Arts enrollment dropped by 22 per cent between 2010 and 2014

Memorial University’s Faculty of Arts is trying to combat declining enrollment by creating new diploma and certificate programs, among other initiatives.

The number of students enrolled in MUN’s Arts faculty dropped by roughly 22 per cent between 2010 and 2014.

On average, Arts enrollment has been declining by roughly six per cent each year.

“There’s just been a general decline. We’re expecting it will go down in the future as well,” said Alex Marland, the Associate Dean of Arts.

“Not only are there financial pressures but we’ve got enrollment pressure as well….What I think really is a concern is if it keeps going down then at some point there has to be consequences.”

Marland says the drop in enrollment is likely due to fewer students coming up through the K-12 school system.

Undergraduate enrollment at MUN as a whole dropped by more than five per cent between Fall 2010 and Fall 2014, with programs like Nursing and Education also taking a hit.

Enrollment in the Faculty of Science, however, increased by 22.7 per cent in that timeframe; enrollment in the Faculty of Business increased by 38.3 per cent; and enrollment in Engineering increased by 12.7 per cent.

While General Arts enrollment has decreased, enrollment in interdisciplinary programs such as Communications Studies and Law and Society has actually increased, as has the number of students taking Sociology.

Marland said the increased interest in interdisciplinary programs reflects students’ desire for more course choice and more topical fields of study.

The faculty has responded to this shift by creating a host of new programs, with the hopes of targeting more non-traditional students.

As of September, students can now get a diploma in Humanities, as well as a diploma in Ancient Worlds.

The faculty has also just approved a new certificate in Ancient Languages and is working on a certificate in International Studies.

MUN is also working on changing some interdisciplinary minors, such as Aboriginal Studies, Film Studies, and Newfoundland and Labrador studies, into certificate programs so that more people can access them.

All these diplomas and certificate programs simply conglomerate courses that already exist, thus costing the faculty very little.

Marland said the new programs will target mature students, part-time students, and those who aren’t quite sure what they want to do, by allowing people to obtain smaller goals than just a degree.

“We’re recognizing the need to think about students as more than just students who come here full time for four years,” he said.

“Just think of how many people come to MUN, they stay for two years and then drop out. These are now courses they can use towards the diploma and we can say, look, just do a few more courses and at least you’ll have the diploma as opposed to nothing.”

The Faculty of Arts is also trying to boost enrollment by relaxing certain course prerequisites and improving the clarity of Arts websites and course planning.

Last year, MUN changed its core Bachelor of Arts requirements to offer more flexibility in course choices.

Marland said that so far, the response from students and faculty has been “overwhelmingly positive.”