Eduvation Blog

Moving at the Pace of Industry

Top o’ the mornin’ to ye, and happy St Patrick’s Day!

I trust you’ll celebrate safely, of course… and so may Western students, thanks to the “reality check” of the large outbreak there last week. The tragic COVID19 death of a young Fleming College student this week certainly underscores the stakes of Ontario’s battle against a third pandemic wave. Our thoughts are with the Fleming community, and the young man’s family.

Still, as Canada starts to see glimmers of springtime, and CdnPSE anticipates the possibility of a return to campus this fall, I want to look past the pandemic today to some other developments. Grad school enrolments are way up in Canada and Australia, and anticipating pent-up demand for campus housing in September, institutions are building, renovating, or adjusting policies to make room.

Several institutions have also recently demonstrated an entrepreneurial bent, moving beyond scarcity and anxiety to partner with global players: Niagara College with Global University Systems, Six Nations Polytechnic with IBM, and Wilfrid Laurier U with Navitas. It’s the kind of strategic investment in the future that I suspect we’ll start seeing more of, as the clouds of the pandemic start to part… and as Saskatchewan Polytechnic says (ICYMI), “moving at the pace of industry, not academia.”



Graduate Enrolments

If there’s one thing recessions encourage, it’s enrolment at graduate school for young people who know better than to graduate into a struggling job market…


Postgrads are Up Down Under

University students in Australia are pursuing masters and doctoral degrees to “wait out” the economy and wait for the job market to recover. Applications to postgraduate programs have spiked across Australia since 2019 – up +10% at Curtin U, +13% at uMelbourne, +18% at Charles Sturt U, +19% at uQueensland, +20% at James Cook U, and +26% at U New South Wales.  ABC News


Canadians Level Up to Grad School

Canadians are also applying to grad school in increasing numbers, partly due to high unemployment, partly because remote instruction makes it more practical than ever, and in some cases because they are at home with children studying remotely too. Applications to uToronto’s Education faculty (OISE) are up +30% over last year, Law school +24%, and graduate programs +32%. Western U reports Law applications up +31%, masters programs up +13% and doctoral programs up +25%.  CBC


“Consistent with past recessionary environments… if graduate studies were a thought on the horizon, they gravitate toward doing them now. This is a good time to take some time out of their careers, invest in their education and come back when the economy is stronger.”Sangeet Chowfla, CEO, GMAC



uWaterloo reported last month that grad school applications were up +17% over the average of the past 3 years, particularly in engineering, math, and health fields. Master’s applications are up 27%, while doctoral applications are steady.  CBC


Wilfrid Laurier U reported record levels of domestic and international grad school applications last month, “more than doubled since 2016.”  CBC



Of course, with closed borders and an inhospitable political climate, US colleges were not so fortunate in their graduate-level enrolments last fall…


Plummeting US Grad Enrolments

First-time enrolment of international graduate students at US colleges fell -39% last fall – but substantial deferrals might mean better enrolment news for the future. Overall 12% of admission offers for master’s and certificate programs were deferred, as were 10% of doctoral offers. Applications from China dropped -37%, and from India -66%. The steepest declines were in applications for math/comp sci (-53%), engineering (-52%), and public administration (-51%). Total domestic and international applications actually rose +3% last fall, but enrolments declined -43% for master’s programs and -26% for doctorates. (Analysts are optimistic that the rise in applications indicates continued strong interest, derailed only due to the pandemic.) Of course, international enrolments in US grad programs have declined for 3 straight years, thanks to the Trump administration’s visa and immigration policies.  Inside Higher Ed



Making Room on Campus

As CdnPSE eagerly anticipates a return to in-person instruction this fall, and some expect enrolment increases, announcements about campus housing have been sprouting like crocuses in Victoria…


Brock U is reserving 200 rooms in residence next fall for current second-year students who “missed out on the quintessential on-campus university experience” due to the pandemic. Normally the residence guarantee is available only to incoming first-years. Brock News


Okanagan College announced $67.5M to construct 376 beds in student residences in Kelowna, Vernon and Salmon Arm, BC. Construction is to begin in 2022, and represents the largest single capital commitment from the province since 2005. Since then, OC’s student and training population has grown by 70%.  OC


Western U has told upper-year student tenants in its Lambton Hall apartment complex that the building will be converted this summer into a first-year residence instead. Enrolment is expected to rise by ~300, and with PHO protocols more beds are required to meet the first-year residence guarantee. Tenants object to the short notice to terminate their leases and the lack of comparably-priced alternatives, and are urging the university to reconsider, or subsidize rent at another campus residence.  London Free Press



