Mount Allison experienced a significant decline in first-year enrolment this year according to the university’s vice president of finance.
Robert Inglis told Sackville town councillors Monday night that Mt. A. had planned to attract 700 new students this fall, but as of October 1st, only 600 had enrolled in their first year compared with 641 last fall.
“This results in a shortfall in our revenue,” Inglis said, adding that the university will use its financial reserves to make up the difference this year and has already stepped up its recruitment efforts for next year.
“We’re hopeful that, that 600 entering class can be increased to a more traditional level, say around 650 or so,” Inglis said.
Figures released by the Association of Atlantic Universities show that as of October 1, Mount Allison had a total enrollment of 2,180 full-time students, 70 fewer than last fall and an overall decline of 3.1 per cent, the steepest in New Brunswick.
St. Thomas University in Fredericton experienced an enrolment decline of 0.9 per cent, while the University of New Brunswick and Université de Moncton had slight increases.
To view figures for all 16 public universities in Atlantic Canada, click here.
Enrolment declines can have a significant impact on university operating budgets because revenues from student tuition and other fees often exceed government grants.
At Mount Allison, for example, government grants totalled just over $25 million in the last fiscal year while revenues from students came to more than $30.5 million.
To view the university’s latest consolidated financial statements, click here.
During his presentation at last night’s town council meeting, Robert Inglis outlined three large renovation projects that could also attract more students to Mt. A.
He said exterior work should be completed this winter followed by interior renovations to convert the former fine arts building on York Street into a research and learning centre focussing on so-called WET sciences such as biology and environmental studies.
Inglis said the 50-year-old chemistry building is undergoing major upgrades, while Windsor Hall, the university’s largest student residence, will be closed in May for a complete refurbishment that will include summer conference facilities and a first-floor multi-purpose room.
Inglis said the search is well underway to replace Mount Allison President Robert Campbell whose second, extended term expires on July 1st. (Campbell was first appointed in 2006.)
Ron Outerbridge, chair of the search committee, sent an e-mail to Mt. A. students, faculty and staff last month reporting progress.
“Many excellent candidates have come forward and we continue to review and assess their qualifications,” the e-mail said. “We expect to narrow the search to a smaller set of preferred candidates in December or early January.”
Outerbridge said the finalists “will be invited to campus to engage with the community.”
The Mount Allison Board of Regents is expected to appoint the new university president at its next scheduled meeting in February.