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REF NO.: 213

SUBJECT: Applications to Memorial University up by 13 per cent
DATE: Aug. 26, 2003

It's back to school season again and it looks like more people are heading back to school, or at least to Memorial University. The university's undergraduate application figures indicate a 13 per cent increase for the fall semester. The preliminary numbers also show a slight increase in applications from high school students in Newfoundland and Labrador.

In addition, more students from outside the province applied to go to Memorial this year. There was a significant increase in applications originating from Ontario, probably as a result of the double cohort, the term used to refer to the estimated 70,000 more high school graduates this year as a result of the elimination of Grade 13 in that province.

"The increased number of applicants is a sound endorsement of the quality-education and attractiveness of Memorial University and our province," said Memorial President Dr. Axel Meisen. "The challenge is now to register the applicants and to turn our plans to receive the additional students into reality."

The 13 per cent overall undergraduate increase represents about 700 more applications over last year's figures. "I think we are doing very well, especially when you consider the province is facing a declining population and the resulting pool of potential students has become smaller," said Maire O'Dea, acting university registrar. Memorial currently has an overall student population of 17,000 students.

"Having had two recruiters based in Ontario, and our more in-depth approach regarding prospective students in our in-province market helped us a great deal," said Sheila Devine, director of Memorial's Office of Student Recruitment.

The increase in the number of students applying to Memorial's Grenfell College campus in Corner Brook was also significant. Grenfell saw an increase of 107 applicants over last year. Ms. Devine credits the application increase at Grenfell to the college's improved recruitment strategy. "Grenfell's recruiting initiatives and the university's overall marketing efforts to highlight the benefits of a small campus setting with a unique array of degree programs are proving to be successful," Ms. Devine said.

The university received a total of 248 applications from Ontario-based students, an increase of 153 (62 per cent) over last fall's number. Ms. Devine said that Ontario students are being recruited by other Canadian universities and some within the United States as well, making Ontario a challenging market for Memorial recruiters. Still, Ms. O'Dea indicated a satisfaction with the most recent numbers from Ontario, noting that recruiting in that province is a relatively new initiative for Memorial and that, while our distinctive culture and specific areas of strength may be a drawing card, Memorial's geographic location may pose difficulties for some of these students.

The university received a total of 248 applications from Ontario-based students, an increase of 153 (62 per cent) over last fall's number. Ms. Devine said that Ontario students are being recruited by other Canadian universities and some within the United States as well, making Ontario a challenging market for Memorial recruiters. Still, Ms. O'Dea indicated a satisfaction with the most recent numbers from Ontario, noting that recruiting in that province is a relatively new initiative for Memorial and that, while our distinctive culture and specific areas of strength may be a drawing card, Memorial's geographic location may pose difficulties for some of these students.

"We are also looking closely at the numbers," added Ms. O'Dea. "We'll examine the number of applications we received from particular areas and look at how many of these applicants actually become students who stay to complete their degrees. This research will give us a better idea of the key areas where we might be the most successful in our recruitment efforts", she said. "These are the things we'll be examining with the assistance of the office of Student Recruitment as they develop their recruitment plan for next year."

While Memorial has realized an increase in international applications, the university is still pursuing its target in this category. Ms. Devine attributes this to a number of factors including the war in Iraq and SARS. "We are responding to change and making modifications," Ms. Devine said. "The Office of Student Recruitment is stepping up efforts in the foreign markets by increasing the number of international recruitment visits, returning to areas where we experienced considerable success in the past, and we'll be enlisting the help of Memorial's faculty and staff who may be visiting other countries for research purposes or related activities."

Realizing the value of a culturally diverse student body, the Registrar's Office, Student Affairs and Services, and academic departments have been working closely with Student Recruitment to raise the profile of recruitment within the internal university community. "It is important for people to know that recruiting is not just salesmanship but raises the university's profile generally," Ms. O'Dea said. "This way people will know provincially, nationally and internationally that Memorial is a great university and there are very good reasons to come here. A combined effort from the university community as a whole will surely see application numbers continue to rise in the future."

Dr. Meisen also notes that higher enrolments at Memorial will have a beneficial effect on the province as well. "We are pleased that over 70 per cent of our graduates stay in our province upon graduation, thereby helping to build the economy and create new opportunities for all the people of this province."

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