Campus Digest: Rising enrolment bucks provincial trend

First-year university enrolment projections for the 2014 academic year released last week demonstrate a growing number of top students are attracted by the exceptional learning experience provided by Western.

Ontario Universities’ Application Centre statistics show that Western’s confirmations from Ontario high school students (across all applicant choices) have increased by 11.6 per cent over last year — while the overall Ontario system is down by 3 per cent.

“Western provides the best student experience both inside and outside the classroom, and as a result we continue to attract the highest quality students – provincially, nationally and internationally – while maintaining very high admissions standards,” said Lori Gribbon, director of undergraduate recruitment and admissions at Western.

Applications from Ontario high school students to Western were actually down from last year by 3.3 per cent, a number which outpaced the .7 per cent drop across the whole system.

However, Western’s applications and confirmations from out-of-province and international students also increased significantly this year. Applications increased by 10.4 per cent and confirmations increased by 14 per cent, compared to the Ontario-wide increase of 5.3 per cent.

“Western’s admissions numbers reflect the collaborative efforts of the faculty and staff across our campus,” said Janice Deakin, provost and vice-president (academic). “From achieving excellence in teaching and research, to maintaining an academically challenging and beautiful campus environment in which our students can thrive, Western has been very focused on providing an exceptional learning experience that is sought after by top-quality applicants.”

Western also launched a number of new recruitment initiatives over the past year, including a social media campaign, enhancements to e-newsletters, a new aerial video of campus, several new student video testimonials, and additional out of province and international communications efforts.

“In addition to a more personal recruitment program, we have also found that prospective students are attracted to The Western Guarantee,” Gribbon said. “With admission scholarships, financial aid, guaranteed courses, a spot in residence, and the prospect of accessing Canada’s best student experience, students and their families are discovering that Western is the ideal place to create a foundation for their future.”



According to the School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Western’s Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository had 75,308 full-text downloads and 107 new submissions posted in April. The five most popular theses were:

  1. Technology Based Mental Health Support Strategies for Youth by Kathleen S. Larion, Education, Med, 7.14 downloads per day, 400 downloads to date;
  2. Deep Learning via Stacked Sparse Autoencoders for Automated Voxel-Wise Brain Parcellation Based on Functional Connectivity by Céline Gravelines, Computer Science, MSc, 5.68 downloads per day, 165 downloads to date;
  3. Adolescents Experiences with Cyberbullying: A Mixed Methods Analysis by Nasim Shojayi, Education, MA, 3.97 downloads per day, 143 downloads to date;
  4. Multiparametric Imaging and MR Image Texture Analysis in Brain Tumors by Harish A. Sharma, Medical Biophysics, PhD, 3.45 downloads per day, 121 downloads to date;
  5. Establishing School Safety: Lessons Learned From a High Needs School by Jacqueline Lau, Education, MA, 2.81 downloads per day, 104 downloads to date.

The repository now holds 2,249 records, which have been downloaded a total of 723,238 times.

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Department of English and Writing Studies professor Steven Bruhm was recently awarded the F.E.L. Priestley Prize, which recognizes the best essay published in the journal English Studies in Canada, for his essay The Counterfeit Child, which appeared in the special issue of the journal, entitled Childhood and Its Discontents, in December 2012. The prize is presented annually by the Association of Canadian College and University Teachers of English (ACCUTE).

The paper deals with the image of the child in horror films and literature, implicating the child as often a terrifying not-so-innocent figure in these works.

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Twenty Western graduate students were recently honoured at the 2014 Graduate Student Teaching Awards ceremony. Sponsored by the Society of Graduate Students (SGS), with the support of the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC) and Western’s School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (SGPS), the awards recognize graduate students for their work in front of classrooms.

“They are among our most exciting and stimulating teachers and they are engaged in developing techniques in the classroom and laboratory which will enhance their own careers as scholars and teachers,” said Carol Beynon, SGPS acting vice-provost.

James Goacher, SGS vice-president academic, Jaime (Himeh) Brenes Reyes, PSAC Local 610, joined Beynon in presenting the awards to the following recipients:

Bonnie Alberry, Biology; Houda Babetti, Sociology; Dylan Brennan, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Sarah Burm, Education; David Cahill, History; Anastasia Colomba, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; Allison Cordoba, Sociology; Stephanie Johns, History; Muhammad Ajmal Khan, Civil and Environmental Engineering; Maryse Lariviere, Visual Arts; Renee Mahoney, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Melissa Nash, Health and Rehabilitation Sciences; Robert Nonomura, Sociology; Marcela Otalora, Hispanic Studies; Katie Rabicki, Physiology and Pharmacology; Pegah Saremirad, Chemical and Biochemical Engineering; Winston Wing Hong To, Kinesiology; Tyler Turek, History; Kevin Vuong, Geography; and Chelsea Whitwell, Linguistics.

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Graduate student senators are looking to foster a stronger student community though a first-of-its-kind document aimed as a resource to manage graduate student communities across the campus.

Chemistry graduate student Tom Sutherland said the document, scheduled to be implemented this September, includes information about setting up a student group, how to work with department and program administration, ideas for event programming and advice on dealing with behind-closed door situations.

“In graduate studies here at Western, a lot of the departments have their own graduate student clubs,” Sutherland said. “With SOGS (Society of Graduate Students), funding goes to those clubs, however there are some departments that don’t have one or don’t know what to do with theirs.

“Our goal with these guidelines is to provide the resources graduate students may need to foster a stronger student community much like out undergraduate counterparts.”

Sutherland has been meeting with individuals from various departments and has been trying to keep the document as general as possible, in order to make it relevant to everyone across all faculties.

“But we’re trying to write it to also have a couple different strategies, because what we’re finding what works in one department doesn’t work in another,” he said.

Graduate school can be a bit isolating at times, added Sutherland, so he’s also looking at this through the lense of mental health, to keep students safe over the course of their degree.

Paul Mayne