Enrolment Dips Discussed By Board

decline

Almost half of St. Clair’s programs are currently under the microscope because of concerning enrolment trends – or lack thereof. 

In an extensive report to the college’s Board of Governors during its November 23rd meeting, the administration described programs that are either suffering severe overall enrolment declines, or experiencing dramatic reductions in the enrolment of domestic/Canadian students – that are, instead, being sustained chiefly by the enrolment of international students. 

Both situations are causes for concern. 

If a particular program shows chronic “enrolment disinterest” on the part of all prospective students (domestic and international), it may become a significant financial drain on the college – and, ultimately, will have to be mothballed (have its admissions suspended). 

Programs that are chiefly populated by international students are also of concern to the college. While the school does (obviously) welcome global scholars, it does not want to become exclusively reliant upon them for its enrolment or its financial stability – because a large-scale political or health crisis, for instance, could cut off the flow of such students (and their tuition revenue). 

The most urgent matter is this, according to the report to the Board: “The college analyses enrolment data on a continuous basis to make informed decisions as to whether a program’s intake should be suspended or proceed. As indicated in the June 22, 2021 report, 52 postsecondary programs had enrolment below 25 students for Fall 2021, as of June 1, 2021. This was in addition to the five programs that had their Fall 2021 intake suspended due to extremely low program confirmations by the OCAS confirmation deadline of May 1, 2021” ... 

... Eventually ... “31 of the 52 programs were able to meet or surpass the 25-student threshold with a combined domestic and international student enrolment, while 17 of 31 programs exceeded the 25-student threshold with domestic student enrolment.” 

Secondarily, the report continued, “St. Clair College continues to monitor the strategic mix of domestic and international students to maintain the 60/40 ratio, and to minimize its dependence on international enrolment.” 

In answer to a Governor's question at the meeting, Vice-President Academic Waseem Habash said the dips in some of the programs have developed over several years, so they do point to long-term trends. Others have only occurred in the past year or two, so they may be temporary anomalies related to the pandemic. Research on those patterns continues.

The report gets very specific about the unique circumstances of the programs in question: 

• In recent years the Music Theatre Performance has not reached enrolment beyond 25 students. The recruiting process for this program is different. The student admission process incorporates a performance evaluation of each student. The program is endeavouring to enhance its recruiting cycle to be more competitive with the Toronto market programs. 

• Bachelor of Business Administration (Information Communication Technology) will augment its recruiting strategies and image throughout the local secondary school system and outside the local catchment area. The degree was approved for launch in the 2019-20 academic year but the program launch was delayed due to an extremely low number of applicants. Marketing and recruiting efforts were enhanced and the program’s inaugural launch commenced in Fall 2021, with 19 students. As a result of COVID-19, access to high school students was inhibited, which did not allow for enhanced recruiting efforts. 

• Fashion Design Technician has commenced marketing to the neighbouring United States market and other international areas to increase interest in the program. Local market demand has been consistent for the past several years, but the program struggles to surpass the 25-student threshold. 

• Event Management Graduate Certificate traditionally does not have a strong domestic enrolment and is reliant upon international numbers for sustainability. Event Management was initially developed as a destination program. 

• Autism and Behavioural Science (ABS) demonstrated a late surge in domestic enrolment but fell below the 25-student threshold. Marketing initiatives are being developed to increase domestic interest. ABS did however see an increase in international student enrolment that was higher than normal. 

• Web Development and Internet Applications continue to have a strong international interest and as a result, exceeded the 25-student threshold. Domestic student interest did exceed the projected enrolment of 15 students. Further domestic marketing will be pursued. 

• Bachelor of Applied Arts in Social Justice and Legal Studies did achieve an enrolment of 21 but did not reach its intended target of 32 students. COVID-19 related restrictions inhibited the college’s ability to market the program directly within high schools. As an alternative, the program used a digital marketing campaign to reach interested candidates. 

• Fitness and Health Promotion surpassed the 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment reached the projected target at 22 students. The program’s enrolment decline may be due to the COVID-19 impact on the profession being severely restricted under pandemic health measures and thus, decreasing the marketability of a stable job market after graduation. The program enrolment will continue to be monitored. 

