COVID-19 pandemic sparks buzz for university virus programs

The pandemic is spreading interest in science related to viruses. Epidemiology, immunology, public health: master’s and doctoral programs are more popular than ever in Quebec universities.

This growing attraction for these branches of medicine was observed before the appearance of the coronavirus, but the trend is not running out of steam. The number of applications for admission to the four Quebec universities offering these graduate programs is increasing by around one hundred each year.

The increase is particularly clear for public health programs. At Laval University, admissions applications jumped from 181 to 386 between the start of the 2017 academic year and the 2021 academic year. Sylvain-Georges Bourgoin, faculty manager for graduate studies at Laval University, speaks of a “Marked increase for three years”.

“There are needs in health networks all over the world for statistical analysis, to help administrators in their decision-making,” he notes. We are more and more in evidence-based decisions. “

The University of Montreal also notes this enthusiasm for pandemic sciences, even without being able to provide data for the current year. Geneviève O’Meara, from University Communications, however, cannot guarantee that the new coronavirus is responsible for the increase in admission requests. “Is that just that?” Probably not. But to say that it is a factor, no one would be wrong, ”she notes.

A stardom was established around these specializations largely unknown to the general public just two years ago, she points out. “We saw them already, but there, they became stars. Not a day goes by without hearing from an expert in microbiology, epidemiology, data analysis, health policy analysis. “

She adds that the number of admission requests reflects interest in these programs, but that actual enrollments are leveling off because of the quota.

New places could open in the coming years, according to her, as for all the other programs of the University. A resource analysis opens up more places, but the process takes several years. “The pandemic has shown us that there are different training needs and a craze that emerges in these training courses in microbiology, epidemiology, etc. There is a growing interest in certain study programs, but also in certain fields of study. We will take the time to assess and see what we are going to do and make available to our teachers and our future students to be able to accept more. “

This text is taken from our newsletter “The Coronavirus Mail” dated November 22, 2021. To subscribe, click here.

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