Applications to Ontario universities rise to record levels.



    TORONTO, Jan. 19 /CNW/ - Ontario high school students applied to
university in record numbers this year. The Council of Ontario Universities
reported that 84,300 university applications were received by its application
centre, a 1.1% increase over the record set in 2008 and 42% increase over the
59,197 that applied in 2000. This continues a pattern of steady and
significant growth that has been occurring in Ontario, though not in other
Canadian jurisdictions. The only year in which the total was higher was the
"double cohort" year of 2003 when 102,618 applied following the cancellation
of grade 13 causing two classes to graduate in the same year.
    "People increasingly see the importance of a university degree to
building a successful career in the knowledge economy, particularly when
economic conditions are challenging," says Dr. Peter George, Chair of the
Council of Ontario Universities and President of McMaster University. "We will
need to continue working closely with the Ontario government to ensure that we
can accommodate the students and provide them with a high quality learning
experience at a time when university budgets are under stress."
    The category of non-secondary school applicants, which includes former
high school students, mature, transfer and out of province students, saw a
remarkable 9.9% increase in applicants to 21,128, even though this group does
not have to comply with the same January deadline as Ontario high school
students. If this trend continues, the non-secondary applicants this year will
ultimately exceed the record total of 44,165 in 2008. So far, about 3,500 of
the 21,128 applicants in this category are Ontario high school students, who
have taken a year out before going back to school. This appears to be a trend;
many of these students take a few courses in their year out so they can
increase their chances of getting into the program and university they most
want.
    During economic slow-downs in the past, there have typically been
increases in the proportion of people wishing to attend university.
    "Applicants know that this is a good time to attend university and get
that degree or to upgrade their skills," says Dr. Paul C. Genest.
"Universities are committed to ensuring that students have access to a great
learning environment that will expand a student's vision, hone their critical
thinking and allow them to have meaningful careers."
    "While robust enrolment is a good news story, it also puts pressure on
universities that are struggling to maintain programs," says Dr. Genest.
"Despite dramatic cost-cutting and efficiency measures, university operating
budgets are under severe strain. Financial markets have dealt a sharp blow to
pensions and endowments that support bursaries for students and research
chairs."
    Dr. Genest added that, "we know from the $6.2 Billion Reaching Higher
plan and more recent investments how committed the McGuinty government is to
student success and to research. We look forward to working closely with
government as they consider the stimulus measures that will help keep our
universities dynamic and able to accelerate Ontario's recovery through
innovation, developing talent and regional economic activity."





For further information:

For further information: or Interview Arrangements, Jennifer Grass,
Council of Ontario Universities, T: (416) 979-4341, C: (416) 707-6787,
jgrass@cou.on.ca; Dr. Paul C. Genest, President & CEO/Président-directeur
général Council of Ontario Universities/Conseil des universités de l'ontario,
T: (416) 979-2165 ext. 256, pgenest@cou.on.ca


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