Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM)

Read RRC’s SEM Plan

SEM is about Student Success!

Strategic Enrolment Management (SEM) works to determine what is best for students’ success by examining the student lifecycle from prospect through student, graduate and alumnus. SEM is both a concept and a process that focuses on improving the student experience both in and out of the classroom. SEM initiatives, which always focus on student success, can range in size and type throughout the student lifecycle. Institutions have always managed enrolment; what makes SEM different is its use of academic intelligence, research and data to inform learner-centred enrolment strategies and practices.

SEM shifts the focus of enrolment management from the admissions lens to the academic lens. Using a SEM approach, an institution focuses on attracting and retaining students who are well-suited to the mission and academic culture of the institution by enrolling students whose needs naturally fit with what the institution is able to provide.

Red River College began the SEM process by analyzing the College’s strengths and weaknesses, as well as external opportunities and threats that could help or hinder our efforts (a “SWOT” analysis). It also conducted an environmental scan through interviews with 115 College faculty and staff as well as held focus groups with 45 students. This environmental scan identified many opportunities for RRC to consider. Vice-Presidents, Deans, Directors, Chairs and Managers gathered at a Leadership Retreat to help determine which of these opportunities would most likely deliver the best results for our students.

As a result of this retreat, SEM at RRC focuses on three specific areas: (1) Student Access, (2) Student Success and (3) Program Relevance and Innovation. Within these three broad areas, a leadership team identified strategic actions RRC can undertake that will improve the student experience. In addition to improving the experience and outcomes for the general student population, these strategic actions will also focus on the following five important student groups at the College: 

1. Aboriginal 2. Immigrant 3. International 4. Apprenticeship 5. Part-Time, Mature Learners







- Strong enrolment

- Attractive location

- Experienced leadership

- Quality and diversity of programs

- Strong community

- Educational partnerships
(Secondary and Post-Secondary)

- Student and graduate

- Breadth of student
support services

- Student-centred

- Research and program planning support services

- Inquiry capture

- Admit conversion

- Timely transfer evaluations

- Strategic use of awards and scholarships

- Strategic alignment of fundraising opportunities

- Relationship marketing

- Cross-selling

- Recruitment & marketing

- Student retention & success coordination

- Proactive readiness

- Actionable intelligence
Effective use of research
& data

- Focused enrolment goals

- Leveraging technology

- Capacity constraints

- Growing population base

- Adult learner population

- Immigrant population

- Indigenous population

- Flexible learning options

- Leveraging Continuing

- One college concept across
schools and with regional

- Enrolment growth

- Declining high school graduates in the Province

- Low PSE participation rates in the Province

- RRC’s role in high school
graduation rates

- Changing demographics

- Rebounding and shifting

- Existing and emerging
competition (International
& Continuing Education)

- Provincial funding

SEM is not …

  • A quick fix
  • An organizational structure
  • An enhanced admissions and marketing operation
  • A financial drain on the institution
  • An administrative function separate from the academic plan 

- Bontrager & Kerlin

“ . . . SEM is an institution wide process that embraces virtually every aspect of an institution’s function and culture.”
- Michael Dolence

For information about Strategic Enrolment Management at Red River College, contact:

Marni Russell
SEM Project Manager