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Brandon University predicts a 20% drop in international student enrollment

Brandon University predicts a 20% drop in international student enrollment
Brandon University predicts a 20% drop in international student enrollment


One of Manitoba's largest universities is anticipating a loss of nearly half a million dollars in tuition from declining enrollment for next year.

Despite projected enrollment declines, Brandon University was able to balance its 2024-2025 budget thanks to an 11th-hour injection of more than $7 million in provincial funding in May, said Scott Lamont, the university's vice president for administration and finance.

“We had real concerns that we would be able to balance the budget without additional support,” Lamont said.

The budget was approved at a meeting of Brandon University's Board of Governors last Saturday.

Premier Wab Kinew pledged an additional $7.4 million in operational funding from the province in May, although the details are still being worked out, according to the university.

“Brandon University had gotten a smaller increase last year. So that was something that helped level that out for us and certainly was crucial for us for this budget,” Lamont said.

2.75% tuition increase

Tuition fees for all students are expected to increase by 2.75 percent, the maximum allowed by the government.

However, the university's budget will be hit by the drop in international student enrollment.

Domestic student enrollment is projected to increase by three percent, but international student enrollment is expected to decrease by about 20 percent.

The budget also notes that enrollment in the first year is currently down about 50 percent compared to the same time in 2023-2024.

Charles Adamu, president of Brandon University's Students' Union, said it is not surprising to see international student enrollment decline, partly due to the high cost of tuition, including $10,000 non-refundable deposit international students must pay for undergraduate programs. Brandon University recommends international students budget $35,000 to cover their first year of studyincluding tuition, food and shelter, books and health insurance.

A drop in student numbers could affect the overall campus experience, Adamu said.

“One of the things I've always been excited about is talking to the students, you know hearing the voices of the students and having a full campus,” Adamu said.

“We're just going to keep doing the best we can, keep making sure some voices are heard.”

Focusing on internal recruitment: the faculty union

Both he and Lamont also said the expected decline in international enrollment is partly due to changes in federal study permit regulations.

The government will approve about 360,000 university study permits for 2024, a 35 per cent drop from 2023. In Manitoba, the federal government is reducing the number of international students entering the province by 10 per cent.

“We anticipate that our incoming class of international students will be half or less of what we had last year. So that has a very significant impact on us,” Lamont said.

“When you take all these variables into account, we're planning a tuition drop for 2024-25, but hopefully we're on the conservative side and if anything will be achieved.”

The 2024-25 operating budget for tuition revenue is down $459,000 from the 2023-24 budget, when tuition and student fees added up to just over $17 million in revenue for the university.

On the positive side, Lamont said, local enrollment appears to be rebounding since the COVID-19 pandemic. Domestic enrollment in recent years peaked in 2018, but reached a low around 2022-2023.

Gautam Srivastava, president of the Brandon University Faculty Association, says it's helpful that the province has given some funding to the university. Years of generally inadequate education, not just at Brandon University but at many other institutions across the country, has created similar stories in other pockets of Canada, Srivastava said.

Everyone, including the faculty association, has a shared interest in renewing enrollment numbers, and with the new international student caps, Brandon University needs a more strategic plan for student recruitment, Srivastava said.

The focus should be on recruiting local students, he said.

“I don't think it's the right time to hit the panic button, but at the same time, it's time to put our heads together and think of ways to cope so that [decreased enrolment] the number doesn't get bigger,” Srivastava said.




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