Times Colonist

University Canada West winds down degree programs at Victoria campus

- JEFF BELL jwbell@timescolon­ist.com

With only a couple dozen students left taking academic, degree programs, the Victoria campus of University Canada West is winding down that part of its operation.

The university opened in 2005 as a private facility in the former Blanshard Elementary School, but ran into financial difficulti­es and was bought in 2008 by the Enimata Group, a Vancouver-based educationa­l organizati­on that has 35 sites across Canada. At the time of the sale, the Victoria campus had 150 students and 100 full-and parttime teaching staff.

Currently, only about two dozen students remain in degree programs with a handful of lecturers, said Enimata spokesman Royden Trainor. However, career-oriented diploma programs have grown steadily and involve nearly 200 students.

Academic offerings that have been available in Victoria, such as its master’s degrees in business administra­tion and bachelor of commerce degrees, will now be centralize­d at University Canada West’s fouryear-old Vancouver campus, Trainor said.

University Canada West will maintain its status as a university through its Vancouver and online presence.

Trainor said there has been “enormous growth” from what began as a small Vancouver location, and enrolment has climbed to close to 500 since a move to an improved facility.

“Its growth has been really quite remarkable,” he said.

At the same time, occupation-oriented courses offered in Victoria through what Enimata calls University Canada West — Academies have also done well, Trainor said.

“That continues to operate and we’re getting great traction there. It’s hard to say why that is the case, but the reality is the career-focused shorter-term, occupation­driven programs in Victoria are doing very well.”

Those courses provide training for residentia­l-care attendants, legal assistants, hospitalit­y workers and others out of the original university site on Kings Road. The 99-year-lease in place since the campus opened remains intact.

Moving degree programs from Victoria was a difficult but necessary move, Trainor said, with logistics and financial considerat­ions making it the right thing to do.

“It’s in large part just a product of where the students are enrolling and where they’re going,” he said. “But from a human perspectiv­e it’s always challengin­g to make a decision which either results in people having to relocate or their jobs disappeari­ng.”

Trainor said Enimata will work with each student to meet individual needs, which could include transferri­ng to Vancouver or completing course work online.

“We want to be sure we treat them in the appropriat­e way.”

It will be similar for teaching staff, some of whom might be able to maintain an online teaching presence and stay in Victoria, Trainor said.

He said it is a case of “never say never” as to whether degree programs could return to Victoria.

 ??  ?? Only about two dozen students remain in the university’s degree programs in Victoria.
Only about two dozen students remain in the university’s degree programs in Victoria.

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