PEI

UPEI sees enrolment of Island students drop: MPHEC

The University of Prince Edward Island is continuing to do a good job of attracting off-Island students, but saw its enrolment numbers drop when it came to students from P.E.I.

Drop in local students leads to lower enrolment overall

UPEI is attracting fewer Island students. (CBC)

The University of Prince Edward Island is continuing to do a good job of attracting off-Island students, but saw its enrolment numbers drop when it came to students from P.E.I.

Figures released Wednesday by the Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission show enrolment fell at UPEI in 2015-16, and that drop is mostly due to fewer Island students at the university.

Enrolment that year was 4,188 students. In 2014-15 enrolment was 4,272 students. 

UPEI enrolment changes
Total -2.0%
Islanders -8.0 per cent
Maritimers -0.7%
Non-Maritime Canadians +10.0%
International +15.6%

Enrolment from other Maritimers is down slightly, but it is up significantly with non-Maritime Canadians and international students.

Fewer Islanders at the university means overall enrolment has dropped 2.0 per cent. The drop in P.E.I. residents is 8.0 per cent.

Fewer youth, and fewer choosing university

MPHEC says demographic shifts have had an impact on overall enrolment, which is down 2.3 per cent across the Maritimes.

The university participation rate of Maritime residents, 21.8 per cent in 2015-16, was down 0.1 percentage point over the previous year.

"In some cases, there's probably a trend of students actually going more towards the college route, to community college," said commission chair Jean-Francois Richard.

"There also might be a significant amount of students who are going to university in other jurisdictions across Canada."

Demographic challenges

The population of young people also shrank, with 2.2 per cent fewer 18 to 24 year olds in the region in 2015-16. That decline was not quite as steep on P.E.I., where that demographic dropped just 0.9 per cent.

A statement from UPEI pointed to the demographics as one reason behind the decline.

"UPEI has been working diligently to overcome demographic challenges, especially with the decline in the number of high school students in the Maritimes, by looking to other markets in its recruitment efforts," it read.

"Much of UPEI's success in 2016-17 can be attributed to our focus on international recruitment over the last four years," it continued, adding that over the last four years, the international student population has grown by 50 per cent, and that international students make up 21 per cent of the university's student population.

While enrolment was down in all three provinces, the reasons varied.

New Brunswick saw its largest decline in international students, while Nova Scotia saw its biggest drop in students from other Maritime provinces.