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Canada. Slower Growth in University Enrolment

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Just over 1,066,000 students were enrolled in Canadian universities during the academic year 2007/2008, up 0.6% from the previous academic year. This is a much slower rate of growth than the annual average increase of 2.9% since 1998/1999.

Of these 1,066,000 students, 613,600, or 57.5%, were women and 452,600, or 42.4%, were men. The proportion of women, slightly lower than the past years, was similar to 2002/2003.

The number of male students increased 1.3% in 2007/2008, faster than the rate of growth among women (+0.1%).

Undergraduate and graduate enrolment

Total undergraduate enrolment amounted to 812,700, down 0.1% from the previous academic year. Women accounted for 58.1% of undergraduate students.

Among men, undergraduate enrolment increased 0.7%. Among women, it declined by an equivalent 0.7%, the first decrease recorded for women in undergraduate enrolment since 1997/1998.

At the graduate level, enrolments increased by 5.0% nationally. In Ontario, it increased by 11.6%, accounting for most of the national growth.

About 101,000 students were enrolled in a master's program in 2007/2008, up 5.4% from the previous academic year. Women accounted for 55.2% of enrolment at the master's level.

At the doctorate level, enrolment rose 5.4% to 40,400 in 2007/2008.

Men outnumbered women in doctorate programs. In 2007/2008, men accounted for about 54% of doctorate registrations, a proportion that has remained the same since 2000/2001.

Full-time and part-time enrolments

Full-time university enrolment rose 0.8% to 796,400 in 2007/2008.

The number of full-time registrations declined in the Atlantic provinces, while the largest gains occurred in Manitoba (+5.3%) and British Columbia (+2.7%).

Part-time university enrolment increased 0.1% to 269,900. Four provinces recorded gains: New Brunswick (+5.5%), Prince Edward Island (+5.3%), Ontario (+2.8%) and Quebec (+0.4%).

Fields of study

The top three fields of study by number of registrants accounted for one-half of total enrolment in 2007/2008. These fields were social and behavioral sciences, and law; business, management and public administration; and the humanities. These fields of study have been in the top three since 1992/1993.

The largest category, social and behavioral sciences, and law, represented 17.8% of total enrolment, or 189,800 students.

The largest increase (+3.5%) occurred in the health, parks, recreation and fitness field.

Enrolment fell in six fields: personal improvement and leisure; humanities; mathematics, computer and information sciences; personal, protective and transportation services; other; and visual and performing arts, and communications technologies, the latter of which was the first decline since 1996/1997.

The decline in the mathematics, computer and information sciences field continued a long-term trend. Enrolment was down 4.6% to 32,400, matching levels in 1994/1995. This field accounted for 3.0% of total enrolment in 2007/2008, the lowest proportion since prior to 1992/1993.

Source:Statistics Canada, July 13, 2009

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