Career courses see enrollment boost during pandemic

September 11, 2020

When the pandemic was declared in March, staff and instructors at SFU Continuing Studies quickly began to pivot hundreds of in-person offerings to online-supported delivery. The unexpected result was a 26 per cent enrollment increase in career and professional programming over the same spring and summer period last year.

“For anyone who wonders whether adult learners have embraced the move to online learning, our enrollment figures clearly indicate they do,” says Patricia Graca, director of enrollment and student services. Before the pandemic, 31 per cent of SFU Continuing Studies programming was already being delivered online.

Comparing 2019 and 2020 courses with start dates from March 15 to September 15, the number of registrations in career and professional offerings rose from 2,704 to 3,396 this year. In addition, the number of registered students in this program area jumped by 367 over the same period last year.

“Many students have told us how much they appreciate the opportunity to continue their learning safely during this challenging time,” says Graca. “They’ve also discovered the convenience and flexibility of online classes when they’re managing work and other commitments.”

Not to be left out of the digital learning trend are older learners. More than 350 students in SFU’s Liberal Arts and 55+ Program, with an average age of 68, made the switch to online learning in the past six months. While the program attracts mostly students in the Vancouver area, the transition to virtual classrooms has now drawn learners from across Canada and beyond—as far afield as Belfast and Bangladesh.