Enrolment data shows universities have weathered COVID-19

When the emergence of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 forced Canadian universities to delay the winter term or begin it online, it was a blow for many students, who feared yet another portion of their young lives would be devoured by pandemic monotony. But despite the challenges that have accompanied the shift online during the pandemic, students seem to have persevered, writes Joe Friesen for The Globe and Mail.

Statistics Canada data for 2020-21 show university participation rates for 20 year-olds at 41%, a significant increase from the usual 36% or 37% of the previous five years. The participation rates were also higher than in previous years for all other ages between 18 and 25. Enrolment data for the winter term is not yet available, but these numbers suggest the prospect of online learning hasn’t pushed many students away.

Universities also seem to be retaining students at high rates. At Queen’s University, for example, first-year enrolment in the fall was roughly the same as the year before, and up about 16% compared to pre-pandemic levels. Retention of first-year students increased in 2020-21 to 95.4%, up nearly a percentage point over 2019. There doesn’t appear to have been a notable increase in the number of people taking terms away or dropping out, according to Queen’s spokesperson Mark Erdman.
Full report on The Globe and Mail site