• Construction Engineering Technician was able to achieve the minimum 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment reached the projected target of 13 domestic students. Marketing strategies will be implemented to focus on increasing domestic interest. 

• Motive Power Technician was able to achieve the minimum 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment fell just below its projected target with 21 students. The program’s domestic enrolment traditionally draws within this range and as such, the college ensures that the disparity can be filled from international students. 

• Chemical Laboratory Technology will perform a deeper review of the marketability of the program as it may be aimed at an antiquated market. Revitalization of the Chemical Laboratory program to reflect a more updated terminology and relevance to future professions associated with the program will be evaluated. 

• Mechanical Engineering Technician – Industrial was able to achieve the 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment slightly exceeded the projected enrolment with 17 students. The program’s domestic enrolment traditionally draws within this range and as such, the college ensures that the disparity can be filled from international students. 

• Mechanical Technician – CAD/CAM was able to achieve the 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment slightly exceeded the projected enrolment with 9 students. The program’s domestic enrolment traditionally draws within this range and as such, the college ensures that the disparity can be filled from international students. 

• Mechanical Techniques – Precision Metal Cutting is a one-year certificate that combines curriculum from two programs: Mechanical Technician – CAD/CAM and Mechanical Engineering Technician – Industrial. The classes from Precision Metal Cutting are a combination from each of the Technician programs. There is no cost to run the program, but it does provide a pathway to either of the two diplomas. 

• Paralegal was able to achieve the 25-student threshold with assistance from international student enrolment. The program’s domestic enrolment exceeded the projected enrolment with 23 students. 

• The Power Engineering Technology – Mechanical and Power Engineering Technician programs are undergoing deeper reviews with respect to international marketability and industry demands. Evidence is emerging that traditional professional requirements are changing to more automated systems. 

• Diagnostic Medical Sonography traditionally does not exceed 20 students due to severely limited clinical placements within the healthcare system. The college is pursuing out-of-province agreements to which students from that region can enroll in the oversubscribed program and the college will have commitment that a healthcare site within that province can guarantee their clinical placements for the program’s duration. 

• Diagnostic Cardiac Sonography has achieved its targeted intake in congruence with the budgetary planning and Board submission for this new program. This program is also restricted by limited clinical placements within the healthcare system. 

• Advanced Medical Esthetics Practitioner has struggled with enrolment in its first two intakes. The program’s first year began with the occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic. The effects of closures to businesses due to health measures in the industry have influenced interest in the program. Marketing and recruitment will continue. 

• Two pre-existing college programs were marketed to international student resulting in both programs exceeding the 25-student threshold. It is important to note that both Computer Systems Technician Networking and Hospitality – Hotel and Restaurant, were also able to exceed projected domestic student enrolment. 

• The following programs have a common curriculum with other college programs in their first semester (or beyond) and as such, have a combined enrolment exceeding the 25-student threshold: Business – Accounting, Developmental Services Worker (K200 and K824), Office Administration – Executive, Office Administration – Health Services, Police Foundations, and Border Services. 

• Electrical Engineering Technician will continue to be marketed in targeted areas. The program did achieve its targeted enrolment of 24 students. 

• Personal Support Worker has struggled in the past couple of years despite the profession’s shortage. The risk associated with COVID-19 and professional wages have been a significant deterrent for interest in this area. The college will continue to work with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care as well as the Ministry of Colleges and Universities for viable solutions to increase interest across the province.

 

LINKS TO MORE STORIES FROM THE BOARD OF GOVERNORS’ MEETING

• President Patti France’s monthly report: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/board-hears-about-presidents-busy-month

• A new program to be unveiled next fall: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/board-approves-new-program-launch-next-fall

• 2021-22 budget’s bottom-line is revised: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/college-revises-its-budget-projections-mid-year

• New credit-transfer opportunities: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/new-additions-go-there-here-list

• Bolstered effort to retain enrolment: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/keeping-existing-students-important-getting-new-ones

• Sister school could deliver St. Clair programs in B.C.: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/scc-may-get-bc-thanks-aaa

• St. Clair’s regional economic impact: https://news.stclair-src.org/need-know-news/st-clairs-impact-updated-report