School of Public Health enrolment continues to grow

Overall enrolment at the U of S is up, but few colleges or schools can boast the growth experienced in the School of Public Health.

"When I started four years ago, we had 17 students," said Robert Buckingham, the school's executive director. "This year, we have 190 students enrolled and another 20 online. We are just delighted with this growth."

The student body is quite diverse too, Buckingham continued. "About 65 per cent of our students are from Canada and 35 per cent are international. We are the most international school of public health in Canada."

Those international students come from "more than 20 countries, with the most (students) coming from Africa, India, China and the Middle East," he said.

The school's rapid growth has "come with its own growing pains, like not enough faculty and larger class size. It is simple; if you build it they will come. Now that the students have come, we need more faculty," he said, adding that the school recently hired two new faculty members, bringing the total to 14.

"I don't want too much more growth in enrolment in the next year. Last year we had 700 applicants for 80 spots, so it is quite competitive already."

What Buckingham does want is to get accreditation for the school from one of the world's two accreditation boards. To that end he has worked with the Association of Schools of Public Health in the European Region (ASPHER), but accreditation from the Council on Education for Public Health, the other accreditation body, requires a faculty complement of 25.

"My marching orders when I started were simple: grow the school, get us national recognition and international visibility. I've kept my vision straight and true." Accreditation with ASPHER, he continued, is another step towards this vision and should take about 12 months, lining up with the end of his five-year term. "This was my goal for my time here. It was never my intention to go beyond my five-year term."

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