Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Why Douglas College needs to grow

If you noticed that the summer semester at Douglas seems busier than usual, that’s because it is. Our enrolment numbers show an incredible increase of 10 percent over last year. That’s another record.

I’d like to thank everyone for your hard work in making this possible. I know more students can mean more work and more challenges, but I can assure you that I’m personally committed to making our continued growth sustainable and towards the betterment of our great institution.

With every step we take on our journey, however, it’s important to pause and reflect on our goals and ask ourselves why we are doing what we do. So, why grow? Everyone’s working hard and we’ve made substantial progress towards accomplishing our ambitious strategic plan. Douglas College is now busier than ever before, but to what end?

Those of you who know me well know I’m a numbers person. I’m a firm believer that good data drives good decisions. If you’ve made it out to recent college budget discussions or engagement events, you’ve probably heard me talk about some of the data that is driving our growth.
Simply put, we’re growing because we should be. It’s the right thing for us right now. It’s the right thing for Douglas, our students, our city and our province.

If we look at numbers, it’s clear that not enough British Columbians are getting the post secondary education needed to keep up with the growing number of jobs that require it. Over the coming years this means we could see rising unemployment levels in BC, while at the same time good jobs are going either unfilled or filled by people from out of province. That’s not good for our economy or our standard of living, and it will affect all of us at some level.

That is, unless we do something about it. And this is where Douglas has an important role to play. Arguably, no other institution in BC is better positioned  to expand, grow, educate more students, and  provide the kind of advanced education, training and skills that are needed right now. Our locations in the heart of Metro Vancouver, our open enrolment policy, our mix of programs and our high quality makes us a vital part of the province’s ability to meet coming employment challenges. 

This is why we are expanding our certificate, diploma, degree and post-degree offerings. This is why we engaged in a rebranding initiative and have been promoting ourselves so widely. It’s not just because Douglas is an amazing institution, with the ability to help people grow, change and improve their lives on an individual level. That’s reason enough on its own. But we also have a societal imperative. As a province, we need to be doing more to prevent a future of people without jobs and jobs without people.

Douglas certainly can’t do it alone. Our partner post-secondary institutions naturally have important roles to play. And government support and funding is critical. We have a number of new credentials awaiting provincial approval and we’re doing our best to make that happen. We’re actively looking at partnerships and new funding opportunities to help us on our journey. And when the time is right, we’ll expand our New Westminster campus to serve even more students.

Underlying all of this is the need to stay true to who we are. We are a place of doing and discovery. We focus on the quality of the journey, helping our students find a path that suits them. This core value was at the heart of our development of our Foundation Year program, so students could get a solid grounding in different disciplines, without losing credits. 

Above all we are an applied institution. The DO you see plastered everywhere reminds us of that. We are not UBC on the Fraser and we don’t need to be. We are Douglas College – a vibrant, exciting institution that combines a solid academic foundation with an applied focus.

So why do we grow? We grow because we’re a great choice for so many students. And more and more are finding that out each year. We grow because we have the internal knowledge and capacity to provide more of the kinds of credentials that are needed by students right now. And we grow because it’s the right thing to do.

I thank you all for your part in our continued success. 

- Scott


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