The Province is providing $1.5 million to develop the business case, following a recently completed feasibility study that assessed the post-secondary education needs and accessibility issues on the West Shore. (File photo)

West Shore post-secondary education study gets underway

Business case for expanding post-secondary education for students living in the West Shore

A full business case is being developed for expanding post-secondary education opportunities for students living in the West Shore – one of the fastest growing regions in Canada, with a population increase of 49 per cent between 2001 and 2016.

The Province is providing $1.5 million to develop the business case, following a recently completed feasibility study that assessed the post-secondary education needs and accessibility issues on the West Shore. The final report of the feasibility study was submitted to the Province in March and concluded the next step would be funding a full business case.

One of the most significant determinants for obtaining a post-secondary education is proximity to a university, college or training institute, according to the feasibility report created by Royal Roads University with community partners, including parents, students, School District 62 (Sooke), First Nations, municipalities and three public post-secondary institutions.

While Royal Roads University is in the West Shore, it does not offer a Year 1-2 program for undergraduate students, meaning that local options are limited for SD 62 graduates looking to continue their education locally.

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The closest universities are the University of Victoria and Camosun College’s Interurban Campus, neither of which are ideal geographically for West Shore students wanting to stay in their home communities while they study.

Royal Roads University began the feasibility study after receiving funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in March 2018 to “support planning for a new West Shore campus in consultation with the Ministry.”

The business case being developed will include advanced student enrolment modelling, detailed academic curriculum design, infrastructure needs, site selection and design, as well as a detailed financial analysis and timelines.

Community partners, including students and parents, will continue to be involved in the local planning process.

More than 900,000 job openings will be created over the next decade, according to the BC Labour Market Outlook (2017), with more than 78 per cent requiring some form of post-secondary education or training.

With just 17.2 per cent of West Shore high school graduates transitioning to university, they are well below the provincial average of 34.1 per cent.

The feasibility report concluded that a new local post-secondary education option would benefit West Shore learners.


 

keri.coles@blackpress.ca

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