On Sept. 6, the University of Saskatchewan put out a media release stating that enrollment at the institution had increased by three per cent for the fall term. To accommodate, university administration says they are thinking ahead about everything from classroom sizes to tuition rates.
According to the release, there are 21,318 students currently enrolled at the U of S, a number that is expected to increase to over 25,000 by June 2019. Alison Pickrell, assistant vice-provost of strategic enrollment management, attributes this enrollment increase to the university’s local and global reputation as well as continuous efforts to attract students.
“I think that the U of S is becoming a choice for applicants not only in our own province but also outside and internationally,” Pickrell said in an interview with the Sheaf. “The university also has a strategic growth agenda — we purposefully want the university to grow, and to that end, we are creating opportunities for students to enroll.”
Pickrell states that the university is considering how such a growing population may impact the university’s ability to maintain the quality of education and the student experience.
“In the classroom, we look at things like space, classroom size and technology, so there’s appropriate infrastructure to support growth, but you also have to think about the quality of the teaching experience,” Pickrell said. “We don’t want to grow for growth’s sake — we want to grow in a planned way.”
The release also identified that Indigenous student enrollment has increased by 11.3 per cent, with 2,672 Indigenous students currently enrolled. As well, international student enrollment is up by 5.9 per cent, with 2,368 International students currently enrolled.
Pickrell says that the university is committed improving the experiences of Indigenous and international students through initiatives that encourage interactions with the rest of the student body and looks to Gordon Oakes Red Bear Student Centre and the International Student and Study Abroad Centre as places for these initiatives.
“It’s important for both of those communities to feel part of the university campus. We have activities and programs where Indigenous and international students can interact with each other to learn from each other,” Pickrell said. “I do believe we can do more programming in that area.”
Paying for tuition is a concern for all students and a factor in low retention rates at universities across the country. Pickrell states that the U of S is looking into how tuition rates might attract or deter prospective students.
“There is a tuition task force on campus that is considering things like the percentage that is set for differential tuition for international students,” Pickrell said. “Our focus is the student experience, and if students are leaving because they can’t afford to stay here, that’s something we need to be thinking about.”
Despite all the challenges brought about by the enrollment increase, Pickrell believes that the university’s commitment to planned growth is a result of understanding its importance in the local and global community.
“We know that the city of Saskatoon is projected to grow significantly over the next couple of decades, and we know that we need additional spaces to educate a growing population… The university also has a role in contributing to knowledge globally,” Pickrell said. “We are looking out to the future — we are preparing for it instead of just letting it happen.”
Ana Cristina Camacho / Staff Writer
Graphic: Jaymie Stachyruk / Graphics Editor