If the enrollment trends continue as they have for the past five years, the University of Saskatchewan can expect approximately 20,000 students to enroll in 2015-16, a staggering figure when compared to only 70 students in 1909-10, the university’s inaugural year.
Student enrollment is not the only department seeing a progressive increase in its numbers over the years, as tuition rates also eclipse their century-old counterparts. According to the U of S Archives, a full year of tuition for the College of Arts and Science in 1910 was only $30 compared to approximately $6,500 in 2015. The increase in both enrollment and tuition fees, however, also brings about an increase in new student services, activities and opportunities.
Patti McDougall, vice provost teaching and learning, is eager to reveal all that the university has to offer its new and returning students in the year ahead.
“Every year I get really excited about the changes we are going to see at the U of S, and this year we have got a new president coming in, in October; we have got a lot of activity with regard to classroom renewal, we’ve got a new facility opening; change is what keeps us moving forward,” McDougall said.
There are several new initiatives to be excited about, according to McDougall, including the all-new capacity to create your student ID online, which will help with avoiding lineups and streamlining the orientation process.
Other initiatives that will return this year include various colleges’ official ceremonies, which welcome new students into the department and their future profession, such as the White Coat Ceremony in the College of Medicine and the Hard Hat Ceremony in the College of Engineering, among others.
With the new year also comes the new U of S Students’ Union and Graduate Students’ Association executive teams, both of which work to actively represent and advocate for students’ well being.
“I’m really excited about the USSU and the GSA we have this year. They’re strong, they’re ready to go and what that means is that we have already begun working together in order to create a successful year,” McDougall said. “I have been very lucky to have been able to work with strong student leadership over the past couple of years and I’m thinking this year is looking really bright in that regard.”
McDougall also plays a role in what the university refers to as its strategic enrollment management.
“The way the university manages enrollment, it’s not just about recruiting and how many people we can bring in, it’s also about the entire student life-cycle, and it’s about retaining students and it’s about the programs that are offered,” she said.
In an effort to offset tuition and enrollment increases, McDougall notes that the university is always reviewing student funding at the graduate and undergraduate level.
“We did a big project last year to look at grad funding and to determine how we compare to other universities. We always compare ourselves to other institutions in what we call the U15, Canada’s top discovery-led institutions, so student funding is always a top project there.”
Along with the anticipated opening of the Gordon Oakes-Red Bear Student Centre this year and new initiatives surrounding mental health and sexual assault awareness, McDougall is also looking forward to working with incoming U of S president, Peter Stoicheff.
“He’s an amazing leader, an extremely intelligent man. I think he knows the U of S really well. I think he really has what it takes to lead the institution and he’ll have the support of the community,” McDougall said.
Although McDougall insists there is almost an excess of initiatives and events to experience this year, with orientation week just around the corner she wanted to provide new students with this parting advice:
“If you come to the university and you attend your classes and you get on the bus to go home or you walk home and that’s it, you’re really missing opportunities. You’re missing opportunities to experience the full U of S context.”
Image: Jeremy Britz/Graphics Editor