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Supporting growth

Past decade sees significant growth in graduate applications, enrolment

Teaching and Learning

By Jennifer Batten

During the past 10 years, graduate student enrolment at Memorial University has increased by 56 per cent.

The number of master’s students studying here has increased by almost 53 per cent; the number of doctoral students has increased by more than 63 per cent during the same time frame.

Increases across all units

Memorial is leading the way in graduate growth across Atlantic Canada.

According to the Association of Atlantic Universities’ survey of preliminary enrolments, Memorial’s graduate enrolment grew by almost 54 per cent since fall 2008. This compares to an average growth in graduate enrolment of 9.9 per cent among the Maritime universities.

Fall semester 2017 saw 790 new graduate students enrolled at Memorial, the largest cohort in the university’s history and an increase of about three per cent over 2016 and about 60 per cent more than the fall 2008 cohort.

“Over the past 10 years, graduate applications have tripled and international graduate applications have increased fivefold.” — Dr. Aimée Surprenant

Since 2008, graduate enrolment at Memorial has increased across all faculties, schools and campuses.

“The total number of graduate applications increased by 11 per cent over last year,” said Dr. Aimée Surprenant, dean of the School of Graduate Studies.

“Over the past 10 years, graduate applications have tripled and international graduate applications have increased fivefold. The growing global demand for our graduate programs, particularly research-intensive master’s and PhD programs, reflects Memorial’s commitment to world-class teaching and scholarship.”

Highest percentage

International graduate student enrolment has increased significantly during the years.

The Canadian Association for Graduate Studies noted last year in its 42nd Statistical Report that Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest percentage of full-time international master’s and doctoral enrolments among universities in Canada.

A total of 1,346 international students from 92 countries are enroled in graduate programs as of fall 2017, an increase of more than 200 per cent over the past 10 years.

“We are here to welcome and support students from all over the world.” — Sonja Knutson

To help respond to this growth, Memorial has taken steps to ramp up its supports for international students, including immigration advising, career and professional skills development, and family services.

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.

“Memorial’s efforts to recruit, train, and retain global talent are directly aligned with the institution’s Strategic Internationalization Plan and the province’s Population Growth Strategy,” said Sonja Knutson, director of the Internationalization Office at Memorial. “We are here to welcome and support students from all over the world and we recognize the wonderful contributions they bring to our province.”

Graduate program creation

Enrolment in thesis-based master’s and doctoral programs has increased by 49 per cent since fall 2008.

Total fellowships awarded to eligible graduate students in these programs increased by 64 per cent during the past 10 years to $8.5 million in the 2016-17 fiscal year. Much of the growth has been enabled by new graduate program creation, a specific initiative under the Memorial’s Strategic Research Intensity Plan.

Since 2008 Memorial has admitted students to 20 new graduate programs.

New graduate programs at the Marine Institute and Grenfell Campus have been important to both growth and vitalization of research across Memorial. Between the two campuses, 237 students are registered across 11 master’s and doctoral programs.

On Sept. 12, Memorial’s Senate approved a number of new graduate diploma programs in Business Administration, Engineering and Applied Science, and Humanities and Social Sciences.

This is consistent with the recently released Council of Graduate Schools’ report on graduate enrolment and degrees that suggest that “micro-credentials” are increasingly popular and meaningful for both students and the workforce.

Dr. Surprenant notes that while graduate student enrolment and applications have increased significantly over the years, improving the graduate student experience and graduate student programming are important and persistent goals for Memorial.

“The work of Memorial’s academic and service units have had a direct impact on graduate student success,” she said.

“Over the past several years, we have seen a steady decrease in the proportion of graduate students leaving their programs without finishing. Working with Memorial’s Centre for Institutional Analysis and Planning, we’re paying careful attention to the direct feedback and experiences of our graduate students from start to finish. And through Memorial’s strong network of graduate student leaders, graduate officers, faculty supervisors and staff, we are constantly looking for new ways to improve learning during and readiness for life after graduate school.”

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