University credit course cuts at NWCC

Face-to-face classroom instruction may be ending for university credit courses at the Northwest Community College Smithers campus.

Northwest Community College Smithers campus.

Northwest Community College is on the verge of cutting the number of university credit classes it offers at its main campus locations of Terrace, Prince Rupert and Smithers.

And, in Smithers, it could mean the end of face-to-face classroom instruction.

The result will also mean fewer university credit instructors being employed at the college.

College communications director Sarah Zimmerman said no decisions have been made but that the college needs to respond to budget pressures and lower enrolments specifically in its academic programs.

What we’re trying to do is minimize the impact,” she said of everything from offering early retirement incentives and voluntary severance packages to instructors to combining classes where it makes sense to do so.

A number of instructors have already been given notices of at least partial layoffs in accordance with union contracts, said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman was responding to an April 2 release by the Northwest Community College Students’ Union which indicated college officials were about to cut up to 40 university courses – 15 in Prince Rupert, 6 in Terrace, and 14 in Smithers.

Since there are only 14 courses being offered in Smithers, it would mean the end of classroom instruction there, said the union.

The one place locals can start a post-secondary education in our region is Northwest Community College,” said students’ union chair Steve Verblac in criticizing the college’s plan.

Trades and other programs, so far, have not been affected.

Zimmerman did not confirm nor deny the numbers released by the students’ union but said in places such as Smithers, alternatives to direct classroom instruction are possible.

To say that we won’t be offering instruction in Smithers isn’t true. We’re going to ensure there are options for our students,” she said.

The college already offers classes through closed-circuit viewing in which students in one community are taught by an instructor in another community.

What the college must do is match its course offerings with the enrolment it has and with the needs of its students, said Zimmerman.

There has been a drop in academic program enrolment, a circumstance that could have been caused by the demand for workers on large scale industrial projects in the past several years.

But with large projects such as Rio Tinto Alcan’s aluminum smelter rebuilding project winding down, there might be renewed interest in going to college, said Zimmerman.

She said an exact budget picture isn’t available but that a proposed spending plan will be put to the college’s board this month in Smithers.

At that point the board will then develop its plan,” she said.

Any course offering reduction and loss of employees is difficult, Zimmerman added.

This is not an exercise anyone takes pleasure in doing,” she said.

 

Province targets funds for job training

NWCC student union organizer Mikael Jensen pointed out that targeted funding puts limits on what programming some of the money received from the province can be spent on.

When that targeted funding comes out, it is higher on a per seat basis than base funding,” said Jensen.

The operating budget for the college is $17.2 million. Discretionary base funding is at $15.85 million. Target funding is at $1.35 million. But target funding for courses is $470 higher for each full time student.

There are 125 full time student seats that fall under target funding, and 1,539 who fall under base funding.

B.C.’s Skills for Jobs Blueprint explains how the government plans to “re-engineer education and training so that British Columbians will have the skills needed to fill the one million job openings anticipated in the province by 2022.”

That plan is to increase target funding to courses the province sees as training for jobs in demand.

The blueprint reads “as a result, in 2014/15, the amount of targeted funding within sector-wide operating grants has increased by $40 million, to almost $230 million. This targeted funding will increase to almost $320 million in 2015/16, $410 million in 2016/17, and almost $460 million by 2017/18.”

Post secondary institutions including NWCC are required to complete annual Skills Gap Plans starting this spring on how to implement programming that directly aligns with the province’s priorities.

The February budget letter to NWCC states that “institutions not achieving Skills Gap Plan targets will have funding redirected.”

A lot of these skills things will get you a job but they won’t get you a career. We would like the college to focus on getting people careers as opposed to getting people jobs,” said Jensen.

 

With files from Rod Link, Terrace Standard

Just Posted

Gitdumden checkpoint blocks access to Unist’ot’en camp

Wet’suwet’en clan members say Morice Lake Forest Service Rd checkpoint in effect until further notice.

Alumni game for charity

BVCS takes on Smithers Secondary in a charity basketball game to benefit the food bank.

Carolfest

Carolfest a youthful celebration of holiday music

Competition and camaraderie

The tables were turned on one hockey mom: ‘Two hands, mom! Stick on the ice! Skate! Offside!’

All Otters finish in top 3 of swim meet

12 Bulkley Valley Otters at Prince Rupert Invitational picked up 13 wins, 25 seconds and 15 thirds.

VIDEO: Ex-NASA engineer pranks mail thieves with glitter bomb trap

Package thefts are common this time of year, but YouTuber Mark Rober used his engineering skills

UBC study could spare cancer patients from side effects of radiation

Her research has drawn a connection of Chromosome 6 genes to pulmonary fibrosis susceptibility.

Snowfall warning issued for Coquihalla, Highway 3

Make sure to equip winter tires if travelling

‘Laverne & Shirley’ star, ‘Big’ director Penny Marshall dies

Marshall died of complications from diabetes on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018, at her Hollywood Hills home. She was 75.

B.C. Court of Appeal to rule in terror case that centres on RCMP conduct

B.C.’s appeal court is scheduled to release a decision today on a couple whose guilty verdict over plotting to blow up the provincial legislature was thrown out by a lower court judge.

Trump backs off on demand for $5 billion to build a border wall

Congress and President Donald Trump continue to bicker over his demand that lawmakers fund a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Canadian detained in China, not clear if related to two other detentions

Reports suggest the person is not a diplomat or entrepreneur doing business in China.

Trudeau sees 2019 election as choice between positive Liberals, divisive Tories

Trudeau is drawing much the same battle lines that propelled the Liberals to a come-from-behind victory in 2015

Lightning top Canucks 5-2 in feisty battle

NHL’s No. 1 team too much for Vancouver

Most Read