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Historic growth

Graduate student applications, enrolment grow at record pace

By David Sorensen

Enrolment in graduate programs at Memorial continues to rise, topping the 4,000-student mark for the first time, a 5.5 per cent increase over fall 2018.

The count includes 3,762 graduate students registered in programs at the St. John’s campus, 75 at Grenfell Campus and 207 at the Marine Institute.

Undergraduate enrolment grew as well, increasing 0.4 per cent over 2018.

There are now 13,620 undergraduate students at Memorial for a total student population for all campuses of 18,558, the most since 2013.

Dr. Aimée Surprenant, associate vice-president (academic) and dean of graduate studies at Memorial, says graduate students are primarily attracted to the educational atmosphere and the quality of the academics with whom they work.

“The growing demand for Memorial’s graduate programs is a decade-long trend and a direct result of our reputation as leader in graduate education,” said Dr. Surprenant. “Our distinguished faculty supervisors, recent capital investments and exceptional student services all contribute to making Memorial one of the most desirable places to pursue a graduate degree.”

International student growth

In fact, applications for graduate school are growing at an unprecedented rate.

Since 2008, applications have increased more than 300 per cent and are up 33 per cent since last year.

A big part of the rise in the number of graduate students is the growth in international graduate enrolment, a deliberate outcome under the university’s Strategic Internationalization Plan to attract and retain global talent.

A total of 1,613 international students from 91 countries were enrolled in graduate programs in fall 2019, an increase of 13.8 per cent over fall 2018 and an increase of almost 300 per cent since 2008.

“The surge in international graduate student numbers is a sure sign of our growing global profile as a world-class teaching and research university, and directly supports the province’s Population Growth Strategy,” said Sonja Knutson, director of Memorial’s Internationalization Office.

“Through our immigration advising, career services and family supports, we are ready to support our students and their families on campus and as they transition to the workforce and life in the province.”

Global benchmark

In 2015, Memorial University ranked first among Canadian universities in the International Student Barometer, the global benchmark for international student experience, in the category of support from the graduate school.

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, Memorial awarded $9.2 million in fellowships and assistantships to graduate students, up from $5.2 million from the 2008-09 fiscal year.

And Memorial is outpacing the regional trends, as well.

According to the Association of Atlantic Universities, between fall 2008 and fall 2018, Memorial’s graduate enrolment increased by more than 54 per cent compared to an average growth in graduate enrolment of around 11 per cent among the Maritime universities.

“I belong here”

Christabel Nyarwaa Baah is one of the students who came to Memorial from overseas specifically because of the programming.

After completing her undergraduate degree at the University of Ghana, Ms. Baah discovered Memorial at an education summit in her West African home.

Ms. Baah considered a “couple of other universities” but chose Memorial “not only because of its research and learning excellence, but because this institution is exceptional,” she said.

“From the vibrant culture of creativity and innovation in terms of learning to the receptive nature of the people, the amazing student-supervisor relations; the list goes on and on. There’s that strong sense of community that makes you feel ‘I belong here!’”

Ms. Baah is now studying political science with a research focus on gender and politics.

To learn more about graduate programs offered by Memorial University, please visit the School of Graduate Studies website.


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