U of S Aboriginal enrolment up 5.5 per cent

SASKATOON - The number of Aboriginal students at the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) continues to rise.

By James Shewaga
Official fall enrolment numbers confirm that 2,236 students at the U of S self-declare as Aboriginal, the highest number yet for the university. This total consists of students in graduate, non-degree, post-graduate clinical and undergraduate programs.

According to Graeme Joseph, team leader of First Nations, Métis and Inuit student success at the U of S, the 5.5 per cent increase from last year was achieved through strong academic programming, effective student services and a community of support, combined with steady growth in the Aboriginal population within the province.

"It's fantastic to see that almost 11 per cent of our student population identifies as Aboriginal," said Joseph. "The U of S is a national leader in Aboriginal engagement and we are working hard to meet the increasing needs of a growing population."

Nearly one in five Saskatchewan residents will be Aboriginal by 2036, according to a new set of projections released by Statistics Canada in September.

This fall, there are self-declared Aboriginal students registered in all colleges and schools on campus. The three colleges with the largest Aboriginal student populations are Arts and Science (953), Education (614) and Nursing (175). This fall there are also 206 Aboriginal students enrolled in graduate programs, an increase of 6.2 per cent over last year.

"These statistics are inspiring as we work to ensure that Aboriginal students can readily see themselves in the broad range of disciplinary areas that the U of S has to offer," said Patti McDougall, U of S vice-provost of teaching and learning. "I will be seeking to work alongside our direct entry colleges to see how we can build on some of their ongoing efforts to attract Aboriginal students into diverse fields."

While Joseph is pleased to see another increase in Aboriginal student enrolment, he stressed that the U of S still must ensure that these students are supported once they arrive on campus.

"I'm excited that more Aboriginal students are choosing the U of S as their place of study," said Joseph. "We are committed not only to recruiting more Aboriginal students, but proactively supporting them throughout their studies to graduation. This is the ultimate goal for students, the university and the wider community—more Aboriginal people with university degrees."

Joseph and McDougall both highlighted the importance of acknowledging the diversity of the university's Aboriginal student population.

"It's important that we remind ourselves that we don't have one big group of Aboriginal students with the same ancestry and academic needs," said McDougall. "We have Aboriginal students coming to the U of S from rural and remote communities, as well as from urban settings. We have First Nations, Métis and Inuit students with diverse cultures and practises. It matters to us to understand that these students are a varied group and that way of thinking makes the U of S an exceptional place for our students to learn."

Among the 2,236 self-declared Aboriginal students (accounting for 10.6 per cent of the total student body at the U of S), 56.4 per cent (1,262) declared as First Nations, 43 per cent (962) declared as Metis, and 0.5 per cent (12) declared as Inuit.

International students at the U of S also broke an enrolment record this fall—a total of 2,543 are attending classes this term, up 3.1 per cent from last year. In total, there are 21,001 graduate, non-degree, post-graduate clinical and undergraduate students registered at the university this fall—up 0.2 percent from last year.


For more information, contact:

Meghan Sired
Communications Co-ordinator
University of Saskatchewan
306-966-6068 (office) 306-381-7992 (cell)

James Shewaga
Media Relations Specialist
University of Saskatchewan
306-966-1851 (office)