2016-2017 AAU Preliminary Survey of Enrolments

October 14, 2016

HALIFAX, NS. – Universities continue to attract growing numbers of both graduate and international students to campuses and communities across Atlantic Canada. 

Graduate student enrolment has increased 4.1% year-over-year (8,991) and international student enrolment has grown by 4.2% year-over-year (13,213).  It is the 17th and 9th consecutive years respectively for increases in those two categories. 

The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) compiles the Preliminary Survey of Enrolments (the Survey) every fall from its 16 member universities. 

Dr. Alaa Abd-El-Aziz, President and Vice-Chancellor, University of Prince Edward Island and Chair, AAU, attributes continuing enrolment growth to the positive reputation of the region’s universities. 

“The AAU’s 2016 Graduate Retention Study indicated that 87% of our graduating students were satisfied with the quality of their education.  That is very positive and a result that drives my colleagues and I to work harder than ever at ensuring our students continue to have a high quality education and a memorable, life-changing experience.”  

The same study also revealed that nearly a third (29%) of graduating students intend to pursue further education. 

The Survey saw full-time undergraduate student enrolment decrease by -1.1% year-over-year (64,307).  On a slightly brighter note, full-time first-year student enrolment increased by 0.5% year-over-year (12,807), the first increase in that important category since 2012. 

Dr. Abd-El-Aziz said the incremental decrease in undergraduate students is attributable to the overall declining demographics across the region. 

“While we are heartened by the small increase in first-year student enrolments, the declining domestic population is a challenge facing all of our universities. We must continue to work hard at communicating the high value of a university education to our youth and their families in terms of future employment opportunities, lifetime earnings, better health outcomes and community engagement,” said Dr. Abd-El-Aziz.  “Despite the regional demographic challenge, the Atlantic provinces still have among the highest university participation rates in the country (NS - #1; NL - #3; NB and PEI - #5). 

Dr. Abd-El-Aziz added, “Our universities have an increasingly important role to play, along with governments and the private sector, in helping create conditions across the region that encourages our graduates (more than 18,000 annually) to stay in Atlantic Canada.  We learned from the AAU’s Graduate Retention Study that more than 80% of graduates would stay in their province of study if an attractive job was available.  That is a tremendous base of talent to build upon and aligns with the Atlantic Growth Strategy’s pillar of immigration and population growth.” 

The Association of Atlantic Universities (AAU) represents the interests of universities across the region, ensuring public visibility for the important role they play in preparing future leaders of our communities, in path-breaking research and innovation, and in contributing to the economic, cultural and social prosperity of life in Atlantic Canada.   


For further information, contact:
Peter Halpin, Executive Director
(902) 425-4238/(902) 497-4419