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Fewer Maritimers are choosing university after finishing high school. (CBC)

Demand for a university education has declined in the Maritimes, according to a study by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission.

The MPHEC study looked at enrolment as far back as 2003 and found the trend was particularly strong in Nova Scotia, where demand fell three percentage points to 21.1 per cent.

Demand by New Brunswickers decreased 1.4 percentage points to 18.3 per cent. Demand by Islanders was relatively steady, down 0.5 percentage points to 18.6 per cent.

"We're now in a position to say, well indeed, fewer Maritimers are [going to university] and it looks like the trend is fairly solid, a slight downward curve," said MPHEC CEO Mireille Duguay.

"We know that cost is playing a factor, we know that the choice of new types of post-secondary education is also entering into the picture, we've heard a lot of talk about the skills shortage in terms of the trades."

Duguay says the commission is currently surveying grade 12 students to get a better understanding of how they are making their decisions about post-secondary education.