With enrolments at Laurentian University down 14 per cent this year as compared to a year ago as the university continues to undergo court-supervised insolvency restructuring, the university’s president said he hopes to rebuild confidence in the university.
Robert Haché this can be done, first and foremost, by completing the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act (CCAA) process and “emerging as a financially sustainable institution” with “focused academic programming” that will “demonstrate that there is a long-term vision and a long-term future for the university that is providing attractive programming to students.”
He said Laurentian is also out there recruiting new students, although that is challenging in the context of a pandemic. For example, there is no university fair in Toronto this year, where Laurentian would have normally recruited students from Southern Ontario.
Laurentian put out a news release last week, stating that while enrolment is down, the level of enrolment is actually about 400 students above what the university was predicting for this fall. It was actually predicting about a 15-per-cent enrolment decrease.
The decline was 10 per cent in Laurentian’s French-language programs and 15 per cent in its English-language programs. The decline among International students was five per cent in English programs and eight per cent in French-language programs.
The university was also predicting a drop of enrolment of a little more than 30 per cent among first-year students, and that prediction came true.
In an interview with Sudbury.com, Laurentian president Robert Haché said the overall retention of students already attending Laurentian has been strong.
That’s despite a large number of programs and faculty being cut last spring as Laurentian sought to trim costs.
Other than programs such as midwifery, where students actually had to be transferred to other universities, Haché said many students with impacted programs were either already graduating, close to graduating and are being accommodated, or they transferred to a related program.
“Despite the challenging media environment, if you will, with respect to all the news that’s happening around the restructuring, people are still choosing to come,” he said.
“I mean, it really indicates we have some competitive programs, academic offerings and academic programs to offer them, and it boosts confidence that we are doing the things we need to ensure the future of the university.”
He said the enrolment drop is not having an impact on Laurentian’s finances, as it was already budgeted for in the current fiscal year.