By Kristine Hamlyn
School enrolment continues to drop across the province.
Newly appointed Education Minister John Ottenheimer released
the most recent preliminary student enrolment statistics
for the 2003-2004 school year on Nov. 13. The enrolment
figures indicated a drop in each of the province’s
11 school districts and an overall 3.1 per cent decline
for the province as a whole.
The figures were no surprise to Memorial University. In
fact, a strong recruitment and retention strategy has
already been built into the university’s strategic
framework in response to the continually changing demographics.
While the potential pool of Newfoundland and Labrador
high school students eligible to apply to Memorial is
getting smaller, Dr. Michael Collins, associate vice-president
(academic), is confident in the abilities of Memorial’s
Office of Student Recruitment to not only maintain but
increase Memorial’s student population.
“It is clear the important role the re-vamped Office
of Student Recruitment plays in making sure the university
has the appropriate numbers of students for its programs,”
said Dr. Collins. “The recruitment team realizes
the importance of recruiting as many eligible Newfoundland
and Labrador students into the university as possible,
while at the same time recognizes the increased capacity
to attract more students nationally and internationally.”
As stated in the university’s strategic framework,
Memorial will act to improve its capacities to recruit
and retain able students, with all that this implies about
engaging its alumni, communicating strengths more effectively,
creating a more welcoming and supportive environment for
learners, giving unflagging attention to improving the
quality of student life and increasing the potential for
The district of Northern Peninsula/Labrador South saw
one of the largest percentage changes, declining 5.3 per
cent to 2,909 students from 3,073 last year.
Avalon East experienced the largest change in actual numbers,
declining 504 students since last year.
Preliminary numbers for 2003-04 indicate there are only
81,634 students enrolled in the K-12 system this year,
2,634 less than 2002-03.