February 20th 2020 - Alex Usher
Morning all. There is  finally  enrolment data from October 2017 for the 2017-18 year. Praise be StatsCan. 
(Some of you think I am a bit hard on the people from Tunney’s Pasture. Let’s be clear: much of the reason it takes StatsCan so long to put data together is because it takes institutions –  particularly community colleges  – a long time to compile and submit the data. My understanding is that part of the reason this year’s release is a couple of years late is that they have been trying to fix the anomalies in Ontario college data that have crept in over the last few years. I don’t think this is not a reason to hold up the data – StatsCan is  constantly  re-jigging PSE data retrospectively, why should this particular re-jig hold up the rest of the process – but whatevs: the point is, StatsCan data is only as good as institutions will allow it to be. So, shape up, everyone.)
Anyways, the data is  mostly  self-explanatory, so you are in for mostly graphs this morning. Let’s start with overall enrolments, up a little under 2%, to an all-time high of 2.12 million. Full-time equivalents rose to 1.76 million. There were no significant changes with respect to university vs. college enrolments: those seem to be stuck in a long-term relationship of roughly 2:1.
Figure 1: Full-time Equivalent Enrolments, by Institution Type, 1992-93 to 2017-18
I won’t review the stuff around part-time studies (still stuck at about 25% of the total), or gender (women in a majority, except in Math and Engineering) – those almost never change. Nor will I get into issues around field of study because there is almost no change from last year (apart from a tiny increase in humanities enrolments – not quite a rebound yet, but green shoots, guys, green shoots!) Instead, let me jump right ahead to the stuff we all gawk at: international students! 
Figure 2: International Students, by Institution Type, 1992-93 to 2017-18
So, international student numbers increased 15.5% in a single year, which is a  heck  of a lot. And now that they’ve fixed the Ontario data, we can see a lot more clearly what’s going on: international enrolment at colleges increased by 30% in a single year and  doubled  between 2013-2014 and 2017-18 (and this, remember, is before the huge jump we discussed back here ). 
What’s important to note here is that domestic enrolment actually peaked several years ago. As shown in Figure 3, below, domestic enrolment is down about 5% in the colleges and about 0.5% in universities compared to 2012-13. Any increase you’re seeing in numbers is  exclusively  due to international students.
Figure 3: Change in Enrolment, by Institution Type and Student Status (2012-13 = 100)
This may not be a bubble  per se , but you can’t blame people for acting like it might be. Cash in while you can. These increases aren’t going to last forever.