North Island College planning for the future

Enrolment is down slightly from its peak in 2013-14, but North Island College continues to draw strong attendance in medical and trades

Enrolment is down slightly from its peak in 2013-14, but North Island College continues to draw strong attendance in medical and trades programs, NIC President John Bowman told the School District 72 board of trustees during their regular meeting last week.

The stop was one of about 20 Bowman expected to make throughout the North Island while rolling out North Island College’s five-year strategic plan.

“Our message is, we’re very interested in hearing from our community, our partners and our stakeholders,” Bowman said. “We invite input and feedback into the draft plan we’ve developed.”

To that end, NIC will host a public town hall meeting tomorrow at noon to showcase the draft plan. The meeting is open to all and takes place in the lunchroom at the college’s shared campus with Timberline Secondary in Campbell River.

The five-year plan, which runs through 2020, is being developed as North Island College celebrates its 40th anniversary.

“2015 is an exciting and important year,” Bowman told trustees. “We’re looking forward to significant developments, both in new programming and in upgrading of facilities.”

The current draft of the strategic plan includes nine strategic priorities and 50 goals, which he admits is probably an unwieldy number.

“As part of our consulation process we’re probably consolidating those down,” he said.

To keep his presentation to the board brief, Bowman highlighted three priorities that will take precedence: access to learning and services across the region; active connections to communities; and resources, investment and sustainability.

“Regrettably, over the past several years the province’s core funding has been significantly reduced,” Bowman said. “Now, narrowly targeted and one-time funding from the government is more prevalent. We recognize we need to diversify our revenues and encourage non-government investment.”

Board vice-chair Ted Foster asked about NIC’s current trend in student enrolment, and whether it was moving up or down.

“It varies by program area,” Bowman said. “In total, it peaked in 2013-14 with 2,500-plus FTE (full-time equivalent), and a 10,000 head count. This year we’re down two or three per cent, but it depends on the program area and region.”

Bowman said enrolment remains strong in health programs, and international studies continues a steady trend upward.

“Interest in business programs and trades is very strong,” he said. “Our trades are virtually full to capacity and in some areas we have wait lists.”