Fall numbers hit record high

There are a few hundred more students buying pizza, renting apartments and contributing to the Lethbridge economy thanks to an increase in attendance at the University of Lethbridge.

With all final enrolment numbers confirmed, the student tally rests at 8,243 students, a 3.5 per cent increase (or 284 students) over last year's 7,959 headcount. This sets another record attendance standard which, for U of L officials, is both a milestone to be celebrated and a future challenge.

"There is no question that we find an increase in the number of people who return to school when the economy is tough," says U of L's Vice-President, Academic and Provost,
Dr. Andy Hakin.
"We believe that number for us, is small compared to the number of students who have chosen to transfer to the U of L, who have entered degree programs straight out of high school, or who are joining our School of Graduate Studies as either master's or doctoral candidates to work with our world-class researchers. U of L recruiters and student support personnel have done a tremendous job of attracting new students and making the U of L a comfortable and satisfying experience."

Hakin adds the future holds many student recruitment challenges.

"We don't stop here. We are working on ways to tell the U of L story to people outside Alberta, and outside Canada. We've developed specialized programs in areas such as public health and the fine arts that are attracting people from coast to coast. The word is spreading and, as we continue to evolve into a comprehensive academic and research university, we fully expect our master's and doctoral programming to grow as well."

Indeed, the big recruitment success story this year is enrolment in the School of Graduate Studies, which experienced a dramatic 33 per cent increase over last year (347 in 2008 vs. 519 in 2009, or 172 additional students).

Dr. Jo-Anne Fiske, the Dean of Graduate Studies, says the increased enrolment reflects a new direction prescribed in the U of L's strategic plan of continuing to grow a comprehensive university.

"We are seeing master's and doctoral degree candidates come to Lethbridge from literally around the world," Fiske says. "They are attracted by our researchers, who are working in every type of research area imaginable, from anthropology to zoology. Our research environment offers them a lot of personal attention, freedom and the chance to teach and build their skills in many different ways."

Additionally, Fiske says that a big benefit to U of L undergraduates looking to continue their education is they can see their futures as graduate studies candidates quickly, and close to home.

"With the quality and diversity of researchers and professors here who supervise master's and doctoral candidates, we have an increasing number of U of L undergrads who choose to follow through with their graduate education here, rather than having to leave the community. We are committed to building the knowledge-based economy that the province of Alberta aspires to and deserves."