The holidays are now over for most of us. Application deadlines are approaching quickly. We now have enough application data that I can provide a quick update on Engineering Admissions for those who are interested.
The general trend has been that domestic applications have been strong this year. We have received more domestic applications this year than we did at the end of the admissions cycle two years ago in 2020. However, we have not yet exceeded our record breaking year in 2021. There is a good chance that we will approach the numbers we saw in 2021 for domestic applications. As you might expect, a greater percentage of our domestic applicants are students from Ontario. Out-of-province applications have been coming in slower this year.
It does not surprise me that out-of-province students are a bit more reluctant to apply to study in Ontario this year. Our province has been dealing with waves of COVID-19 cases and we have a vaccine mandate in place that makes our university unattractive to some applicants. Also, our classes are currently online while some universities in the U.S. and elsewhere are offering in-person classes. It is hoped that we will be able to resume in-person classes soon. We were able to offer some in person classes and tutorials in Fall 2021. Right now, we must heed the advice of our medical professionals who have clearly told us that our hospitals are operating at capacity. I have tremendous respect for our medical professionals. They have been working under very difficult circumstances and they deserve recognition of their efforts. They haven’t had any chance to recover from the previous surges and many of them are dealing with family members, friends, and coworkers who are ill. Let’s hope that things improve soon.
Our international applicants will be happy to know that international applications are down sharply this year. We may eventually reach the application numbers that we achieved in 2020. We will definitely not approach the application numbers we achieved in 2021. There are many factors that could be contributing to the drop in international applications. Certainly, it is more difficult to recruit international students when travel is not possible. One-on-one meetings with potential applicants are the best way to encourage students to apply. Also, the University of Waterloo usually benefits from media stories about the success of our students in international competitions. The ongoing pandemic has limited in-person competition involvement at the international level.
There may be many other factors at play. Many Canadian universities and colleges rely upon international students to address budget shortfalls when domestic tuition is capped. Waterloo Engineering has tried to avoid this trend by maintaining stable international student targets at a level below 15% of our student body. A blog post by Alex Usher at Higher Education Strategy Associates provides some interesting insight into international student numbers. It is worth a careful read as it provides graphs that clearly show the increasing percentage of international students at universities and colleges across Canada. For engineering programs, it is typical for international students to represent 25% of the student body.
You might be curious how these application numbers affect you:
- If you are a domestic applicant, nothing has changed. Many of our engineering programs have competitive applicant pools. Applicants to these engineering programs will be individually selected for admission. You will need to ensure that you put time and effort into the completion of your Admission Information Form. I highly recommend completing the Online Interview to improve your admission chances.
- If you are an international applicant, your chances of being admitted are slightly better this year than last year. Make sure you have completed your application. We can only admit students with complete applications. Applicants who do not submit their Admission Information Form cannot be considered. Also, monitor your e-mail regularly to check for inquiries from our Admissions Officers. Sometimes, they will reach out to international applicants for additional information needed to process an application.
- If you are a prospective applicant, it is a better year to apply than last year. To apply, visit the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre. We are still accepting applications until February 1st. If you are a prospective international applicant, this admission cycle might offer an excellent opportunity to gain admission to Waterloo Engineering. This is particularly true for some of our engineering programs with less competitive application pools.
I unfortunately will not be able to respond to specific questions about the competitiveness of individual programs at this time. Our Engineering Admissions Team is working very hard to ensure that our admissions process goes smoothly this year. I realize many applicants have anxiety about the admissions process. Having a better estimate of your chances will not reduce your anxiety, unfortunately. The only resolution is receiving an offer of admission. Many applicants will have a resolution at the end of March 2021 when we send out our first round of admission offers for Waterloo Engineering.