University Enrolment Hits One Million

January 2007

OTTAWA - Canadian universities now serve more than one million students after seven consecutive years of record-high enrolment.Enrolment surpassed the million mark for the first time in the 2004-05 academic year, according to data released yesterday by Statistics Canada. The rising number of foreign students and young people known as the Echo Boom generation pushed total enrolment to 1.01 million.

Women continue to outnumber men at universities (585,200, or 58%, compared with 429,000), even though their enrolment increased at a slightly slower pace.

Enrolment in doctoral programs experienced the biggest one-year jump among degree programs -- 7.9% -- to 34,500 students. This is the only area where men still outnumber women, but their dominance is also at risk in this prestigious club. In 2004-05, men made up 54% of students pursuing a PhD, compared with 61% a decade earlier.

Still, there are persistent gender patterns in traditionally male-dominated fields. Of the 86,500 students enrolled in architecture, engineering and related technologies, 67,300 were men -- 78% of the students in these programs. And men made up 73% of students enrolled in mathematics and computer and information sciences.

Women, meanwhile, dominate education; of the 72,600 students in the field, 55,100, or 76%, were women.

These are "very stereotypical roles," said Monique Frize, a biomedical engineering professor at Ottawa's Carleton University and a long-time advocate of encouraging girls to enter engineering programs and consider careers in science and technology. "When my career began in 1989, I really thought that in 20 years [women] would be at 35 or 40%."

Enrolment of students aged 18 to 24 increased by 2.9% from the previous year to more than 654,000. They accounted for 64% of all students in 2004-05, up from 59% 10 years earlier.

The other contributing factor is the number of foreign students. They represented about a quarter of the growth in total enrolment from the previous year and made up 7.4% of all students, nearly double the proportion in 1994-95.

  • Tier 1 chair holders: 785
  • Tier 2 chair holders: 904
  • Recruits from outside of Canada: 539 (32%)
  • Expatriates: 243
  • International recruits: 296
  • Female chair holders: 364 (22%)
  • Male chair holders: 1 325 (78%)
  • Chair holders renewed for a second term: 108

Data as of July 2006. A new round of chair appointments was expected to be announced by the end of November.

University Affairs, December 2006, p.24 []