The Selkirk College Board of Governors has approved an annual budget that allows the institution to continue providing high quality, sought after programs and services to students and to grow in areas that address future needs.
At its monthly meeting in May, the board passed the proposed $45 million budget that sets a financial course for the regional college in the coming year.
The Selkirk College Board of Governors recently approved a $45 million budget that sets a course for regional college in the coming year.
“Selkirk College has continued to meet the government mandated requirement of tabling a balanced budget,” says Board of Governors’ Chair Sharel Wallace. “This is due to the hard work and dedication of the college's employees who have taken the time to provide input into the process. The Board of Governors wishes to thank the employees for their efforts. After several years of coping with budget challenges, the Board was excited to see a budget that improves the college’s capacity to grow in fiscal 2017.”
Many Highlights for the Coming Year
The college will see an increase of 4.9 per cent in the operating budget from 2016 which is primarily attributed to one-time grant support from the Provincial Government for specific initiatives, forecast increases in domestic and international enrolment, and the new Student Services Fee approved in February.
“The budget is healthy and has allowed us to really work at creating that complete learning experience for students,” says Selkirk College President Angus Graeme. “It will allow us to do other things like further modernization of our classrooms, improve our equipment in the trades and other technical programs, add more supports for students, and put money into financial aid for Adult Basic Education (ABE) students.”
Some of the highlights in the budget include funding additional sections of programs in high demand, offering the third year curriculum of the Rural Pre-Medicine Program, expanded capacity and services in the areas of student support and wellness, and improved financial support for Adult Basic Education and upgrading students.
In February, the Board approved a new Student Service Fee that focuses on student health and wellness, and supporting students to transition to employment. The fee—which amounts to an average of $139 per year for a typical student—allows the college to cover services not funded through base budget operations.
“What we’re hearing from students is what happens between classes is almost as important in terms of the learning experience as what happens in the classroom,” says Graeme. “One of the biggest sources of enrolment is our own students, so retention and a focus on student success are huge and we need to make sure the supports are in place to provide the best outcome for everyone.”
Classrooms Full and Programs Vibrant
Selkirk College’s enrolment continues its upward trend with 2,457 full-time domestic students attending class in 2015-2016, an increase of 168 over the previous year. International enrolment has also risen with 457 students from across the globe in classrooms this past year, up from 314 in 2014-2015.
“We’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the last few years due to tighter provincial budgets,” says Graeme. “But the institution has responded with innovation, great program ideas, new ways of supporting and retaining students, and new relationships with our community, business, industry and regional First Nations. What we have ended up with is the capability and capacity to make sound strategic decisions on where we need to go as a proud community college.”
Selkirk College President Angus Graeme (left) and Board of Governors Chair Sharel Wallace (right) helped lead the budget process which provided a roadmap for the next year and beyond.
It’s estimated that Selkirk College adds $198 million to the regional economy from its operations and student spending each year. With just over 40 per cent of students arriving from outside the region to study, Graeme says the impact on communities throughout the West Kootenay and Boundary is significant.
“They are bringing their expertise, their minds, their creativity and many of them are staying,” says Graeme. “When you look at how our region is evolving with young entrepreneurs, health care professionals, natural resource professionals, artists, new media, tourism professionals… it’s a really good mix. The programs we offer morph and change with the needs of our communities and the region. We’re excited to be helping put the West Kootenay-Boundary on the map as an amazing place people should come to learn and live.”