Bishop’s enrolment at a record high

The 2013-14 school year will provide a balanced budget for Bishop’s University, thanks in large part to record high student enrolment.Last year marked the first time the school had a balanced budget since 2004-05. The budget would have featured a surplus, were it not for $1.2 million in government budget cuts. This year will be equally successful, with 2,420 students.“Our consistent improvements over the last few years have been directly linked to enrolment.” said VP of Finance Hélène St. Armand. The last big enrolment boom took place when Ontario abolished Grade 13 in 2002, leaving the province with two graduating classes. Bishop’s benefited from the double cohort with a student population around 2,400, but following their graduation, numbers declined. When enrolment dropped as low as 1,740, administrators recognized those numbers were not sustainable, and the Bishop’s community developed an action plan to attract more students. “When we did our recovery plan back in 2009, the premise was that we would grow,” said St. Armand. And grow they did. The student population is currently 10 per cent higher than projected. “This is the highest it has ever been,” she said.The mix of students has remained relatively constant with 55 per cent from Quebec (approx. half are francophone), 7 per cent international students, 38 per cent from the rest of Canada (mainly Ontario). While the increase in enrolment is most welcome, it does present challenges, according to St. Armand. The extra people on campus put pressure on student housing, classrooms and parking on campus. Residence capacity is 710 beds, less than one-third of the student population. It is hoped new construction underway in town will provide more student housing options close to campus. In terms of teaching spaces, it’s not just an issue of the number of classrooms available, St. Armand said. It is also the size of the classrooms that needs to be considered because of the growing number of students. Read the entire article Tuesday in The Record.