Enrolment up at Dalhousie

- September 29, 2010

international students

Jasrene Ezra Padman, Ain Adilliah Kamaludin and Meelashini Auaduer are Dalhousie students from Malaysia. Asked why they decided to come to Dalhousie, Meelashini responded: "Well, Dalhousie is in a really beautiful place, Halifax. It's not too busy, it's not too quiet and it's student oriented. The international student diversity is really good so it helps us all blend in and fit in better."

(Bruce Bottomley Photo)

It's a banner year for enrolments at Dalhousie. The university has recorded a record-high number of students arriving here with an increasingly diverse student body. Up by 812 students from last year, Dalhousie is seeing its greatest enrolment jump since the “double cohort” in 2003 when the Ontario government eliminated Grade 13, sending two full years-worth of university freshmen out into the world.

Latest figures indicate there were 12,951 undergrads and 3,860 graduate students enrolled at Dal.

To what can we attribute this year's jump? One can point to a number of factors. One important aspect is the steady growth in “first-years.” While official numbers won’t be published until October, it's clear there has been a substantial increase in the number of high school students and transfer students choosing Dalhousie.

Asa Kachan, Registrar and Assistant Vice President, Enrolment Management, points out that the overall enrolment increase also reflects a higher number of students in the upper years.

“Because we experienced larger intakes last year and the year before, we are seeing more growth at the upper level as those students move into years two and three of their programs,” she notes. “We are working hard to support their academic success as they continue through their degrees.”

International students

It's been known for some time that the numbers of graduating high school students from this region is dropping, and in the not-too-distant future will drop even more precipitously. Fortunately for an institution like Dal, the student body is geographically diverse and this year more than ever. Our market share in Nova Scotia has risen and we have seen considerable jumps in the numbers of new Dal students hailing from Asia and the Middle East, as well as from across Canada. While numbers from central and western Canada keep rising, the numbers of international students is soaring to record highs, up around 420 over last year – around 275 from Asia alone with another 100 students from the Middle East.

The folks at International Student and Exchange Services (ISES) help international students adjust to living in Canada and going to school at Dal.

“International orientation is our key to reaching out to these students,” says Margaret Wood, International Student Advisor. “It's a chance for these folks to see and meet people and to learn about the community. This year we had over 400 attend, a record.”

Dal also offers a peer program before international students arrive. The program provides a link to current Dal students to learn more about the university and what to expect one they get here. There is also a series of “learning in Canada” sessions offered by Dal Advocacy Services, the libraries, the DSU, the Writing Centre and ISES.

Much of the excitement about Dalhousie, seen increasingly around the world, is due to the efforts of the recruitment team. “We’re delighted at the success of our recruitment efforts this year,” says Ms. Kachan. “The recruitment and admissions team works very hard to build relationships with the thousands of prospective students they meet and correspond with through the application cycle, and it feels great to be able to welcome so many of them as Dalhousie students. I had lunch with two first-year students last week who spoke so positively about choosing Dalhousie, their academic programs and the student societies they’re getting involved it. That’s the joy in what we do.”

Reaching out to prospective students is a team effort, one shared by everyone here, from the recruiters to the faculty showing off their expertise and teaching skills, demonstrating the quality of teaching here, to current students and alumni advocating on behalf of their alma mater.

“Our recruitment efforts wouldn’t be possible without support from Communications and Marketing, and the engagement of faculty and staff across campus,” adds Ms. Kachan. “Every professor who invited a prospective student to sit in on their class and took some time to get to know them, every tour guide, and every volunteer who participated in Open House should feel proud.”


With so many new students coming to campus there are certainly challenges in making sure the resources are there accommodate everyone.

However, it's important to note that these increases don't occur in a vacuum. Dalhousie has been planning for increased enrolments for a number of years, building new infrastructure and planning classes accordingly. For example, a new residence on LeMarchant Street is being planned as part of an effort to help meet the ever-growing demand for residence spaces.

"As a result of the increase in enrolment, more classes were added over the summer and additional staff members were added in key areas to make sure students could access registration and advising support," says Ms. Kachan. "The International Student and Exchange Services office is also increasing its staff to improve our support of international students. We’re committed to serving our students well."


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