APPLICATIONS to Brandon University have soared this year, running 20 per cent more than a year ago.
"People are pretty much over the strike," said BU president Deborah Poff. After suffering the longest faculty strike in Manitoba history in 2011, BU has bounced back and expects enrolment to grow in September, she said.
The numbers are welcome, but where BU has shown success is in paying more attention to retaining current students, recruiting more intensely and paying more attention to the students it hopes to enrol.
BU's admissions department says 636 people have applied to attend the university as new students beginning this fall. That compares to 528 at the same time early in 2012, 619 in 2011, and 567 in 2010.
"We're also up significantly in international applications," Poff said. "It tells us that we're doing the right thing."
She noted BU is in the third year of a five-year strategic plan, one element of which called for hiring a director of recruitment and retention and two student-success officers.
"The dean of students, for the first time, is going to India, China and Bangladesh in a systematic way," Poff said. BU was part of a Manitoba trade mission to Brazil, which has so far netted student applications.
BU now has a full-time director of international activities, the president said. In Brandon, "we're opening up the university more," an extensive open house at Winterlude being the most recent example.
"We'll have a number of evening coffee klatches with people who've never been to university... this is for mature, non-traditional students."
While Poff was uncertain how closely applications produce enrolments, she said first-year enrolment was up this past September. That comes from not being passive and not waiting for students to decide where they'll go: "We're now much more proactive in contacting students," she said.
-- Nick Martin