© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Graduates, parents and friends filled the sporrts centre for the morning program.
The days of UPEI graduating students in record numbers could be coming to an end as the university faces declining enrolments heading into the latest school year.
Recent emails UPEI president Alaa Abd-El-Aziz sent to members of the university community outlined changes in the number of students registered for this fall.
The latest email, sent Tuesday, showed there were 3,943 students registered, which was 159 fewer than on the same day in 2012.
Kathy Kielly, UPEI's registrar, said the university monitors the enrolment numbers and as it gets closer to classes starting, it expects them to change.
"These are preliminary numbers," she said.
According to the latest figures, there were 3,520 full-time and 423 part-time students registered as of Tuesday.
So far this year, the biggest decline was in the faculty of arts with 114 fewer students, followed by a drop of 92 students registered in education, although most of those were part-time students.
There were also 27 fewer business students registered.
Despite the declines it wasn't all bad news with increases to the number of graduate students and undergraduate science students.
Most of the increase in graduate students was in education with 53 more master's degree and 10 more PhD students registered.
Another bright was spot was an increase of 57 international students.
As for individual course registrations, there were 714 fewer and with the university facing a budget crunch that saw it make widespread cuts, UPEI could use the $536 it charges per course and won't get if the registration numbers don't go up.
Kielly said UPEI has anticipated a decline in enrolment because of growth in past years and fewer students to recruit from in the province.
"The past 10 or so years UPEI has seen tremendous growth," he said.
That growth led to several years of record graduating classes, including the most recent which saw 954 people graduate from UPEI.
Kielly said the university predicts about a two per cent drop from last year's enrolment once the final numbers are in, although she stressed things could change between now and then.
"It really does depend on individual students, their registration interests and so on," she said.
Oct. 15 is generally the university's reporting period when it confirms the enrolment numbers, although they could still change throughout the year, Kielly said.
"Every time you focus in on an enrolment it is date specific."