Algonquin College missed its enrolment target by nearly 2,000 students. Photo credit: Cameron Ryan

Algonquin College missed its enrolment goals by nearly 2,000 students for the fall semester, according to board of governors documents.

The enrolment budget is broken into two streams. There is an enrolment budget set for domestic students and an enrolment budget set for international students.

The board of governors documents stated that the college had 18,101 registered students, short of the college’s budget, which estimated 20,031 registered students in the fall semester.

Domestic student intake fell short of the budget by 1,505 students. The budget for international student intake was missed by 425 students.

“There’s just less people of college age that are available to go to post-secondary,” said Duane McNair, vice president of finance and administration at Algonquin College, commenting on what led to low enrolment from the domestic student market.

“We believe many college age people are electing to work instead of going to college right now,” said McNair.

McNair also said the hot labour market and universities taking a larger share of students were also contributing factors to the college’s failure to hit enrolment goals.

International student enrolment is back to pre-pandemic levels; however, the college still fell short of its enrolment target. This was partly blamed on the federal government, which has been slow to process study permits. The college is hoping higher international student enrolment in the winter 2023 semester will make up for the shortfall.

“We are continuing to be ambitious in our pursuit of international student enrolment,” said McNair. “That’s similar to how all the other Ontario colleges are focusing, they’re all focusing on international enrolments to mitigate the risks associated with domestic enrolment declines.”

The financial loss due to lower enrolment was identified as the highest risk factor to the college by the finance and risk management committee in the board of governors meeting.

The college is still committed to hitting its enrolment targets however it may be looking at a more conservative budget for the future.

“A little more longer term, like for the next year and the year after, we’re undertaking a few exercises to look for ways to contain our spending and optimize our net revenues so that we can improve the financial situation,” said McNair.

The revenue from enrolment is especially important to the college since the Ontario government has frozen college tuition rates until at least next year.