A surge in late registrations has led to a record enrolment for Memorial University, including increases at Grenfell Campus, the Marine Institute and the St. John’s campus.
While official registration numbers aren’t typically tallied until the end of the drop and add date on Sept. 23, the first day of classes saw Memorial peak at 19,429 students, only the second time student numbers topped 19,000 at the province’s only university.
It is the largest year-over-year growth since 2003.
Memorial President Dr. Vianne Timmons says the enrolment figures are a reflection of the times, but also show that today’s students are resilient and focused on the future.
“Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, today’s students are looking beyond the pandemic and are working to improve their future by seeking a post-secondary education,” she said.
“Growing enrolment is a positive sign for the university, but also for the economic future of the province.”
Grenfell Campus enrolment is up almost five per cent while the Marine Institute has 3.8 per cent more students this fall than last.
While the number of graduate students remained relatively stable, there are currently over 700 more undergraduate students at Memorial than fall semester 2019.
Tom Nault, university registrar, says Memorial has been supporting students throughout the COVID-19 pandemic while offering a primarily online or remote learning environment for students.
“Initiatives including the Kickstart Your Degree and MUN 101 programs are only a few examples of how bolstering and maintaining our undergraduate enrolment efforts is a top priority for the entire Memorial community,” he said.
One area of increased enrolment is from former students who have not enrolled at Memorial for the last five years but are more than halfway through a degree program. Office of the Registrar staff have been reaching out to those individuals, and had much better uptake than expected.
“We had several students come back who were a course or two away from graduation,” said Mr. Nault.
“The remote learning environment has really enabled students to come back and work towards their degrees.”
Steady graduate enrolment
Given the challenges of travel during the pandemic, and the fact that a larger percentage of graduate students come from outside the Atlantic bubble, maintaining student numbers at last year’s level is positive news, says Dr. Aimée Surprenant, the dean of the School of Graduate Studies.
“We’ve been growing our graduate program enrolment,” she said. “Even with a stable year, we are up 10 per cent over the past five years.
“Graduate applications are up 12 per cent and enrolment of new Canadian graduate students is up 14 per cent over last fall semester,” she continued.
“The global demand for graduate education at Memorial remains very strong, and we continue to offer new and innovative programs at all of our campuses. Over the long term, we expect graduate enrolment will continue to increase.”