The president of Cape Breton University (CBU) says that because of demographic changes in Canada, the university will increasingly look to educate students from around the world online so it can remain viable.

David Wheeler says with falling local enrolments, CBU is having conversations about what the institution will look like down the road.

"I'm sure we'll still have those 18 year olds who'll show up bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and stick around for four years. I'm sure we'll have those — and that's wonderful — but the likelihood is that there's going to be fewer of those kinds of students for demographic reasons," he said.

Wheeler says online courses, such as CBU's new master's program in sustainability, innovation and creativity will allow students to never step foot on campus.

"We could have hundreds of students learning with CBU who never even see the campus," he said.

Wheeler says CBU is also talking about setting up satellite campuses in other parts of the world, such as its Canadian International College in Cairo, Egypt, where CBU degree courses are taught by local professors.

Wheeler also says he's spoken with other Canadian universities about establishing a shared space in London, England.