By GAUTAM AILAWADHI
The brand NC is being recognized worldwide and nationally bringing a record-breaking 10,000-student enrolment this year. Niagara College has won the provincial Key Performance Indicator status as No. 1 for student satisfaction seven consecutive years.
Eric Silvestri, associate registrar of Niagara College, says there are several factors contributing to the record. A high percentage of students come from the Niagara region. A reduction in financial barriers with the provincial 30 per cent off tuition grants, for programs like Second Career, and changes in OSAP, are making more students eligible for financial assistance. In addition, the high number of applied learning opportunities is attractive.
Silvestri says students like hearing stories about college experiences from students. Graduates leave college and tell their experience about Niagara College. Here is where word of mouth matters. The college winning awards for its culinary program and Niagara College representing Canada for the 2016 World Culinary Olympics are other great achievements.
Silvestri points out that this year info fairs were held here about the college system and about 1,900 students came to see Niagara College’s Welland and Niagara-on-the-Lake campuses. An open house was held in March.
On the sports scene, Niagara College hosted national volleyball and basketball tournaments in the Athletic Centre. It gave a chance to parents and students to showcase the campus.
Silvestri says, “I think students want to feel welcome and have all the services available. They want to meet the staff and feel good about college life.”
Phil Hayes, manager of student recruitment, says Niagara College added new programs based on the increasing number of students and current events. Also new intakes have been added in May, September and December.
“We developed graduation certificate programs for students who come from university and they don’t have the job experience and training. It gives a chance with the real job scenario,” says Hayes.
Hayes attributes the record enrolment to various innovative ways programs are being delivered.
Hayes points out that new delivery models, such as modified delivery, are factors. One of the examples is the Nursing program. It offers a regular two-year stream and the modified one for three years. In the latter, students can attend weekend and evening classes. In this way they don’t leave work and it allows lot of flexibility for students.
“We have an estimate of 1,500 more students by 2016 based on new programs, new facilities,” says Hayes. “We have to be careful that we don’t overfill the students. The projection for first semester this year is about 1,030 students and we may surpass that later. We don’t need to have a final count as of now.”
The international students’ population has grown also. A benefit is when they meet academic requirements and go into to regular programs after completing level five in the English as a Second Language program (ESL).
Diwakar Sharma, international student recruiter in Canada and a graduate of the Public Relations Graduate Certificate program here, says, “Still a lot of people nationwide won’t be aware of the college. The record-breaking 10,000 students include local and international full-time students, continuing education students and new immigrants. The number is an achievement but not a game changer. Niagara College is known for its innovation and improvisation. They offer job-oriented courses and develop skills as well as employability.”