On Campus

Tough economy sees record number of university applicants in Ont.

More students means a higher cut-off average for many exclusive programs

A tough economy is being cited as the reason behind record-level university application numbers in Ontario.

The Council of Ontario Universities says 84,300 applications have been submitted this year – a 1.1 per cent increase over a record set in 2008. The council says the figure is 42 per cent higher than the 59,197 applications made in 2000.

Peter George, chairman of the Council of Ontario Universities, says more people see a university degree as key to a successful career, “particularly when economic conditions are challenging.”

The only year with a higher total was the “double cohort” year of 2003.

That’s when 102,618 students applied to universities after the cancellation of Grade 13, causing two classes to graduate in the same year.

The council said the number of people applying for university typically increases during economic downturns.

“Applicants know that this is a good time to attend university and get that degree or to upgrade their skills, Paul C. Genest, council president, said in a release.

Last year, some 84,000 high school students applied for 64,000 spots at Ontario’s 20 universities.

Grade cut-offs change every year, and vary for each program in each institution. Last year, most schools made offers to students with minimum grades averaging in the mid-70s or 80s.

Several stringent programs made offers only to students whose average grade was in the low to mid-90 range. Those programs included McMaster University’s health sciences, York University’s Schulich School of Business and biotechnology at the University of Waterloo.

Some universities begin making offers of admission as early as February, but most institutions send out rolling offers until late May.

– The Canadian Press

Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.