UTM welcomed its largest cohort of students this fall, despite an enrolment report from 2017 stating that the campus would not increase its undergraduate intake. The unexpected increase is testing the limits of the campus’ resources.
According to U of T’s most recent enrolment report, there were no plans to increase enrolment at UTM, and undergraduate intake was supposed to remain at 3,692 per year until 2022.
However, an additional 600 students have enrolled at UTM this year.
When asked in an email by The Varsity whether UTM would revisit its enrolment report, Vice-President and Principal Ulrich Krull wrote, “There are no plans to adjust the enrolment targets.”
“That UTM received more acceptances to offers this year than predicted by historical trends suggests that the reputation of the campus is increasing.”
According to Krull, UTM has seen an increase in enrolment by 10 per cent each year for the past 10 years.
To accommodate the additional intake, UTM has made adjustments to available services, including extended hours in the Hazel McCallion Academic Learning Centre and Starbucks, and additional printing locations.
UTM also opened a vending machine for coffee and tea in the Instructional Centre and plans to open a new Grab ’N Go coffee in the North Building.
As well, UTM plans to monitor the shuttle buses to and from UTSG and Sheridan College, and Brampton Transit routes to determine if additional buses are needed to accommodate students.
Strains on resources
The impact of this increase in enrolment was first seen over the summer, when new and incoming students placed a high demand on the Office of the Registrar’s services at UTM.
Now that the school year has started, the impact of the increase on the student-instructor ratio can be assessed.
“The outcome is that the student-instructor ratio will not decrease as quickly this year as hoped due to the unexpected higher enrolment,” said Krull. “But the enrolment plan and the hiring plan have not changed and the target for the student-instructor ratio has not changed over the longer term.”
The physical impact of the increased enrolment can also be seen in the demands for classroom space. This is especially evident as some buildings at UTM remain under renovation, including the William G. Davis Building, although the new North Building has offset some of the crowding on campus.
“The classrooms are almost solidly booked, five days a week, from morning until evening,” noted Krull. More courses are expected to be housed in the North Building during the winter term.
Despite the construction plans that UTM has already undertaken, such as for a science building that is expected to open in late 2021 and a pedestrian walkway, building new spaces at UTM is not a feasible long-term solution, as the campus is surrounded by sensitive ecological habitats, including those of threatened species.
As such, the UTM Campus Council decided in its 2011 Master Plan that any expansion projects would largely take place along and inside Outer Circle Road.
While these restrictions pose a challenge to campus expansion, UTM views it as an opportunity to construct spaces that integrate the natural environment that the campus sits on.