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Provost David Graham presented an overview of enrolment planning and management to the Board of Governors on April 16. This work is allowing the university to have a clear vision of both its present enrolment levels across the university and to project results as far as three years into the future. This is important in terms of multi-year budgeting and in setting recruitment goals for particular areas of study. An accurate profile of our student body can also help determine where best to recruit and even the linguistic mix that we want to have. It is also key in planning faculty recruitment.
Enrolment planning at the university began in 2005-06, originally driven by Financial Services with support from the Institutional Planning Office. The major step forward has been the close involvement of the entire academic sector, with results now flowing to the Budget Review Working Group chaired by Nathalie Laporte, University Controller.
The results to date have been very encouraging. Faculties originally projected flat enrolments but in the face of substantial increases in applications, the Provost, in consultation with the President, set a target increase for 2009-10 of 500 weighted FTEs. Simply put, an FTE (full-time equivalent student) is equivalent to 30 credits of instruction. Weighted FTEs are calculated by multiplying FTEs in a given course or program of study by a factor that varies according to the government’s estimation of the relative cost of offering it across the Quebec university network. We have surpassed that target.
Enrolment at Concordia continues to grow: from 31 000 students in 2000-01 to 41 000 in 2009-10. Raw FTEs increased by 38% in this period and weighted FTEs by 44%. Online learning through eConcordia in selected areas and the School of Extended Learning’s Continuing Education credit certificate programs are also contributing to this growth. SEL has also played an important role in improving retention.
The most exciting result has been the recruitment of research graduate students. It was made the top priority and the Provost reallocated $1 million to increase support for graduate students in research. This priority approach will strengthen our research efforts, help attract strong faculty members and provide more long-term and generous funding from the Quebec government. Doctoral admissions were up 18% this year in both Arts and Science and ENCS, 23% in JMSB and 50% in Fine Arts.
Continuing analysis is also showing that every Faculty has the capacity for additional graduate research students. However, it also indicates that we are near or at capacity in many undergraduate programs across the Faculties, although the planning process has identified some potential growth areas.
“Enrolment planning and management lets us know how many students we have, where they come from, how many per professor, where they are and what languages they speak. It is helping us identify where we can grow, where we should grow, where we can reduce our efforts and how best to focus our recruitment efforts and our strategic planning,” concluded Graham.