Entrepreneurial Partnerships

Over the years CdnPSE has partnered with private companies on a range of services, from food service and maintenance to bookstore operations and campus housing. Several more partnerships have been announced in recent weeks…


Niagara College has partnered with Global University Systems to provide 4 NC business and hospitality programs to international students at GUS’s Toronto School of Management. The agreement also opens doors for NC students to pursue study abroad, exchange, co-op and international field studies within the GUS network, and pathways for NC diploma grads to enroll in GUS degree programs.  NC


“This exciting partnership is an important part of our broader strategy to create new global opportunities for students, and support long-term enrolment stability and growth. The agreement is also driven by our entrepreneurial spirit, as we work to identify global partnership opportunities that support our core operations in Niagara.”Sean Kennedy, president, Niagara College



Six Nations Polytechnic’s STEAM Academy has partnered with Mohawk College and IBM Canada to launch a P-TECH program (Pathways in Technology Early College High School). There are ~200 P-TECH schools in 18 countries around the world, educating >100,000 students. “Hallmarks of the program include industry one-on-one mentoring, workplace visits, paid summer internships, and a guaranteed job interview at IBM upon completion.” It allows students to graduate with a high school diploma, a tuition-free college diploma, and work experience – all in <6 years.  Education News Canada


Wilfrid Laurier U has announced a 10-year strategic partnership with Navitas to establish a pathway program for international students at its Brantford campus, to be called Wilfrid Laurier International College. The program will offer language, first-year academic courses, study skills development and wraparound social and academic supports. (Navitas started offering pathway programs in North America with Fraser International College at SFU, opened in 2006, and the International College of Manitoba at uManitoba, opened in 2007. Last August, Navitas announced a partnership with Ryerson U.)  WLU


“Laurier’s partnership with Navitas is part of our multi-pronged approach to increase international student enrolment and cultivate global citizens. The increase in number and diversity of international students will further enhance the cultural landscape of our Brantford campus and provide significant economic opportunities for the downtown.”Deborah MacLatchy, president, Wilfrid Laurier U



COVID on Campus

Since yesterday, there have been 8 more cases and 1 student death from COVID19 reported by CdnPSEs. (See my master spreadsheet for a running tally of >1500 cases in CdnPSE since Sept 2020.)


A Sad Day for Peterborough

Fleming College is grieving the loss of a student in his 30s, who was hospitalized in Toronto last week with a COVID19 variant of concern, and died Monday. The Severn Court student residence party on Feb 20 has resulted in 59 infections (up 3 from yesterday). “This student did not attend the party yet suffered the worst possible consequence.”  Global


McMaster U reported yesterday that a staff member tested positive Mar 12.  Mac


Mohawk College reported 2 more confirmed student cases at its Fennell campus in Hamilton.  Hamilton Spectator


uWaterloo reported 2 more cases on campus yesterday.  UW


Western U students say they got a “reality check” from the off-campus outbreak that has affected 45 of their peers, just before the St Patrick’s Day festivities began. “After that scare, we’re back to staying at home.” Global



And while not exactly PSE, it’s worth knowing…


Luther College in Regina SK is shifting to remote learning after 2 students in grade 11 and 12 tested positive. The 60 boarding students will be quarantined for 14 days, while the 350 day students will study from home. Luther College is a university college affiliated with uRegina, and a high school.  Global


Upper Canada College, the historic independent boys’ school in Toronto, has suspended in-person classes as a precaution after 10 boys in grades 4, 8 and 12 tested positive. (A total of 12 people have tested positive since Feb 25.) UCC says there is no confirmation that transmission occurred at the school, but a mobile testing unit was on campus yesterday.  CP24




You may recall that Saskatchewan Polytechnic launched a snappy brand video last August, in conjunction with their new strategic plan, “Leading the RISE.” Yesterday, SaskPoly released another good one…



Reinvent Yourself

Continuing Ed commercials are often disappointing, but not this one! Bold typography, punchy visuals and music, and assertive language really grab your attention: “It’s time to reset expectations, reignite the joy of learning, rethink what education can and should be… Let’s redefine what’s possible with programs that move at the pace of industry, not academia… The world keeps reinventing itself; it’s time to reinvent you.”  YouTube



As always, thanks for reading! Please do let me know if you spot something interesting, thought-provoking or cool happening in the world of higher ed.

Stay safe and be well,


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