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School's in! Post-secondary enrolment in Alberta

School's in! Post-secondary enrolment in Alberta

Posted on: 9/14/2017 | Author: ATB Financial's Economics + Research Team

With a new academic year underway and scary skeletons and jack o’lanterns taking the place of back to school displays in the stores, it’s a good time to take a look at post-secondary enrolment trends in Alberta.

As of the 2015-16 school year, there were 264,286 students enrolled in Alberta’s 26 publicly-funded post-secondary schools. This is roughly equal to the combined population of the cities of Lethbridge, Red Deer and Grande Prairie.

Enrolment has increased by 4.0 per cent since 2007-08 when there were 254,016 students but is still below the peak reached in 2012-13 (269,750).

When we look at the number of students a percentage of Alberta’s population, however, we see that enrolment has shrunk slightly, dipping from 7.2 per cent of the population in 2007-08 to 6.3 per cent in 2015-16. Zeroing-in on Albertans in the 18-29 age range (when pursuing post-secondary education is most likely), the proportion has dropped from 38.3 per cent in 2007-08 to 35.9 per cent in 2015-16.

So while the headcount of post-secondary students in Alberta is large and has started to tick upward again, it is not quite keeping up with population growth. This suggests that attracting more international students may be necessary to keep enrolment from drifting lower as Alberta’s population continues to age. It also highlights the need to keep stressing the value of post-secondary education given its strong links to success in the labour market in the form of higher levels of job security and income.

Alberta post-secondary enrolment, graph

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