Students Nova Scotia


Press Releases & Updates

AAU data reveals enrolment at Nova Scotia universities stagnating, becoming more international

For Immediate Release

Halifax, N.S. — Last week, the Association of Atlantic Universities released its preliminary enrolment numbers for 2014-2015, revealing that among full-time students, a decline in local student numbers was offset by a 5% increase in international student enrolment, leading to 0% growth overall. In response, StudentsNS reiterated their call for changes to Nova Scotia’s university system, including better supports for international students and more stable institutional funding.

The numbers correspond to StudentsNS projections based on local and Canadian demographic trends. StudentsNS has predicted that international student enrolment will need to double by 2031 for overall enrolment to remain stable, reaching 30% of the student body, or 12,000 students in total.

“The enrolment trends this year are not an anomaly, they reflect the new reality of Nova Scotia’s universities”, said Alicia Silliker, StudentsNS Vice President University Affairs. “This is a key part of the Now or Never picture facing this province, we can either act to make the most of our circumstances, or fail to adapt and suffer serious consequences.”

StudentsNS report released in 2013 recommended aggressive action by government and universities to support international students’ academic and social success, in turn persuading more of these students to settle in Nova Scotia. Recommendations included regulating international student fees, investing in integration and language supports, improving health services, and supporting transitions into work and settlement, all under the umbrella of a coordinated international education strategy. The OneNS Report also recommended that the Province strive to double the proportion of international students who immigrate to Nova Scotia.

“We need to invest time and money into supporting international students, showing them that they are valued, and making them believe that Nova Scotia is the place for them,” said James Patriquin, StudentsNS President. “It’s worrying that we are falling behind other Provinces that are developing ambitious international education strategies and providing MSI coverage to all their international students.”

The overall enrolment trend played out differently across the province’s campuses: University of King’s College and Saint Mary’s University actually had significant enrolment declines of 9.3% and 4.3% respectively. Considering the likelihood of unstable enrolment moving forward, StudentsNS has recommended that the Province provide more predictable operating grant funding, linked to growth in the economy, and deemphasize enrolment in funding distribution among institutions. StudentsNS would like to see more funding instead tied to universities pursuing particular activities or achieving certain outcomes.

“We need to change how we fund universities in Nova Scotia to protect their financial health and affordability for students, but also to improve accountability for pursuing public and student priorities”, said Jonathan Williams, StudentsNS Executive Director. “Universities can and must do more to support the wellbeing of this Province, but the Province must fund universities properly for that to happen.”

Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 37,794 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 86% of the university population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.




For more information or questions, please contact:


Jonathan Williams, Executive Director

(O) 902.422.4068

(C) 902.483.5480





James Patriquin, President

(O) 902.422.4068

(C) 902.718.7285





Alicia Silliker, VP University Affairs

(O) 902.867.2411

(C) 902.303.4347


Kate Elliot