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It’s no surprise to anybody lining up to grab a coffee between classes that Laurier once again has more students than at any time in its history.
This year’s official November 1 count – the numbers used for government funding – shows us with about 10,322 full-time undergraduates (including about 975 at the Brantford campus), up from 9,569 last year and 8,155 in 2002. Laurier’s enrolment has doubled in a decade; in 1994 the university had 5,026 full-time undergraduates.
Dr. John Metcalfe, Laurier’s registrar, says provincial data shows total student enrolment should peak in 2005 then begin to tail off. The decline will only be of about two years’ duration, however. Then enrolment picks up again, primarily due to greater university participation rates “and doesn’t look back” – the graph he consults ends in 2015, with no dips in the projected enrolment.
In addition to the full-time undergraduates, Laurier has 1,789 part-time and distance education undergraduates (another 2,000 full-time students also take distance education courses), plus 506 full-time and 445 part-time graduate students. Waterloo Lutheran Seminary has 36 full-time graduate students and 52 part-timers.
Our first-year undergraduate class this year consists of 3,073 students, compared to 3,603 on Nov. 1 last year, which was the double cohort year. Gender-wise, the first-year class is 40 percent male and 60 percent female. The undergraduate body overall is 39 percent male and 61 percent female. Women are the majority in arts, science and music, and are a slight minority in business (49 percent) and a significant minority in economics (32 percent).
Arts is particularly strong this year, with 1,732 first-year students. In 2003, the double cohort year, Arts had 1,525 first-year students.
“We have increased numbers, but we can still guarantee that every student gets into a required first-year class,” says Arts dean Dr. Robert Campbell.
While the entire Faculty of Arts is growing (and comprises half of all Laurier Waterloo students), growth is particularly strong in Communication Studies and Sociology, which now has more than 700 majors.
The undergraduate business program’s first-year class has 529 new students, the Faculty of Science has 588 new students, and the Faculty of Music has 66 new students.
Brantford continues to do well, with the concurrent BA/BEd program attracting 118 students, the brand new Criminology program attracting almost double its target of 75, and Contemporary Studies and Organizational Leadership meeting or exceeding targets.
The overall number of full-time graduate students has risen marginally (to 542 from 528, including the seminary). “All our programs are strong,” says dean of graduate studies Dr. Adele Reinhartz.
Part-time enrolment in master’s programs is holding steady and there is particular strength in our doctoral programs.
Reinhartz says Laurier “will be positioned to accept the graduate enrolments expected as the double cohort works its way through.” New master’s programs in mathematics for finance and science, and health and physical activity, are in the works, and word is expected soon on a new doctoral program in management.
Meanwhile, Dr. Sue Horton, vice-president: academic, is working on the university’s Century Plan to cover the years 2006- 2011, the centenary of the founding of Laurier’s predecessor, the Evangelical Lutheran Seminary of Canada [now Waterloo Lutheran Seminary] in 1911). The new plan for the university “will fit in with the Century Campaign (a very ambitious fundraising campaign) which will begin to see quiet life this year,” says Rosehart.