For those curious about the opportunities in the North, they should check out the local colleges and university to pursue their career choices.
Students attracted by numerous educational choices
It has often been predicted that Canada’s future prosperity lies in the North, and while all signs indicate this is true, many misconceptions have arisen about the nature of that prosperity—along with the role the education system in the region will play laying the foundation for it.
The most common misconception is that business opportunities in the North are derived strictly from the resource sector, and that post secondary education institutions develop their curriculum to cater to this exclusively.
This misconception often comes as a surprise to the staff and students at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC), the College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College, and Northwest Community College. While all four institutions offer what might be called resource-related and trades studies, the campuses attract students from across the country and overseas due to their diverse degree, certificate and diploma programs, ranging from the arts and applied sciences, to nursing and social work.
Student outcomes indicate that the quality of Northern education is equal to that of any Metro Vancouver-based institution of higher learning. In fact, educational facilities in the North have some distinct advantages. Prince George-based UNBC is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s best small universities, and it recently debuted on the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, finishing in the top four per cent of higher education institutions worldwide. It is a research-intensive institution and with its 3,592 student populace, an increasing number—currently 17 per cent—come from southern B.C. and 14 per cent from elsewhere. “Better still, a high proportion of our students, including those in our 11-year-old Northern Medical Program, wind up staying in the North due to career and lifestyle opportunities,” says Dr. Daniel Weeks, President of UNBC and Chair of the Northern Post-Secondary Council.
A high proportion of students wind up staying in the North due to career and lifestyle opportunities.
Unique programs and room to grow
The Northern Post-Secondary Council, comprised of UNBC, College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College and Northwest Community College, was first established in 2003 as a reaffirmation of the regional institutions’ commitment of working together to provide access to high-quality education in support of a growing economy and advancing opportunities for people to live and prosper in the region.
Prince George-based College of New Caledonia’s (CNC) curriculum is equally varied. Founded in 1969, CNC’s six regional campuses offer a range of programs. Known for having small, supportive class sizes and the second-lowest post-secondary tuition in B.C., CNC offers unique programs—some that are only available outside of northern B.C. These include dental hygiene, kinesiology, medical radiography, medical laboratory technology, foundation level metal fabrication, computer/network electronics technician, sonography, and a post-diploma in tourism and hotel management. Additionally, CNC has 15 agreements with 10 universities in B.C., Alberta and elsewhere, allowing students to easily transfer directly into the third year of many degree programs.
Among other advantages, Dawson Creek-based Northern Lights College offers programs that allow students to obtain an education supplemented by a career-focused practicum and hands-on learning opportunities designed to facilitate a successful transition from student to employee.
Terrace-based Northwest Community College (NWCC), established in 1975, has expanded to nine regional campuses serving 34 communities. NWCC features a variety of programs such as its School of Exploration & Mining to the wildly popular (and respected) offerings like the Freda Diesing School of Northwest Coast Art and the School of Northwest Culinary Arts.
With a steady influx of newcomers to B.C., these and other Northern post-secondary institutions have become appealing options for prospective students in B.C., offering a high-quality education and an affordable, unique Northern lifestyle. “It used to be that people didn’t think past Metro Vancouver to obtain a degree, but that mindset is changing,” says Weeks.
Weeks concludes: “Despite our growing prominence, we never take success for granted. We are constantly marketing ourselves, and if we have a message to anyone curious about getting an education up North, it is: check us out. We have everything you could possibly need to prepare for a career—and plenty of room to grow.”