Upward Trend for Undergrad Enrolment
Not Matched in Postgraduate Engineering
national survey by the Canadian Engineering Resources Board (CERB)
points to a continuing
rise in the number of students enrolled full-time in undergraduate engineering
programs in Canada. Based on data collected in the spring of 1999, the
results show that close to one in five undergraduate engineering students
The CERB report, Canadian Engineers for Tomorrow, provides statistics
on engineering enrolment and degrees awarded from 1994 through 1998 (the
latest degree figures relate to 1998 and enrolment is based on the 1998-99
In 1998-99, Canada-wide there were 44,824 full-time undergraduate students
(4,588 of them in Alberta), of whom 8,737 or 19.5 per cent were female.
Nationally, the total undergraduate enrolment rose by 4.5 per cent between
1996-97 and 1997-98. In 1994, when enrolment reached 41,837, female students
accounted for 18.3 per cent of that total.
Reporting on enrolment trends, the report says: " Most disciplines of
engineering have experienced growth except civil engineering, which experienced
a 30-per-cent decrease since 1994."
Fewer undergraduate degrees (7,826) were awarded in 1998 than in each
of the preceding three years (7,917 in 1995; 8,139 in 1996 and 7,873 in
1997). In Alberta, the 722 degrees awarded represented an increase from
the 694 granted in 1997 and a marginal decline from the 1996 figure of
The 132 women who received undergraduate engineering degrees in Alberta
in 1998 amounted to 18 per cent of the graduating total. British Columbia
had fewer graduates (543) but of those (168) 31 per cent were women.
By discipline nationally, electrical (1,820), mechanical (1,720 ) and
civil (1,334) had the highest numbers of degrees awarded in 1998 but,
except for electrical,
the figures represent a decrease in absolute terms.
The CERB, which operates under the auspices of the Canadian Council of
Professional Engineers, also notes in its report: "The number of undergraduate
degrees awarded has increased in the majority of disciplines since 1994,
except for civil, mechanical and to a lesser extent materials and metallurgical
engineering and engineering science. In every discipline, the number of
degrees awarded to women has increased since 1994."
While, undergraduate enrolment has risen, the overall graduate enrolment,
including both full-time and part-time students, declined
over the five-year period under review. However, part-time master's enrolment
showed a 24 per cent jump from 1997 to 1998. In the case of PhD candidates,
there was decline in enrolments (down by seven per cent for full-time
and 25 per cent for part-time).
Commenting on the graduate scene, the report states: "Full-time enrolment
in master's programs generally decreased over the past five years with
the exception of electrical, computer, geological and the newest field
of software engineering. Electrical engineering was the most popular of
all disciplines at the master's and doctoral level, with 27 per cent of
total engineering postgraduate students in 1998."
The combined figures for doctoral and master's degrees have remained
fairly steady at around 2,500 for each of the five years under review,
with PhDs awarded amounting to about a quarter of that total over the
The report also offers information on international trends. For instance,
it notes that while Canada continues to show an increase in engineering
enrolment, the United States registered a 1.5-per-cent drop, although
there was a slight increase of women studying engineering in the U.S.