The programs offered by colleges and universities in northern B.C. are just as varied and comprehensive as the institutions in Metro Vancouver — and the area has distinct advantages in terms of affordability and geographical expanse.
From campus life to careers, it’s a burgeoning culture
So, you’ve done some research and concluded that the programs offered by colleges and universities in northern B.C. are just as varied and comprehensive as the institutions in Metro Vancouver.
But you wonder what it’s like to take the leap and locate away from the bright lights and big cities?
From a cultural and lifestyle perspective, it’s not a big leap at all. Campus living up North is just as brisk as in Vancouver or Surrey; plus, the northern part of the province has distinct advantages in terms of affordability and geographical expanse. “I know many people who relocated north 20 years ago strictly to obtain a degree and wound up never leaving,” says Dr. Daniel Weeks, President of the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC) and Chair of the Northern Post-Secondary Council. “They now have terrific careers and wouldn’t even consider moving back to Metro Vancouver.”
International students pursuing post-secondary education in the north continue to ensure that communities such as Prince George, Terrace, and Dawson Creek are increasingly culturally diverse. “Around 14 per cent of UNBC’s student base is made up of people from other countries and parts of Canada along with 17 per cent from southern B.C.,” says Weeks. “Adding to this tapestry is our significant aboriginal population, which enhances the educational experience for the entire student body.” Diversity among the student population is fostering a sense of community, culture and inclusion at campuses throughout the North.
Weeks, proudly declares that he spent most of his life “in great small towns across Canada” but he’s no stranger to major metropolitan areas and understands the apprehension many people may have in considering the north as a home. “But just as you can easily verify the quality of education we offer, a brief online search proves that our communities have everything you need, without the things you don’t, including great symphonies and art galleries. Plus, for those who love the outdoors, this is paradise.”
Still, Weeks’ refrain is a familiar one, and acknowledges that selling the north is still a challenge despite its growing population, amenities, and services. The UNBC President and his counterparts at the College of New Caledonia, Northern Lights College, and Northwest Community College are in the midst of redoubling their efforts to market their region as a desirable destination to study and live. “We’ve gotten the support of the Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training and civic leaders, and we’re using print, social media, and trade shows to get our message across,” he says.
Similar initiatives are being undertaken by rural colleges and universities in other parts of Canada. “Frankly, this type of effort is long overdue,” says Weeks. “Twenty years ago people wouldn’t have viewed Kamloops or Kelowna as education destinations, but the persistent marketing of their fine, higher learning institutes changed all that.”
The four northern institutions under the Northern Post-Secondary Council plan to continue strengthening their program offerings and support the province’s commitment to accessible education and training. “The more we collaborate, the better we can serve the region and new students,” says Weeks. “By this time next year we’ll have an indication of how successful our marketing strategies have been—and I suspect we’ll have good news to report.”
The four northern institutions under the Northern Post-Secondary Council plan to continue strengthening their program offerings and support the province’s commitment to accessible education and training.