COMOX VALLEY — North Island College (NIC) will continue to grow its health-care and trades programs, international education, pathways to other post-secondary institutions and physical space for students.
The college’s new president John Bowman just started his new position a few weeks ago, and he says his main aim is to build on the college’s successes.
“North Island College is a very successful institution and an institution that’s of great importance to the region, to all of our communities,” says Bowman, pointing out the college has already made progress in many areas.
“So, really my vision is to continue to support and encourage the success the college has been having over the last number of years, and there’s certainly new opportunities that are going to present that we’re going to pursue.”
Bowman was president and CEO of the College of New Caledonia, which also has a selection of regional campuses, for seven years before he came to NIC to replace retiring president Jan Lindsay. Bowman has worked in the post-secondary system for 22 years.
Bowman notes the two new hospital projects, here and in Campbell River, are a driver for the college to increase its health sciences programming, “so that’s going to be a big priority.” Trades programs will also continue to expand in the coming years, he adds, noting the much-discussed skilled trades worker shortage.
NIC’s international education program is another area he plans to expand in the future.
“We’re excited about the potential for international, both to bring students here, as well as to send our students overseas to gain international experience and learn about the world at large,” says Bowman, noting the program is relatively small, but it’s growing, and it’s financially self supporting.
Bowman will also continue to build on agreements with other institutions established by Lindsay, such as the University of Victoria Dual Admission and Guaranteed Admission programs.
Government funding is an ongoing challenge, says Bowman.
“I think the biggest challenge we face is that the needs are far greater than the resources we currently have or that, frankly, we can realistically expect to secure in the short term,” says Bowman.
“So, we’re under pressure from communities to do more and under the current fiscal environment our real capacity is shrinking so that puts pressure on us to be innovative and to find new ways to be more efficient and more effective — and we’re doing that.”
Securing special funding through contracts with other organizations and other sources is something Bowman plans to continue to focus on.
Though tuition rates have risen each year for a number of years, Bowman points out NIC’s tuition rates are still low compared to other institutions.
“No one wants to see tuition rates increase,” he says. “The thing that people need to know is that a collage education in particular, and college tuition rates, it’s the best value anywhere in terms of the benefit.”
Bowman notes another challenge for the college is a lack of space, especially at the Comox Valley campus.
“Here, we are basically bursting at the seams. We don’t have enough space, and we’re utilizing portable classrooms,” explains Bowman.
“One of our major capital priorities is to replace those portable classrooms with a new building — the teaching and learning centre building here on the Comox Valley campus is a big priority.
“We’d like to see it happen within the next three years, which I think is a realistic time frame.”
Renee Andore is a reporter with Black Press