Vancouver Island colleges and universities have joined together in a new formal alliance aimed at supporting the region’s students and communities. The Vancouver Island Public Post-Secondary Alliance was signed March 5 and includes Camosun College, North Island College, Royal Roads University, the University of Victoria, and Vancouver Island University.
Allan Cahoon, president of Royal Roads, said the alliance’s purpose is “to demonstrate how postsecondary institutions, in this constrained environment that we are all facing, could be more collaborative.” He said each institution “can be more efficient and effective through the alliance.”
A key area of focus is easing student movement between Vancouver Island’s institutions. Reeta Tremblay, vice-president, academic, and provost at the University of Victoria, noted that the partners “all have very unique mandates, and so by cooperating and collaborating, you are allowing the students to have access to a full range of postsecondary education and training opportunities.”
Ralph Nilson, president of Vancouver Island University, said the university participation rate of high school graduates from the central and north Island regions has been low traditionally. “We’ve been looking at how we address and how we build that,” he said. “I think the recognition that we’ve got multiple opportunities out there will enhance that opportunity.”
Colleges and universities in British Columbia are already significantly more integrated than in many other provinces, with a range of programs designed to support students transferring between the two systems. This academic year, more than 3,000 students moved between the island’s universities and colleges. Members of the new alliance want to support these transitions and make the move between institutions seamless.
The alliance is also committed to collaborating on initiatives around international education. “We look at the collaborations as helping us raise the profile of the island as a great spot for postsecondary education and to help raise the profile for international students,” said Dr. Nilson. “We’re very tied to the Pacific Rim. We’ve got some ideas on working together to help people understand that the island is a great destination for international education.”
Other issues that the alliance intends to address include collaborating on common research areas, supporting the success of Aboriginal students, sharing resources and services, stimulating job creation and investment in the region, partnering with local small and medium enterprise on research and development, and advocating for postsecondary education and training in the region.
The five institutions represent approximately 34,000 students. A meeting is planned for this April to discuss next steps.