Student Demographics

In September of this year, Statistics Canada reported that people aged 65 and older now slightly outnumber those who are 14 or younger. By 2024, seniors will make up one-fifth of the Canadian population. Canada is not alone; overall population will age in regions across the world, most notably in countries in the developed world (e.g., Japan, Korea, China, and Europe).

In contrast to this situation, the 2014 Campus Alberta Planning Resource predicts:

  • The 18- to 34-year old population of Alberta will increase by 6.1 per cent between 2013 and 2023, including 6.2 per cent, 9.2 per cent and 6.7 per cent increases in Edmonton, Calgary and Central Alberta, respectively, largely driven by in-migration to and the ongoing urbanization of the province.

These demographic predictions suggest that Alberta universities will not face the declines in student enrolment predicted in the rest of the country, with two important caveats. First, these predictions were made during a stronger economic period in Alberta, and second that Alberta also faces perennially low postsecondary participation rates.

Historically, post-secondary participation in Alberta has lagged four to seven per cent behind the national average. For example, the post-secondary participation rate for Albertans aged 18-34 was 18 per cent in 2013, six percent below the national average. On the other hand, university degree attainment for Albertans aged 25 to 64 years was 26.3 per cent in 2013, only 2 per cent below the national average. Lower post-secondary participation rates in Alberta, usually driven by high employment rates, are often counterbalanced by the arrival of interprovincial migrants whose credentials are already in place.