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North Island College goes more and more international

Minister Of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology John Yap participates in an online laboratory at North Island College’s remote web-based science laboratory. - Photo submitted
Minister Of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology John Yap participates in an online laboratory at North Island College’s remote web-based science laboratory.
— image credit: Photo submitted

Whether looking at international student numbers, new ways of delivering programs or collaborations with industry partners, North Island College continues to grow in all areas.

NIC’s International Education has grown “significantly” over the past year, according to Susan Auchterlonie, director of college and community relations. Enrolment numbers have increased by 30 per cent.

About 150 students from 28 different countries will come through NIC during this academic year, and the college expects that number to rise to 175 next year.

“The coming year will see International Education investing in student scholarships to encourage domestic students to study abroad and international students to study at NIC,” adds Auchterlonie. “Funding will also be in place to assist faculty interested in pursuing international experiences.”

She also notes NIC introduced a post-degree diploma program in global business management, which has attracted students from Canada and abroad.

English-as-a-second-language programming is now offered year-round, making the program more accessible to international and domestic students, adds Auchterlonie.

Meanwhile, the college continues to develop its Remote Web-based Science Laboratory (RWSL) at NIC’s Comox Valley campus.

It was awarded $557,000 in November from the U.S.-based Consortium for Healthcare Online, which will support expanding the use of the RWSL technology beyond science education to the field of healthcare, says Auchterlonie.

The funding will enable NIC to work with Pueblo Community College in Colorado to facilitate delivery of remote labs to Kodiak College in Alaska and to develop new Allied Health experiments.

The college also plans to build support for greater faculty and staff involvement in research and technological innovation through a Centre for Applied Research, Technology and Innovation.

“With existing partnerships in both the aquaculture and health science fields, as well as the development of the technology to provide web-based robotic delivery of science labs for online science and health courses, North Island College has shown that it has the knowledge and expertise to become leaders in the development of new projects or collaborations that will benefit the communities it serves,” says Auchterlonie.

“NIC is taking steps to develop a regional centre for applied research and technological innovation whereby existing research activities can be supported and recognized, and new research and innovation can be nurtured.”

NIC also received a $200,000 Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Innovation Enhancement grant.

Using this funding, the college, in collaboration with the BC Salmon Farmers Association and four industry partners, is investigating the impacts of salmon aquaculture on hard seabed substrates, according to Auchterlonie.

“The intent of this research is to improve monitoring techniques currently in place by the salmon aquaculture industry,” says Auchterlonie. “This investigation will provide a solid foundation for future industry growth in hard bottom areas and will also help inform a broader, more thoughtful dialogue about the impacts of the industry.”

NIC has also applied for a five-year NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges grant to develop a broad research program investigating sustainable aquaculture techniques and practices.

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