Relationship with First Nations helps boost VIU enrolment

NANAIMO – Aboriginal enrolment increases by 5.7 per cent this year.

Outreach and relationship building with First Nations communities are some reasons for a 5.7-per cent increase in domestic aboriginal enrolment at Vancouver Island University, says its registrar.

According to a university fall enrolment snapshot report for 2016-17, the total number of domestic aboriginal students as of Oct. 1 sits at 1,001 – an increase of 5.7 per cent from last year. The number of full-time equivalent students is 637, where five courses is considered a full course load.

Fred Jacklin, university registrar, said aboriginal students are a group the university has identified as one it feels an obligation to reach out to and to work with to offer assistance and solve the challenges they face.

“We’ve been reaching out to the First Nations communities for the last several years and partnerships have been formed,” said Jacklin. “We have a high level of trust with First Nations communities and we have a lot of student services available to assist them when they’re here.

“That takes time to develop those relationships and they’re coming to more fruition now.”

The total number of non-aboriginal students is 7,596, a 0.2 per cent increase, with 4,848 full-time equivalents – a 2.7-per cent rise. But the number of international students dropped by 0.4 per cent, currently sitting at 1,593. Jacklin didn’t want to speculate on reasons, but said it isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as full-time equivalents increased 10 per cent to 1,007.

“Because our FTE is up 10 per cent, that’s showing that not only are students coming here, but they’re interested in taking, more often than not, a full-time slate of courses … They may be taking a full year or a full four-year program instead of a few weeks or a few months of maybe [English as a second language] and then moving away,” said Jacklin.

The total number of students as of Oct. 1 is 10,190, an increase of 0.6 per cent over last year, with 6,493 full-time equivalents, a 3.7-per cent increase, according to the report.