Sault College is experiencing some of its highest enrolment numbers in nearly two decades. President Ron Common told the college’s board of governors that Sault College has witnessed an increase of 9.8 per cent in overall full-time post-secondary enrolment from last year – surpassing this year’s enrolment target by 190 students.
“I might argue, if I wanted to, that this is largest post-secondary class we’ve had in 19 years, because of the fact that many of the 390 part-time post-secondary students are actually full-time students that through accommodation, they’re taking less than a full-time load as part of the accommodation strategies,” Common said. “So in fact, easily we can say that overall our post-secondary enrolment is the highest, in fact, that’s it’s been in 19 years.”
“What happened 19 years ago to make it higher, that was when Algoma Steel was in serious financial trouble with massive layoffs and people were coming back and being re-trained at Sault College.”
Common attributed much of the enrolment spike to the rise in international students, which contribute over $6 million annually to the college.
In 2012, Sault College had just four international students. This year, 429 international students are studying at the school.
That’s a jump from the 260 international students attending the college during the 2017-2018 academic year.
Common told the board of governors that international student enrolment could very well be in for another increase come next semester.
“Based on our applications for January start, we’re confident that we will have over a total of 500 students by January, because we have a large number of applicants,” Common said.
Vice President Academics and Research Colin Kirkwood told reporters following the open portion of Thursday’s board of governors meeting that the college has worked hard to make Sault College a “first class” destination for both national and international students over the past decade, thanks to the college’s re-branding and recruitment efforts.
“Internationally, we’ve worked really hard to increase the number of recruiters that we have in other countries,” Kirkwood said.
He also told reporters that 150 international students have applied to pursue graduate certificates or studies related to their chosen field at Sault College after finishing their programs.
“We’re finding more students are actually finishing one program here and applying for a second program, so they’re staying,” Kirkwood said.
The college has also reported increases in apprentice and part-time student enrolment.
Common says that more than 100 students at Sault College are varsity athletes, which bring in about $850,000 in tuition and grants to the college annually.
“You could say that I was quite pleased with the enrolment increase, because we certainly are aware of the decline in youth population in northern Ontario, and we don’t have demographics working for us, so to have a 9.8 per cent increase is very gratifying,” Common said.
Sault College now has a total enrolment of 7,185 students.