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Scott Strasser

American student applications to U of C nearly double compared to last year

By Scott Strasser, January 13 2016 —

It’s still early in the admissions process, but the University of Calgary is already reporting an influx of applications from American students compared to this time last year.

According to university administration, the number of undergraduate student applications from the United States increased from 37 last year to 86 this year, while the number of graduate student applications increased from 51 to 80 in the same period.

In total, student applications to the U of C from the U.S. compared to last year have nearly doubled — 166 compared to 88.

U of C provost and vice-president academic Dru Marshall said there are likely many factors for the increase. She cited the emphasis put on the U.S. in the U of C’s international strategy, the burgeoning international reputation of the U of C and the weakened value of the Canadian dollar.

“Certainly we’ve increased our recruitment efforts in the U.S., so I’d like to think those recruitment efforts are bearing fruit,” she said.

The U of C launched its international strategy three years ago. The strategy recognizes the U.S. as one of six “regions of emphasis” for the U of C due to its close proximity, English-speaking population and pre-existing research partnerships.

“In particular in the cases of the U.S. and Mexico, we looked at the number of trilateral relationships between the countries and our ability to leverage off of those relationships. When you’ve got federal and provincial parties involved as well, it makes it a lot easier as institutions,” Marshall said.

Another factor for the spike in American applicants could be the lower value of the Canadian dollar compared to the American counterpart.

“The exchange rate is definitely advantageous for university students from the U.S. if they choose to study here,” Marshall said.

The recent change in the political climate in the U.S. through the presidential election of Donald Trump could also play a factor, says Marshall. While she said that it is too early to tell if a Donald Trump presidency would cause American students to flock to the U of C, she said the U of C’s website has seen increased traffic from American IP addresses since the U.S. presidential election on Nov. 8.

Other universities in Canada also reported spikes in web traffic from the U.S. following the Nov. 8 election. The University of Saskatchewan saw a 392 per cent increase, according to the CBC.

“There was an increased amount of traffic from U.S. sites after the election, but in the neighbourhood of being meaningful it’s hard to say,” Marshall said. “President-elect Trump has not even taken office yet. It’s just really hard to say how that’s going to play out.”

There are currently 141 international students from the U.S. at the U of C. Bree Huene, an immigrations specialist for International Student Services at the U of C, said she’s seen an increase in American students this year, as well as international students in general.  

“I think it’s just getting the word out that the U of C is a good school to attend,” Huene said. “We get a lot of e-mails a day from American students asking how they can apply for immigration. It’s a lot easier for U.S. students to come to Canada, there’s a lot more routes for them to come here.”

The U of C is not the only Canadian school to report an increase in applications from south of the border. The University of Toronto, McMaster University and McGill University all reported increases in American applications this year.

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