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Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM)


Michael Dolence, one of the original and foremost experts on SEM defines it as a “comprehensive process designed to help an institution achieve and maintain the optimum recruitment, retention, and graduation rates of students where ‘optimum’ is defined within the academic context of the institution. As such, SEM is an institution-wide process that embraces virtually every aspect of an institution’s function and culture.”

 Although McGill has always engaged in enrolment management activities, our actions were not always mindfully aligned with an explicit strategy. In 2007, steps were taken to advance strategic enrolment management (SEM) and to establish the foundation for creating an overarching enrolment plan. We were guided to a large extent by many of the principles advanced by David Kalsbeek:

  • Decision-making that upholds and advances the University’s mission.
  • The need to be strategic in order to optimize our financial position so that we have the resources to serve our students and professors.
  • A systematic and comprehensive evaluation of the University’s competitive position.
  • The development of an evidence-based definition of the University’s target position relative to key competitors.
  • Consideration of institutional plans, priorities, processes, and resources to strengthen or shift that target position in pursuit of the desired enrolment, academic, and financial profile.
  • A commitment to the view that strategies and decisions should be based on integrated and cooperative strategic and budget planning across the University’s various constituencies (viz., campuses, faculties and units, academic programs) and relevant to various student subgroups (e.g., undergraduate, graduate, and professional; those pursuing degrees, diplomas, and certificates or not; continuing-education students; special, visiting, and exchange students; etc.).
  • A multifaceted approach that incorporates administrative, academic, student, and marketing perspectives.

McGill’s SEM plan was based on extensive consultation across our campuses, and it articulates six strategic imperatives through which enrolment planning will be conducted:

I.        Research Intensity, Student and Academic Excellence

McGill will align enrolment management strategies and activities with its focus on research intensity, on the quality of its students, and on academic distinction.

II.      Service to Community and Society

McGill’s undergraduate, graduate, professional and continuing education programs will serve and enhance the well-being of Quebec, Canada and the world.

III.    Engagement in the University Community

McGill will foster and maintain a connected, supportive and dynamic relationship among its students, academic, administrative and support staff, and alumni.

IV.   International Stature

McGill will encourage an enrolment profile and a learning experience that aligns with its distinguished international stature.

V.     Diversity and Accessibility

McGill will align its resources to enhance accessibility and to encourage the development of a diverse population of excellent students, academic, administrative and support staff.

VI.   Financial Sustainability

McGill will ensure that enrolment strategies are sustainable within the financial resources of the University.

A full copy of the McGill Strategic Enrolment Managament plan can be found here.