by Chelsea Coupal
Student enrolment at the University of Regina has increased for the first time in five years.
At the end of the first week of classes, 11, 993 students were enrolled at the university—439 more students than last fall semester, a 3.8 per cent increase, according to the university’s fall census count.
Brooke Breti is one of these new students. In the Riddell centre, amidst backpack-toting students chitchatting and sipping coffee, Breti, a first-year education student, spoke about her choice to attend the U of R. At 18, she is fresh off the high school graduation stage. However, Breti said she made the decision to attend the U of R years ago.
She heard the U of R had a well-respected education program. Her older sister, Amy Breti—now a fourth-year student—enrolled in the U of R’s education program and enjoyed it. And the campus is only an hour’s drive from Raymore, Breti’s hometown.
A few weeks into her freshman year, Breti said she is happy with her decision.
Barb Pollock, the university’s vice-president of external relations, said she is “very pleased” with the increased enrolment. “Our goal was to stabilize (enrolment) and we did more than that.”
Over the past year, the university has intensified its student recruitment and marketing strategies, said Pollock. For example, the university has tapped into the popularity of social media websites, and now operates its own Flickr photo page, YouTube channel, and Facebook page.
While an increased emphasis on student recruitment may have helped boost student enrolment numbers, the economic downturn may have also played a role, said Pollock.
Although Saskatchewan has remained fairly resistant to the worldwide economic crisis, 14, 080 residents received Employment Insurance in July, which is 4, 310 more people than in July 2008—a 44 per cent increase, according to Statistics Canada. Fewer jobs and stiffer job markets might be what’s nudging people back into the U of R.
Or it could be that Saskatchewan is simply more populated than in previous years, Pollock said. Saskatchewan gained another 4, 491 people in the second quarter of this year, pushing the provincial population above 1.03 million for the first time since 1987, according to a recent Statistics Canada report.
From her office at the University of Regina Students’ Union, Katie Honey, the union’s vice-president of external affairs, spoke optimistically of the enrolment increase. “I do think it is definitely exciting for us. An increase is a lot better than staying the same or a decrease and it just means that people are more interested in coming to our institution.”
Honey, 22, is working towards a business degree with a major in human resources. The born-and-raised Reginan attended the University of Saskatchewan after high school to play volleyball for the U of S Huskies. A sports lover, and unsure of what she wanted as a future career, she enrolled in kinesiology.
The volleyball wasn’t what Honey expected, so when she heard about the U of R’s strong business program from friends and family, she decided to move home and switch majors.
“It has been so much easier for me to get involved in things (at the U of R). I know more people here. I just feel like things are a little more tight-knit,” she said.