Growth of higher ed

A bright picture for post secondary education in the Okanagan Valley was described Thursday by senior members of Okanagan College and UBCO.

College president Jim Hamilton and UBCO deputy vice chancellor Deborah Buszard held a joint presentation in Vernon on the numbers of students attending their institutions and what it means in terms of the local economy.

“Next year we expect 10,000 students (on the UBCO campus),” said Buszard, “It's a remarkable transformation.”

Buszard said 225 of those students came from the Vernon School District.

“What is signifies is more students don't have to leave to get the education that they want.”

The number of aboriginal students in Okanagan post secondary education has also climbed significantly – from 677 in 2005 to 1,917 in 2015.

However students from the Valley make up less than 30 per cent of the university's student body with many hailing from other parts of Canada or from overseas.

The two described the multimillion dollar impact the institutions had on the economy, including the salaries paid to the large number of employees.

Okanagan College now has the second largest trades training program in B.C., with a new facility expected to open on the Vernon campus by 2018.

Hamilton said it was hoped there would be more than 1,000 full and part-time students on the Vernon campus by next year.

“We're always trying to encourage more students to come and start their education at the college,” said Vernon campus dean Jane Lister.

Lister also pointed out that every year over the past five years, the number of graduates has decreased in School District 22.

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