King’s enrolment has dropped again, showing its lowest numbers in nine years.
The school’s task force released a report saying FYP enrolment has dropped from 250 in the 2014-15 school year to 233 this coming year—a seven per cent decline.
The report also says full-time undergraduate enrolment dropped from a high of 1,231 five years ago to 1,001, a decline of 230 students, or 19 per cent.
Alex Bryant, KSU president, says rising tuition cost are majorly affecting prospective student’s decision to enroll.
“King’s is in the process of increasing tuition and it has been every year for the last five years even though there’s a cap. There thousands of students from high school or people looking to attend (King’s)…but after they take FYP they have to leave for a year to pay it off.”
Bryant also argues although Ontario has the highest tuition fees on average, some students are choosing to stay in Ontario to study curriculums similar to FYP because doing so allows them to receive 30 per cent off their tuition through the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
King’s does not offer this type of financial assistance, and charges $770 more per semester for the same kind of program.
“I believe FYP is one of the best programs in country,” says Bryant, “but why can’t we get 300 people to show up?”
Bryant says 10 FYP students are worth around $100,000, and without their tuition, residence fees and meal plans it impacts the university.
Not only is King’s having trouble getting students to come, it’s also having difficulty getting students to stay.
Bryant says student services, such as mental health and sexual assault services are “inadequate,” which is tied to the school’s struggle to pay for such services.
Although King’s does have some mental health services and is working on new programs such as Mental Health 101—an improved peer system—and students will soon have better access to sexual assault services, Bryant says “King’s and the whole province is only dealing with (student services) in a reactionary way. It’s only when people are dropping out they’re working on it.”
But Nick Hatt, dean of students, says King’s is trying to make a more supportive environment. “Dalhousie can and does provide student services in a more robust and cost-effective way than we can do on our own. Partnership with a larger university to provide student services in this way is very common for small colleges like ours.”
King’s bursar Jim Fitzpatrick speculates changing demographics, not tuition, has influenced student numbers.
“We’re a small institution. We don’t need to attract a great deal more of students to see an increase. We just have to keep making sure our programs, and the way we deliver them to whoever wants them, stays interesting,” Fitzpatrick said.
The drop in enrolment, as well as a lack of provincial funding has been finically disastrous for the University. The school reported a deficit of $1.1 million earlier this year, and suffered a five per cent cut to its budget, or a loss of $561,000.
Though the future of King’s looks bleak, Fitzpatrick remains optimistic.
“The good times will come back, it’s just a matter of when.”