Enrolment numbers are up at Thompson Rivers University in Williams Lake, something executive director Dr. Ray Sanders did not think would be the case following the summer’s wildfires.
“When I got back that first week after the fires and looked at our numbers, we were at minus 97 per cent,” Sanders told the Tribune Friday. “In the fall term, we ended with our enrolment up 24 per cent up and this term, even more students have come back. We are up 36 per cent.”
Sanders credits the increase to the fact people in the region are concerned about jobs.
“Drilling down and looking at the numbers, they are up in areas where people are thinking about jobs,” Sanders explained. “Our Faculty of Arts is down 16 per cent, but we are up in areas like the Faculty of Education and Social Work, university preparation and Early Childhood Education. People are thinking about work and upgrading.”
The school of business, economics and business is up 167 per cent.
“Last year we had 72 students enrolled this year we have 192,” he added. “Part of that is because we offer an extra applied business technology program through continuing studies.”
Before students had to take the whole program or if they wanted a piece of it they had to pay half of the total tuition to take it.
Sanders said that has changed so students can take the courses they need, such as web development.
“We also offered the first year of the Bachelor of Business Administration and every year we plan to add a year if the numbers continue to come up,” Sanders said.
The campus in Williams Lake has a new marketing and recruitment manager, Reta Langlands, who started on Jan. 3 after moving to the lakecity from Kamloops with her husband.
“Business training is such a great foundation because it not only gives you basic skills of Excel and Power Point which are needed in a modern office environment, but it also gives you the critical thinking skills to make decisions,” Langlands said. “It goes into so many different types of job areas.”
While the number of international students is down in Williams Lake presently, Sanders said it will be back up again when there is another intake for the practical nursing program in the fall of 2018.
“We are now offering a university level human anatomy and physiology course on campus beginning Jan. 30 as an added incentive for students to take it before the intake in the fall,” Langlands explained.
In February, the campus’s Health Care Assistant Program will begin, and Langlands said there are only a few seats left.
The program will be offered every year to meet the need as more longterm care facilities are being opened, Sanders said.
When Langlands was working at the TRU campus in Kamloops, she noticed that “nursing” was the number one search word on the university’s website.
“We are kind of a unique campus here in WilliamsLake because we offer the Bachelor of Science in Nursing year one and two, Practical Nursing and the Health Care Assistant Program,” she said.
Housing for students coming from out of town continues to be an issue, and Sanders said TRU has been looking at the possibility of using the former Columneetza Secondary School dorms to house university students.
“We also have 14 acres here at our compus and we could work with some investors to make it work,” he added. “Housing has to be close because often students coming here do not have a vehicle.”