The number of full-time first-year undergraduate students who enrolled this fall at Canadian universities increased by five per cent according to preliminary data from the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada (AUCC).

Almost all provinces reported significant increases in first-year enrolment, with PEI, Quebec, Ontario and Alberta experiencing the largest gains.

Overall, full-time enrolment of undergraduate students in all years grew by 2.5 per cent across Canada. This brings the number of undergraduate students enrolled in Canadian universities to approximately 513,000 -- the biggest one-year jump since 1991.

The AUCC predicts that universities will face an enrolment crunch in the next decade with enrolment expected to rise at least 20 per cent to 700,000 students.

An annual $1-million science and engineering research prize to be inaugurated next year by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) will honour the best Canadian research.

The winner of the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering may use the prize to fund her or his research over five years or direct it to a related use such as scholarships. The two runners-up will each receive $50,000 in research support. The prize is named for the winner of Canada's first Nobel prize for research in Chemistry.

Nomination kits will be available from NSERC early next month and on the Web at