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Degree rise at N.S. universities tied to overseas students

Nova Scotia universities


It’s no surprise that the number of degrees granted by Nova Scotia universities is on the rise, thanks to an influx of international students, says a Cape Breton University vice-president.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission announced that universities in the region granted over 15,000 degrees, diplomas and certificates in 2012, stopping a downward trend. The report said the number of credentials granted had been decreasing from a peak achieved five years ago.

“We made the decision 10 years ago to become very active in the international market,” said Keith Brown.

Every year, Nova Scotia school boards provide projections of the number of Grade 12 students expected to graduate based on enrolment figures, Brown said. Universities in the region start crunching numbers and figuring out how many students will be heading off to each post-secondary institution based on historic trends.

“There’s a lot of analysis that goes into play,” he said.

While Cape Breton University may have started looking overseas to shore up its student population a little sooner than most Nova Scotia institutions, Brown said all of the province’s universities are trying to attract scholars from other countries.

A report on building the province’s economy, headed by Acadia University president Ray Ivany and released earlier this year, recommended doubling the number of international students attending universities in Nova Scotia in hopes of attracting them to move permanently.

At Acadia, officials were too busy granting credentials Monday at two convocations to have read the commission’s release. However, the school appears to have been bucking the trend, said spokesman Scott Roberts.

“Our (domestic) student numbers have been on the increase,” Roberts said.

The school’s student population growth has come from an increase in attendees from Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada.

Roberts said Acadia’s population of foreign students topped out at about 20 per cent in 2003 and 2004 and is now closer to 11 or 12 per cent.

Commission CEO Mireille Duguay said in the release that one in eight degrees granted at Maritime universities was awarded to an international student in 2012, and that proportion is expected to grow.

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