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Portage College gives new program updates, reports increased enrolment

Portage College President and CEO Nancy Broadbent, along with Associate Vice President Academic Don Moore, presented a comprehensive plan for the college's future at a recent City of Cold Lake council meeting. 

LAKELAND - Portage College President and CEO Nancy Broadbent, along with Associate Vice President Academic Don Moore, presented a comprehensive plan for the college's future at a recent City of Cold Lake council meeting.  

Broadbent highlighted the institution's growth and robust financial health, while Moore detailed the new programs on the horizon. 

During the May 28 regular council meeting Broadbent began by emphasizing the institution's current strength.  

"I wanted to let you know that in July it'll be 34 years that I've been at Portage College, so I can speak from authority when I tell you that we have never been in better financial health or student numbers ever in those 34 years," she said. "For about probably 15 or 20 years we were sitting at about 900, what we call full load equivalent students, which is about 1,250-ish head counts of students. This year we're going to be really close to 1,700 or 1,800, so just about double." 

Broadbent continued, "In our non-credit side, largely due to the public-private partners that we have in Edmonton, Calgary, teaching international students, we're probably going to have close to 3,500 non-credit students. So, along with those international students, we also have very solid financial health. Our domestic enrolment growth also has brought in good tuition. So we're spending quite a bit of time investing in new program development and we're also modernizing a lot of our equipment in our facilities and classroom facilities, and doing fancy things like parking lots, which we have never been able to afford to do." 

Moore detailed the new programs on the horizon.  

"It has been a very busy time with a number of growth opportunities at the college. I'm just going to go through a couple of the big ones that we're looking at, at the institution.” 

Moore also highlighted a pressing need for schoolteachers in the region, noting, "The college is really hearing more and more about the significant needs of teachers locally. A number of the school divisions have identified significant teacher shortages and really some challenges with recruitment."  

In response, Portage College is considering launching its own Bachelor of Education program. “So, in doing so, Portage College is looking at getting degree granting status so that we can actually train some teachers locally at our own institution." 

Moore mentioned plans to expand other programs. "In particular for Cold Lake, one of the exciting things we're doing here is offering our early learning childcare program as a face-to-face program, in particular in the evening starting this fall. Part of that is to meet some of the local need," he said.  

He also discussed the potential for international student recruitment, noting the benefits of the local transit system in Cold Lake, and the need for sufficient housing and accommodations. 

Portage College is partnering with the City of Cold Lake to develop and deliver an Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Structural Program, with a target date of fall 2025.  

"We have been working with Okanagan College on a secured curriculum thanks to a fantastic partnership with the City and are currently working on some approvals and curriculum development to be able to deliver the program," Moore explained. 

The presentation concluded with Mayor Craig Copeland inquiring about student affordability and transit use, to which Moore responded, "The transit system itself is fantastic for students... For international students who are coming in, that transit system... is very, very attractive." 

Council expressed their gratitude to Portage College for the presentation. 

Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

About the Author: Chantel Downes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Chantel Downes is a graduate of The King's University, with a passion for writing and storytelling. Originally from Edmonton, she received her degree in English and has a minor in communications.
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