Enrolment jumps at Algoma University

Algoma University campus in May 2018. BRIAN KELLY SunMedia

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Enrolment at Algoma University’s three campuses is up significantly from last fall with more than 40 per cent of Algoma’s students coming from other countries.

There’s 1,940 full-time equivalent students in Sault Ste. Marie, Brampton, Ont., and Timmins compared to 1,016 in September 2020.

“I think the positive messaging that’s been coming out of Algoma University and everything that we’ve been doing is really starting to hit home,” said director of communications Brian Leahy. “Awareness of the programming that we’re offering in Sault Ste. Marie, Brampton and Timmins is really starting to come through and I anticipate that that’s going to continue into the future.”

Parents, guidance counsellors and international agents “know what we have and the word is getting out,” he adds. Specific numbers weren’t available, but Leahy said student numbers from the Sault are up.

“I think we were seeing a considerable increase in applications as things started to ease up a bit,” said Leahy of the boost in student numbers. “We were more confident in the numbers that were going to come forward as actual students.”

Nearly 60 per cent of students, 1,100, are studying in Brampton. Slightly more than 40 per cent, 815, are at Algoma’s Sault campus. One per cent, or 25 students, are in Timmins.

International students represent 43 per cent of Algoma’s fall 2021 enrolment. There are 840 full-time equivalent students from more than 50 countries working on degrees or certificates. “Nearly all” are studying in-person, said Leahy. Seventy per cent, or 585, international students are at Algoma’s Brampton campus. Most are from India and other countries in southeast Asia. The remaining 255 are in the Sault. Students studying in Timmins are from that city or surrounding region.

Algoma originally forecast 2,360 FTEs for 2021-2022. That number was revised in early September to 3,297, an increase of nearly 40 per cent, due to stronger than anticipated spring and fall student numbers, said Leahy. Winter enrolment is still to be added to the current 1,940 FTEs to confirm total actual student numbers for the academic year.

“We have put sound strategies in place to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Leahy in an email to The Sault Star. “Because of those strategies we have managed significant enrolment growth despite the challenges posed. That said, that pandemic is impacting the rate of growth, particularly at our Brampton campus where domestic recruitment has been a challenge. Algoma is still a relatively new entity for direct from high-school perspective student markets in the Peel Region.”

In-person events typically held during secondary student recruitment efforts are on hold due to the pandemic.

“We expect growth at our Brampton campus to accelerate once pandemic restrictions are lifted,” said Leahy.

About one-third of programming is being delivered remotely. Twenty-one per cent of students are studying completely online.

“There’s a bit more flexibility,” said Leahy of program delivery. “One thing the pandemic taught us is the power of online learning, but still the importance of that in-person delivery at the same time.”

No COVID-19 outbreaks have been reported at any of the campuses.

“As we’re seeing the numbers across the province decrease, we’re growing more and more confident that we’re on a good path,” said Leahy. “We just need to continue doing what we’re doing and being diligent.”

A COVID-19 vaccination clinic was held on the Sault campus the second week of September. “For the most part” students were vaccinated before classes resumed. “Some” needed to get their second shot when the fall term started, said Leahy.

Lake Superior State University enrolled 602 new students for the fall term. Twenty four of those students are Canadian, bringing total Canadian enrolment to 54, said executive director of marketing and communications Peter Szatmary in an email. Lake State expects to have its head count finalized by month’s end.

The university “encourages all students, faculty, and staff” to get vaccinated for COVID-19 and influenza and follow guidance from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to avoid COVID-19 transmission. LSSU’s health care centre does COVID-19 testing and gives COVID-19 vaccinations.

Ron Common, president of Sault College, gives an enrolment update to the post-secondary institution’s board of governors on Thursday.


On Twitter: @Saultreporter