Public policy schools across Canada buoyed by Liberal 'sunny ways'

University programs that educate future bureaucrats say there's an increase in both the number of applications and the quality of applicants to professional schools across the country this year.

Applications up 20 to 25 per cent across the country for public policy programs

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has promised to rebuild the public service and that's led to more enthusiasm among prospective civil servants. (David Donnelly/CBC)
University programs that educate future bureaucrats say they're seeing an increase in both the number of applications and the quality of applicants to professional schools across the country this year.

"It is a little bit surprising," said Kathy Brock, a professor at Queen's University and president of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration.

"We have noticed an increase over the years, but there's a new enthusiasm."

Brock's group represents 23 schools from B.C. to Newfoundland. 

She said most of the public administration programs are reporting a 20 to 25 per cent increase in applications this year compared to last and believes the new federal government and its 'sunny ways' can take some of the credit.

Professor Kathy Brock teaches policy studies at Queen's University in Kingston. (Queen's)

"Students seem to be enthusiastic about going into the federal public service again. They see it as a choice employer, somewhere they'd really like to start," she said.

"Up to this year, we've seen students tending to favour the provincial government, municipal governments or the non-profit sector. Now we see them targeting the federal sector as well."

Brock said schools that aren't seeing that big of an increase in the number of applications are telling her the quality of applications is higher this year.

Queen's doubling size of program

Hilary Roberts has already landed a job inside the federal bureaucracy and that's even before she officially receives her diploma from the Masters of Public Administration program at Carleton University. 

Roberts said in fact, many of her fellow graduates have new jobs and several are inside the federal government. 

"There was definitely a buzz around the school [that] maybe there are some more hiring opportunities coming up now, looking at the new ministers mandates, so that seems pretty exciting," said Roberts.

Rob Shepherd is the professor of Public Administration at Carleton University. (Julie Ireton/CBC)
Carleton University and the University of Ottawa are experiencing a renewed interest as well.

Both have public administration schools that are seeing a more than 20 per cent increase in applications.

"Right now schools of public policy and administration are benefiting from a number of key factors. One of which being in Ottawa, we're benefiting probably the most from a change in the federal government," said Robert Shepherd, professor and incoming president of the Canadian Association of Programs in Public Administration.

At Queen's, Brock said they plan to double the size of their public administration program over the next couple of years from 60 to 120 admissions a year.