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

Granisle grizzlies moved

Video of the release of grizzlies getting a bit too comfortable in Granisle.

Telkwa student UNBC valedictorian

Arctica Cunningham gives her valedictorian speech May 25 at University of Northern British Columbia.

Local nurses celebrated during National Nurses Week

One nurse inspiring others to have pride in their jobs by wearing her nurse’s cap again

Second national bowling title for Madison Richter

Madison Richter, 14, is getting used to going out of town and coming home as a national champion.

International students land in Smithers

There are 20 people who came from the other side of the world to study in Smithers.

VIDEO: Canadian Forces help flood-ravaged Grand Forks residents heal

Sgt. Bradley Lowes says the military is used to dealing with traumatic times

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

PHOTOS: Floodwaters rise and fall in Grand Forks

The flood-ravaged Kootenay-Boundary region begins to heal

Martin Mars waterbombers’ firefighting days are done

Wayne Coulson said his company still hopes to find a new home for the vintage aircraft

NHL playoffs weekly roundup

Vegas Golden Knights have done the impossible and have a chance at hoisting the Stanley Cup

Changes needed for ‘Alert Ready’ mass emergency system

‘You need to strike this careful balance between alerting people to lots of problems — and doing it too often’

Las Vegas Golden Knights move on to Stanley Cup final

Improbable run continues for NHL’s newest expansion team

Oregon’s flooded recreational pot market a cautionary tale to Canada

‘In a broader sense, we are adding legal production to an already robust illegal production’

Chilliwack Chiefs make history with first RBC Cup win

In front of a huge and noisy crowd, the Chiefs claimed their first-ever national junior A title

Most Read