On the Rise
If you recently started with Athabasca University, sometimes it’s easy to feel like you’re alone in your program. However, Statistics Canada recently issued a report (http://www.statcan.ca/Daily/English/040730/d040730b.htm) showing that you are anything but alone. According to the report, university enrolment was at a record high in 2001/2002, and had its strongest increase in ten years of 4.3% across Canada.
Looking at this a little deeper we find that the provinces that had the largest increase in the number of enrolments was British Columbia and Manitoba, both at about 7% growth. Conversely, in Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island, enrolments actually decreased slightly.
For Manitoba and BC, I can understand what happened. A quick look at the University of Calgary’s paper [PDF] on Canadian Tuitions shows that BC’s Arts tuition actually decreased 2.2% that year (just before the deregulation) and that Manitoba’s tuition basically stayed the same, with an increase of only 0.1%.
Here’s the weird bit. Newfoundland and Labrador that year saw a decrease in Arts tuition of 10%, the largest decrease across the nation, yet they are also the province that had the largest decrease in enrolment at the same time. Enrolment in Newfoundland and Labrador decreased 1.2% over the same period.
So what’s going on here? The answer is actually fairly simple. Enrolments are decreasing in Newfoundland and Labrador because the population overall is decreasing. The provincial migration reports show us that during those years, the population declined by almost the same percentage as enrolment and that most of those who left were those just entering into the age where they’d start post-secondary education. Obviously if the students aren’t living there, they’re not going to enrol in a physical university no matter how low tuition goes.
For us at AU though, what’s interesting about this is that while the AU strategic plan calls for a growth of 10% per year in enrolments, we see from Statistics Canada that 4.3% is a record setting increase. Obviously the only way to maintain this rate is to convince potential students that AU is more of a value than any other Canadian university. With Ontario implementing their tuition freeze, AU has their work cut out for them.
Time to Go Electric
It’s funny how in Alberta, a province that is supposedly resource rich, our gas bill will now be higher in the summer than it is in the winter. The Energy Utility Board of Alberta recently verified (http://www.gov.ab.ca/acn/200407/1688353CD5766-964A-42D9-927BF5EEAB089E32.html) that natural gas is going to cost over $6.50 per gigajoule in the month of August for Alberta residents. This price is significantly higher than Albertan’s had to pay during the winter months, as from November to March, the government’s rebate program to hide the costs of privatization (http://www.gov.ab.ca/home/index.cfm?Page=559) kicks in. In fact, for at least the month of August, the Alberta price of natural gas will be higher than the average price of gas across the nation last winter.
I suppose so long as you don’t bother doing your dishes or taking a shower it doesn’t really matter, and maybe that’s what the provincial government is hoping will happen. Either that, or I expect we’ll soon see another rebate program put into place so that we can pay the gas company through our tax bill rather than our gas bill.
On the bright side, if the cost of energy keeps going up like this, it’ll soon not only be more environmentally sound to go with alternative power sources — it’ll be cheaper.
A native Calgarian, Karl is perpetually nearing the completion of his Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Information Studies. He also works for the Computer Sciences Virtual Helpdesk for Athabasca University and plans to eventually go on to tutor and obtain his Master’s Degree.