New statistics show the enrollment crunch is coming

Elementary and high school enrollment has been declining since 2002

In October, I wrote about the coming enrollment crunch, how Canada’s changing demographics will lead to a decline in university enrollment. Well,  a new study, released yesterday by Statistics Canada, suggests that this crunch is already hitting elementary and high schools.

According to the report, enrollment rates at public elementary and secondary schools declined in 2008-09 for the seventh year in a row, after peaking in 2001-02.

Well-known Canadian economist and demographer David Foot has said that he expects university enrollment to start falling off between two and four years from now. And these new numbers suggest that his prediction is probably on the mark. Given the 2001-02 peak, we should see the number of high school graduates start to decline in 2014.

If there’s any silver lining, it’s that these declines have been rather small; between 2002-03 and 2008-09 enrollment at public elementary and secondary schools declined by less than 300,000 students. During that period, most years saw a decline of just under one per cent.

So while the statistics do back up the predictions that enrollment will start to decline it does look like, at least at first, these declines will be small.

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