University students prefer 'practical' programs

Ontario statistics show what's popular this fall

Ryerson University students (Jessica Darmanin)

Areas of study generally considered more practical will welcome many more students this fall in Ontario according to new statistics from the Ontario Universities’ Application Centre.

The total number of students who have graduated from Ontario secondary schools and confirmed that they will enroll full-time at Ontario universities this fall is up 3.2 per cent year over year.

Arts is still the top choice with 24,982 confirmations, but that’s down 1.6 per cent.

Science (15,636), engineering (6,926) and nursing (1,806) programs show strong growth, up 5.2, 6.7 and 5.0 per cent respectively. Combined, that’s roughly equal to the number entering arts.

The biggest growth in 2013 will be in business administration (also known as commerce). Business will welcome 10,333 new Ontario secondary graduates this fall, up 7.3 per cent over last year.

The only major decline is in education, where supply and demand for graduates is so out of whack that the province recently announced it will halve admissions in 2015. That’s down 6.4 per cent.

While the trend in recent years has been toward programs perceived to be more practical, no degree guarantees a job and, contrary to popular belief, science isn’t necessarily better than arts.

Similarly, while nursing degrees have become popular in recent years due to the perception that an aging population will mean more jobs, there’s no guarantee the province will fund new positions.

What matters is that every degree offers some transferable skills (like research and writing), and while few are designed to fully prepare graduates for specific careers, the vast majority lead to jobs.

Looking for more?

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