The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on enrolment numbers at Selkirk College is less than expected as the regional post-secondary moves towards the completion of the first full semester under strict health and safety protocols.
Following the direction of the BC Provincial Health Officer and considered an essential service, post-secondary education at Selkirk College’s multiple campuses throughout the region has been taking place through a hybrid delivery model that is in-person where possible and online where required.
Recently released final headcount numbers for the fall semester show a decrease of nine per cent in domestic students and 27 per cent decrease in international students compared to the same period in 2019. In total, Selkirk College has 2,359 students enrolled in more than 60 programs that are either hybrid delivery or fully online. Demand from domestic students for many programs—such as those in the School of Industry & Trades Training—has not waned, but enrolment limitations due to physical distancing rules currently require smaller in-person class sizes.
“Any drop in enrolment presents a challenge for the college, but we are thankful that students continue to incorporate post-secondary into their current and future plans,” says Vice President of Students & Advancement John Kincaid. “As an institution, we have worked extremely hard in all areas of our programming and services to present a learning environment that places a priority on safety for students and staff while continuing to deliver the programs that will be vital to our student’s future and the overall recovery of our region.”
Other than ongoing cohort-based programs that continue into the new year, Selkirk College opens its winter semester registration on November 18 to enable new students to start their post-secondary ambitions. Those interested in opportunities in a multitude of program areas can begin in January 2021.
What Delivery Will Look Like in Winter Semester
To ensure that both current students and staff are able to maintain the momentum created in the revised delivery method, the winter semester at Selkirk will remain much the same as what is currently taking place. Though planning for a steady increase in on-campus activity continues, it will be contingent upon the progression of the pandemic.
“Both students and faculty have responded very well to the pivot we have made in terms of delivery of programs and I am so grateful for their ongoing efforts,” says Rhys Andrews, Vice President of Education. “We know that most students are looking for more opportunities to learn in-person, that is the strength of what we do at Selkirk College. Though the winter semester will look much like the current hybrid model, our teams are working hard to continue to meet the needs of students and increase activity on our campuses where possible.”
Programs in the School of Industry & Trades Training, where hands-on learning is required, have been running in-person on Nelson’s Silver King Campus with reduced numbers since May. On the Castlegar Campus, in-person labs are being conducted in the School of University Arts & Sciences, the School of Environment & Geomatics and the School of Health & Human Services. Many of these programs are complimented by online lectures and activities.
Compared to other post-secondary institutions in the province, Selkirk College’s rural location is an advantage when it comes to the ability to safely operate vital components of program curriculum on campus. It is estimated that just under 35 per cent of overall program delivery is being conducted in-person.
“Our health and safety department has worked closely with facilities staff to create an environment that is safe for both students and staff,” says Andrews. “If infection rates remain relatively low in our region, we are confident in-person learning can be slowly increased as we move into spring and summer terms. That said, we will continue to deliver many of our programs primarily online for the winter semester in order to provide stability to those students who have decided to stay in their home communities.”
Selkirk College recognizes there is more to college life than assignments, labs, lectures and tests. Wrap-around supports, services and student life activities have also been adapted to meet safety protocols.
“The pandemic has presented numerous challenges for students who may be facing financial and mental health struggles during this time,” says Kincaid. “We continue to work hard to provide services and resources that point the way towards overcoming and finding success. We are very aware that the college community needs to stay both physically and mentally active as we navigate through the evolving situation.”
You can find out more about Selkirk College’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and discover opportunities for a post-secondary future at: selkirk.ca/now.