Those are students who are transferring to York from other universities and community colleges, and mature students,” said Tiffin. “Our enrolments for upper-year admissions are also within our expectations. York’s undergraduate enrolment this year is in line with its plan to slightly reduce and stabilize new undergraduate admissions while increasing graduate enrolment.

“A phenomenon that is more pronounced this year is the higher than anticipated retention rate between the third and fourth years. The 2003 class, the first of the double cohort, has exceeded the University’s expectations for retention,” said Tiffin. As a result, he said, many of York’s faculties are now re-jigging courses to accommodate the higher numbers.

“The double cohort students were very focused when they applied to the University and have remained focused throughout their time here at York,” said Tiffin. “All of York’s faculties are seeing positive numbers for returning students.”

The traditional model of a typical university student is also changing, said Tiffin. Many students are opting to go to school year-round. This year, summer class enrolments at York have experienced a surge in numbers as students work to fast-track their degrees or balance their course load with part-time work.

Left: York students relax in the Student Centre. Photo by Bethany Hansraj.

“In addition, we will be, very shortly, rescinding offers to students who have not maintained their final admission average in high school,” said Tiffin. “Students need that academic strength to cope with the rigors of a postsecondary education and they understand the requirement to maintain their average because York has communicated consistently with them to ensure they understand what is required of them.”

The University is experiencing its share of the province-wide decline in applications from international students. “Although like the rest of the province York has experienced a decline in applications from international students attending secondary school programs in Canada, the University believes that this group will also be very close to target in September,” said Tiffin.