August 27, 2021

Weekly EconMinute—Post secondary enrolment in Alberta

In this week’s EconMinute, we’re talking about what drives post secondary enrolment in Alberta.

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Human capital—the knowledge, skills, and abilities of the workforce—plays an increasingly important role in driving a nation’s prosperity.

Because of this, we were curious to see to what extent Alberta is developing its human capital based on the number of Albertans attending post secondary institutions.

So, how has post secondary enrolment changed in Alberta over the last few years?

  • According to the Government of Alberta, total enrolment in post secondary institutions changed very little in the five years prior to COVID.
  • Likewise, average household spending on education has also not changed (when adjusted for inflation). Households in Alberta spend about as much on education as they did five years ago and about the same as those in other provinces.
  • But some things have changed. Those who do enrol are more likely to be in full-time programs: 58% of all students in the 2019/20 school year, compared with 51% of students in the 2015/16 school year.
  • Institutional preferences have also changed. There seems to be more interest in universities and less in technical programs: enrolment in Research Universities increased 8% while enrolment in Polytechnic Institutions has decreased 23%. 

How enrolment changed last school year is unknown and how it will change for this coming year—with concerns of COVID and mask and vaccination policies—is yet to be seen. It seems most likely that Alberta will, if anything, see a drop in enrolment, which could spell trouble for longer-term growth in the province. 

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