By Drew Halfnight
An army of 320,000 additional students will overrun Canadian campuses over the next 15 years, but Ryerson will hold the line this year by refusing to add any new spaces.
A Statistics Canada study released last week said universities in Ontario alone will see 45,000 more students within the next decade.
“We are not planning on increasing the undergraduate numbers,” Ryerson President Sheldon Levy said.
“We haven’t got the operating budget to do it. We haven’t got the faculty hired to do it.”
The school would need to add between 6,000 and 11,000 spaces to do its part in accommodating the coming surge in both participation rates and the university-age demographic, Levy said.
“The good news is we’re in high demand. The bad news is we’re going to have to say no to a lot of people that deserve an opportunity,” he said.
“And we’re public institutions, and to say no to young people that want an opportunity — no joy in that.”
The new figures appeared in Post-secondary Enrolment Trends to 2031: Three Scenarios, a Statistics Canada report offering the highest-yet projections for university enrolment.
At Ryerson’s Board of Governors meeting on Monday, Levy said if the school can’t make room for the coming horde, he would support the creation of a fourth Toronto university.
“I think we will see a new institution in the GTA, and we’ll be supportive of that institution,” he said.
Levy added that he met with presidents of the University of Toronto and York University this week to discuss the issue.
Levy suggested the new post-secondary institution could be built at Greenfield Park in Mississauga. But Ryerson is already feeling the effects of the surge.
The university received 20 per cent more first-year applications last year but did not accept any additional students. The university’s applicant-to-registrant rate has crept from 6.6 applicants per registrant in 1996 to 10 applicants per registrant in the latest available data, and the numbers will continue to rise as admission becomes more competitive.
Levy said the school would not expand at the cost of quality.
“If we can do our share and preserve the quality of the institution, then terrific, let’s do it,” he said, suggesting that Ryerson had room to build in the sciences.
“But we don’t have to grow simply to get bigger. That would be a mistake. If we grow, it has to be to get better.”