This year enrolments for the University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI) are up again, while Holland College is yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels, and both have been pushed primarily by overseas students. Both the colleges had reported a drop in international enrolments last year as a result of Covid-19, which made it more difficult for students to enter Canada and lengthened the time it took to process study permits. However, the UPEI witnessed a 42.6 percent gain this year, while Holland College saw a 3% decrease.
The disparity is largely due to Holland College’s emphasis on in-person instruction, according to Lornie Hughes, Executive Director of Student Experience and Registrar. “The downside of that is that we had a lot of international students who, for a variety of reasons, couldn’t get to Prince Edward Island (PEI), so our international percentage, last year we were sitting around 25 percent and this year we’re around 22 percent.”
According to Katherine Gottschall-Pass, interim Vice President of Academic and Research, total enrolments at UPEI are up 5.4 percent over last year, continuing a trend the institution has been working on for years. As per Gottschall-Pass, there was undoubtedly apprehension about online learning last year, and students may have decided to postpone their studies. “This has been a multi-year trend, so our enrolments have increased every year for the last I don’t know how many years.”
Undergraduate full-time enrolment increased by 280 students, or 6.6 percent, while the university recorded a 14.5 percent increase in first-year students, relative to last year. Part-time undergraduate enrolment, which had surged to 419 students last year but plummeted to 383 this year, reverting to pre-pandemic levels, according to Gottschall-Pass.
“I think that part, why that was happening, is that there were a number of students who maybe were unsure what online learning would be like or they didn’t want to totally give up their studies, but they wanted to do a few courses.” According to Hughes, the drop in international students at Holland College was somewhat offset by a 4% increase in students from Prince Edward Island.
Hughes anticipates international student numbers to rebound next year, especially because last year was the first time in the institution’s history that overseas applicants outnumbered domestic applications, he added.
“We fully expect that those (study permit processing) times will, in 2022, be back to normal times and our interest in international students coming to the college is still strong, so we’re certainly hoping that works for more of the international students to make their way to Holland College in 2022.”