Nova Scotia

Trump effect? Nova Scotia schools seeing spike in U.S. student applications

Smaller universities and colleges have seen applications from American students double this year.

Smaller universities and colleges have seen applications from American students double

Mount Saint Vincent University, pictured here, hasn't changed its recruiting but has seen growth in American student applications nonetheless. (Mount Saint Vincent University/Facebook)

Universities and colleges in Nova Scotia say they're seeing a spike in applications from American students. 

Mount Saint Vincent University, the University of King's College, Cape Breton University and the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design have all seen the number of U.S. student applications double from last year.

But can it be attributed to the election of Donald Trump?

CBU's director of enrolment services thinks there is a connection between the interest and what's happening south of the border.

"We think that can be directly attributed to the nervousness in the socioeconomic climate in the U.S. right now," said Eleanor Anderson.

"It's all indicators that students in the U.S. right now and prospective students are looking for other options."

Online traffic also up at CBU

Anderson said not only did the school's application numbers from the U.S. double, so did its online traffic.

"We wanted to make sure that it wasn't hype only, that there was serious interest. We believe that we've evaluated it for long enough that we can make a sound determination that this interest isn't going away."

​Gillian Batten, communications manager at MSVU, said the school also saw the number of U.S. applications double.

The number of students from the United States applying to Cape Breton University has almost doubled from last year. (CBC)

"Of course, it's impossible to tell with certainty what is driving this change, but we haven't changed our practices this year with regards to recruitment in the U.S," Batten said in an email.

NSCAD saw a 44 per cent increase with a jump from nine to 14 American applications overall.

"We are reluctant to attribute a single factor in the undergraduate application increase, as every student has an individual story to tell," said Jim Barmby, NSCAD's associate vice-president of student experience and registrar.

"While there may be a correlation to events in the United States, there is no evident causation for the increase."​

The University of King's College saw a 57 per cent increase, from 28 applications this time last year to 44 in 2017.

"But before that is entirely attributed to Trump, we also invested more resources into recruiting in the eastern states this year," Adriane Abbott, director of advancement, said in an email.

Little change at bigger universities

While the Nova Scotia Community College saw a jump from 30 to 40 applications, Saint Mary's University said it noticed no substantive change from last year and Dalhousie University said it is seeing a "slight increase."

"The university doesn't officially report on application numbers throughout the admission cycle as they can fluctuate weekly and don't always equate to offers of admission or to students enrolling and attending classes in the fall," said Janet Bryson, senior communications manager at Dalhousie University.

Bryson also said the number of applications, offers and confirmations for international students is up overall.

From applications to enrolment

The next challenge for schools in Nova Scotia will be to turn those applications into students enrolling in September.

Anderson said the increased interest has led to CBU recruiters heading to the U.S. for the first time.

"We're going to make sure our effort is worth it and we'll give it a really good shot," she said.