Definitions

Terminology

This office provides a wide variety of information not only to members of the UVic community, but to many external organizations and individuals. Two of the most frequently asked questions are what is the enrolment for a given faculty or department at UVic, and what is an EET. Answering such questions requires that a distinction be made between the three most common enrolment terms: student headcount, full-time equivalent students (FTEs) and equivalent enrolments taught (EETs). The distinctions are important, because enrolment is the key determinant of UVic's operating grant, and because enrolment is the subject of many statistical reports required by the BC Government.

Student Headcount

Headcount refers to the number of individual students registered in credit courses (but excluding auditors) at a particular time. Headcount can be further broken down into full-time and part-time at both the undergraduate and graduate levels.

A full-time undergraduate student at UVic is defined as one who is registered in at least twelve units of coursework over the winter session, or one who is on a work term as part of a co-op program during that session. A part-time undergraduate student is one who is registered in fewer than twelve units and who is not registered in a co-op work term. (Institutions operating on a semester system generally define full-time students as those registered in the equivalent of six units/twelve credits in any semester.)

A full-time graduate student at UVic may be registered for the entire winter session or for only one term. If the student is registered for the entire session and is enrolled in a minimum of three units, or in a dissertation (699), thesis (599), project (598 and some 596) or co-op work term (800+) during any part of the session, then the student is classified as full-time. If the graduate student is only registered for one term of the winter session or for the summer session, she is considered full-time if enrolled in a minimum of three units, or in a dissertation, thesis, project or co-op work term. A part-time graduate student is one who does not meet the criteria for full-time status. See the Graduate Studies Calendar for the most up-to-date information (e.g., 2006/07 Graduate Calendar page 19).

Student headcount is the enrolment measure most commonly referred to in the media and is arguably the most useful measure for counting applications or admissions and degree awards, and for providing general descriptions of the student population (by gender, age, immigration status, etc.). However, it provides, at best, a confusing answer to the question, "How many History students are there at UVic?" Because many undergraduate students are not required to declare a program (e.g. History) until well into their studies, a count of declared headcount students will exclude those who intend to, but who have not yet declared. In some academic units, such as the Faculty of Business, the professional schools in Human & Social Development, and the Engineering departments, no declaration is necessary, as admission to the faculty is tantamount to a program declaration. However, in other faculties/departments, it is much more difficult to classify a student who has not formally declared a program.

Full-Time Equivalent Students

FTEs measure the number of equivalent students enrolled if all students (full- and part-time) were to take a "normal" courseload. For undergraduate students, a normal courseload is the load required to complete a full degree, normally the equivalent of four winter sessions, and is therefore determined by a given program and year level.

For most undergraduate students, FTE is calculated by dividing the student's total annual unit course registrations by 15 (the normal course load for a 60-unit degree requirement). Exceptions to the 15 units divisor occur when a program's normal course load exceeds 15 units (e.g. in year two of Electrical Engineering, the normal courseload, and therefore the divisor, is 18 units). An undeclared student in the Faculty of Science registered in 12 units in the winter session would, therefore, constitute 0.8 FTE; if he were to register in an additional 6 units in the summer session, he would represent an additional 0.4 FTE, for a total of 1.2 FTE over the entire year.

Graduate students are assigned an FTE value depending on whether or not they are enrolled full-time and whether or not they are on a work term: a full-time graduate student (not on work term) is assigned an FTE value of 1.00; a full-time graduate student on a co-op work term is assigned a value of 0.33; a part-time graduate student is assigned an FTE value of 0.33.

The relationship between FTE and headcount enrolment can be illustrated by examining the average FTE value per student for the 1996/97 winter session:

Undergraduates
10,392 FTE / 15,077 headcount
= 0.69 FTE/student

Graduates
1,795 FTE / 2,068 headcount
= 0.87 FTE/student

FTEs provide the most common standardized measure for comparing enrolment across universities, or within universities by faculty, year of study, etc. (Different provinces apply similar but rarely identical formulae to compute FTE.) The FTE measure is particularly useful for capturing changes in student activity over an academic year (i.e. a student's FTE value can be computed for each session and term, and it can be annualized for the academic year overall). .

FTEs are not normally calculated at the level of a degree program, since many students do not declare their degree program until their, or even, fourth year. To obtain a meaningful picture of individual departmental/school enrolments, a third measure equivalent enrolments taught is most often used.

Equivalent Enrolments Taught

EETs measure the amount of undergraduate instruction provided by each of the academic units (whereas FTEs measure the amount of instruction received by students). EETs are based on departmental unit course registrations (UCRs). A 1.5 unit English class in which 30 students are registered represents 45 UCRs; a 3 unit History class taken by 6 students represents 18 UCRs. Undergraduate EETs are simply UCRs divided by 15 units. As 15 units is a normal courseload in most programs, there is a close (but not identical) mathematical relationship between EETs and FTEs: an undeclared student in the Faculty of Science registered in 15 units of study represents both 1.0 FTE and 1.0 EET. The FTE is assigned to the Faculty of Science. The EET, however, might be assigned 0.4 to the Department of History (e.g. registrations in 2 3-unit History courses), 0.1 to the Department of Computer Science (e.g. 1 registration in a 1.5 unit Computing course), and 0.5 to the Department of Psychology (e.g. 1 registration in a 3-unit, and 3 registrations in 1.5 unit Psychology courses).

Graduate level EETs are defined as equivalent to graduate level FTEs.

In combination with expenditure and staffing information, EETs are the most appropriate measure for examining such issues as faculty-student ratios and expenditures per student (specifically, FTE faculty per EET, and expenditure per EET). As with FTEs, EETs can also be weighted to reflect teaching/delivery cost differences among academic units. By tradition, undergraduate EETs (as reported in the Academic Resource Allocation Indices report) are assigned a weight of 1.0, master's level EETs 2.0 and doctoral level EETs 3.0. (Unweighted EETs are, of course, also reported.)

Other Issues

Enrolments are sensitive to the date on which they are counted. For official external reporting, UVic's enrolments as at August 1, November 1, and March 1 are variously used to ensure consistency across reporting years, and to reflect the deadline for student course withdrawals. For unofficial purposes, counts taken on the first day of fall classes, and one month into fall classes are also used to monitor and analyze enrolment patterns.

As the most "official" of all enrolment measures, UVic's annual FTE counts are subject to external audit. Though government operating grants and funding decisions are not linked exclusively to FTEs, FTEs serve as the primary basis for allocating increases to university operating grants.

UVic provides enrolment data to internal university users such as the University Presidents' Council (TUPC); the Ministry of Advanced Education; Statistics Canada; Maclean's Magazine; the BC LINKfile data base. In some cases, definitions, calculation procedures, and reporting practices differ among these organizations, creating some confusion as to the "correct" enrolment number. (Some examples: (a) the most common definition of a full-time student for student aid purposes is one who is registered in 4.5 units per term (9 units per winter session), rather than the 12 units referred to above; (b) according to TUPC definitions, all doctoral students are full-time regardless of their courseload.)

 

   
 
 
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