UPEI is expecting a drop in enrolment this fall, but that’s being partially offset by a spike in international students.
Overall enrolment is down 1.8 per cent. The Bachelor of Arts program has seen a 21 per cent drop in the number of new students this year compared to last.
The Bachelor of Education program dropped from 182 students to 112. The once highly competitive program will have dozens of empty seats.
However, international enrolment increased by 13 per cent.
UPEI's registrar said the arts decline was a part of a wider issue.
"That is not unlike other universities in our own jurisdiction and across the country. There are fewer students applying to arts," Kathy Kielly said.
"I believe there's the onus on the university to better articulate for the students what the advantages of doing a program in the arts are and how that relates to an opportunity for employment."
Kielly said news of recent graduates struggling to land teaching jobs likely plays a role in the decline in education students.
"I think that's probably a part of the picture you're seeing, that students find they have less opportunity within their jurisdiction to get a teaching position," she said.
Science opens doors
Emily Sullivan is a camp counselor over the summer. When she returns to UPEI in the fall she’ll study science, despite starting in arts.
"I thought there would be more doors open if I went into the sciences. I could do research, lab work, go into the medical field, whereas I had no idea what I was going to do if I stayed in arts," she said.
Bader Al Ramah is an international student. "I like it because it's very quiet and safe and people are very friendly," he said.
Yuqing Jaing, another international student, said it was the quality of the education. "Here I got a better computer science education," she said.
Overall, UPEI has seen significant growth in its student population over the last decade.