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Reaching an enrolment milestone

Dal's student population crosses the 17,000 mark

- November 1, 2011

Dalhousie's newest students form a rainbow of colour during orientation week in September. (Nick Pearce photo)
Dalhousie's newest students form a rainbow of colour during orientation week in September. (Nick Pearce photo)

Dalhousie has hit a new milestone. University enrolments have continued the upward trajectory of recent years and this year Dalhousie has crossed the 17,000 threshold.

The university's Strategic Focus [PDF] set the ambitious goal to “expand total enrolment to 17,000 students by September 2012” and thanks to creative marketing efforts, continued outreach from the university's recruitment team all over the globe and Dal's many ambassadors enthusiastically shouting the school's compelling stories from the rooftops, Dalhousie is there a little ahead of schedule.

As was the case last year, the growth is across the board, with a continued spike in the numbers of international students across all years of study, especially from Asia and the Middle East.

Total student enrolment is currently at 17,333, a big jump up from 16,693 at the same time last year. 13,457 of them are undergrads (up from 12,825), with 3,876 grad students (up from 3,868). Much of this growth is among international students. The number of international students has jumped from 1,770 to 2,104 with the hottest areas of growth being being China (up 221 students to 669), Saudi Arabia (up 38 to 254), India (up 23 to 197) and the United States (continuing a steady climb to 153).

Supporting international student growth

Bonnie Neuman, vice president student services, says the growth in international students, now at 12 per cent of our total population, will have a very positive impact on the university and the local community, but will require a little extra attention to ensure a smooth transition.

“With the growth in numbers, we are also working hard to ensure we have the supports in place to help them settle in to life in Halifax and at Dalhousie,” she says. “For many, they're finding themselves a very long way from home. We're also working to coordinate any academic support they might need through their transition to Dalhousie. Many are learning in a language that's not their first, and the way we teach can be a very different educational experience than they've had at home. We've been working to improve the coordination of our support to the students.”

The university will be working hard to grow with the numbers. A new residence is being constructed on Le Marchant St. and the Bold Ambitions campaign is raising funds to improve the student experience across the campus.

Striving for continued success

Looking ahead, Asa Kachan, assistant vice-president enrolment management and university registrar, notes that to continue to appeal to new students from around the world, Dalhousie needs to keep doing what it's doing best with an eye to constantly improving services and the overall student experience. Meanwhile, we need to keep telling the Dal story far and wide.

“Recruitment of students is a collective effort,” she says. “The quality of our teaching, residence life, student support, facilities and research are all part of what attracts students to Dalhousie. Recruiting students from further away who may never have a chance to visit our campus before they make their decision requires us to find new ways to share the Dalhousie story.

"I feel very confident that we will continue to help prospective students connect with Dalhousie and find their 'fit' here. For the recruitment and admissions team, it's an exciting time to do what we do for Dalhousie."


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