Cape Breton University Manages Growth with Solutions and Prepares for Largest Graduating Class in CBU History

Cape Breton Island’s welcoming community, paired with Cape Breton University’s (CBU) world-class faculty and high-demand, quality programs, have shown to be successful in positioning CBU as a University of choice for students from Cape Breton Island, across Canada and more than 80 countries around the world. The Atlantic Association of Universities (AAU) released post-secondary enrolment numbers this week, and CBU leads the way in terms of growth.

“We are thrilled that students continue to recognize the true value of Cape Breton University’s educational experience,” says David C. Dingwall, President and Vice-Chancellor. “We continue to invest in our campus and work with our student representatives, community and external partners to create an ideal learning and living environment for all students, no matter where they are from. And, as part of our ongoing commitment to stabilize and manage growth over the next five years, our Strategic Enrolment Management Plan, and the solutions that come along with it, become even more important.”

To stabilize and manage growth to 7,000 students over the next five years, CBU is implementing its first Strategic Enrolment Management Plan (SEM). As a result of students deferring their acceptance during the pandemic, as well as visa processing delays, a double cohort is currently making their way through the system. This is the cause of the enrolment increase noted by the AAU from September 2022 to September 2023. While most universities see their largest enrolment increases in September, CBU uniquely saw growth in January and May of 2023.

For Fall 2023, enrolment is at approximately 9,100 students, the majority of which are returning students, meaning they were already established within the community. Of the 9,100:

  • Approximately 3,300 are studying fully in person.
  • Close to 1,000 are studying fully virtual/online.
  • More than 4,500 students are studying through a combination of in-person and virtual/online courses.
  • Approximately 2,500 of these students will graduate in May 2023.

This year, total domestic enrolment is up by approximately eight per cent over last year. “We are pleased with the eight per cent increase in domestic student enrolment,” says President Dingwall. “One of our SEM goals is to increase total domestic enrolment to 40 per cent by 2027. This current increase is a positive sign, but we know we must stay strategically focused over the next several years to achieve our goal.”

Becky Chisholm, Associate Vice-President of Enrolment Management and Student Experience, adds, “Our enrolment numbers will start to track closer to 7,000 by May as we celebrate what we anticipate will be the largest graduating class in CBU’s history. In fall of 2022, we instituted several new enrolment management practices, including application caps in high-demand programs such as the post-baccalaureate business programs. We also introduced new admission policies to better manage application volume. Impacts of these decisions are already being realized as we have seen a managed decline in new international student numbers every semester since January 2023, a managed decline of new post-baccalaureate business students each semester since January 2023, and a managed 40 per cent decline in overall applications for January 2024 compared to January 2023.”

Cape Breton University continues to invest in programs, services and infrastructure to help manage the pressures that come with welcoming a record number of students. Cape Breton University recently announced it will build a new on-campus residence building with an investment of approximately $4 million, has recently renovated MacDonald Residence to add new kitchen facilities with an investment of $1.4 million, and continues to advocate and work with all levels of government to advance the proposed Tartan Down’s Housing Development, while still exploring additional housing options.

For more information on CBU’s Strategic Enrolment Management Plan, click here.