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Student View

Challenging demographics

By Catherine Burgess

The Telegram recently published an article titled Fewer students on the books which highlighted the province’s shrinking K-12 enrolment. The author writes that due to outmigration and low birthrate, there is almost half the number of K-12 students there were in the province 20 years ago, with a great deal of this decline being felt in rural areas.

The article goes on to focus on an advocacy group’s difficulty in obtaining information about teaching resources, but what is interesting here is the issue with student enrolment.

Yes, Newfoundland and Labrador faces challenges with outmigration and this is sure to affect the school system. But the Telegram’s article conjured questions for this student journalist about where Newfoundland and Labrador’s only university would fit into this student enrolment situation.

Statistics Canada shows that the university has seen a slight decrease in enrolment since the 2006-07 academic year. Yet Memorial remains an attractive study destination for students, whether they come from this province or are international students.

Memorial University of Newfoundland is the largest university in Atlantic Canada. It has campuses in several locations throughout the province and across the pond, offering over 100 programs for students to choose from. With more than 17,000 students from over 80 countries, the university is clearly doing something right in the realm of student recruitment. So what is it that is attracting students to pursue their studies at Memorial?

A sample of students interviewed last week listed programs suited to their interests and low tuition rates as the top reasons for choosing to study at Memorial. In addition, nearly all students interviewed who come from this province mentioned location as one of their top reasons for attending Memorial, hinting that being able to remain close to home makes Memorial the first choice for many.

Memorial’s marketing and advertising campaigns are surely catching the public’s eye. The university’s advertising is colourful, bold, attention-grabbing and a little edgy at times, depicting a community where students can study (in the ads, quite literally) on the edge.

Newfoundland and Labrador is facing an outmigration issue, and we are seeing fewer students enrolling in the K-12 system, which may catch up with the university at some point. In the meantime, Memorial proves that it is still capable of attracting new students to an academic community that is “on the edge.”

Clearly, MUN is doing something right.