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U of T enrolment expected to stay similar for 2020–2021 year, despite COVID-19

OUAC numbers reveal decrease in applications, increase in confirmed acceptances
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U of T enrollment expected to stay around the same for 2020. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY
U of T enrollment expected to stay around the same for 2020. STEVEN LEE/THE VARSITY

As U of T moves forward with a hybrid of in-person and online classes, numbers released by the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre (OUAC) reveal an overall slight decrease in the number of applications and an increase in the number of confirmed acceptances made through the system.

As universities across the country open their doors to new and returning students alike, circumstances could not be more unorthodox. Concerns have been raised about how Canadian universities will be financially impacted by the pandemic, as travel restrictions and online learning could be enrolment deterrents for students.

OUAC is a not-for-profit service that processes applications for universities in Ontario. It compiles cumulative data on the number of full-time, year-one applications submitted for new undergraduate students and confirmed acceptances of admission that are submitted through the service each year.

According to the September 16 Monthly Confirmation Statistics from OUAC, U of T has seen a 1.6 per cent decrease in the number of applications through OUAC from 2019–2020. Similarly, other universities in Ontario, such as Queen’s University and Ryerson University, also saw decreases in the number of applications, going down 1.4 per cent and 4.4 per cent, respectively.

On the other hand, McMaster University saw a 4.2 per cent increase in the number of applications this year.

U of T saw an overall increase of 2.9 per cent in the number of confirmed acceptances for 2020, compared to 2019 numbers. McMaster, Queen’s, and Ryerson all saw increases in confirmed acceptances as well, with increases of 15.9 per cent, 16.9 per cent, and 1.5 per cent, respectively.

These numbers are subject to change and admission numbers will not be finalized until later in the fall semester as students decide whether or not to enrol fully. Enrolment numbers are crucial for the university’s operation, as 87 per cent of the university’s operating budget comes from tuition fees.

“The uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic continues to make this a challenging year for forecasting enrolment,” a U of T spokesperson wrote to The Varsity. “Based on registrations to date, overall enrolment levels for the university are roughly in line with last year. Our hope is that this basic picture continues to hold, though to reiterate, it’s much too early to draw firm conclusions.”

Although there are no final figures yet, the U of T spokesperson wrote that data will be added to a public portal in November.