Okanagan College has seen its number increase steadily over the last few years.—Image: Alistair Waters/Capital News

Okanagan College numbers growing

College expects biggest ever enrolment next year

Desire for an Okanagan College education appears to be growing.

College officials say student enrollment is on track to be the highest ever in 2018-19, surpassing its previous record of 8,516 set in 2009-10.

The estimation is based on a “snapshot” headcount of domestic and international students done in September that showed a total of 7,374 students at the four OC campuses–Kelowna, Vernon, Penticton and Salmon Arm—as well as distance education students. The number marks a 4.3 per cent increase over 2016.

“Clearly if the growth trend continues, we are likely to see enrollment in 2018/19 that will be the largest ever for the college,” said OC vice-president of academics Andrew Hay.

The college is expecting to see about 350 more students enroll in January.

And, while the college says the increase may require the use of portables for classrooms in the future, no decision has been made on that yet and currently no students are being taught in portable classrooms. The only use of a portable is for some college office staff, said Hay

According to the Hay, the Kelowna campus—the largest of the four—saw a 3.2 per cent increase in students this year and in September had just over 4,900, students. Vernon had 800 students in September, Penticton 782 and Salmon Arm 404. The college says it also has 482 distance education students.

Okanagan College is also proving more popular with international students, particularly OC’s highly regarded Okanagan School of Business and its science programs. The number of international students rose to 876 in September from 683 in 2016.

“We have already surpassed the peak enrollment of (the former) Okanagan University College, which was split roughly 60/40 between OC and UBC Okanagan in 2005.

“So growth continues in a steady way at the college and we continue to surpass government expectations,” said Hay

In addition to the student numbers, the college also has a number of capital projects underway or in the works.

There is a new health sciences building in the design phase for Kelowna with construction scheduled to start next year and the new trades building on the Vernon campus now under construction. As well, a new welding building for the Penticton campus will break ground soon.

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