Another jump in demand for Ontario universities

Still popular route to jobs and critical to economic prosperity

TORONTO, Jan. 18 /CNW/ - Continuing a decade-long trend, secondary school students are applying to Ontario universities in ever-increasing numbers and making more university and program choices as well, according to statistics released today by the Council of Ontario Universities (COU).

The number of high school applicants rose 2.7% to 86,542 from 84,300 last year and the number of university choices grew 2.1% to 375,278 from 367,739 last year. Since 2000, there has been a 46.2% increase in applicants. These statistics include all applications received by the January 13 deadline for secondary students, although the Ontario Universities' Application Centre will continue to process applications received after the deadline and forward them to the universities.

The total number of university applicants will get another boost later this year when mature, returning, transfer and international students apply. This group, which is called non-secondary school applicants, is also tracking 2.7% higher and could represent more than 45,000 applicants by the end of the application cycle in September. These students are diverse, with some presenting secondary school marks achieved in previous years, some applying from other provinces and countries, and others submitting transfer applications based on their desire to change programs or upgrade their educational credentials.

"The growing demand for admission confirms the relevance and value that universities continue to provide in the lives of students and their parents," says Sheldon Levy, Chair of Council and President and Vice-Chancellor of Ryerson University. "Graduates of Ontario universities possess the creative, technical and critical thinking skills to be leaders in the knowledge economy, where about 70% of jobs will require a postsecondary education."

Demand for university spaces has continued to increase over the last decade, with 124,841 new full-time undergraduate and graduate students added to the Ontario university sector since 2000. Continued demand presents an opportunity to increase the proportion of people with higher education who economists agree are a key driver of economic growth and prosperity.

"To meet these demands, enhanced government investment in the sector is required to accommodate the growth and to ensure that the quality of the learning experience is not undermined by taking more and more students on board," says Prof. Bonnie M. Patterson, President of COU. "We are working with the provincial government to maximize its goals for a more highly educated population and to ensure that students get what they need from their university experience to become the highly-qualified leaders who are essential to our economic future."

"We recognize that these are challenging economic times for the province but as the Ontario Task Force on Competitiveness has said in a recent report, the recession has not changed the imperative for developing our human assets - if anything it has heightened the need," says Patterson.

SOURCE Council of Ontario Universities

For further information: For further information: For Sheldon Levy: Ken Wadia, (416) 979-5242,; For Bonnie Patterson: Lisa Krawiec, (416) 979-2165 ext. 239,

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