The increase, which has been noted through data collection of first day enrolment, confirms a current total of 2,401 self-declared Indigenous students in the fall term.
“In keeping with the calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the university has articulated two significant goals in the area of Indigenous engagement: to become the most welcoming place we can be for Indigenous students and their communities, and to close the education gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous degree holders,” said Alison Pickrell, assistant vice-provost, strategic enrolment management.
“Results like these are why we get excited when we see increasing numbers of Indigenous students pursuing their degrees,” she said.
The increase in Aboriginal students is part in an overall growth trend occurring across campus, which includes a 2.1 per cent rise in registered students for undergraduate and graduate classes and a 0.8 per cent climb in international student enrolment—bringing the total numbers up to 20,670 undergraduate and graduate students overall and 2,210 international students.
Pickrell emphasized that these figures are a preliminary comparison, and noted that there will be further growth in all areas as students who have not yet completed registration begin arriving on campus, late enrolment numbers start rolling in, and January intake takes place for many colleges.
Although some of the registration numbers appear smaller than those gathered at the end of the 2016-17 academic year, Pickrell said it is anticipated that the U of S will meet or exceed the previous year’s total annual enrolment—as well as other, more specific student diversity goals—by the end of the current academic year.
Despite positive growth, Pickrell said that the university is focused not simply on recruiting more students but also on ensuring the campus is properly equipped to support those new faces walking the halls.
“Colleges are actively interested in engaging in a dialogue about the size of our university and diversity of the student body,” she said. “The concerns that accompany a conversation about growth range from classroom and lab capacity, to faculty complement, to student support and service provision, and quality of the student experience. That is why it is important to think about ways to grow strategically, rather than growth in itself as a goal.”
Pickrell said university administration is already examining avenues to bring more students to campus moving forward, continuing to build the U of S as an attractive option for the bright young minds of tomorrow.
“As part of the current university planning process, we will renew our enrolment plan with strategic growth in mind,” she said. “Together with college leadership, we will look at where we have high-quality applicants but not enough capacity to accept them all.
“We will work with colleges to explore and develop new academic programs that draw students who are looking for programs that we do not currently offer, we may consider revamping or revitalizing current programming, and there is also a potential for the U of S to expand its program offerings off campus and outside of the country.”