Thank you to everyone who attended the successful Niagara Day event at the Welland Campus on Aug. 30.
Niagara Day remains an important Niagara College tradition, and it was great to see colleagues reconnect, to celebrate the longstanding service and outstanding accomplishments of our team, and hear compelling stories from our students. The sense of excitement and anticipation for the year ahead was truly inspiring.
The Fall 2017 term is set for a very encouraging start. Next week, we will welcome our largest-ever first-year intake, and a record class of international students from around the world.
Initial projections indicate a total first-year intake of more than 5,000 students, which includes 1,500 international students. As our Fall enrolment builds on strong intakes in Winter and Spring 2017, our total enrolment will exceed 10,000, which includes an overall increase of more than 10 percent.
These enrolment increases come in spite of demographic trends that are challenging the entire postsecondary sector. Our results reflect an increase in conversions versus a small decline in applications, and a successful approach to marketing, recruitment and retention – both domestically and internationally.
Our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan recognized the enrolment challenges created by a decline in our traditional demographic that is expected to last a decade or more. The plan outlined bold strategies to address these challenges, including building an enrolment that is diverse in age and background; extending our reach to new geographic and demographic markets and expanding capacity in high-demand programs. We have also continued to see strong results from our international strategies.
I would like to thank all of you for your efforts to help current students succeed and to support our recruitment efforts throughout the year. You have embraced the notion that all of us are recruiters, and I am grateful for your work. In the early weeks of the Fall term, I also ask that you look for opportunities to assist, encourage and engage new students as they find their way around our campuses and access our services during what can be the most hectic time of the year.
Budget: Enrolment impact and strategic investments
The enrolment growth we have experienced over the winter, spring and fall terms exceeded the projections contained in the college budget. When combined with our prudent fiscal approach in the face of demographic trends and funding constraints, we experienced a modest surplus that has been targeted to investments that support our strategic goals.
It’s important to note that the factors affecting the postsecondary sector haven’t changed; trends reflect a drop in our traditional demographic, the sector is more competitive than ever, and uncertainty in government funding remains. Our continued fiscal strength depends greatly on our ability to implement our recruitment and retention strategies; grow our international projects, and be innovative in identifying revenue opportunities and savings.
The year ahead
Next week, we will welcome new and returning students with an exciting slate of Orientation activities [orientation.niagaracollege.ca] designed to provide them with an informative and fun start to college life.
Our students will study at campuses that are being transformed through our $65-million Campus Redevelopment projects that are modernizing our learning environments and enhancing our student experience.
The start of the Fall 2017 term also marks the launch of two new Graduate Certificate programs – Teaching English as a Second Language and Industrial Automation.
New Consent is Key Campaign launches
We continue to be proactive in our efforts to provide a safe and respectful learning community. Over the spring and summer, we partnered with our Student Administrative Council to create a new Consent is Key Campaign to educate students and staff about sexual assault. The centerpiece of the campaign is a video that includes Niagara College students and staff sharing strong messages about this important issue – I encourage you to watch the video here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=ocIZ7s4DlRk
The campaign focuses on the importance of consent – the voluntary and explicit agreement to engage in sexual activity as key in preventing sexual violence.
The definition of consent emphasizes that silence or non-communication cannot be interpreted as consent. In other words, consent is key.
This campaign follows the implementation of Niagara College’s Sexual Assault and Sexual Violence Policy. Through this policy and the Consent is Key campaign, Niagara College has taken an important step to promote safe campuses, which helps reinforce the role we must all play in preventing sexual violence. Please visit www.niagaracollege.ca/consentiskey for more information.
CQAAP Audit good news for NC
A key milestone for the College this fall will be the release of the College Quality Assurance Audit Process final report in October.
The initial draft report indicates that we have met all of the standards of the audit, and the audit panel feels that Niagara College has an “excellent and comprehensive suite of quality assurance policies, processes and practices.”
The CQAAP is a cyclical review of the quality assurances processes at colleges in Ontario. Colleges complete the audits on a five-year cycle, and CQAAP is overseen by the Ontario College Quality Assurance Service (OCQAS), an arms-length body connecting the colleges with the provincial Ministry of Advanced Education and Skills Training. The CQAAP is an important opportunity for us to identify and share what we’re doing well while finding areas where we can improve or enhance our quality assurance and quality improvement processes.
What stands out in the draft report is the recognition of what the audit panel calls the “extraordinary culture” of Niagara College. Specifically, the panel identified a very strong level of engagement among faculty and staff, a commitment to continuous improvement, a strong sense of ownership and belonging, pride, and innovation that, “stem from an institution that has seamlessly woven itself into the fabric of the Niagara community.”
I want to thank all those faculty and staff who participated in the gathering of materials for the audit for their support; the submission clearly demonstrated the commitment of all faculty and staff to our students. I would also like to extend my thanks to Mary Wilson and the team in the Centre for Academic Excellence for their leadership through this important project.
Once again, thanks to all of you for your ongoing commitment to our students’ satisfaction and success, and best wishes for a successful year.