“During a pandemic and a possible fourth wave, people around the world continue to see the value of pursuing post-secondary education at one of Canada’s leading research-intensive universities,” said Alison Pickrell, assistant vice-provost of strategic enrolment management. “Now, more than ever, students recognize the importance of understanding and researching the critical issues and pressing problems that face the world today and they want to contribute to developing solutions for the future.
“They also recognize that a USask education can help them develop or fine-tune skills and competencies that employers are looking for. We are excited to welcome, both virtually and in-person, this spirited community of students from all over Canada and 130 countries around the world.”
Today, the 2021 Fall Term first-day-of-classes enrolment snapshot was released online, and Pickrell said a full analysis of fall term enrolment numbers will take place after the university’s census day in October.
USask is headed toward its seventh straight year of planned enrolment growth. By the end of the academic year in April 2022, Pickrell said student enrolment should exceed 26,000, the highest enrolment in USask history. As of the first day of classes, graduate enrolment has increased significantly (three per cent) with considerable growth among new international graduate students (34 per cent).
Overall undergraduate enrolment on the first day of classes increased by one per cent, and Pickrell said there has been a substantial increase in new international undergraduate students (30 per cent) as well as new domestic students (three per cent).
“We can attribute some of the larger increase in international student enrolment to our expanded virtual student recruitment efforts, but also to graduate and undergraduate students who deferred their admission from last fall due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and chose to begin this year,” said Pickrell, who also noted more students than ever before have registered to attend fall welcome activities for new international students.
Staff and faculty are preparing for the influx of students but are still mindful of the students who are choosing to continue to take most or all their classes online. Pickrell said USask will continue to offer a blend of virtual and in–person services and supports.
This year, there was a wide variety of programming for new students and students new to their campus, whether that be in Saskatoon, Prince Albert or Regina, including the Fall Welcome Broadcast, college activities, online academic help sessions, and virtual and in-person tours. Peter Hedley, director of student affairs and services at USask, oversaw the Fall Welcome planning and said students new to campus are encouraged to get involved in as many activities as they can to get the best possible start to their studies.
"We know that to be successful in their studies and life at USask, our students need to find balance between their academics and taking care of themselves mentally and physically, making friends, finding their community, and knowing when to ask for help,” said Hedley. “Our Fall Welcome program helps students get started on doing all that and more. We want to make sure that every USask student feels included and supported, and can prioritize taking care of themselves, their loved ones and one another—and we are supporting them to do so. It is the foundation upon which the rest of their success, and our success as a wider university community, is built.”