TORONTO - Canadian universities are bursting at the seams as enrolment continues to rise and some insiders worry schools won't be able to handle the strain.

The Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada says the number of full-time university students has jumped by 326-thousand in the past 15 years, an increase of 57 per cent.

It cites a number of reasons, including changes in the labour market, immigration patterns and the economic returns associated with university degrees.

In Ontario, figures show the number of high school students applying to the province's 20 universities has gone up 2.4 per cent over last year.

Council of Ontario Universities president Bonnie Patterson says the continuous rise in enrolment raises concerns about maintaining the quality of education unless there is increased funding to go with the extra students.