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University enrolment continues to climb in Canada

Number of full-time students up 3.7 percent, with gains in every province.

by Léo Charbonneau

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Source: Association of Atlantic Universities, Conférence des recteurs et des principaux des universités du Québec, Council of Ontario Universities, Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada.

The trend continues to be up, up and up for university enrolment in Canada. According to numbers compiled by the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada, there are 32,000 more full-time students enrolled at Canadian universities this fall compared with the fall of 2009, an increase of 3.7 percent. Enrolment is up in every province.

Students, parents and employers recognize the value of a university degree, and it’s this recognition that “continues to drive Canada’s student enrolment numbers, which have in-creased in every region of Canada and at every level of study over the last year,” said Herb O’Heron, director of research and policy analysis at AUCC.

Over the last 15 years – since 1995 – full-time enrolment at Canadian universities has increased by 57 percent.

Canada now has 898,000 full-time university students. Of that, 755,000 are studying at the undergraduate level. Undergraduate student enrolment grew by 26,400 students or 3.6 percent from 2009 to 2010. At the graduate level, there are 143,000 students, an increase of 5,500 students, or 4.0 percent, from last year.

The increased demand for a university education is a direct response to a shift in Canada’s labour market that began in the 1970s and continues today, said Mr. O’Heron. In the last 20 years alone, there were 1.5 million new jobs in professional and management occupations in Canada, and 1.3 million were filled by university graduates.

“By comparison,” said Mr. O’Heron, “jobs have grown at a much slower pace in many other occupations, and jobs for people who have not gone beyond a high school diploma are disappearing.”

Even during the economic slowdown from September 2008 until September 2010, there was an increase of 280,000 net new jobs for university graduates, he said, while 260,000 jobs for those without a university education were eliminated.

Download the AUCC brochure (PDF): The value of a degree in Canada's labour market

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What I think is being overlooked in this article is the economic forces driving the poor to get an education. As the article pointed out, 280 thousand jobs were created for those with formal education while 260 thousand were eliminated for those without education. Balance that out, and there's 20 thousand new jobs for 26 thousand new university graduates.

It is true, jobs for the unskilled are disappearing as self scanning checkouts take away even the most mundane cashier job. Where does that leave myself, as a perspective university student? I've worked with to many people with their bachelor's at the bakery or their masters at the local election, both of us, skilled and unskilled, trying to earn some extra money to get by. Will there be jobs to work when we're done?

Posted by Clever's Take, Nov 5, 2010 2:28 AM


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