The Student Commons building at Algonquin College. Photo credit: Mingan Wang

Algonquin College has identified the financial loss due to a decrease in student enrolment to be the school’s most critical risk.

According to a report for the Board of Governors meeting on Feb. 27, overall enrolment was trending behind the approved annual budget target by 11 per cent for domestic and international students combined. In response, the college administration has implemented strategies such as operational spending reductions and deferred hiring of new positions, the report said.

The report said there were 18,706 registered students in the winter 2023 semester, which was 335 students behind the enrolment budget.

According to the Finance and Administration department, the college is spending more than it’s bringing in as a result of insufficient government funding and the enrolment decrease, but the college doesn’t plan to reduce essential student services.

“Generally, the biggest factors influencing enrolment right now include: greater competition (from universities, other colleges and industry), changing demographics and the current low unemployment rate means that more potential students are entering, or remaining in, the labour market, rather than pursuing post-secondary education,” according to a statement provided by the Finance and Administration department.

“The financial constraints of the college have not impacted Algonquin’s commitment to student services. As Algonquin comes out of the pandemic, we continue to put student needs and preferences at the forefront as we learn in the new post-pandemic world how our learners prefer to access education and services.”

The Students’ Association is also impacted by an enrolment decrease.

The main source of the Students’ Association’s budget is membership fees from the students.

“Enrolment does affect us, it affects all of us”, said Matt Regnier, SA board communications and process manager, on April 5 during a press conference with the Algonquin Times.

“We would adjust our budget according to the enrolment, during COVID when the enrolment was low, we partnered with other Students’ Association on events rather than doing our own events, so that allows us to do larger events for free. We haven’t had to cut fundings on events so far, (if we had to) we would focus on cutting programming rather than services so that there’s a service standard that we’ll always maintain.”