Posted on September 26, 2014 by Tia Lalani

Classrooms and dormitories were bulging when the Augustana Faculty began a brand new year Sept. 3.

From Dan Jensen, Camrose Booster

B03_1050.jpgClassrooms and dormitories were bulging when the Augustana Faculty began a brand new year Sept. 3.

“We’re up in our numbers over last year,” said Augustana assistant dean, external relations, Timothy Hanson. “We have an enrolment of 1,082, which is up from 1,011 last year and 1,014 the year before.”

New and returning student enrolments total 399 and 683 respectively. The number of open studies students totals nine. “Open studies means they are not in a program of our faculty,” said Hanson. “They are taking courses just not working towards a degree. They are allowed to take up to six credits per term.” Otherwise, 413 are in year one, 248 are in year two, 202 are in year three and 188 are in year four.

Three hundred and ninety-eight are enrolled in Bachelor of Arts programs, 467 in Bachelor of Science programs, 148 in Bachelor of Management, 19 in Bachelor of Music, and 19 in the combined Bachelor of Science/Education degree.

“This is the second year in a row in which the number of Bachelor of Science students has been more than the Bachelor of Arts students, so most of our enrolment pressures are on the Bachelor of Science side,” said Augustana Dean Dr. Allen Berger. “That is one of the reasons we are so anxious to move ahead with the renovation project for the classroom and the science building. We have been seeking provincial funding for that project and it is a high priority.”

B03_1187.jpgThe number of special/visiting students is 31, up from 17 in 2013.

“Brazil is sending us a lot of students under their Students without Borders program they have had the last two or three years,” said Hanson. “We don’t necessarily know whether the program will continue after this year because the funding is changing, but we do have a large number of Brazilian students (17) on campus right now.”

Forty-seven students are from China, 11 are from Nigeria, six from the Philippines, six from Taiwan, five from Tanzania, five from Korea, three from the United States, three from Bangladesh, two from Ghana, two from India, two from Kenya, two from Norway, and one each from Australia, Belizem Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Egypt, El Salvador, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Canadian students total 915, with 814 coming from Alberta (up from 779 in 2013), 50 from BC, 39 from Saskatchewan, 22 from the Northwest Territories, 14 from Ontario, three from manitoba, three from Newfoundland, two from Quebec and one each from the Yukon Territory, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward island.

“It is good to see that not only are the Alberta numbers going up, but the total Canadian numbers are as well,” said Dean Berger, adding that the percentage increase in students this year over last is the largest it has been since the Augustana and University of Alberta merger in 2004. “The fact that we are seeing balanced growth is very gratifying.”

Hanson said by far the majority of Alberta students come from rural areas.

B03_0870.jpg“I would say only about 100 of the 1,082 come from Calgary and Edmonton. I always say we have one or two from each town in the province and that is almost the truth. It is pretty much the rural communities.”

The number of aboriginal students at Augustana is the highest at any University of Alberta faculty, save for the Faculty of Native Studies.

“We have tried to position ourselves, and this makes sense given our geography, as the faculty in the U of A most focused on preparing the next generation of leadership for aboriginal and rural communities,” said Dean Berger. “The fact that our aboriginal enrolments are so high and are continuing to grow suggests to me that word is getting out and we are succeeding in that regard.”

Augustana works closely with Maskwacis Cultural College to articulate its curricula so that students, after a couple of years of study there can come to Camrose to complete their bachelors degrees.

“We are continuing to work on strengthening that relationship,” said Dean Berger. “There are some challenges with regard to access to certain pre-requisite courses that students need for some of our science programs here and if we can figure that out then I think we will be able to increase the flow even beyond what has been in recent years.”

While an enrolment of 1,082 is a good number for Augustana, it also represents a challenge.

“We have been scrambling the last few weeks to figure out how to accommodate the demand for seats in classes and how to accommodate the demand for beds in residence halls,” said Dean Berger. “Mark Chytracek has taken what would have been single rooms in our residence halls and turned them in to double rooms. It is important that we make sure we can provide 1,082 students a quality experience because it doesn’t make any sense for us to grow our enrolment only to see the quality of the experience deteriorate.”

Augustana is currently working with senior administration at the university on the preparation of a proposal to government to fund a larger base enrolment.

“We are, with this year’s enrolment, about 100 students above our funded base (for full-time equivalent, or FLE students),” said Dean Berger. “That is important because it demonstrates to the government a capacity for growth, but we can’t continue to grow without an increase to that base level of funding.”

B03_0691.jpgThe plans Augustana already has in place for the science and classroom building design anticipate an enrolment of 1,200.

“We completed in 2012 what was called Phase 1 of our general space program and in that planning we asked what Augustana would need in terms of classrooms, laboratories and faculties that Augustana would need to accommodate 1,200 students,” said Dean Berger. “We are right now, during the current fall term, completing Phase 2 of the general space program, and are asking what Augustana will need in space for student services, athletics and residence life – all the other areas of operation outside the academic core. Once we have completed the general space program we will know what our needs are. After that we can plan the necessary infrastructure projects to meet those needs and seek funding.”

The provincial government and University of Alberta have been very generous to Augustana since the merger, a fact that is evidenced by the new library, the current renovations to Founders’ Hall, and the performing arts centre which is scheduled to open in October.

“We have, over the space of a decade, literally transformed this campus,” said Dean Berger. “We are not done yet but are very fortunate that we have already seen these fabulous investments.”

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