Thursday, March 18, 2010

Population change - how will we meet the needs of immigrants?

Demographic change is surely one of the dramatic realities in our external environment: we are getting older and we are becoming more multicultural.

I've discussed this chart in several recent presentations to community groups. The main thing you can see is how BC's natural population growth is heading down, while immigration accounts for all of the projected population growth.

This data is consistent with a new study from Statistics Canada. Projections of the Diversity of the Canadian Population [PDF] shows very rapid population change in our region and in other urban centres. It's very important that we talk about what this mean for Douglas College.

What do you think? I encourage you to review the StatsCan report and use the comments feature of the blog to share your thoughts. New to blogging? See the Dec. 22 post: "How to post a comment". --Scott


  1. I notice that the spiked nature of the graph changes radically once we move beyond 2008, showing that those data are, essentially, speculative. The real world (1972-2008) shows a much more changeable and hard to grasp structure. So the first point I'd make is that we should be cautious in interpreting these possibilities, since the view of the past we have suggests that the future is unlikely to be as direct and linear as the graph makes it appear.

    Secondly, it seems to me that while we should be mindful of the possibilities of these demographic changes, in themselves they are not so important as our own demographic profile, that is, what is our current fit with the existing demographic data? The college population is self-selecting, to a degree, thus, while it may be true that the population of the Lower Mainland is changing in specific ways, is it the case that the population of the college is changing in the same ways, and, more importantly, at the same rate? I guess all I'm really saying is that the implications for the larger world of these data probably won't translate into the same implications for our selection of the larger world. The college isn't the world (nor should it be), so the way in which we respond – whatever that turns out to be – should be both nuanced and somewhat cautious, since, as always, resources are finite, the costs of opportunities are not always easy to immediately see.

  2. It is very encouraging to see the President's blog addressing the Province's changing demographics. This is a step towards the right direction. The current student's demographics already reflects the ongoing change. Faculty and Staff demographics may have to change in keeping with the student demographics.

  3. Anyone who has had contact with new or prospective students will know that more and more people who have immigrated to Canada are interested in becoming our student. The main barrier these prospective students face is our strict English Admission Requirement.

    Students must show proof of English competency as a means of gaining entrance into the College. For students educated in North America is this usually quite simple, however students who have been educated overseas (ex: India or the Philippines) will not be able to simply submit transcripts that show completion of an English course that Douglas College accepts. This English Admission requirement is very strict, sometimes resulting in returning students (students who previously took classes with us prior to the 2004 mandatory English requirement) not being able to meet our new requirements and return to us.

    Yes, students may take the Douglas College English Assessment as a means of meeting this requirement; however a lot of applicants are quite offended that we insist they do an Assessment. Imagine you are a well educated immigrant from India who is fluent in English and has a Master's degree in your respected field. You want to come to Douglas College to explore Canadian Education opportunities, or possibly start a new career, and are told that you will not be admitted until you complete an assessment proving you can comprehend the English Language. Let me note that while India is not recognized as an English speaking country the spoken language in education is English. The simple fact that these prospective students feel insulted is proof enough that they comprehend the English language well enough to be instructed at our institution

    I feel if Douglas College is going to acknowledge the pool of prospective students that are moving to Canada and our region we should also address ways for students to gain Admission to the College with a more flexible Admissions policy. I understand the rationale behind this policy, I know why it would be put in place and how frustrating it would be to attempt to teach a student who can't grasp the language of instruction, but can we not create any sort of le-way?