SUDBURY -- The number of students attending Cambrian College so far this school is much higher than expected, the school said Thursday.

A total of 4,727 students have enrolled in classes, including 3,547 domestic students, 1,180 international students and 256 part-timers. While that's a drop of 344 students compared to fall 2019, it's a much smaller drop than expected. Cambrian had set a goal of enrolling 4,000 students this year.

"Going into this fall semester, colleges and universities across Ontario were bracing for substantial reductions in enrollment," Cambrian said in a news release. "But it’s been a pleasant surprise at Cambrian College."

Renee Scott, Cambrian’s director of Student Success and Recruitment, said it's a "great feeling" to know students are moving ahead with their education despite the challenges.

Stellar team

“Our stellar team in recruitment never stopped working, and our faculty and staff were so engaged, innovative and creative in how they adapted to COVID-19 and supported students throughout this process,” Scott said in the release.

Domestic student enrolment remained steady, the college said, with a dip in international student enrolment.

“Students are resilient and determined,” said Paula Gouveia, Cambrian’s vice-president Academic. "They want to move on and don’t want to let the current COVID-19 situation deter their plans.

“I believe our enrolment numbers are also a show of confidence in how we have handled the COVID situation so far and our hybrid approach to education, with theory continuing online but the campus re-opened for hands-on labs and other learning.

Cambrian College has implemented a number of measures to prioritize safety while allowing its campus to reopen. They include limiting access to campus to those students, faculty, and staff who must be on site to facilitate learning; screening for symptoms of COVID-19 before access is granted; reconfigured spaces to allow for physical distancing, and mandatory wearing of face coverings while on campus.

This year, for the first time as part of fall semester, Cambrian College is accepting new students in November, as it continues its evolution as a year-round institution.