Already, UFV is nearly full for the falll semester. Students wanting to take open studies have a deadline of July 20 to submit their applications.
Last year was the first time the burgeoning university had to impose such a deadline, and it was 10 days later, at the end of July. The deadline had to be moved up this year, because applications are up three per cent.
What’s more, the university has announced it will operate at 105 per cent of its government-set target for admissions. Last year it ran at approximately 103 to 104 per cent. Last fall the university enrolled approximately 16,000 students, which makes it larger than about half of the universities in Canada.
Demand for university courses in recent years was considered to be linked to the lagging economy – with fewer jobs, more people returned to school. But it seems the trend is continuing as the economy recovers.
“Clearly, the student demand is not diminishing – it’s growing,” said Eric Davis, the provost and vice-president academic at UFV.
Waiting lists for specific courses are up by 20 to 25 per cent. The university has received no new provincial government funding for growth in the number of student spaces in the past two years. With about 55 per cent of the funding for the university coming from the provincial government, adding students means UFV will be scrambling for dollars.
“We’re on the hunt all the time to find funding for what we want to do,” said Davis.
Other sources of revenue are tuition, capped at a two per cent increase per year, international student fees, special contract revenues, donations and partnerships.
Davis said in operating at 105 per cent – well above government targets – UFV joins a handful of universities making such a commitment to its students. Many other universities struggle to fill their classrooms.
“In fact, we’ve exceeded our FTE (full-time equivalents) for over 10 years,” he said.
Davis said admitting students beyond government-funded capacity is not a sound long-term strategy, but added that if UFV didn’t overfill “we would have to turn away so many students, and dissatisfy so many people in the Fraser Valley…”
UFV gets admission pressure from population growth and the institution’s improving reputation. What’s more, post-secondary participation rates in the Fraser Valley have historically been low, so there is also room for growth in the percentage of the population which sees more schooling as beneficial.
The ideal solution is to build more classroom and lab spaces, and hire more professors.
Failing that, the provincial government could reallocate funding from other institutions that aren’t fulling up to UFV and other Lower Mainland universities where there is pressure.
“It’s not politically an easy decision to take seats away from a remote or Interior college,” Davis acknowledged.
The admissions closure does not include adult basic education or English as a second language programs, vocational, or trades programs. Also, a limited selection of certificates, diplomas and degrees will continue to accept applications beyond July 20. Some seats are still available in select programs and courses, such as Agriculture, Modern Languages, Theatre, Fashion Design, and Aboriginal Culture and Language Support. Students willing to take courses at the Mission and Chilliwack campuses will find more spaces in courses available than there are at the Abbotsford campus. To find any remaining seats visit www.ufv.ca/ar/semesterinfo/csizewaitlst.htm or www.ufv.ca/ar/admissions/acceptapps.htm . Applications to most major programs are now closed for this fall.