Large Increase in Student Enrolment at VIU's Cowichan Campus

Enrolment has been steadily increasing at Vancouver Island University’s Cowichan Campus ever since the new building opened its doors five years ago. Administrators say a number of factors, including new programs and a large number of School District 79 students taking advantage of the University’s dual credit program, have helped boost student numbers.

June 20, 2016 - 9:45am

New building, programs and partnerships help campus better serve the community

DUNCAN, BC: Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Cowichan Campus is growing.

Since the new Cowichan Campus building opened its doors five years ago, the number of students attending classes there has increased by 17 per cent, from 1,092 to 1,280 – an increase of about 200 students.

Karen Leeman, Associate Registrar, says the rapid growth means the Cowichan Campus is a busy place, with the majority of the space in use during the day, and high usage rates in the evenings and on weekends as well. “We’re serving the Cowichan Valley in a much better way than we were able to previously,” she says.

Warren Weir, Cowichan Campus Academic Administrator, says the increase is partly due to additional programs the campus is able to offer since moving to the new building, as well as the expansion of the dual credit program with School District 79.

Since moving to the new building, the campus has added several programs, including Hairdressing, Applied Business Technology, Welding – which was made possible by the opening of the Cowichan Trades Centre in 2013 – and the Bachelor of Education program.

The new programs are only part of the success story, says Keith Chicquen, Instructional Director. More students are enrolling in the programs that were offered before the move as well, and the Cowichan Campus’s close relationship with School District 79 has grown the dual credit enrolment by about 700 per cent since 2010. Dual credit refers to high school students who enrol in VIU’s courses and certificate programs and receive credits towards graduation in both systems.

“As a recruitment device, it’s been very effective,” says Chicquen, of the dual credit program. “These students are much more likely to attend VIU if they’ve already taken some courses here. Trades and Technology programs have been particularly popular with dual-credit students. The 2013 addition of the Cowichan Trades Centre has helped boost this enrolment by 150 per cent.”

Rod Allen, Superintendent of School District 79, says the dual credit program provides some remarkable learning opportunities for students. “By working together, and staying focused on the needs of the Cowichan Valley, there is no limit to the range of quality educational experiences we can offer our community,” he says. “These sorts of programs make it easier for students to transition to post-secondary. VIU is an outstanding educational partner for our district.”

The Cowichan Campus is also piloting a Triple Credit program this fall, which involves working closely with the School District on dual-delivery of university and high school courses. In the pilot, to be delivered at Chemainus Secondary School, VIU will teach Criminology 131 and the District will simultaneously teach Law 12 to these students. Students will receive an additional four university credits on their high school transcripts, as well as credit for both courses.

Weir predicts more growth for the campus moving forward. “For example, we expect enrolment to increase in our Academic and Career Preparation programs now that the campus has entered into an agreement with School District 79, as the District is closing its adult education program this fall,” he says. “With this, and other new programs and BA degree proposals in the works, we expect our numbers will continue to grow. The Cowichan Campus is committed to providing enhanced access and opportunities to students interested in enrolling in our programs and courses to advance their education and careers.”

For more details, visit the Cowichan Campus homepage



Jenn McGarrigle, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island University

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