U of A welcomes new academic year
(Edmonton) As the anticipation builds ahead of the first day of classes Sept. 5, the University of Alberta is set to roll out a 2012–13 academic year of high expectations, firsts and fond looks back.
The U of A will begin its 104th year of classes with more than 39,000 students—the most the university has ever had—walking the five campuses that make up the institution.
“I am delighted to welcome all our students—new and returning—to the U of A,” said Indira Samarasekera, president of the University of Alberta. “Here, we aim to challenge and inspire our talented students to help them fulfil their potential and make the most of their university experience.”
According to Gerry Kendal, the U of A registrar, the total undergraduate student population—up by about 300 students over last year—is 31,900, including 3,100 international students. This year, 8,500 students are new to the U of A, including 250 new Aboriginal students.
Kendal reported that more than 13,000 students applied directly from high school—a 24 per cent increase since 2009.
“This shows the significant strength of the U of A to increasingly attract high-school students at a time when other institutions are noticing declines,” said Kendal.
He attributes some of the surge in interest in the U of A to the ongoing popularity of arts and science, as well as the reinstatement of direct entry to the Faculty of Education’s bachelor of education program. “This was lost in the realignments of the mid-1990s and attracted more than 300 applicants in this first year after a long time.”
The university will also play host to 7,300 grad students, of which 1,100 are new to the U of A.
Kendal said applications from students transferring from other post-secondary institutions also rose. “The recruiting program continues to produce strong results with the faculty recruiters working closely with those in the Office of the Registrar.”
The 2012-13 year will also offer up a fond look back. The Faculty of Extension will continue its centenary celebrations, while the Faculty of Law, the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry and the Golden Bears hockey program are all turning 100.
"I am particularly excited about this upcoming school year," said Martin Ferguson-Pell, who set aside his role as dean in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine to take on the job as acting provost while Carl Amrhein is on sabbatical. "I am amazed at just how creative University of Alberta faculty are in enhancing the student experience and in capturing the vitality of Alberta."