Brandon University’s student population is climbing as the number of students applying to the post-secondary institution has reached record levels.
“Numbers are looking very strong,” said Tom Brophy, BU’s associate vice-president of student services and enrolment management. “I think we’re really starting to turn a tide here.”
Preliminary numbers show the university’s total student population has jumped by 159, to 3,123, compared to 2,964 students who attended in 2014 — an increase of 5.4 per cent.
Those numbers are expected to change slightly as today is the last day to apply or drop out of the university for the current academic year.
As a benchmark, the university attempts to aim for growth levels of two per cent, leaving Brophy “very pleased” with the enrolment numbers so far.
“I’m optimistic,” he said. “Two per cent is what the university bases its budget on, so anything less than two per cent would create budget pressures.”
The number of students applying to BU is up significantly as well, as the number of students vying for admission increased by 15 per cent over last year. The university received 287 more applications this year than in 2014.
“That is very significant,” Brophy said. “Numerically speaking, if I go back and look over how many students have applied at Brandon University going back 10 years, it’s the highest number of applications we’ve had.”
Brophy credits the enrolment increases to more aggressive marketing and recruitment efforts.
“I think we’ve been really pushing out and connecting to the community more,” Brophy said.
“We’re doing our best to show that we’re providing a positive student experience, and following through and showing that when you come to a small institution with the best teacher/student ratios in the country, you’re really getting a personalized education here.”
The majority of BU’s Canadian students are from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, while the bulk of the university’s international students come from China and Nigeria. Brophy believes that could change.
“We’re looking to diversify those markets, but also invest into other countries as well. We’re really investing in a network of agents to boost our recruitment of international students, and growing that market considerably,” he said.
As the university continues to grow, there’s one question on the minds of the administration: “Just how many students can we handle?”
“It’s a tough answer because it depends on what faculties students are going into,” Brophy said. “Many other institutions are at capacity right now, and are being more selective of who they take. We’re not in that boat — we still have capacity, and we are working to see what that capacity is.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 18, 2015