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A snapshot of fall enrolment, taken in mid-September, shows overall enrolment has increased by about 1.6 per cent at Okanagan College.
(Each fall, the College takes a snapshot of its enrolment in mid-September. While a gauge of how the year is shaping up for the institution, it doesn’t tell the whole story. Many of the College’s programs - especially in Trades and Continuing Studies - start later in the fall, after the stable enrolment date. This fall’s stable enrolment data show 6,117 students registered at the College’s four campuses and in Distance Education courses on Sept. 14.)
The numbers don’t come as a surprise to Okanagan College President Jim Hamilton, who notes that the College is on track for exceeding provincial targets for the eighth year in a row.
“We didn’t expect a big jump this year. High school graduation numbers dropped by two per cent within our region over the past year and the employment situation has improved in the Okanagan, and there were no other developments that would drive a significant change in the enrolment pattern.”
Campuses in Salmon Arm, Kelowna and Penticton each saw modest increases in their student headcount while Vernon saw a slight decrease.
“The interesting thing is that while Vernon’s overall student numbers fell to 725 students from 756, the number of course registrations grew slightly (from 3,252 last year to 3,260 this year),” observes North Okanagan Regional Dean Jane Lister.
Penticton’s student numbers rose to 601 this fall, from 597 last year, while Salmon Arm’s grew to 340 from 320.
Kelowna’s student numbers increased to 4,228 from 4,214.
Distance education course registrations grew to 1,159 from 1,048.
“We really need to emphasize that this only tells part of the story,” explains Okanagan College Registrar Jane Muskens. “These numbers don’t capture the students who are enrolled in a very important part of our business – Continuing Studies certificates – and don’t cover off the enrolments in programs that start later in the fall, next January, February or in the summer.”
“We know, for example, that there are another 923 students who are enrolled this fall in Continuing Studies certificates. They will be a part of our comparative report next year.”
Okanagan College calculates and reports on total enrolment each spring in its reports to the provincial government.
“For each of the past seven years of our existence, we have exceeded the targets set for us by the provincial government in terms of student spaces and credentials awarded,” notes Hamilton. “We anticipate that this will be our eighth year.”
To illustrate the difference between the fall enrolment snapshot and the annual tally of students taking courses at Okanagan College, approximately 20,235 people took courses and programs at Okanagan College over the last academic year. That equates to almost one person in every 20 who live in the region.