Campus Life  

Student surge pushes College growth close to 20 per cent

Okanagan College Media Release

Okanagan College campuses are bracing for another year of record enrolments as early registrations point to a double-digit increase in student numbers.

“We’re seeing a 19 per cent year-to-date increase in registrations,” says Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton. “The pattern that has seen us grow more than 65 per cent in the last five years looks to be accelerating.”

And the rush isn’t over yet for this fall – students can still apply and register in many programs at each of the College’s four campuses until Sept. 17.

This year’s surge in student numbers will stretch the College’s lengthening record of exceptional growth, notes Hamilton. “Last year, we educated more than 8,500 full-time equivalent (FTE) students, including more than 420 international student FTEs. More than 20,000 people took courses and programs with us.

“We’re now the largest college east of the Lower Mainland and the second largest trades training institution in British Columbia. We are bigger than Okanagan University College was when it split in 2005 to become Okanagan College and UBC Okanagan.”

For each of the five years since that transition, Okanagan College has outperformed provincial government targets for student spaces.

Most important, says Hamilton, is that the growth means the College is providing much-needed education and training opportunities for the area’s citizens.

“We’ve offered a growing range of programs throughout the region.”

So far, Okanagan College has registered 745 more students than it did last year at this point in the registration cycle.

Hamilton warns against putting too much stock in campus-specific numbers at this point because of differing registration patterns. Vernon, for instance, shows just a two per cent increase year-to-date over last year, but the snapshot of registrations was taken last Friday – before Vernon started registering students in one of the big program areas.

“You’ll probably see those numbers change the whole picture at Vernon,” he explains.

And at other campuses, where students in some programs were registered a week earlier than last year, there are whopping increases – as much as 53 per cent in Penticton and 61 per cent in Salmon Arm. Kelowna, with similar registration patterns to last year, showed 17 per cent.

“That’s the reason we really focus on the mid-September stable enrolment date as our reference point,” explains Okanagan College Registrar Jane Muskens. “But it is clear from the early numbers and the level of activity that it will be another year of significant growth.”

Okanagan College serves an area that stretches from Revelstoke to the U.S. border.

New programs being introduced at Okanagan College include: Studio Woodworking Certificate, Advanced Communications Certificate, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Mechanic, Domestic/Commercial Gasfitter Apprenticeship, and Domestic/Residential Certified Geothermal Technician Apprenticeship.

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